Thursday, February 04, 2016

Homestead Update: February!!

Ah, February!  It's the month that teases and makes us think it is Spring one day and the middle of winter the next.  Or at least that is how it is in the South (I understand that in places like Buffalo that happens in the month of May.  Or maybe June).

Mr. Marvelous is in charge of gardening and he is happy with his over-winter preparations for this year's Spring garden.  MY job is animals!

Here's the count.  We currently have four rabbits.  Three females:

George, our seasoned Mama who is (hopefully) currently pregnant.

Woolly-Booger who has had one litter of one baby (it did not survive)
 Smoochie, who had one litter of six; two survived birth but did not survive the first week.

And one male:
Barrabas who will not keep his face washed.

I know.  It's lousy loosing baby bunnies like that.  Unfortunately, rabbits typically lose 100% of their first litters and sometimes even their second.  George has had one litter this winter but only had two babies in that litter.  When rabbits only have two babies, those babies get big fast!  We had promised a breeding pair out of her winter litter to a friend of ours, so they went to a good home.  We are hoping that George's next litter will have a few more babies.  We will also be rebreeding Woolly-Booger and Smoochie over the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully they will do better with their second litter.

In other news, we still have chickens.  We have three pens at the moment holding the following:

The three Princesses.
These girls are a cross between our White Leghorns and the Buff Orpingtons.
They have the sweet disposition of the Buffs, and like the Leghorns they lay an egg
every single day.
They are keepers! 

 The Eight White Leghorns.
These girls are NOT sweet-tempered.
However we are currently getting 4-6 eggs a day from them, so I put up with it.
They are currently having a visit from our lone Roo, Neo (because he is the one).

This is our pen of eight Buff Orpington hens.
We also call them the free-loaders.
Through November and December they were eating a LOT.
We got not one single egg.
In January we started getting 1-2 eggs a week.
As the days are growing longer, their production is picking back up again.

So why is Neo in with the White Leghorn hens?  The experiment of cross-breeding was kind of successful last year.  We had a White Leghorn rooster in with our Buff Orpington hens.  I put 17 eggs in the incubator and we hatched out four.  Not a very good percentage, but when I consider that the girls lay an egg every single day, it looks a little more successful.  We had a rooster, but he had the temperament or the White Leghorns and Mr. Marvelous and I both got a little tired of being attacked every time we went in.  This time we have Neo ~ a very sweet-tempered Buff Orpington rooster ~ in with our productive White Leghorn hens.  I am hoping for a better hatch rate this time.  After we hatch out these eggs I am hoping that the Buff girls will be producing a little better (more hours of daylight tends to make better egg production).  At that point we will put Neo back in with them and hopefully hatch out some straight Buff Orpingtons, as those roosters tend to be better meat birds (yes, we really do). 

As I sit here writing the incubator is heating up.

 Well doesn't everyone keep their incubator on the Living Room bookshelf
next to the baby grand piano??

In a few minutes I will go outside and see if there are any more last-minute eggs to add.  Each egg is numbered with the date it was laid.  I am hoping to get a better idea of how long eggs can sit on the shelf before being put into the incubator.

I have about 21 in the basket and would love to find 3 more for an even 2 dozen.
I will let you know how it goes!

And just in case you did not notice, my orange cat has volunteered to "guard" the eggs.

The babies too once they hatch.

Or so she thinks!

Happy Spring!

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