Seasons of Give and Take, Letting Go, Receiving...

I gave away 2 hens last week. Good ones, but for a good reason- to help someone (my sis-in-law) to begin their journey into keeping chickens. 
Off to southern California they went, happily in a box with wood shavings and each other for company...

This buff Orpington:
A very quiet bird, and sweet.
and this Barred Rock:
She is just now getting her feathers back after being severely pecked (at an overcrowded ranch)

Recently I put 4 of the 6 roosters into a rabbit hutch so they wouldn't escape their enclosure in the coop and chase my hens. (Last month I lost one of my 2 Easter Eggers - no known cause, but one of the 4 that were cordoned off during winter, rooster had gotten loose and that made THREE of them running around the coop chasing each other and hens.) 

And here's what is happening now...

In case you havent' read my blog before, I run the appointment desk for our PC repair biz. Last Friday we got a call from someone about another client who's house was on fire. (The client was 100 miles away and was also the accountant for this other someone) so he ran over to save her PC's -with everyone's taxes and other financial data stuff.... and brought them over to try to save the data.

After all the wildfires around us last year, it was a little creepy to see a burned PC and laptop, (burned by heat not actual fire), all black and warped and stinking of fire. 
Anyway, we were able to save the most important data from the worst hard drive - totally warped. She cried when she heard it was all safe. 

She came to pick it up with a friend, who said she couldn't come inside because she had muck boots on from having been working in her coop. I asked if she wanted a rooster, lol, but she had one.  Then she said she had 50 birds of all kinds, including a few Marans - which lay chocolate brown eggs, and asked if I had a hen setting, which I do (at that time, for 3 days), and that if I wanted to I could come see her chickens and pick up some fertile eggs from whatever I wanted.

So I called her yesterday! Never going to pass up an offer like that, right? 
I had a great time visiting that lady. She showed me an iphone app called "iHatch" that shows you the development of eggs in incubation - and lots of too cool stuff! You would like it!

She has 5 horses, all quarter horses with the widest chests I've ever seen. I declined the invitation to ride bareback, not simply because I hadn't the time, though I was there about 3 hours (I didn't mean to be there that long but she had so much to share & was hard to get away from!) Mainly cuz I was actually afraid to ride a horse I don’t know. (My last horse taught me fear, unfortunately).

She has a stallion there that does tricks for his grain and we petted him a long while as well as the others. I put my nose right up in the hair of one of their necks, just to smell him. I miss that. But I didn't cry.

Her special mare was attacked by a mountain lion 5 years ago, ruining her for breeding because she's now scarred and that discounts her, and means wasted the money on the stud. 
She's got 6 ragdoll cats, all rescues from California, 3 rescue dogs – two from Cali, and then all the hens, too. Oh, including some called something 'Buttercups". They are small! Oh and a rescued llama too, that was so abused that she hasn't been able to touch or pet it for 2 years. Oh, the one banty hen she had was so cute! I was amazed that she could pick up any hen she wanted to. I guess she handled them a lot as chicks?

Apparently a coyote had walked right past her while in her farm yard - scoping out the fresh chicken dinners. The men there doing some work there told her to get a llama- they STOMP on coyotes- and are known as the best farmyard/pasture protection there is!
She got it from a lady so old and browned that she "literally looked like a California raisin" who kept many llamas (rescues), and just gave this one away. 
Next month she'll take it to another friend to get clipped. That friend does fiber work (carding, and spinning it, dying the wool, knitting, etc.)
People around here really do things and it was just really neat to see so much activity between people that didn't include 'sales', but just sharing.

I think one of the lessons we get from this place is that karma happens - it always comes back to you in some form.... so when you are generous of spirit and not afraid of letting go, it simply creates the space for something else to come to you. Letting go of things can be a very good thing, for the doors of opportunity it can open!

We had hot chocolate (BETTER than Godiva), and looked at the one tornado that touched down there in 2001 (an F1), and looked at chicken catalogs. Surprisingly none of them had the Light Sussex I just love... but main thing: I came home with eggs to slip under my hen, which I did.

So, I got a dozen various breed eggs  –from the basket she’d gathered that day, which I marked with an “X” on one side to check if they are being turned - including 2 near-chocolate brown maran eggs (one was refrigerated for a day or two - which shouldn't ruin it's chances if it's fertile). Their fertility is unknown at this point since she has only one Rhode Island rooster and about 50 hens for him to ‘cover’.  So we'll find out!

With all of the eggs now under the hen (12, or 13? Ha! I'm not even sure because I had to start dinner and eat first and by the time I got out there it was after 10pm), and that hen will freak out if I move her. (I do slip my hand underneath and turn the eggs once a day, just in case).

I will check fertility (candling them) on day 7 (on the 14th of April). I’ll try to take photos or video to share.

At that point is it usually very clear if the egg is fertile and growing.  If the egg was not fertile, it would look blank, like a day 1 egg. 
 (My 7-day old egg embryo was bouncing like it was jumping with joy, lol).

 To see what I saw-LIFE! – check out this very short video:

My  setting hen had been sitting on those 3 eggs, starting on the 1st (I think), including one that looks to me to be one of the Barred Rock eggs. So I am keeping it! I candled them and that was the only one developing. It was 7 days old when candled. I marked it with an “X” and an “O” to differentiate it from the new eggs (just in case I lost track among the others).

My plan at this point is to try another hen on another nest to see if I can convince her to start setting and move the large egg to her nest.
If that doesn’t work, then I’ll let it hatch and remove the chick asap into a 'hatchling environment' (brooder box) here in the house with a heat lamp until the other eggs hatch and then return it to the hen when she’s asleep.
If I don’t remove the chick then it’s likely the hen will give up on the rest of the eggs since they are a whole week longer to hatch and she’ll be wanting to mother the chick.
Sorry, was that more info than you wanted to know? ... technicalities can be so boring unless you're the one doing it!

 I lifted the canvas curtains so you could see. 
She barely fits in that 12"x12" space, so I'll be moving her next weekend to a better set up.
I don't think she lays any longer, but she still wants to be a momma.

I noticed that the little half-bald buff hen (the other orpington) got pecked just above her tail and was bleeding just a bit so I had to put her in the bird cage and bring her inside a few days to heal. (Chickens will peck at blood). 
Thankfully she finally (since I got her in October) has some feathers beginning to grow back! (I'd have to put sunscreen on her or get a saddle for the summer otherwise...) 

Now when she goes back she’ll be pecked on just to reestablish the proper pecking order, but it can’t be helped. I don’t want another dead one.
I may reestablish her with the flock by letting her share the 'quarnatine' space I'll set up for the new chicks. [At least one chick, lol.] 
Using a dog run fence, I'll cordon off an area for the hen to raise her chicks, so the others can see them sometimes, but they'll be protected.

The little gold hen makes the funniest honking sounds -like a goose. And maybe i’ll find out if she’s laying while she's here in my office. Sometimes hens quit if they experience something different that they consider to be ‘traumatic’ like anything at all from getting chased, to a strange dog barking to a hawk flying overhead. Really!

Then I got (what I consider to be) an interesting email newsletter from the bee club this morning. This is the kind of email I get all day every day from various sources- I am positive that my life would bore you to insanity!!

-from Tina from The Buzz Club (Four Corners Bee Club):
“Watch your bees!  I went out last week to check my bees, and not a bee
was in sight.  I tapped on the landing board, and one bee came out to
see what I was doing.  I came back to the house to check the
temp...50.  About an hour later I went back to have another look, and
there were a hundred bees hovering in front of the hive!  Robbing! (I
thought).  I sat down 6 inches to one side of the entrance just to
watch a minute.  Guard bees were there doing their little pat downs,
and allowing entrance.  No fighting.  Incoming bees were loaded with
pollen (must be lots of babies in there!)  10 minutes later the bees
all disappeared and then the wind came up (how do they know?).  Moral
of the story, just sit down and watch and you'll probably be able to
figure out a lot about what is going on in there.”

We're getting around 11,000 bees this month!
And since I have no grand-babies to entertain me... that will have to do!

What's new with you this spring?

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