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Friday, November 20, 2009

Chick Magnet.....

Two or three years ago, I found myself at a local auction bidding on a few almost new, plastic "Sow Feeders". These are the blue poly ones that are designed to let the momma pig "feed" herself by nosing a set of flat rings to dispense food.

I wanted them to hold salt blocks for the goats. I have two of them set up to do just that, and they work rather well.

They sell for around $110, new, I thought I did rather well at $1 each.....

I have the "extra" ones sitting in the barn in "obvious" places. I have even made sure that there is hay in them in hopes of enticing a wayward hen to lay her eggs there.

So far, out of the untold months of trying, I have found only 3 eggs in them. I guess the hens don't like blue. I had almost given up on them ever being used as a nest.

Maybe - like they say in the Real Estate world - it's "location, location, location"... They just didn't like where I had them put. One of them was in my way last month, so I picked it up, and set it on top of my New Holland baler. I didn't even bother to stand it upright, I just let it lay on it's back. I didn't give it another thought for about a week...

Shortly afterwards, I noticed one of my Black Maran hens went missing. I lost track of her for several days. One night, while finishing things up in the barn, I happened to check the Blue Feeder "nest" on the top of the baler. I was shocked and amazed that there was - not only eggs - but my missing hen sitting on them!

I tried not to disturb her very much, I figured I'd have the chance to "snoop" when she got nice and settled in - then I'd be able to lift her up (amid a few hand pecks) - and count my chicks before they hatched.

After checking on her every day for a week, one morning I saw her jump off the nest and run outside to eat with the rest of the vultures. Taking my opportunity, I grabbed a flashlight and went over to see how many she had under her. I was expecting 5 or 6 - MAYBE 7.

Imagine my eyes when I counted TWENTY-TWO eggs in the nest! Normally, that many won't even FIT under a hen - and this hen wasn't a huge lady, either!

She came back into the barn at that point, so I figured I better skedaddle before she got mad. I had my info, at any rate.

Since I didn't know how long EXACTLY she was missing, nor how long she was on the nest, I didn't know when the chicks were due. The waiting game was on.

Every day, I'd check on her status, then walk away wondering when, When, WHEN?

When the 21st day arrived, I was outside the maternity ward, pacing the halls, waiting for the "birth"....

I FINALLY had my answer starting two days ago --

ONE lousy chick hatched - and it died before it got dried off. I hoped that the rest of them weren't duds.

Over the course of the next day and a half, a grand total of 13 more hatched out.

Today, I moved them to a different tub, in a different building so it would be easier to feed them and have a heat lamp to keep them warm. You can see 11 of them in this photo:

Mother hen and her chicks

Mom was trying hard to teach them to eat, but she kept picking up kernels of corn. The chicks would look at her, look at the kernel, peck it, and look at mom as if to say "You expect us to eat THAT?

We've also had our first Squabs born here! I can't get a photo of them because of where the nest is, but there are two little fat, UGLY baby Pigeons in the box. It is really amazing how something that is SOOO ugly when little can turn into something so beautiful when it is an adult.

I am slowly getting the "bird cage" flyway done for them. I made sure and upheld my reputation as a Hillbilly, and used shelves from old refrigerators, ranges and freezers in parts of it. Only half of the roof will be tin, the other half will get wire so the birds can get more light, but have a little shade.

This homemade door is made out of 1x6 boards and 4 refrigerator shelves:

Homemade Door

I'm just trying to do my part in keeping property values low....

Having all of these babies around helps keep a person young. And -- just to prove a point --

Baby Chicks

I can still pick up chicks.......

1 comment:

  1. FABULOUS POST! Thanks. I wandered over from KFC...I'll be following!


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