Place the egg into a bowl of cold water. The water level should be about 2 times higher than the egg.
Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the bowl and probably lie on their sides. Slightly older eggs (about one week) will lie on the bottom but bob slightly.
If the egg balances on its smallest tip, with the large tip reaching for the top, it's probably close to three weeks old. Eggs that float at the surface are bad and should not be consumed
We traded Millie for this very refined yearling buck. He has a lovely pedigree and his older full sister really shows what that a great combo his sire and dam were. His littermate sister is also looking very nice and his brother Hershey was retained by the breeder. Hershey was shown at the "Herd Jewels" show this past May and placed in the top three in every ring. I am really looking forward to seeing what this little guy can do for our herd.
In other new the momma hen and her 15 chicks are all doing well despite the nearly 100 degree heat we have been experiencing for the past several days. She is very protective of her chicks and threatens anyone or anything that comes close. For now they will be staying in the kidding stall in the doe barn.
It was a first for Wags Ranch! We finally had a hen go broody and actually sit her nest to completion! One egg hatched last night and the other two during the night or very early this morning.
The lovely Delaware hen (which isn't a breed known for going broody) was such a good girl sitting her nest, she never once pecked at us, and even now that her three eggs have hatched she only verbally protested when I moved her to get a shot of her babies.
The rooster is mostly Ameraucana, and at least the darker chick is out of an Ameraucana/Golden Laced Wyndotte mix hen. Not sure what the other two chicks are - all three eggs she was sitting were different colors so we know all three have different mothers.
At least two of our new hens have started laying eggs. It will be a few more weeks until the eggs are up to full size, but for first eggs they are bigger than I was expecting to see. We will be so glad to go back to fresh eggs from free range hens!
In other news, today is day 141 for Tsunami and she is acting very much like she is ready to be done with the kids kicking her ribs. Unfortunately temps are barely above freezing at 10am this morning so we will have to keep a close eye on her as babies born in these temps run the distinct risk of getting frost bite before she could get them clean and dry on her own. And that means I may very well find myself sleeping in the barn tonight in a sleeping bag that is only rated to 40 degrees! Can you say COLD!
Here is Tsunami a few days ago after her maternity trim - something she was less than thrilled to participate in.
Friday evening our friend Sarah gave us a handsome young blue Ameraucana dubbed Blue Jr. He is young enough that he hasn't started to crow yet, but he does fluff up like he is thinking about it and he is trying out his mating dance with the hens who ignore him or scamper away. We are looking forward to hearing his adult crow and are really hoping that he will turn out to have a melodic five note crow. (Not all roosters do, some only have a screechy 3-4 note crow.)
Our previous two roosters were respectful of people and protective of their hens, although Shrek rode them a little too hard. Hopefully JR will develop into a respectful protector of his harem.
Last week we sold all our old hens and roosters with the thought that we would borrow my dad's incubator and hatch out replacement chicks. But it didn't take long for us to decide that we missed the pastured eggs way too much to wait that long.
So yesterday we brought home eight new pullets ranging in age from 9-14 weeks old. Three of the breeds are new to us and we are looking forward to seeing the variety of color.
Bekah is holding one of the two Delawares and we also got two Speckled Sussex, one Golden Laced Wyandotte and three Ameraucana/Golden Laced Wyandotte crosses. We have had the Ameraucana's previously and always get a kick out of their green & blue eggs.
The Golden Lace bunch were all hatched and raised by banty hens so I'm hoping that will be a factor in getting broody hens that will raise a flock of chicks. That way we can raise replacement hens, and Bekah is "just dying to see a Momma hen and her babies."
Hopefully in a couple of months we will be back to getting those wonderful tasty eggs from pastured hens again!
Once again this year Teen Challenge was kind enough to give me the unsold xmas trees from their lots. As you can see I now have a mound of trees in my driveway. Being browsers the goats love nibbling on the trees and especially stripping the bark off of them. When I still had my Dexter cows they also enjoyed nibbling on the trees and Maggie liked to pick them up and toss them around with her horns too. Since I have way more than I need, I'm happy to share with anyone that would like to come pick some up.
We added a couple more hens to our flock last night. The lighter colored one is a Buff Orpington and the darker one is Americana. We now have three Americana's and are looking forward to seeing their green eggs in the spring. This brings the total of our little flock to ten hens and one rooster.
We were given a replacement rooster by our friend Sarah of Mac's Rainbow Nigerians yesterday evening. Junior as he is currently known (the children seem to be intent on finding a new name for him) seems to be enjoying having a whole flock of hens to himself. He hasn't graced us with a crow yet, so we have no idea what he is going to sound like, but he sure is a handsome fellow. It's hard to see it in the picture, but his feathers are actually iridescent and Bekah says he looks like a stained glass window.
We suffered our first loss to predators last night. I don't know for a fact it was a raccoon, but the killing style was consistent with what a coon does. Sadly our rooster Fred-the-Red and one of the Black Australorp hens I got myself for my birthday last year were killed.
Bekah did her chores before dark last night so the chickens hadn't gone to roost yet. I told her I would go out and shut up the coop after dark, but I forgot all about it. I've forgotten to close up in the past without any problems, but obviously this time was different.
Fred-the-Red was the only named chicken in our flock, and he was a perfect fit for us. He was not overly aggressive with the children, although he would chase them if they messed with his ladies. And while his crow wasn't the most melodious I always enjoyed hearing him. He was such a handsome fellow and is going to be missed, as will that beautiful black hen and her lovely brown eggs.
Peggy Sue & Prudence enjoying breakfast
Hay! Its whats for breakfast - especially when the temps are in the teens! Most of the year I don't feed any hay at all since they have plenty of pasture. But icy grass and cold water don't keep a goat warm. The long fiber in grass hay stimulates rumen wall contractions, which in turn creates body heat and keeps the goats warm.
So on those rare occasions that we get freezing temperatures I feed them hay in addition to their usual alfalfa pellets and haul hot water from the house out to the various watering troughs. Last year, when we still had the cows I hauled over 80 gallons of hot water in two, 2 gallon watering cans in a single morning. The watering can spouts allow me to pour water into the trough without having to go into the pasture and they are easier on my back than using 5 gallon buckets. Plus I'm less likely to get water on myself.
The chickens also benefit from the warm water, and will come running when I start pouring. It helps to keep their egg production going, just like it helps keep milk production up.