Category Archives: Chicks

The Fence is Finished and Other Things

Last week we had, what my husband referred to as, the soft opening. He had completed fencing the perimeter of our property. The only thing left to do was put up the gate across the driveway. Until he could get that done, he made a makeshift gate by using a piece of the fencing to extend across the driveway and clamping it closed.

Difficult to see but there is fence across the driveway.
Front of the property looking east
Front fence looking to the west from driveway.

Putting up the grate took a few days. First my husband rented a post hole digger to make the holes for the wooden posts. Then he had to measure the depth of the holes while putting the posts in and filling in around them with quickcrete (cement). On top of the quickcrete he put stone then topped it with soil. He used a level to assure that the posts were straight. Once they were in place he left them for a few days to let the cement set up. On May 2 he attached the gate to the posts and the project was complete.

From the inside looking out.
From the outside looking in.
The fence in this photo surrounds the front garden. It is not part of the perimeter fence.

All of the rain that we have had in the past week has the ground saturated. We now have pooling water everywhere.

We have a bumper crop of dandelions this year.

Even though we have been wishing for the temperature to hurry and warm up there are some good things about the cooler temperatures.

The apple trees have not blossomed yet thus reducing the likelihood that they will suffer damage from heavy frost or freeze when in bloom.

The forsythias have enjoyed a long bloom time because of the cooler temperatures,

as have the daffodils.

For years my primrose plants have struggled just to survive. Last fall, after learning that primrose like wet soil, I decided to move my plants to a lower area in the prayer garden.

Already this spring they are thriving.

Our old chicken coop is still standing. Tearing it down is on our to-do list but has not yet become a priority. My husband had leaned the old gate from the chicken yard up againt the front of the old coop.

Earlier this week he noticed that a bird, most likely a robin, has built a nest on top of the gate.

I couldn’t see inside the nest while standing on the ground, but I was able to get a look inside by holding my camera up above the nest and taking a picture. This was two days ago, maybe I’ll take another picture today.

On April 23 our bees arrived. We had lost all three of our hives over the winter. We decided to start just one new hive this year.

They have been very busy this week – enjoying the dandelions.

Our old hens are enjoying springtime. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that at least six of the nine are laying eggs. I really only expected that four were still of laying age, but somedays we find six eggs. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a cute story: last week while working in the barn my husband found, in a dark corner, a nest with seven eggs in it. One of our black hens has been sneaking in there and laying her eggs. Apparently, she was getting ready to brood some chicks. Sadly, he had to get rid of the eggs because we haven’t had a rooster since last November, so none would be fertile. Perhaps next year, when our new roosters are mature, she will try again.

Our young chicks are enjoying life at the farm as well.

We are experiencing a lovely day today as it seems like are warmer temperatures have finally arrived, so I’m heading outdoors to get some things done. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for visiting.

Forsythia, Toads and a Jailbreak

Forsythia

When we pulled in the driveway at the farm this afternoon the first thing I noticed was the forsythia in full bloom.

The brilliant yellow flowers are noticeable from a great distance.

I always find them stunning – too beautiful not to share.

Jailbreak

The next thing I noticed was some of the chicks wandering around outside their pen. My husband had warned me that some of them had gotten out, so rather than spend a lot of time trying to catch them and put them back in he decided to open up the pen and let them all roam.

They have all stayed close to the coop throughout the day.

And seem to be having a great time exploring.

The chicks have not yet learned to get into the coop at night, but my husband used a trick we learned several years ago to round them up tonight. He placed a small (battery powered) light just inside the coop. As it got dark outside the chicks all migrated toward the light and went into the coop. He can use this method until the chicks figure out how to find their way in on their own.

Toads

As I stepped out of the van, I immediately heard the loud, high pitched, trill of the frogs, or was it toads? I remembered this sound from several years back when we witnessed hundreds of toads mating in our pond.

I eventually made my way to the pond and as I walked around the edge I was surprised to see only one toad sitting in the water near the edge.

The mating call continued on and off and as I returned to the pond edge a while later I noticed more toads had arrived.

I am not sure how long this mating ritual will continue or how many more toads might show up,

but I am certain that in a few days we will see nests of toad eggs along the edges of the pond.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunshine On My Shoulders ๐Ÿ˜€

Over Easter weekend we had beautiful spring weather and throughout the week, that has followed, it seems that the weather has just gotten nicer each day.

On Easter Sunday, when we went out to the farm, I wore jeans and a jacket over my long-sleeved shirt, each day I have found it necessary to wear lighter clothing until yesterday, and again today, I have broken out my summer wardrobe and am wearing shorts with a tank top and enjoying soaking up that long-awaited sunshine.

Let’s take a look at what’s been happening at the farm this week.

Sunday

For about the past three weeks my husband has been working on fencing in the entire farm. It’s a huge undertaking as the 7.6-acre farm measures 1000 ft (304.8 m) by 330 ft (100.5 m). When it is all done he will have pounded in more than 260 fence posts and strung more than 2600 feet (792.48 m) of fence.

The small fence posts in the above picture line the east side of our back field. He has the entire back field fenced at this point and is working diligently on completing the front of the property.

In the above picture the fence lines the front of our property on the west side. When this project is complete we will no longer have to worry about Ranger and Ruby and even the chickens wandering onto neighboring property or into the road. It will take a large load off our minds.

There seems to be an abundance of robins this spring. Some of them have even sat still for pictures.

The fence in the above picture which had enclosed the main garden area is also being removed.

The pond level is up from last fall but it has yet to overflow like it does most years in the spring.

Ruby did not hesitate to get her feet wet as she enjoyed a cool drink from the pond.

Things are beginning to green up. I’m sure the thunderstorms we had last week helped.

Tuesday

Tuesday the weather really warmed up so we were able to move the chicks to the farm.

My husband set up their chicken wire enclosure. He designed it so they have access to the coop through the small door with hopes that they will learn to go in the coop at night.

He also put up a divider inside to coop so they do not have access to the big door.

I bet you’re not surprised to see Ranger watching the babies.

Like robins, we have an abundance of red winged blackbirds.

Some of them posed for pictures as well.

I also got a rare picture of a kildeer that was hanging around near the beach before Ruby chased it off.

The garlic that we planted last fall is coming up nicely.

As I looked up to see if the maple trees were getting leaves yet I noticed what appears to be a Baltimore oriole nest. It seems too early to be a nest build this year, so I am assuming it was from last year or maybe even the year before.

I only say “the year before” because I noticed a second one in the same tree. I don’t know how likely it is that two pair of orioles would nest in the same tree.

Some of the chickens had wandered into the field next door. This won’t be a problem once the fence is complete and it really isn’t a problem now because that neighbor doesn’t mind.

But Ruby thought it was a problem

and took it upon herself to bring them all back home.

She really does have amazing herding instincts and skills. If you have ever tried herding chickens you understand how difficult it can be. It took her less than two minutes to round up eight hens and bring them back over to our farm.

Thursday

The chicks are doing well at the farm, feathering out nicely, learning to forage

and maybe even learning to get back into the coop.

It was a great day to be in the pond, at least the dogs thought so.

Ruby discovered the (bullfrog) tadpoles and has now become obsessed with watching for them and trying to catch them. I suspect she will spend a lot of time there this summer.

Ranger just wanted to go for a swim to cool off.

When deciding to put up the fence my husband and I discussed the likelihood that the wildlife presence on our farm would be altered. Not necessarily a bad thing. While deer, fox, racoons and other animals can get over the fence it’s hard to say whether they will or not. I suppose it depends on what there is to motivate them to do so.

However, I never considered that the fence might be a problem for a pheasant. Pheasants can fly and could easily sail right over the fence.

This male ringed-neck pheasant was very confused and spent several hours trying to find an opening in the fence.

Eventually Ruby spotted him. I’m not sure if he flew or ran when she chased him but I think she did him a favor as he did clear out of the area. Hopefully he found a different route home.

I’ll leave you with a slide show of flowers that are blossoming at the farm. Among them are daffodils, forsythia (beginning to open), and primrose.

Thanks for visiting.

First Flowers and Moving Day

Our first flowers of the year are blossoming.

Crocuses are so pretty.

I was thinking about planting more but maybe I’ll just let them multiply on their own.

We moved the chicks to their new (transitional) housing yesterday. They are beginning to feather out but still require supplemental heat from the heat lamp. They will need to be in this hutch for a while as they would likely not survive at the farm with the cool temperatures we are still having.

It took them a while to adjust to their new home. (Check out their guardian angel beagle in the background.)

Eventually they began exploring and found their food and water. They also seem a bit curious about the outside world.

Thanks for visiting.

Tracking the Stork

If a stork delivers human babies, could we deduce that a stork delivers baby chicks as well?

It was yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, March 21, when I received an email from Townline Hatchery where we had ordered our chicks. It looked like this:

ALMOST READY!
Please allow 24 hours for most tracking updates.

I immediately clicked on the tracking # and learned that at 3:28 P.M. a shipping label had been created.

Since the hatchery is less than two-hour drive from our home, I assumed our bundle would arrive today, so I continued to check the USPS (United Stork Postal Service???) tracking number for updates. Here is the route and timeline the stork service took to deliver our bundle of 28 chicks.

3:56 P.M. accepted at USPS office in Zeeland, MI

5:11 P.M. arrived at USPS Regional facility in Grande Rapids, MI. Estimated delivery was before 9:00 P.M. on 3/23/23 *Note they are going in the wrong direction as Grand Rapids is to the west of Zeeland while we are to the east. Apparently, Storks don’t adhere to ‘as the crow flies”.

That was the last update before I went to bed last night.

When I got up, way too early, this morning there was another update.

3/22 12:20 A.M. arrived at USPS Regional facility in Pontiac, MI *at least they are now traveling in the right direction*

Then:

6:59 A.M. arrived at our local USPS office.

7:10 A.M. Out for delivery *This was a bit disturbing as it was my understanding that we would have to pick up our bundle at the local office. We didn’t want them riding around in the stork mobile for half the day when we could bring them home and assure that they were warm and well. I tried calling the office but only got a message that they were not open yet.”

8:39 A.M. My phone rang. A terse voice said, “you have chicks at the post office.” I asked if they could be picked up now and which door to go to, and my husband was on his way out the door as I hung up the phone.

9:00 A.M. my husband returned home with our bundle of peepers.

Awww! So cute and so many peep, peep, peeps… I noticed black spots on the heads of a few of them and was a bit concerned because buff orpington chicks, the breed we ordered, are solid yellow. I then realized that the three with black marks on their head were the roosters we ordered, and the hatchery had thoughtfully marked them so we could identify them.

For some reason I thought that we had only ordered 18 chicks (getting old or something). After we had them in their new home, I began trying to get a beak count (not easy as they were all moving around) and quickly realized that we had way more than 18. When I looked up my receipt from the hatchery, I discovered that we had ordered 28 chicks – 25 pullets (females) and 3 roosters.

Since they were continually moving around I didn’t a full count until I saw the picture below.

We got all 28 +1= 29! Feel free to count for yourself but I have counted them at least 6 times and keep counting 29.

Ranger was quite excited to see the babies. He has checked them out several times during the day. I wish you could see how fast his tail is wagging as he watches them. It’s so funny. He did bark at them a couple times which sent the whole flock into a tizzy, but he seems to have gotten over the need to do that. We are a bit surprised that Ruby has not paid them any attention as of yet. I guess she will just meet them when she is ready.

Thanks for visiting and happy spring!!