This post is two weeks old, will get a newer post up soon! So much more to share.
We have some new additions to our laying flock. Two of our hens became broody, and so we set them up in a couple of dog crates for some quiet solitude, and three weeks later, voila! We have baby chicks. So far we have three from the first hen, Smoke, and one from the second hen, Ash, though I'm not certain that Ash is done hatching babies just yet as she started 3-4 days later than her sister Smoke.
For those of you not in the know, hens do not need a rooster present to lay eggs, but those eggs are not fertilized. Because we do have a rooster, the eggs we collect each evening have the potential for hatching a baby chick, given the right conditions. Those can be man-made, but a broody chicken is the easiest way to go. Once a hen has accumulated a nest of eggs, if she is broody she will sit on the nest, incubating the eggs and rolling them over. Upon hatching, she will begin to teach the chicks how to hunt and peck at food, even mashing up larger food to feed to the babies. Unlike other baby birds, they are up and following mama within a day of hatching.
We have four varieties of chickens in our flock. Our rooster is a gold-laced Wyandotte. Among the hens I have silver-laced and blue-laced Wyandottes and Ameraucanas. This means that all of the chicks are mixed varieties, though they are exhibiting certain plumage patterns already. One looks Ameraucana, one looks blue-laced, and two look silver-laced. It'll be interesting to see what they look like as they grow up.
We finally named the doelings Mary, Bridget and Bess, three great queens from the British Isles. Bess is the large, pale doeling. Bridget is the mostly black doeling and Mary is the calico, which somehow in our minds most closely resembles plaid. They are friendly and playful, loving to run the length of the pasture in the cool mornings.
Of course, all of the animals, plants too for that matter, are telling me quite clearly that the world is heating up outside. The plants are wilty, and all of the animals are taking it easy in the shade. Everyone has access to lots of water, and when it really heats up we'll set up misters to help keep everyone comfortable.
Speaking of plants, I'm trying out a new system for tying up tomatoes this year. Using a simple A-frame made of 1x3 lumber and a piece of electrical conduit, each tomato is tied with a piece of twine around it's base and up to the conduit. Every couple of days I simply twist leader (main stem) around the twine. That's it. No finding scissors to cut bits of string, or oops, the stake fell over. Just another twist around the twine. All the tomatoes are tied up in just a few minutes, and they look fabulous.
I'd heard about this method, and need to give kudos to this humorous youtube video for the clear explanation about the twisting.
The beans are finally sprouted and climbing up their poles. You can even see the painted lady heirloom beginning to show it's beautiful red flowers.