Wednesday, November 21, 2012

National Tie One On Day with Farm Chick Chit Chat

I'm so blessed to be a contributing author with an amazing group of Farm Chicks over at Farm Chick Chit Chat!  I can honestly tell you, they are creative, talented, compassionate, and plain old good ladies!  <3 

We're celebrating National Tie One On Day on November 21st at FCCC and running a contest for some beautiful aprons from our FCCC girls and contributors!  Head on over to celebrate with us and enter to win!

Pineapple Coconut Smoothies by Alyssa


 Pineapple Coconut Smoothies~Alyssa

It's cold outside but inside it's paradise!


2 and 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple
3/4 cup of coconut milk
3/4 cup of vanilla flavored yogurt
2 tbsp sweetened flaked coconut
1 and a 1/2 handful of ice

Blend all ingredients till smooth
Serve with additonal flaked coconut on top

 Now enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

They're here! Incubating Eggs Day 1

Samuel Little, Bantam Salmon Faverolle Cockerel
Incubating & Hatching Chicken Eggs
We ordered hatching eggs last week to continue working on our winter hatching program.  We'd already picked up our adorable Paint Silkies to start that project.  With this batch of eggs we're continuing with Porcelain, Patridge, Lavender, Buff, and White Silkies as well as some Bantam Salmon Faverolles (Poor Samuel Little needs some ladies to keep him company), and we're helping a young friend out by trying to hatch some of he and his Mom's first Japanese Bantam eggs. 

Since we just finished a hatch of Silkie eggs about 7 days ago, I need to first clean and disinfect our incubator.  We're using the Hovabator 1588 for this clutch.  I disinfect with a Clorox and warm/hot water mix (4 parts water/ 1 part Clorox) then rinse and dry.  Always, always clean and disinfect your incubator after hatches and I also like to clean and disinfect it one more time before putting new eggs in.  I'm a bit of a nut for biosecurity. 
Once I have the housework of it done, I set it up at a Temperature of 99.5 and humidity level of 50-55% for 24-48 hours BEFORE setting the eggs.  This ensures our eggs go into proper conditions.  I took this photo when I first set up the incubator, about 20 minutes into it being set.  As you can see, the temperature is still too low and the humidity was too high.  This gave me a chance to make adjustments PRIOR to jeopardizing the chicks' development.  If I already have the eggs, we keep them at room temperature and just ensure we rotate them (or be lazy and put them in the egg turner OUTSIDE of the bator like this time) until it's time to put them in.   That's what leads us to today! 
Hatching eggs should arrived packaged very securely if you're purchasing from another breeder.  If you're hatching your own eggs, you won't have to concern yourself with this part.  As you can see, this breeder does a thorough job of protecting the eggs from the jarring and tossing that happens to boxes during the mailing process. 
She also takes special care of the eggs inside of these bubble wrapped and filler surrounded (I've already removed the newspaper filler that kept the egg cartons from shifting around.  THIS type of care and concern is what I've grown to expect and love from my favorite breeders.  It's not only professional but it shows great pride in the chickens they raise and I know they want us to have a successful hatch almost as much as we do!  
Of course, next we carefully unwrap the eggs, notate the date and which eggs are there (breed, type, variety, condition, etc.) and I  mark each of the eggs with the breeder's initials if I'm incubating more than one breeder's eggs. This helps me keep track of which colors and chicks I hatch from each breeder for future use. I also use this information to track things like hatchability and any defects. All of this plays an important role in breeding if you're trying to improve the quality of your birds and not just breeding to do it.
I use an egg turner in my incubator, it makes the job of hatching easier because you won't have to turn them yourself.  We put our eggs gently in with the small (pointed end) down into the turner.  If you don't have an egg turner, you'll also need to mark an X and an O on opposite sides of your eggs.  You'll need to gently turn the eggs three times a day up until Day 18.  When you place the eggs in your incubator without a turner, you'll want to lay them on thier side and all of the eggs with either X or O facing up.  This helps you remember which eggs you've already turned during those three times a day. 
 I then place my egg turner into my incubator and secure it properly.  I usually check on the eggs about every 30 minutes the first few hours.  Adding the eggs to the incubator and holding it open while you add them changes your temperature and humidity so you'll want to keep a close eye on that.  If the glass begins to accumulate drops of water on the underside of it (if you're using an incubator with a viewing area) then your humidity is TOO high.  Open some of the plugs found on it for ventilation.  I keep two thermometers and a hydrogmeter in our incubator to ensure I am accurately tracking my conditions.  If the humidity is too low or the temperature is too low, close those holes and/or add water.  This is why it's so important to have your settings correct before you start.  You'll have a better feel for your incubator and much more control over your new chicks' environment.  I never have any trouble checking the incubator this often- most of the time my kids are checcking even more often!  The big rule is, however, look all you want but LET IT BE!  If your conditions are right where they need to be- LEAVE IT ALONE! :)  It's hard for me so I realize it's tough for the kids but it's so important. 
Now that you're monitoring your clutch carefully- you are all set until Day 7 if you'd like to candle them!  Enjoy the anticipation!  The closer hatch day comes - 21 days from your first day of incubation- the more it feels like Christmas around here!  We'll be back around Day 7-9 to discuss candling!  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Showtime Part 3- Let's Go to the Show!

It's Showtime!
We're getting ready today to head out to the Virginia Poultry Breeder's Association 2012 Fall Poultry Show first thing in the morning!  The kids will be showing two chickens each and all three are participating in Showmanship again!  Their APA ABA Youth Poultry Club friends are mostly all showing tomorrow so it will be like an all day Chicken Play Date!  It doesn't get much better for them!  Snacks, Picnic, 800 or so Chickens, and hanging out with friends!  Mom is going to have a great time too!  We'll post photos later of our preparations, it's our largest show yet so the kids and I are thrilled and nervous at the same time!
 So, who are they taking to this show?

Chance is taking:
Jordan, his Blue Splash Silkie Cockerel

Jordan, his Splash Silkie Cockerel

Chipmunk, his Silver Ameraucana Pullet


Briana is bringing:
Samuel Little, her Bantam Salmon Faverolle

Lou, our Silver Ameraucana Cockerel
Alyssa is bringing:
 her La Fleche Pair,
Kyle, her Bantam La Fleche Cockerel


Katie, her Bantam La Fleche Pullet

The kids have been practicing their Showmanship both at home and at their APA ABA Youth Poultry Club Meetings.  All of the chickens are bathed, trimmed, and ready to go
Now it's my turn to do some work and pack us up for the show.  There will be vendors at the show I'm pretty certain but the food will most likely be more of the "fast food" variety which doesn't always sit well on kids with nervous tummies!  I'm going to pack some snacks and healthy lunches since it's likely going to be a long (exciting) day!  Fruits, Veggies, Larabars, LOTS of water bottles, Whole Grain fresh Chicken Salad Wraps, all things to sustain them and keep them well hydrated so they feel healthy and energized for all of the fun!  Of course, I'm also packing LOTS of hand sanitizer!

For the chickens:  cages, pine chips, scratch, and a gallon of water, these are always provided but you may want to take your own because it's madness when you coop in and I like to have ours readily available.  I prefer to keep our chickens on their normal diet, this eliminates any problems with stomach upset and I'm a freak about biosecurity.  With that in mind, I also bring paper towels and Oxine to clean the cages before putting our chickens in them.  The cages have been cleaned but as I said, I'm a biosecurity nut so I have my kids or I clean the cages ourselves just before putting our birds in.  We bring our pine chips- I don't want them getting sneezy or any upper respiratory issues right before seeing the judge- put those in along with some plastic or disposable cups (from home) with their food and water (again from home.) 

That has me packing: chicken feed (I put some in gallon size Ziploc bags), a jug of water, 2 small bowls (one for water, one for feed), pine chips, Oxine (or you can make a disinfectant with 1 part Clorox/ 4 parts water), paper towels, and baby wipes in my large recycled bag.  The baby wipes are to clean any poop or debris our chickens might get on them while waiting for the judges.  Chickens poop...A LOT ... and they really don't care if they step in it or not.  Featherlegs are particularly challenging in regards to keeping their feet clean so that's where baby/dog wipes work GREAT! 

 I think we're ready!  At dinner, we're going to quiz, quiz, and have some fun QUIZZING :)!  Dinnertime is great because my husband gets involved and the kids LOVE that!  Afterall, as a homeschooling mom, they get tired of listening to me quiz them on everything!  Dad makes it fun and it excites them for him to take an interest!  Wish us luck! <3
 If you love keeping up with the latest photos and chick news at The Egg Basket but haven't Liked us on Facebook yet, head on over and check us out! We're constantly posting and displaying new information and photographs so join us! We're going to try to upload photos from the show and our rankings!  I'll also post their results (even if there aren't any!) in a blog post next week!