I had hoped to release the first of the spring chicks into the flock this weekend, but I've been asked to dog/house-sit for my parents while they're out of town this weekend. It'll have to wait until next week when I will be home to make sure they make it back into the barn every night until they know the rules.
I'm still hesitant to send the smallest of the chicks out to the barn brooder. Not just because the chicks out there are significantly larger, but due to the cold nights we're still having. I have to figure something out though because brooders in the house are nasty, even when they're cleaned every day! Next year will someone please remind me not to order chicks until June so they can go straight out to the barn brooder?
Nanny the duck continues to sit on the embden goose eggs. I'm not sure if the effort will be fruitful though. The egg we took from the nest is a dud - no development at all. While I'm certainly not outside monitoring the birds at all times, I have not seen any breeding behavior between Ryan (embden gander) and either of the ladies. A couple times we've seen Josh (African gander) attempting to breed with one of the embden ladies, but she doesn't seem interested in him. Here's hoping they're just being amorous when we're not looking. I don't even care if the resulting goslings are purebred embden or African / embden crosses. I think it would just be lots of fun to have baby geese again. They were fun, but they grow fast!
Calliope's remaining four babies are doing great. They're fat little ones. Both of the blacks turned out to be black otter (with the white in the ears and underbelly). The two whites started off white, then got grey ears, and now they're grey all over. I'm not sure what to make of it, but they're gorgeous! Still too little to get an accurate gender check yet, but it's going to be tempting to keep back one of those silver/grey babies if it's a doe. Not like I need any more rabbits of course. It should be interesting to see if they inherited momma's lop ears and dad's long fur.
I returned to my crochet blanket project this morning. It was cold and crocheting gave me an excuse to sit in bed for a while with a warm blanket and feel productive.
We had two chicks hatch this week. Unfortunately the French Black Copper Marans chick managed to drown itself in the waterer last night in the brooder. The other one is a pretty blue colored chick. I suspect it may be another of Blue's eggs (our splash cochin). There's something wrong with my hatching incubator. I think I may need to replace it already. It's getting hot to the touch above the heat unit on the lid, and it won't keep humidity in. I get it up to 60% and the next day it's down to 40%. My hatch rates have been dropping and eggs I candle that are alive and good don't hatch once they're put into the hatching incubator. I can't afford to go buy a new one right now though, so I'm not sure what to do. It might mean no more hatching for this year (one we get through what's already in the incubator). Perhaps I'll see if Tony has any ideas. He's more mechanically inclined than I am and could probably take a look and have a better idea of how to potentially correct the issue than I can. My biggest disappointment is that this week I had Betty White's egg in there, and it candled alive and moving before it went into the hatching incubator. It was not one that hatched, and I am greatly disappointed and saddened.
Before it got too terribly hot today, my dear husband and little #5 assembled our new greenhouse. My mom found it at a moving sale for $75. It's six feet wide, eight feet long, and six and a half feet tall.
The raspberry plants from that particular garden are a natural seed cross of the black raspberries we had at the old house, but they are red and they are incredibly sweet, but also very seedy. I had brought some with when we moved, but at the time I didn't know that only black raspberries can tolerate being near black walnut trees. I transplanted all the raspberries in a row between black walnut trees. Only a few came back last summer, and only two are coming up now. I suspect our days of bumper crops are over for a while. So I dug up one plant and we planted it out on the peninsula. It will get full sun with afternoon shade from the tree it's near, and it's in an area where it can kind of go to town and spread a little so we might be able to harvest more. I also tucked it away behind the normal walking area so it's less likely to be bothered by our geese and ducks while they go down there to play in the water.
The patch of irises is a guess. Several years ago I bartered some seeds for some root beer irises. They are the most phenomenal flower. They actually smell just like root beer! I love them. Unfortunately, when we moved, I dug up everything I could find and split them. Half I gave to the local greenhouse, and the other half I brought to the new house. Unfortunately I had so much to do that I never got to transplanting them, and they didn't survive over wintering in a bucket. Entirely my own fault. So when I saw them in the garden, I dug them up. We did have other irises in the garden, but I'm crossing my fingers and really hoping that these are my beloved root beer irises and that I just missed them last time. I planted them out on the west side of the raised strawberry bed, so it will get full afternoon and evening sun. We (#3 and I) even took time to separate the roots out to give them better growing conditions, and then mulched the little make-shift space to try to give them a head start against the grass.
The strawberries were originally from the USDA. They're called Beaver Early. I planted them several years ago and they quickly propagated themselves throughout the old garden. When we left, I dug up all I could find, but like the irises, I didn't get to planting them in time, and they all died. I dug up six, which was all I could find in the overgrown old garden at the old house. It's a good variety, quick to come up, grows even when grass overtakes it, throws out beautiful, albeit bland strawberries, and then goes to town putting out runners and taking over more space. Just what I want in my strawberry bed! Well, except maybe the bland flavor - but Tony says that could have more to do with soil type and watering, and lack of sun through all the raspberry plants and grass around it. Perhaps they will do better in the raised strawberry bed. I planted them around the Quinault strawberry - the only one to come back from last year's 50+ we planted.
We stopped at Menards to pick up some stakes and a rubber mallet to stake the new greenhouse properly. We ended up picking up a hosta and #3 picked out a new container of hen and chicks while we were there. We stopped by the feed store and ended up bringing home a little piglet yard statue. It was just too cute to pass up. I put it in the front yard under the big shade tree, in the little bushy part off to the side, so it will look like the little piggy is hiding - and hopefully will deter the dogs and birds from bothering it. When I first sat it down in the yard #4 (who wasn't with us when we bought it) asked if it was a real pig.