At this rate I can only assume that some of the chicks will not be ready to go outside in two weeks. I plan to introduce a few at a time. Maybe that will help integrate them into the flock better. Take the biggest, best feathered chicks out and put them into a crate like I do when introducing other new birds. Leave them in for a day, and release them. The only problem I see is that I won't be able to close the barn up and keep them contained for a few days like I'd like to, if I stagger their introductions. I hope they gain some size in the next two weeks. The barn cats may find them to be tasty morsels as they're currently about the size of the birds that visit the feeders in the yard.
Today I got four eggs from the barn. Four eggs and we have five female birds... That's pretty good odds! We got eggs from Dashi (rouen duck hen), Quiche (Indian Runner duck hen), Iris (guinea hen), and Henrietta (Barred Rock hen). The only slacker remains Matt... I swear Matt must be a boy due to a lack of eggs, but there is no curled feather to identify Matt as a male. Matt remains a mystery.
Today while taking the bin of brooder shavings out to the compost heap, I found the guineas cowering under the outdoor rabbit cages, screaming their warning call, the chickens up against the side of the garage hiding in the shadows, and Josh ushering the ducks into the barn. Up in the sky, four giant brown birds were circling, riding the air currents. They reminded me of vultures or buzzards circling a dying animal, but they were nearly as big as the bald eagles. At first I pegged them for large hawks, but I saw them later on the melting ice on the lake and I swear they're all juvenile baldies. Why there would be four packed together, I'm not sure, but that's what they look like, and one even came around and perched where the big bald eagles often sit to watch the livestock. As always before, my presence deterred them and they flew off all three times they were in or near the yard today. You know it's bad when by 7:30 with the sun still shining, all three guineas and all three chickens have put themselves up in the barn for the night.
Tony took the kids down to visit his grandmother this weekend. She is teminal and has refused treatment, so it was Tony's last chance to see her before she passes. The kids seem to have had fun. Tony rented a hotel room and they got to play in the pool and visit with one of their favorite great-aunts. As I type this they aren't home yet, but called a while ago and are less than an hour out.
I must say that having roughly 32 hours of peace and solitude is refreshing. I got part of the barn cleaned up, cleaned out the brooder, fixed a couple of the cages that needed repairs, spent some time outside, went to bed when I was tired, and woke up when I felt rested, I even took a nap yesterday. I'm not used to this kind of freedom. Wow. It's actually really nice. A rare treat.
The grass is starting to return and the yard is slowly starting to change from brown to green. The lake finally thawed today, the water is running (there's a creek that runs through the lake). It has been windy today, and there's a fire hazard warning. Unfortunately today there were many fire engines that went past our house, and an ambulance. Across the lake to the east, just beyond the treeline, something was on fire. I don't know if it was a home or a barn or what, but I know there were a lot of fire staff on hand and I could see the smoke coming up behind the trees and blowing across the road and off to the north. I hope that nobody was hurt.
I keep checking the eggs in the incubator. I did remove the second egg from Dashi as it was still clear and obviously infertile. Many of the other eggs are progressing well. The oldest duck egg (also from Dashi) has a little peeper in it that wiggles around and moves when we look with the flashlight. It's pretty neat. I'm actually afraid I'll drop the egg, so I try to refrain from candling too often... but it's so neat to watch too. I'm crossing my fingers for a successful hatch in about two weeks and then we can (again, hopefully) move the brooder pen out to the barn or the garage to get it out of the basement, and have some happy little birds. Tomorrow we're supposed to hit 76-degrees before dropping back down to the 50's and 60's for highs. If nothing else, it feels like winter has finally loosened its grip and spring has finally forced her way in.