We've officially named the new puppy. His name is Toby McGee. Toby is the name of the little brother from the David Bowie movie Labyrinth, and McGee is the smart but often soft spoken character from NCIS. I've ordered him a custom ID tag from a shop on Etsy. They're something like three weeks out, so it'll be a while, but I'm hoping it's worth the wait. The reviews were great and it looks nice from the sample photos they had. I'll have to share a photo when it comes!
Tuesday I got the brooder out in the barn cleaned out and set up again. I put all of the oldest birds out there. There are 14 that range from almost completely feathered to plucked clean on the back because of the bigger birds.They should all be 4-6 weeks old now I think. They have a red brooder lamp and the new heat plate in there to makes sure they stay warm. The barn is not insulated and the brooder may be drafty (it does have 2-foot tall walls). So far they are doing well. They've survived some pretty cool nights (dipping down to the low 40's and high 30's). I wish I knew if this was due to the great heat output in there or because they're more feathered than the little chicks.
This week we hatched out four more ducks and seven chicks. We did lose one duckling shortly after it hatched (not sure why), but we still have four healthy ducklings now (I put the one from last week in with the new ones from this week). Of the seven chicks, one will be staying here - the other six are for sale.
On Wednesday Calliope delivered a litter of nine! She pulled so much fur she filled the nest box. She wasn't great about cleaning up all the yucky stuff that comes with delivering babies, but she's a first time mom so we are cutting her some slack. It looks like she has four black, three white, and two blue kits. Father of the litter is Mister Cellophane so these will be Jersey Wooly / Holland Lop crosses. I'm excited to see how they turn out.
Yesterday we ran to Walmart (where I almost never shop) to pick up a new betta fish. Mine died the weekend I was out of town. Turns out, they don't sell live fish anymore! Mixed feelings there. Darn, I don't get a betta now, but good riddance because now I never have a reason to go back to Walmart again! Yes, Petsmart sells bettas, but I won't spend $7+ for a betta. Guess I'm just out of luck.
On our way home I decided to check out the greenhouse in Staples. I love the greenhouse back in Brainerd, and we still shop there when I can get there during business hours... but I figured maybe this one would be worth checking out. It's an older shop. You can tell because a lot of the shelves and things are rusty and old, but it smells like a combination of attic/yard sale in the gift shop area and the flower section of the county fair in the greenhouse (which is to say - delightful over all). Their prices are a lot higher than the greenhouse in Brainerd, but we did buy one Oregano plant and one mint plant, just to be supportive of local businesses. They were $5.99 each, but good sized.
This morning I sold one of the little black bunnies from the colony and the stillborn bunnies I'd been collecting in the freezer (he went as a breeder, they went as pet food).
We swung by the post office this morning to pick up our box of hatchery babies. I have to say this time around I'm disappointed. We ordered from Valley Farms Hatchery because they had a great origin story about being started by a teenage boy (who's now in his 20's). I figured, that's the kind of place I want to support! But it turns out - they just drop shipped everything from Cackle Hatchery. We have bought all of our hatchery stock from Cackle, so I don't have a problem with them, but I'd have just bought them from Cackle and saved myself the middleman had they been upfront about the fact that they drop-ship and aren't actually hatching their own poultry. I feel deceived.
Add to it that this was the order with some of my much anticipated breeds. The breeding group of Salmon Faverolle, the trio of Bourbon Red turkey poults (in the hopes of getting a breeding pair), the Ancona duckling, the Buff Orpington pullets, the Easter Egger pullets, and the broad breasted turkey poults for Thanksgiving dinner. It turns out this week is also the week Cackle Hatchery is sexing their turkey poults and only selling toms because they're restocking their breeding flocks. So much for getting a breeding pair of Bourbon Reds. Now I've got to try to track down more poults from somewhere local (I don't want to buy another hatchery lot with a minimum) or I'll be stuck trying to raise poults next year to breed the following year. What a mess.
But when I opened the box, one of the Salmon Faverole chicks was already dead. At first glance everyone looked alright, but as soon as I took them out of the box to put them in the brooder, I noticed almost all of the Salmon Faverolle chicks had their eyes closed and just stood there. One tipped over and couldn't even stand. Despite having sent an extra chick, the only remaining Salmon Faverolle is the cockerel, and it doesn't look like he'll survive the night.
I know it wasn't just a rough shipping ride though. The four Easter Eggers they sent (three ordered plus one extra) look good. Three of the four Buff Orpingtons (ordered three got one extra) look good. The turkey's mostly look alright, and the duckling is up and moving and already bonding with the other ducklings. It's just the Salmon Faverolle chicks that seem to be having issues (and the one Buff Orpington that's a little slow and seems overly tired). I will be emailing Valley Farms Hatchery this evening to report losses, since they require notice within 24 hours. We may lose the buff after that 24 hour period, but because they sent one extra buff, she won't count toward our losses. I'm sure they're not going to re-ship one Salmon Faverolle cockerel and three Salmon Faverolle pullets (ordered three, received four, all four died), so I'll be looking at a partial refund, which won't help me one bit. I don't want to have to put together another order from another hatchery and reach another minimum and pay another shipping fee just to get this breed (again).
This is, to date, the worst hatchery experience yet. I'm frustrated, I'm disappointed, and I'm at a loss for how to fix it. Does anyone local have a couple Salmon Faverolle pullets or hens for sale? Any Bourbon Red chicks with the chance of a hen?
I have five eggs in the hatching incubator, set to hatch sometime between Sunday and Wednesday. I did not candle them before putting them into the hatching incubator. I've decided not to put any more duck eggs into the incubator to hatch. I'll wait to see if any of the ducks hatch babies out. I think we have a nice assortment now between the adults and the babies in the brooder now.
All of the Mother's Day baby bunnies from Sapphire's litter died overnight. They must have uncovered themselves and it was cold. She didn't pull enough fur and the pine shavings just weren't enough. I should have brought them in and shelved them, but she was being a good mom and taking care of them, so I left them with her last night. I shouldn't have. You know what they say about hind-sight. Trying to find the positive in the situation, we now have seven bunnies in the freezer available for sale as pet food, and Sapphire is immediately available for sale since we can now confirm she's not pregnant.
This evening I got three of the potato towers moved across the yard to a space further from the barn. I planted Red Thumb, Purple Majesty, and King Edward potatoes. I hope they do well. I bought these in the fall and have kept them in little paper bags all winter. The beds are further from the house and the more traveled parts of the yard, so it's also going to be a bit more of a target for the local wildlife I suspect. Arya also seems to have decided they make excellent places to lay and I had to shoo her out several times while moving them, filling them with dirt and compost, and then planting them. This year there's not much to start with. The Purple Majesty was literally three tiny potatoes. I'm hoping they grow. I'd love to try these varieties. I have three more potato towers to move later and some bigger commercial varieties of starter potato to plant in them. For now, three is a good start.