In late February, we had a string of bad luck as far as our animals were concerned. First was the rabbit... dead, in her cage, with no explanation (we have heard that rabbits have heart attacks easily). The next day began the steady decline in the numbers of our hens, who ended up getting completely picked off by raccoons in the matter of a couple of days. This was a huge disappointment, not only from the point-of-view of the chickens, but from the family who loved their eggs and their personalities... We were back at square one. Again.
We went back to getting eggs from our local egg-lady, which we were glad to have as a back-up, and discussing how we wanted to go about our next venture into chicken-keeping. When our friends, Barb & Morgan, told us that they would be downsizing their flock and wanted to sell off 7-10 birds who were rapidly approaching the laying stage, we jumped for joy. I was dreading brooding chicks all over again (feathers, dust, stink, and the vulnerability of the little buggers), but wasn't sold on the idea of buying hens from people I didn't know and being unsure of how they were raised and cared for. This was PERFECT!
Morgan brought the first 5 birds last week, and brought the last 5 yesterday. They are really beautiful--all buff colored, which we have never had before--7 Buff Orpingtons and 3 Auracanas.
The best news of the whole deal? We got 2 eggs this morning!!! This is my favorite part of chicken-keeping...the day one or two chickens start to lay, and the slow and steady count upwards. When we have too many chicken eggs for our family to consume, we have a list of customers ready to take the surplus off our hands... I don't think we can use 70 eggs a week... we'll ty our darndest, though!
Masterpiece aka: The Hot Stud at the UrbanHippie Farm
Our 2 brief "visits" have apparently not been successful (in terms of sperm going where no sperm's gone before), and so we have chosen a new path (and one that feels more romantic to me). We have brought the guy home and are letting him spending 6 quality weeks with our girls. He is learning their likes and dislikes, sharing their bed, and getting to know their family...doesn't that seem more appropriate, since he is going to be the father of their children?!?
He arrived on Wednesday, and I have not seen any signs of either girl being ready to receive yet...but I'll keep you posted.
In other news, it was a GLORIOUS spring day today!
We had our friends, Barb & Morgan, and their clan over--we played outside while Morgan pruned the pear tree and Rich prepared beds for planting. They even brought us full grown chickens that *just* started laying! So far they were able to bring 5: 1 auracana and 4 buff orpingtons, but they will be bringing out 5 more on Monday... 10 chickens?!? We are hoping they adjust nicely and are giving up their eggs in no time... we just can't live without our own eggs anymore. Happy Spring, readers!! I hope your first day of spring was as wonderful as ours.
Today we took the girls back out to the farm where we got them, to see if we couldn't get them knocked up. That's right, we want pregnant goats. Our main goal in getting these goats was to someday have our own source for fresh, raw, milk -- and to do that apparently the goat's gotta gestate and give birth before she can lactate...who knew?!
I knew by their age that they should go into heat last month, but by the time I learned what signs to look for to tell me that they were getting hot and bothered, it was too late... I had missed my chance. This month I paid more attention to their pleas to go visit young Billy (who's name is actually Bristol), and I saw it coming on Monday night. Lesson number 158 in goat breeding: You can't wait 2 more days after your goat starts "maaaaa"ing like a crazy woman, sticking her tail up to the sky to show you her goods, and swelling in her nether-regions, to take her to the little billy-goat for her conjugal visit, even though that's the day you need to go out anyway to pick up your milk and then you wouldn't have to make 2 trips in the same week and it would save you gas and time.... GO NOW. The she-goat is desperate and her ovulatory window (and the window in which she will tolerate Sweet Billy man-handling her) is very short. By the time we introduced the three goats (a goat three-some???) this afternoon, the window was quickly slamming shut. They sized each other up -- exchanged niceties, circled and sniffed -- but when it came to getting down to business it was clear that it was not the time that nature mandated. The girls were not really interested, and it even took some persuading to get little Bristol going... although once he caught on to our intent, he gladly obliged. So, if the window was still open a crack, there is a chance that Thelma could be pregnant this month -- she did lose her goat-virginity... but it looks unlikely that any seed was actually planted.
The event was very educational for everyone in attendance -- except probably for Jaci, the breeder. We tried to take our cues from her and play it cool while leading the goats around on ropes and holding necks and tails while enticing the billy to do his thing...even though in my imagination we would leave the goats in a private room for an hour with candles and wine to set the mood and get the juices flowing. Kylin stood with wide eyes, cocking her head from side to side, trying to recall all of the conception information that I had shared with her in her life, I'm sure.
We will be at it again, as will Mr. Bristol, in 21 days -- which is apparently the ovulatory cycle of goats. Maybe you can light a candle and send sexy baby-making thoughts our way... for the goats, that is.
Luckily, Kylin got to take her mind off all the strange goat sex by riding Jaci's pony, Richie. Jaci had bribed her with a pony ride to try to get us to buy her goats, and she finally made good on her promise. Kylin was beside herself with excitement...all she could do through the ride was giggle when Jaci asked her how she was doing. The pony was superbly trained...he stopped on a dime, did exactly as Jaci asked (and Kylin, when she learned to give him commands), and was very gentle with everyone. The boys were super jealous, but also very excited to watch, and so at the end they each got to sit in the saddle. Stay tuned for more to come, in the saga of 2 horny goats, and their human pimps...
I had been thinking that the three hens that had not started laying yet might make a good dinner...Well, another one has begun earning it's keep. :) Rich found three eggs when he went out this morning!!