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Showing posts from January, 2015

Egg Hatching 101: Day 10 Claws, Comb and Beak

We are on Day 10... almost halfway there! The image above shows the difference that just five days makes. Chicks grow quickly. On Day 10: Claws are forming The comb has appeared Flight feathers (on wings) and chest feathers are developing Lower eyelids are developing Beak begins to harden Photo credit: Mississippi State University   → See our entire  Egg Hatching 101 Series  up to this point here. ← This post is part of a series about hatching eggs on The Farm at Beaman’s Fork blog . Want to help support the farm? Please visit our online store or visit us at the New Bern Farmer’s Market!

Heated Buckets

We recently installed heated water buckets in the barn, one in each stall for the horses and one for the goats. I probably should have done this years ago but I think I've finally had enough of busting ice in the morning only to have it refreeze a couple hours later. The buckets have cords, so you have to put some thought into where you are going to hang them. The cords are wrapped in a protective metal spring to deter chewing, but especially with goats, the cords need to be completely out of sight of them. I don't trust their wandering mouths. I placed the goat bucket pretty much on the ground (still attached to the wall by a bracket) so that it is low enough for the chickens to access it also if needed. They frequently come in the goat stall for water, especially if all of their drip waterers are frozen. The cord goes through the slats in the wall so they can't reach it. I also put a bungee cord around the bucket to keep them from moving it at all (and possibly exposing

Egg Hatching 101: Day 9 Reproductive Organs

Day 9 is where I really start looking for blanks (ie unfertilized eggs that are showing no development during candling) because I prefer to start pulling those eggs out and discarding them on Day 10. You really should be seeing some dancing babies in those eggs! Remember to be very careful when candling, limited the amount of time you handle the eggs, and look for any eggs that may be seeping, leaking, cracked or showing any signs of bacterial contamination (which could start showing as a black splotch adhered to the inside of the shell). On the inside of the developing eggs, we now have... On Day 9: Reproductive organs begin to form Crop & bones continue forming → See our entire  Egg Hatching 101 Series  up to this point here. ← This post is part of a series about hatching eggs on The Farm at Beaman’s Fork blog . Want to help support the farm? Please visit our online store or visit us at the New Bern Farmer’s Market!

Egg Hatching 101: Day 8 Feathers and Egg Tooth

This is a really cool image showing a simple illustration of embryo growth inside the egg. Handy to check if you are candling your eggs... where are yours matching up? On Day 8: Tail feathers are beginning to form Eyelids are forming Egg tooth is forming (this is a bump on the beak that helps a new chick break through the shell) Bone marrow is beginning to form in the legs Photo credit: → See our entire  Egg Hatching 101 Series  up to this point here. ← This post is part of a series about hatching eggs on The Farm at Beaman’s Fork blog . Want to help support the farm? Please visit our online store or visit us at the New Bern Farmer’s Market!

Egg Hatching 101: Day 7 Feathers and Eyes

  The above video is a Day 7 candling we did a few years ago during one of our hatches. If you watch closely, you will see the shadow of the embryo dancing around in there! On Day 7: The beginnings of feathers are forming on the tail & thigh areas Further development of the eye: the sclera forms Leg starts to bend at the knee And that is the end of the first week of incubation... two more to go! The changes really begin to accelerate from here. That embryo has a lot of growing to do before it hatches in 14 days. → See our entire  Egg Hatching 101 Series  up to this point here. ← This post is part of a series about hatching eggs on The Farm at Beaman’s Fork blog . Want to help support the farm? Please visit our online store or visit us at the New Bern Farmer’s Market!

Egg Hatching 101: Day 6 Beaks and Wings

We are on Day 6 of our Hatching 101 series where we are learning day by day what is happening inside chicken eggs during incubation. From the outside you can't tell a thing... you just monitor the temperature and humidity level (You want your temperature to be around 99.3 to 99.6F and the humidity to stay between 40-50% for days 1 through 18). During this time we just add water to our incubator as needed, and it is pretty good and maintaining a steady temperature by itself. If you're candling your eggs, you should be seeing something by now, especially in your lighter colored or thinner shelled eggs. Sometimes we have problems candling our dark eggs from Marans and some of the blue/green eggs from the Ameraucanas if the shells are thick. My theory over the years is that to always give the eggs I can't candle the benefit of the doubt and leave it in there unless it is showing external signs of issues (such as leaking), which so far I haven't had. But what is going on ins

Egg Hatching 101: Day 5

We are on Day 5 and if you are candling eggs today, this is what you may be seeing. This is a drawing of what you are seeing in the photo above. (Drawing credits: University of Illinois) In the photo you can clearly make out the "red blob" in the center, which you can compare to the drawing. Yep, that's a baby chick in there! So what is happening today in our incubator? DAY 5: Reproductive organs begin to form Leg bones begin to form Crop begins to form → See our entire  Egg Hatching 101 Series  up to this point here. ← This post is part of a series about hatching eggs on The Farm at Beaman’s Fork blog . Want to help support the farm? Please visit our online store or visit us at the New Bern Farmer’s Market!

Egg Hatching 101: Day 4 & Candling

Although there has been a lot going on inside the eggs  for the last four days, it's all very tiny. As mentioned  before, "candling" is when you shine a light through an egg and observe the shadows to check the development (or lack of development) of the embryo inside. You can buy candling gadgets -- some are pretty cool but quite pricey for what they do -- but you can easily make your own with a cheap $2 LED flashlight as shown above. The room needs to be completely dark. Just shine the light through the egg, cupping your hand around the edges so no light leaks through. You can get a decent 9-light LED flashlight for about $2 at Tractor Supply Co or  most auto parts stores. LED flashlights are good because they are small and compact, put out a lot of light, and don't heat up very much. You don't want to "cook" your egg while you're candling it! Things to remember when candling: Handle eggs CAREFULLY! Keep candling sessions brief and limited to a

Egg Hatching 101: Day 3

We are on Day 3 of our Egg Hatching 101 series, which means Day 3 of development for chicken eggs. As I have mentioned before, we use a Brinsea Octagon Advance incubator, which has a great digital display showing the temperature and humidity levels (shown above). You can manually alter the levels if needed, but it comes preset for chicken egg hatching and I've rarely had to mess with it. One handy thing about this display is that in the lower right corner of the digital area (where there is just a blank space), a "P" will flash if the power has gone out at some point. We talked yesterday about things you can do during a power outage to keep your eggs warm , but what if you aren't at home when it happens and you have no idea? The flashing "P" on the screen gives you a heads up that something interrupted the power, and though you can't do anything much about it, you will know to candle your eggs carefully in the following days to make sure that the embryos

Egg Hatching 101: Day 2 & Power Outage Preparedness

We are on Day 2 of our Hatching 101 series and today's post is going to include being prepared for a power outage. Why? Because your incubator runs on electricity, and if you lose that electricity during your incubation period, you better have a backup plan if you want a fighting chance of hatching anything in the end. Here in Eastern NC we typically deal with several hurricanes/tropical storms a year because we tend to be a magnet for them, so before we get into today's egg development, we're going to touch on things you can do in case of a power outage with an incubator. An incubator's sole job is to keep developing eggs at a certain temperature and humidity level for a set amount of time. In the chicken world, that is 21 days. So what do you do if the power goes out? Well if you have been following along in this series, you may remember I mentioned that studies have been showing that eggs may actually benefit from a short daily cool down period, mimicking the hen lea

Egg Hatching 101: Eggs & Incubator Prep

Many chicken owners, whether they are backyard pet chicken owners, small family flock owners, or larger scale breeders or farm egg producers, opt to hatch eggs with an incubator. I originally put this series together on our former blog a couple of years ago, when we followed along with one of our live hatches.  We got so much interest in that series from readers, that we felt it's the time to take a look at it again and update it as necessary, as well as move the series here to our new home on the web. This post will be a little more lengthy because there is a lot of background info to cover, but following posts over the next few weeks in this series will be shorter and more specific to that day and/or stage of development. Please also note that like everything else in this world, everyone has a different way of doing whatever it is they do. This series is how we choose to hatch eggs and what we have personally learned from our hatches and research. While it isn't rocket scienc

Mid-winter Break and a Lunch Date

We have a welcomed mid-winter weather break and it's blue skies and mid 60s on the farm today. It definitely brings Spring Fever with it as I have lunch in the backyard and eyeball all of the bare gardens that will be sprouting in a couple of months. As is the norm anytime there is a meal at the backyard picnic table, my buddy Crow the big Brahma rooster shared my sandwich. He's a fan of backyard picnics and his waistline definitely shows it.


It was a year ago today that a tiny ball of fur was delivered to our farm. It was a warm day, which then turned into four weeks of snow, and he thought that was great. We named him Seife, German for Soap, and he quickly grew into his role of farm dog. He's not so tiny now, although still very furry (evident by a constantly full shop vac), and has proven to be both a protector and a goof ball. Heavy on the goof ball. He loves playing ball, anything to do with water, helping with farm chores and going on family outings. And just, well, being Seife.

January Thunderstorm

It has been a very wet week on The Farm. One improvement is that it is 60 degrees this morning but that came in with a drenching thunderstorm. Hopefully at some point in the near future it will dry up enough for us to get the trailer load of 25 new stall mats around to the back side of the barn. Right now the ground is just so saturated that there is no way we would avoid getting stuck. Looks like today will be spent on inside projects... Like making homemade ginger ale!

Welcome Back, Sunshine

It has been a week of cold, rain, fog, gray skies, sleet and freezing nights. Finally the sun is back! The goats have been celebrating by running laps and playing tag in the pasture and the horses are enjoying a snooze in the warm rays.

Barn Improvements

I've been putting off a much needed barn improvement project for a while in hopes of catching the necessary materials on sale. Specifically, high grade rubber mats for the stalls and aisle way. The heavy stall mats I needed finally went on sale today so Seife & I headed into town. We will need to remove the old mats in the stalls and do some leveling of the clay floor before we put the new ones in place, as well as have some sand brought in to raise the floor level in the aisle way because we occasionally have flooding problems when it rains a lot. Project benefits: Reduce bedding costs (which are at an all time high) because rubber mats keep the bedding from being ground into the dirt/clay floor. Reduce flooding problems by allowing us to raise the floor level and then protect it with the mats Reduce dust issues... our barn is very, very old and the aisle way is made up of very, very old fine dusty dirt that gets on everything. This will also help keep our milking stat

Incoming Winter Weather and a Fat Goat

After getting 100 lbs of soap poured this morning, I scurried outside to prepare everything for the threat of freezing rain coming in tonight. Stalls are all clean, water buckets cleaned and filled, hay feeders full, corn out for the chickens and ducks. Abbie supervised most of the work. And that belly.... Oh my. Every year I think she is going to explode with babies way before her due date because she gets so big. She is due the first week of March and already looks like she's going to pop.

Flip flopping weather

A few days ago we were preparing for and then enduring a pretty hard freeze. This evening, as I head to bed, it is 61 degrees outside. Foggy, muggy, January weather. The flipping back and forth makes it hard for anyone (including our livestock) to get acclimated to anything so we just take it as it comes.

DIY: Fire Starters

We primarily heat our house with our woodstove, which means we start a lot of fires. This is a task that can be quite an art form for seasoned professionals and pretty daunting to those who just want to get warm, fast. We used to fight with the stove and the wood, babying the flame until it took hold, trying more paper or more kindling or different wood or different techniques, all of which tried our patience in some form. Until we learned how to make firestarters. (Can you hear the trumpets and angels in the distance?) These little nuggets of fabulousness have saved our sanity and our freezing hands regularly. They are so simple to make and you probably don't even have to buy anything. Start off with old egg cartons, specifically the paper-cardboardy type. Put them on newspaper, cardboard or whatever you have laying around that you don't mind wax getting on since some melted wax will seep through the cartons before it cools. We just used scrap cardboard from a box that was in

Misadventures In Soapmaking: Frozen Edition

Over the years we have had a few giggles in my misadventures in soapmaking... I've melted buckets by trying to liquify solid oils, I've dumped a few pounds of castor oil onto my kitchen floor (More than once actually. Don't ask.) I've cleaned up volcano eruptions from my counters and, well, part of our hallway floor is permanently scented lavender. Could be worse, I tell myself. And my husband. Or, well, he may not have known about the mysterious lavender scent until now. Long term air freshener? It's the new thing, I swear. I have a knack for keeping myself on my toes with my job. Unintentionally. I play hide and seek with myself multiple, and I mean multiple times a day. Seriously, I need a gps tracking device on my coffee mug and I have successfully hidden 50 lb buckets of oil from myself in the house before. Today, however, I even made myself laugh. I froze some of my soapmaking equipment in a solid block of ice. Rewind to yesterday afternoon when I finished a

Winter Highs and Evening Skies

As is the norm here to not have "normal temps" to consistently rely on during the winter, we are once again coming off of 60 to near 70 degree days and expecting a high tonight of 18. We will be bringing in extra wood for the stove and likely utilizing it's heat to make a hearty warm stew and fresh bread for the next couple of evenings. Other cold temp tasks on the agenda: extra corn thrown out for the chickens and ducks (it helps them generate heat internally), move the horses into the barn at night, extra hay for the horses and goats, and precautions to prevent frozen water pipes. No matter the weather, the sunsets we have had for the last few nights have been spectacular. I always like the contrast of the fiery skies with the bare black tree shadows of winter.