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Showing posts from February, 2015

Snowy Farm

We got our first snow of the winter this week on the farm... four inches, which makes for pretty pictures, but doesn't help much when chores have to be done.



The goats and horses stayed hidden inside for the most part, except for an occasional glance outside to see if they were missing anything.  They would peek out but quickly retreat back to the shelter of their stall once they determined that Playing In Snow really isn't on their To Do List for the day.

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I can't say that I blamed them one bit. If it weren't for me having to go out in it every couple hours to check on all of the animals (including 30 baby chicks), I wouldn't have gone out there either.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMngRdaBA-o[/embed]

I did manage to get out and take a farm tour video for our new YouTube channel.  In this you can see bits and pieces of the farm including the goats, chickens and…

Countdown: 10 Days Til Kidding Season Begins

A nice break in the weather yesterday gave us chance to kick the goats out of the barn long enough to strip their stall, put in their new rubber mat flooring and re-bed it with fresh shavings. Just in time, too, since kidding season will start here around March 5.  Ten more days, and then things start really getting busy around here.



The bedding we remove from the goat stall gets repurposed and given to the chickens, who love foraging through and cleaning it up. After they break it down naturally by scratching through it for a month or so, we will transfer it to the gardens to use as mulch and fertilizer.

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Abbie really wins the prize every year for the biggest pregnancy display. I always think there is no way she can get any bigger, yet she proves me wrong each time. Not only does she currently look like she's smuggling two beach balls in her belly, but she's moaning and groaning a lot as the growi…

Record Low Temps

The news is all aflutter with statements about record low temps for eastern NC today, tonight and tomorrow morning, complicated by the 25+ mph winds bringing the wind chill factor down to zero degrees tonight. And yes, I know I know I know... For all of our northern folks, this is the norm for this time of year. I know. For here, it isn't, and we have to find ways of dealing with it. It's one thing to adapt and take care of yourself (and potentially freezing pipes) but it's another thing to safely get livestock through this without major ordeals.

Chickens & ducks: Have extra cracked corn thrown out (which helps generate internal heat), and going out every couple hours with buckets of fresh water.

Goats: Plenty of hay, alfalfa pellets free choice, and refilling their heated water bucket as needed. All four are presumed very, very pregnant and therefore we need them eating, drinking, moving and staying warm.

Horses: The big one was blanketed for the first time this year (du…

Wordless Wednesday: Ice

Frozen Farm

Woke up to a frozen farm this morning. I'd love to report that it was a lazy morning, sitting by the wood stove, sipping coffee and reading books, but instead it started off when I catapulting myself out of bed when the power flickering off and on (and then completely OFF) woke me and I realized we had 30+ chicks under heat lamps downstairs.

It was a mild panic, complicated by complete darkness, partial asleep-ness, and pre-coffee confusion, but I was finally able to get my wits about me enough to process the situation. The chick brooders are two 55-gallon fish tanks with heat lamps, so I combined all of the chicks into one and covered it with a blanket so that they would keep in what heat they had (and huddle). Luckily they are a week old and getting less fragile, but still warranting concern when heat is needed.

Thank goodness for a wood stove and a healthy stash of dry wood piled up along the wall. The power was back on by late morning but had been needed, we would have been fine…

Egg Hatching 101: Day 21 Hatch Day

Today is the official Hurry Up And Wait day... oh, you thought the entire 21 days were? Just wait until you have eggs in the incubator and it's hatch day, and you'll see what I mean.

Chicks hatch on their own time clock. Some are anxious to get out, some must like it in there because they'll wait it out as long as they can. Regardless, today is The Day to keep all eyes on your incubator.

"Pipping" is when the chick actually breaks through the shell with a bump on the tip of its beak called an egg tooth (which falls off after a couple days). An inner pip just includes the inner membrane, where an outer pip (which is what you're looking for today) will be a tiny crack in the shell.

Hatching can take hours... yes, hours. We had one chick last year that took nearly an entire day to completely hatch. We watched it the entire time, ready to intervene if needed, but in the end she made it out by herself. We've had other chicks that pipped and kept chipping away, th…

Egg Hatching 101: Day 20 Peeping

We are on Day 20 of our egg incubation and everything is pretty quiet. Other than making sure that the humidity is staying above 65%, it's time to leave the incubator completely alone. The temperature should be staying pretty consistent around 99.5-99.6. In the last several days of incubation, the chicks are producing some of their own heat so the incubator isn't having to do as much.

On Day 20:

The lungs are using the air cell to breathe completely now
Occasional soft peeping may be heard, and sometimes eggs can be seen moving a little

Tomorrow marks the big day!!





→ 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 19 Lockdown

Today is Day 19... also known as the beginning of lock down for the incubator. A lot happens today. First, we removed the incubator from the automatic rocker, shown above. If you don'd have a rocker or egg turner and you have been manually turning your eggs, today you stop.



For the next few days, we want the humidity levels to be higher. Follow your incubator's instructions, but for our Brinsea, the instructions say you want to boost it above 65% for the last three days. We do this with the fabric scrap I've mentioned several times before, which dips into the water filled wells and increases the surface area of the water (allowing it to evaporate more and increase humidity).



Then, we replace the tray of eggs and lay them on their sides after carefully removing any dividers that have been holding them up. This allows the chicks inside to have a couple of days to orient themselves for hatching. Important: Do NOT turn your eggs during the last three days! Lock down means lock d…

Egg Hatching 101: Day 18 Beaks and Lungs

We are on Day 18... we're nearing the end here guys! It's hard to believe that our eggs are set to hatch in just a few short days. You can see in today's image the size increase of the air pocket in the egg compared to days 7 and 14. The chick's beak will soon break through the membrane to access this pocket.

Tomorrow begins "lock down" for the incubator to prepare for hatching.

On Day 18:

Beak breaks through the inner shell membrane
Lungs are beginning to function

→ 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 17 Beak Turning

If your incubator has any type of rocking device like ours does (or automatic egg turner), today is the last day that is will need to be used. Tomorrow it should be turned off (or in our case, removed), and the eggs will be laid on their sides for the remaining incubation period. This gives the chicks a few days to orient themselves inside the eggs and prepare for hatching.

Day 17:

Beak turns for access to air cell

→ 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 16 Head Turning

We are on Day 16 of our chick incubation. This image above is a really interesting picture of chick development in the egg, ending with the day we are on now. It really shows that a lot is going on in such a short amount of time. (photo credit: thepoultrysite.com)




Day 16:


The chick moves its head to face the air cell at the top (blunt end) of the egg.

→ 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 15 Beaks and Legs

We're on Day 15 of incubation. Other than regular checks of the temperature and humidity, you're pretty much just leaving the eggs alone at this point. Obvious blanks should have already been pulled out, so unless you are seeing anything fishy on the surface of your eggs, there is no need to handle them at this point. Just sit back and let nature do its magical thing!




On Day 15:





Beaks are hardening
Leg scales and claws are hardening




Photo credit: University of Illinois






→ 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!


Forest People

A large portion of our farm is in the forest and it is one of my favorite places to visit. We spent our Sunday strolling through, checking the status of the creek, hunting for fallen trees for firewood and visiting with the "forest people".

Egg Hatching 101: Day 14 Bones and Shifting

Day 14 means only one week to go!  Time to start getting your brooder planned out and ready if you haven't already done so. Chicks will be hatching before you know it!

One Day 14:

Bones in the chick are starting to ossify (harden), including the skull.
The chick is beginning to shift around in the egg to face the wider end

→ 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 13 Wing Feathers

I mentioned a while back in this series that we use a scrap of t-shirt fabric to help wick water up from the wells (increasing surface area of the water) to increase humidity as shown above. Well we are well past the halfway point of our 21-day incubation, and from this point on, you may or may not need the extra humidity assistance to keep the levels stable. The chicks in the eggs start putting off their own heat and humidity as they get further along in their developing, so keep an eye on the levels in your incubator and make changes as needed.

On Day 13:

Wing feathers are developing
Collar bones begin to fuse to the "wishbone"

→ 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 12 Checking Humidity

Keeping an eye on your incubator's temperature and humidity level should be a daily task on your agenda. If either one gets too far out of whack for too long, serious problems can arise in the development of your eggs. You still want the temperature hovering around 99.6 and the humidity between 40-50%. During the last few days of incubation  we'll want to increase the humidity to help with hatching, but for right now, this is right where we want to be.

We add water to the two wells located below the egg tray as needed in our incubator; yours may require a different method. I mentioned early in this series that we opted not to buy the expensive humidity gadget because we found that a large syringe works just fine in our situation. It allows me to quickly add water between the eggs right into the wells below without moving the tray and disturbing the eggs any more than I have to. It also helps keep me from getting the eggs wet.

The paper towels shoved around the eggs in the photo …

Egg Hatching 101: Day 11 Blanks

We are on day 11 and now is a good time to talk about blanks.

Blank eggs... what are they? These eggs aren't developing, were probably never fertilized, and need to be removed from the incubator. If you are candling eggs that you can see light through and you aren't seeing any development, it's a good time to think about removing them. Eggs that are too dark to candle properly (such as Marans eggs that are dark chocolate brown), I typically leave in and give the benefit of the doubt.

The above photo shows a good example of a blank egg on day 11. At this point, you should have a noticeable dark blob that probably reacts to the light by moving around.




Today, we're on Day 11:




Padding on feet is starting to form
Feathers are beginning to form on the back and tail
Beak continues to harden
Comb continues to develope
Embryo starts drawing calcium from eggshell to support growing bones.


→ See our entire Egg Hatching 101 Series up to this point here. ←




This post is part of a series about…