My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ducklings on the Way

Muscovy duck at 19 days incubation

I candled some of the eggs in the incubator last night. There are 6 Muscovy eggs left from Karen's flock. Here you can see a little head and bill. They are at 19 days, so just about half way.

So far the 6 remaining eggs all look pretty good so my fingers are crossed they all make it.

When you set eggs to incubate not every single egg will always be fertile. Then there always seem to be some that we call early quitters. They start to develop but for some reason they quit. Sometimes I think it can be a genetic defect in the egg or sometimes it is something environmental or even the nutrition of the parents. (my reading indicates that vitamin E is especially important for hatch ability)

I also checked my purebred Ameraucana eggs, there are 8 of those left and they are due on Monday so hoping we'll have some cute babies real soon. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Little Progress

pallet wood
You know some days I just feel like I haven't gotten much accomplished. Unless I write things down. Then I can see that I did get something done, it just seems like it should have been twice as much in the time I had.

Well building projects around here start out with ripping pallets; this is part of about 6 I took apart first thing this morning.

front of breeding pen

I then seemed to have spent most of the day building this front of a breeding pen, complete with door frame. The door still needs wire, hinges & a latch.

Along with that I did eat breakfast, washed and hung up two loads of clothes.

eggs in the nest of the layer house

I also managed to do all my chicken chores and collect eggs. When I was done building I cut all the trash wood up and brought it in for the stove.

I did take some pictures of some of the birds today. I also checked and spritzed thirty odd chicken butts for lice. They have been a terrible problem here and while some birds never seem to have any, other birds seem to be covered. I'll do all the rest of the birds tomorrow evening.

mamma silkie and her foster babies
black copper marans hatched Nov 28th

Mamma silkie is taking good care of her babies.

The three Black Copper Marans chicks from November look like two boys and a girl.


Henrietta is a show quality Buff Orpington pullet.

Claire is 75% English imported Buff Orpington.

Claude is 100% English imported Buff Orpington. This trio belongs to my friend Cindy. I just get to keep and take care of these wonderful birds as her breeding partner. I have 4 of Henny's eggs in the incubator now and will continue to collect and hatch her eggs for awhile. We are waiting for Claire to lay her first egg. From the color of her comb and wattles, it ought to be pretty soon!
Claude with the wind blowing

Claude has been hanging out in the layer pen and looks like a jolly golden giant compared to the little Easter Egger girls.  Today when I was working on the breeding pen Claire and Henny snuck in there too. There was some fussing with some of the older layers, but nobody was really serious enough to take on this giant golden girls! But all the layers had to come in and investigate the part of the building they usually can't get to. They were all underfoot while I was trying to work!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Setting Eggs

Getting Ready to Incubate
Well I have been collecting eggs for a week so now they are going to go into the incubator.

On the left, 11 Muscovy duck eggs. In the middle carton towards the back are 4 eggs from a show quality standard bred Buff Orpington named Henrietta.The bluer eggs in that carton are from a purebred blue Ameraucana pullet bred to my pretty Easter Egger roo Earl. The greenish eggs are from Earl and his half sister. And finally on the right, 14 Black Copper Marans. In real life these are about half a shade darker, the flash washed them out a bit. If you have the egg color card from the Marans club, these are all about a #4. If you don't know, that is the lightest color they are supposed to have. They can get much much darker, but it takes a lot of breeding and culling to get there. These will be my first generation of my own breeding so I have a long way to go.

Oops forgot to mention those two little eggs in the middle carton, two silkies, just for fun. Twenty nine chicken eggs and 11 duck eggs. The chickens will be due February 27 but the Muscovy take 33-35 days so they won't hatch until around March 13.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Incubating Duck & Chicken Eggs

Muscovy duck egg at 9 days incubation

I love incubating and hatching eggs. It is so amazing to watch the babies grow in their shells. A lot of people do not know that you can see into the eggs.

The easiest ones to see into are white duck eggs because they are large and the shells are white. You set them over a strong light and as you can see in the photo you can see what is going on in there. Colored eggs are much harder, especially dark brown ones, because they obstruct the light more.

My friend Karen asked me to incubate some of her Muscovy duck eggs as her hens weren't setting the nest yet and there were a lot of eggs, maybe too many for them to cover easily when they do decide to sit on them and keep them warm.  Muscovy ducks lay very large eggs which take an average of 35 days to incubate. In contrast chicken eggs only take 21 days.

In the photo the darker circle in the center is the embryo, with it's spiderweb of veins. Look at the center of that circle and see the small darker spot, which is the eye and brain beginning to form. This egg has been in the incubator for 9 days.

A lot of things can happen to an egg that will prevent it from hatching. First of course it must be fertile, but not every fertile egg will begin to grow a chick and not every egg that begins to grow will complete it's growth and hatch. Some issues are genetic, just something wrong with the chick itself and some are environmental, like getting too hot or too cold. If the humidity is too high or too low, that can also cause problems. Not even mamma hens have a perfect hatch every time.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Move In Day!

coop door, just needs a latch
Well finally the top floor of the silkie/brooder coop is done enough to move in! After a lot of set backs I finally got a door made. It has a Lexan panel in it which I scrubbed on for a whole afternoon trying to get the remains of the paper covering off of it to no avail. I even tried some orange goo and a plastic scraper. So it will always look really dirty....

stairwell bumper

I added a bumper around the pop door opening so that litter would not be always falling down the hole when it's open.

I never got the side windows figured out, so just stapled some plastic over the openings and called it good.

On the advice of a long time breeder and master exhibitor I added plain old clay cat litter to the floor. The non clumping, no additive kind. I may add some shavings on top; not decided yet.

Mamma silkie & the two BCM chicks

So now mamma silkie and the chicks are outside in their new home.

Mom! Let me in!
Those chicks are real camera shy; I have to be quick to catch them before they run back under mamma!