Monthly Archives: March 2014

Schemes, and Also Cute Quails.

The new quail coop is nearing completion. I just need to put on the three roof sections, and add the hardware (hinges, catches, etc.)

And also fill the bottom six inches or so with dirt.  Now that it’s Spring, the quail are enjoying digging around in the dirt so much.  I went out to check on Cinna and his girls this morning, and found they had dug massive holes.  I thought maybe it was just for dirt bathing, but then I saw one of the girls unearth a worm.  This led to a high-energy game of chase, as the other girl wanted the worm too!  Then Cinna found a worm of his own, but instead of eating it himself (he’s such a sweet little boy) he tugged it up out of the ground just enough so it couldn’t get away, and called for the girls.  The wormless girl came running and grabbed it, and then both girls were doing the mad worm chase, neither stopping to realize that they each had a worm of their own.  There were several near collisions, and much drama!  I can’t imagine raising these little guys on a wire floor; they get so much enjoyment from their lives being “natural” quail.

I tried to get a video for you, but Cinna was in the nest box out of sight, and the girls had calmed down.  And they had also managed to fill in their biggest holes.  And oops – I need to find a better water system; this energetic digging is throwing too much dirt into their water.  I’ve cleaned it out four times today!

And they are also beginning to lay again; I found my first little speckled egg this morning!

This winter I’ve been planning lots of plans.  I’ve sketched out each section of the yard, with what I want to do.  These plans are constantly shifting, but right now, here’s a portion of the side yard.  There will be some fruits and vegetables here, plus a yard for meat chickens/ducks.

Right now, that yard is a disaster.  Junk from this-and-that, plus mud.  Lots and lots of mud.  It’s been raining pretty much non-stop here.

Another view (from the other end):

The chickens better enjoy it while they can.  Once I start renovating things, they won’t have access to this yard anymore.

Don’t feel sorry for them, though – they are getting their own yard renovation, with a private kale garden, apple trees, roses, and herbs.  I’ll show you photos of the “before” of their yard soon.  Right now, I’ll just show you one thing: the chicken garden plot.

I just planted out some kale starts, and some peppermint plants in cement cinder blocks.  The cinder blocks work really well as planters; they can’t really dig them out very easily, and they don’t like to eat peppermint.  It does, however, help deter flies and keep things smelling nice in the coop yard.

I’ll put a proper fence around the garden bed at some point, but right now I just needed something quick and easy to protect those little kale until I can start harvesting leaves for the chickens to eat!

There is one other section of the side garden.  I’m growing mostly fruit bushes and vines here, but I also plan to install a duck coop for a couple of Indian Runner ducks.  I need some garden slug patrol.  The chickens do a great job of keeping the slug population way, way down, but I can’t let them run freely in the garden during the growing season, or I wouldn’t have a garden.  Ducks, though, especially small, light Indian Runners, are perfectly wonderful in a garden part-time.

Here’s my sketch:

And here’s the current reality.  This portion of the yard is further along.  I have a large number of the fruit bushes/vines already planted.

We’re still in the process of building raised beds, etc.  There is still such a long way to go!

But Spring is finally making an appearance.

The Eggs are Alive!

I’m so happy.  I broke down and candled the quail eggs even though they are only three days in the incubator and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to see anything.

But I did!  I chose the plain, unspotted egg for candling, and the “spider leg” pattern of veins was clearly visible!  I was so hoping that egg in particular would be fertile and undamaged by the shipping, and it is.

If you don’t know what I mean by spider leg veining, watch this short video I found on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TVSgApaqAA

I now feel confident enough to recommend this seller, if you want fertile hatching eggs.  There were much better wrapped, and came faster, than the eggs I ordered from Stromberg’s last year.

I’m also happy because I mentioned to Mom that eventually we should have an Eco Glow Brooder for the hatchlings, and to my surprise she decided to purchase one for this this batch of babies.

urlIt’s pretty snazzy.  Much safer and cost-efficient than a heat lamp, and it mimics the soothing effect of having a warm mother over the babies, which can only be good for them.

Garden Plants & Quail Eggs

I went to Christenson’s Nursery today for a class on growing espalier trees.  It was completely fascinating, and exactly what I needed.  I feel quite confident; all I need is trees!  Unfortunately, no one local sells the heirloom trees I want, and the reputable places online have all sold out for the year.  So next year, for sure, I am getting my apple trees.  I still have hopes that I’ll be able to find a pear tree for this year.

But while I was there, I did pick up a couple of currents.  One white (Primus) and one pink (Gloire Des Sablons).

7499b0cac17ee1254fcbc211280519a8.image.250x250

I also got a honeysuckle to plant around the beehive.  I used to be scared of planting honeysuckle, because you hear the horror stories of how invasive they are, but after some research I discovered there are nice, well behaved varieties.  This one is called “Peaches and Cream” (lonicera periclymenom).

lonicera_peaches_and_cream___inov86__concept_plants__1_

I also picked up my first mason bees.  They came in a teeny little package, and are still in cocoons.  Right now they will stay in my fridge, but when it warms up a little, I’ll put them outside.

And lastly, I did my quail egg inspection last night, and discovered all the eggs were in great shape!  I only threw one of the twenty out because it appeared to have a weaker shell than the others.  No detached air cells that I could see at all!  This is a very good thing; hopefully it means their shipping wasn’t traumatic, and they will hatch well.  I put twelve in the incubator.

This Brinsea Mini Advance incubator is the bomb.  It took me less than a minute to set the temp, turn frequency, etc, and since then it’s been right on the mark.  No fuss or worry at all.

I have high hopes for these little eggs.  In a few days, I’ll candle them again, and see if there’s any development that I can see.  They are so tiny, and most are so spotted that it’s basically impossible to see inside…but maybe if the plain colored one is fertile, I’ll be able to watch that one grow!