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Random Photos!

Good morning! It’s been a weird few weeks, things have been a bit rough and rocky at home, hopefully things are improving now (fingers and toes crossed). Because of this, I just haven’t been able to get into blogging, and I’m missing it! So, on the advice of Sister V, I am going to post something random, and unrelated to nail polish. 😉 Here then, are some photos I’ve taken previously, and not really known where to post. Prepare for animal spam! (not the food in a can. No.)

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Here is my goofy dog, April, smiling as she lounges around in her bed. Love her so much, she’s such a character. Even if she’s more of a giant cat than a dog, she’s my girl.

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And… here is my cat, Sehkmet, just… doing cat things. We don’t get on. We pretend, but as it’s mutual, I don’t mind not liking her much. All the cats I’ve ever adored (well, they tend to act more like dogs, for one thing) they die young. Sekkie is over 6 now, and going strong, so yeah, go figure 😀

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And a chick. Saying hello. I think I’ve posted this before, but I love this photo, so too bad 😉

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And another chick, cute little thing!

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Big Daddy Bruce… the sneakiest rooster I’ve ever met. I really like Bruce. But… I think we have to eat him. He’s given us over 100 chicks already, he attacks me if I go near the hens and chicks (and I’m not a coward, I’ll gently kick him off me if he tries, and that just means we get into a kicking/biting fight and I end up bleeding and really worried I’ll hurt him, on one hand, and looking for an axe on the other…). So, he’s only one year old, and already really aggressive. They get meaner with age. I don’t want to breed that into a line. And I don’t want to go through another Summer of Chicken Drama like this one, EVER AGAIN. Sorry Bruce. 😦

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To get away from that, here is another chick! About 2 hours old, on a loaf of bread. Sweet little thing 🙂

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And here’s a … thing…. I did. The background/foreground was an activity I did with my family, basically using alternative tools to apply paint to paper. Well, I used paper, they used canvas. Theirs looked great, mine was quite boring, so I added all the other bits to it – I wanted it to look like a little pool of water somewhere…

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And close up of the fish. It’s just a photo I found, and cut out the painted bits to show it underneath. It was fun to do, anyway!

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And, last but not least, a photo of seagulls on the beach at Napier.

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Have a great day

Ami 🙂

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There is a Bantam in my Laundry …

And she is laying eggs on my towel rack.

Pougal, my Old English Game bantam, and on of my very first chooks :)

Pougal, my Old English Game bantam, and on of my very first chooks 🙂

I left her there, it was really handy, and it wasn’t the actual towels we use, just those scruffy odds and ends of cleaning rags and toilet mats and things that accumulate. Plus, every time I saw her in there I’d laugh my head off, and I do love a good laugh.

Cheeky girl :D

Cheeky girl 😀

Have a happy day!

Ami 🙂

Diary of a Hatching Chick – contains real hatching photos.

This morning, I was fortunate enough to have another chick hatch while I was holding it. It’s always a special time, the beginning of life – and sadly with chicks, very often it’s the end of life too. Birthing is always the cusp between life and death, which is one reason it is so sacred, I think. However, I also thought I might be able to share it with you, as I was sitting reeeallly close to my camera. 😀

This is how it looked when I took it out of my incubator. It had made the air hole, and started to open the shell (this takes thousands of teeny pecks by the chick to do, they are incredibly strong animals). Sometimes they seem to peck a trapdoor, and they tend to be slow hatching. Ones that do the flip-top shell thing like this one did can arrive in a big hurry. Perfect!

Once the shell is mostly pecked through, the chick starts pushing up with it’s head, to lever the top off.

You can see it’s wing poking out here…

Wing!

And now it’s made a big enough gap that it has a wing out, and it’s foot. MUCH more leverage this way. You can also see that in the shell, there’s not a lot of space left, and it grows for the last week or so with it’s head tucked under it’s wing.

Then, pop! Top comes off, and its head and neck start to straighten. It’s a really good idea to be as hands-off as possible. I do tend to pick mine up once they are at the flip-top stage, but only for a few reasons: my incubator has no humidity, I get around this by squirting the eggs a few times a day when I turn them. In the last 3 days before hatching the eggs need about 80% humidity to hatch, and I try to replicate this roughly by wrapping a warm wet tissue around the shell, but ONLY when the airhole is present, and I keep about 1/4 unwrapped to try not to change the tensile pressure of the shell. So, once it’s at the stage in the first photo, if I can I take off the tissue and hold it to keep it warm and humid. (plus, you know, baby!)

Another important point: chicks are designed to have to fight their way out of the egg. It’s hard to watch, but necessary. They have a complicated network of blood vessels, and the fighting to hatch closes these off. I have read of horror stories of people trying to help a chick hatch, only to pull off a piece of shell and have the chick bleed to death. Yuck. Poor chick, poor people. You can see a vessel here, on the chicks back. This was severed by it wiggling while in my hand, and obviously a shut down one, anyway. Hard as it is to watch, let them be. 🙂

blood vessel from the top of the shell to it’s back – this was fine, but its a VERY good idea to be as hands-off as possible. Lots of information on the net for the more curious 🙂

Then, out of the bottom of the shell with one big kick, and there it is, in my hand. Hello, chick!

 

Hello, world.

(Important! I didn’t have my hand open for the duration, keeping birds warm is VITAL. I was being an honarary hen, and keeping it in the warm and dark of my cupped hands until I took a quick photo.)

Back in the incubator to fluff up and warm up a bit more… which also makes them look cuter 😀

And after 20 mins or so… it’s silver! This is my first silver chick – not sure of it’s parentage, dad is Blue Orpington, mum may be Light Sussex, but I’m not completely sure.

Then, my patented ‘being a mother hen and still having a life’ trick – I tuck the end of a bandana down my top, and fold the rest up and over the chick. So chick is now tucked up against the skin of my throat, warm and dark, and I can use both hands.

I know, taking a photo like this is dorky, but it’s for a good cause, right? And I didn’t go get dressed up for ya all, so you’ll have to take me as I am 🙂

I make sure there is plenty of air for the chick though!

And then, once I’ve carted it around for a few hours it’s cute, strong, fluffy, steady on it’s legs and ready to go under the heat lamp in the box with my other chicks that have no mother hen. Of which I have 12 now. Holy Moly. *quiet panic attack*

Have a lovely day
Ami 🙂

Chicken and Chick update!

So, Spring has sprung with a noise  somewhat like SPRRROOIIIINGGG…cheep!

Feral hatched her six eggs with no help required, as per my earlier post here, and has kept them all alive and happy. She’s a legend. Brave (the chicken who used to sit on my head when I went out to feed them) did similar, but with eight chicks.

Now they all hang out together, and there is a fluffy river of chicks in the yard.

Then the fun started in earnest – with somewhere between 4 and 8 chickens deciding to go broody in the shed, pinch each others eggs, steal new eggs that were being laid, abandon newly hatched chicks… argh. I ended up implementing a ‘first to hatch a chick and be an actual mother gets ALL the chicks for awhile’ policy, which (touch wood) is working: We now have Buffy (a Buff Orpington cross, NOT for the vampire slayer) with 5 chicks, and Jet (my huge black and brown Orpy) now with 8.

These vary in age, because some of the chicks were abandoned by their stoopid broody mothers and there was no adoptive parent available at the time, so I’ve also had various numbers of chicks inside under lamps.

Two Orpington Crosses (look like penguins), two Old English Game Bantams (look like bumblebees)

Luckily, since the first one, Cornelius, I havent had to sleep beside any and pat them all night to keep them happy. He had a semi-hernia, but he survived. I also found two so close to frozen that I thought they were dead, but once I noticed they had a slight pulse I tucked them up against me until they warmed to body temp and started moving, then put them under the lamps, and they’ve both made it. YAY!

Cornelius – from the shell I’m guessing he’s purebred Orpington 🙂

 

Note on the strange naming system: I name my birds by the year they hatch, now. All chicks bought/born last year have names starting with B, they were my second year birds. This year they have to start with C. Let me tell you, that leads to temptation when you’re a potty mouth like me, and they’re peeping in the middle of the night 😀

My first ever photo of a chick yawning… this is Chaos Chick, one of the almost-frozen-to-death chicks, 1.5 hours after I found him. The strongest chick I’ve EVER seen. Possibly half Orpy, half Rhode Island Red – or Hyline. 🙂

Have a great day!

First chicks of the Spring!

This is Feral – a hen I bought, with her 10 chicks, early this year. Well, she’s a ferocious brooder and an awesome mother hen, so I thought I’d be able to sneak some cool eggs under her this year. Beat me to it, didnt’ she – disappeared very early and yesterday popped out with these cuties!

See the wings? That’s a ‘Don’t Mess With Me’ pose. Do not cuddle a chicken that looks like this. She growls, too. It’s awesome!

 

6 in total – the dad is probably the half-Hamburg we ate a month or so ago (he was a meanie to the girls! So he went…). Ah well, his genes survive. And in a -for now anyway – much cuter form.

Welcome to the world, little peeps!

Varieties of eggs my chickens lay…

Just for fun!

A half dozen eggs in a carton…

7 eggs in my egg collecting basket. The large brownest one is a Rhode Island Red egg.

Yesterdays egg haul

I have 4 green egg laying chickens now (no green pigs for ham, though). I love the subtle differences in colours for each of them – Brave, who was born last summer to Tyra and Fabio (so half mixed breed, half Hamburg) as a distinctly more olive hue.

See? Naomi lays the largest green eggs, and Tyra lays slightly bluer ones.

Then we have this Rhode Island Red and a Light Sussex egg – they’re a good size 6 and a half, smooth and light tan with a pinkish tinge. By the way, I do NOT have a terrible skin disease of the hands, I have been using PVA glue in the caravan – and it made a mess 😀

Here is Tyra’s blueish green egg, and the one next to it is Brianna – Karla (Hyline) cross Fabio (Hamburg). I’m VERY excited about this, because this is a good size egg, not quite the size of a normal Hyline / Shaver egg but close, and she’s a much healthier bird. So crossing them can work! yay! Can’t wait to see a Hyline cross Orpington chicken…

 

And these two – the round, super white egg is from Bill, our Blue Andalusian. I’m not sure who has laid the long and pointy one, but it made me laugh :D. I know if I was laying eggs every day I’d prefer them to be this shape!

Have a great day!

 

 

Goodbye Fabio, Hello Bruce, and Rooster Wars with Rico

I finally managed to find a good home for Fabio and Goldie, my Gold Spangled Hamburg breeding pair. Fabio was my flock rooster, he was pretty much big daddy of all last summer’s chicks, and he is a great rooster. I’ll miss him! He was very kind to his girls, always gave them a dance and looked out for them, but… his offspring are, obviously, at least half Hamburg. This means they are pretty, intelligent, and excellent fliers. They roost 20 feet up in a tree, they fly over any fence and hide their eggs, they’re light bodied and they scream like a hawk should scream. In other words, fantastic birds; pretty crap chickens. So, as I don’t want a repeat of this whole scenario, I reluctantly sold Fabio and Goldie to a breeder who should take great care of them.

Why Fabio? Look at those long flowing locks! He needs a white ruffled shirt and a painted sky backdrop, and he could BE Fabio.

This left Rico, my teeny weeny bantam Old English Game roo as Mr Man of the Flock. He was quite confused, but seemed ok with this , although he did seem to be looking for a ladder. When I brought him into my flock I was a little concerned with how Fabio would react, but Fabio was fine. (This from a rooster that kicked the stuffing out of my dominant Silver Spangled Roo, Flash – hence my trepidation – but all was well).

Rico Suave

So, today, I bought home my new rooster – Bruce, a purebred blue Orpington. He is very dark blue on his back, and light blue on his tummy, and about the size of 6 Chihuahua’s. I have 8 Orpington hens, and am keen to breed more, and most of the rest of my flock now are either a handful of bantams incl Rico, and dual purpose larger chickens. I thought there shouldn’t be an issue. I mean, look at the size of Rico up there next to an Orpy hen.. and Bruce is twice the size of those hens, easily.

Big Blue Bruce. Who would call a rooster Bruce, anyway?!

Can you tell from the title I was wrong about that assumption? Bruce was integrating nicely, when next second – and it was about 5 seconds after I let Bruce out of his cat cage – Rico attacks him at eye height from the flax, and the fight was on like donkey kong. Holy moly. I chased them around, I tried to stop the fighting, but in the end it was easier to seperate them. Bruce is now out the front, by the porch, with 4 hens, Rico is in the main part of the chook area with 33. Somewhat unfair…

I think they’ll sort it out, but they were fairly intent on the fighting, and the size discrepancy is enormous. They’d better sort it out, and nicely, or else I’ll put them both in time out…

Hope everyone is having a sunny, uneventful day!

Ami

p.s. these roosters are all crowing in these photos because I like photos of roosters singing 😀 They are also doing it a lot today, trying to vocally sort out the dominance thing. Rico sounds like a cricket cross chicken, and Bruce sounds a bit like a big truck rumbling past. Love the contrast.

Polish Bantam (chickens) and Nail Amusement…

These two cuties are my Polish Bantam hens, Stoner and Goofy. They were my mother and aunts chickens, and now are mine. Or I’m theirs. I think chooks are a bit more like cats than dogs: they have staff / feeders, not owners 😀

Stoner is grey, Goofy is white. I didn’t name them, promise, but I did change their name order around, because that’s how I remember it – Stone = Grey. And of COURSE that’s what she was named after.

Although they are called Polish chickens; “the oldest accounts of crested chickens comes from the Netherlands. In addition to combs, their heads are adorned with large crests due to a cone (called a protuberance) on the top of their skull. The crests cover almost their entire heads. They are normally tame chickens, but can be easily timid or frightened because the crests on their heads limits their vision. This limited vision can impact their temperament.Polish chickens are bred primarily as a show bird, but were originally egg layers. Accordingly, Polish rarely go broody and are noted for their white eggs. Information from good old Wiki, page here.

Isnt’t that the cutest? They come in awesome colours, and the roosters have this hilarious mop on their heads. Adorable! Photo from this website here

My two girls are pretty quiet – they were top of the pecking order (though I think they needed little ladders to peck the Rhode Island Red hens) before integrating with my vast flock, but they have found their feet here too. They’re middle range in the pecking order, and sweet little things while being not at all timid. It always brightens my day to see their little heads a-bobbling as they go about their business.

So, here are my nails as inspired by my Polish banties!

Polish Bantam Nails

The white was CR 58 (standard white creme), with a few speckles of China Glaze Sea Spray sponged onto the tips.

The grey was a base coat of Misa Grey Matters, and one sponged layer of China Glaze Sea Spray, and then I got lazy and brushed on more Sea Spray at the tips instead of sponging again – it looked ok in real life, but in macro, not so much. One coat of Orly Sec ‘n’ Dry over the top, and done!

These would NOT have been practical at ALL.. but they did make me giggle.

Have a great day everyone!

Light Sussex Chicken and Nail Art

Chickens and nail polish: two of my favourite things. (alongside my family, and jewellery, and running down mountains. I have lots of favourite things:D). So, I thought – why not combine them? I’m fortunate enough to have quite a variety of chickens, so I’ll use them as inspiration for some nail art, and also give a bit of information on the chook.

First up, light sussex chicken

here are some beautiful Light Sussex hens, image from http://www.wanorastud.com/lightsussex.htm

 

Sussex information: “Bred to be a dual purpose bird, it is one of the most productive breeds we have today. The hen will lay around 260 large eggs that are cream to light brown in colour. The Sussex is one of the oldest breeds that are still in existence today. The Sussex chicken is an alert but docile breed that can adapt to any surrounding easily. They are good foragers. Whilst they are quite happy to be free range, they will also be fine if kept in a confined space. They can occasionally but not very often go broody.” Information from this great website here.

Jane, foraging around with Beetle (the black Orpington pullet in the foreground)

I am lucky enough to have four Light Sussex hens, and because they remind me of ladies wearing old fashioned English Lawn dresses, I’ve given them good ashioned names… Jane, Eliza, Virginia and Mary. They are good, regular layers (having a break over winter, but Eliza gives me an egg 5 days a week). Docile? Not so much, they’re first at the door for food and are right at the top of the pecking order. Also, all four of them went madly broody last summer, so I’d not be saying ‘possibly may go broody’ to people, more ‘WILL go broody and bite your hands if you try and move them’. None of them managed to successfully hatch their eggs though, maybe they will this year.

And my nails?

This was three coats of E 44 – white: a Japanese polish, streaky but pretty nice in three coats. I used the dotting tool to make the combs, with L.A.Colors Cranberry Red. Neck feathers are a light gradient of Cover Band Sticks ‘n’ Stones with black teardrop nail jewels; the beaks are gold teardrop nail jewels, and the eyes are orange nail jewels. I used a top coat of Kleancolor Fast Dry.

My favourite one!

I really enjoyed doing these. I wasn’t expecting to paint chickens heads on my nails, but that’s what I found myself doing 😀

And sometime this week I’ll pick another of my chickens and get more inspiration from them! 🙂

Brag post… involves homekill chicken and fudge photos…

I am so proud of my husband today! We’ve talked about killing our own chickens before, but never got around to it. Well, today he did it!

Lets clarify something first…  this was a rooster I have had since he was 5 days old. I bought his mum with 10 chicks at foot – they were all so cute and fuzzy. They’ve had a great time here; she’s an awesome mum and they all made it to adulthood. This particular guy was part Orpington, and he was big. I’ve been getting rid of the roosters to good homes when I can, but then last week I saw this rooster attack a hen. Now, I won’t have a mean animal around. Definitely not a mean rooster. So, at that point I mentioned to Mr Husband that maybe we could try to kill and eat him.

And he did. If anyone is brave enough, the rooster in question was the one peeking at me over the deck in a previous photo post, here.

This is what he looks like now..

I sense a slow cooked chicken meal in our future…

Ok, some people may be grossed out by this, and I apologise. But I am SO proud of Mr Husband for doing this: he killed him quickly and cleanly, there was no fuss or struggle – rooster didnt know what was happening . He had a great life here, free-ranging and doing great things, and now he won’t be picking on my other chickens any more. It is HARD to kill something. Its very hard to look a living creature in the eye, and make the decision to turn it into a dead creature. Still, we will not waste any of the chicken, and I do really feel that this is a much more ethical way to get meat than picking up a pack of horribly mistreated and awfully killed styrofoam packaged semi-food from a supermarket, and pretending it wasn’t an animal to start with. I also think it SHOULD be hard to kill them: that act should always have weight – life and death should never be cheap.

And then, just when I thought I couldn’t be prouder of hubby (he not only killed but dressed and prepared the rooster, too), I see him making fudge on top of our fireplace, and teaching (safely) our eldest son how to do it. Cute!

Please ignore the mess!

Have a great weekend!