Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is It Just Me or Has the World Gone Crazy!

I won't bother to comment on the debacle of the Martin vs Zimmerman case in Sanford, or the pontificating of the Superior Court Judges "comments and questions" regarding the health care bill mandate. Like that isn't enough to make you question your sanity,  I have something closer to home. 

I have chicks for sale in Craigslist.  Should be a no brainer, right?  First, there's the guy who wanted them for free. Chicks for Free, Really?  I still mull that one over.  I had someone call me yesterday wanting just 2 for his backyard.  Seemed innocent enough. 

Tell me what you'd think if you heard these comments;

1.  I want them for my little kids. (Easter is around the corner)
2.  Do you have white ones?
3.  What is a heat lamp?
4.  They need special feed? They need a feeder and a waterer? They need bedding?
5.  How long do they need to be under a lamp?
6.  Where do I go for feed and stuff?  What is a Tractor Supply?
7.  I don't know where that is, could you give me the address?
8.  I had no idea they needed a house with nesting boxes.

Is that enough for you to determine this is a nincompoop? (nincowpoop for Bugs Bunny fans)  A full grown adult male with 4 children, rushes in to buy animals he knows absolutely nothing about.  Needless to say, he will not be buying them from me.  I'll keep waiting for the right people to come along.  If that's never, then I'll add them to my wonderfully spoiled group of Hooligans.

You see, I don't think it's enough just to hatch chicks and then sell them to anyone that "wants" one.   I took on the responsibility of taking this step, so I consider myself responsible for where they end up.  I know I can't control everything.  I don't know the conditions in which they will be living.  I'm not social services, and I don't make house calls, but I think you can get a pretty good feel for people with a passion to have animals.  I do my best to weed out the morons or baboons (moroon again for Bugs fans), and leave the rest in Gods hands.

All things considered my night ended well, an elderly gentlemen who already has 6 chickens, loves and spoils them, came over and purchased 2 chicks, and 2 dozen fertilized eggs.  The fertilized egg market never crossed my mind.  So for those of you in the egg business, this may be another option for you to make some extra chicken feed money.  We exchanged stories, and I plan on following up with him in a few weeks to see how his hatch turned out.

Thanks to those that signed up recently to be Followers. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pity Party and Promises

I'm having one of those pity party days.  A party all by myself, and in my own mind. Those days when you look at your "to do" list, and the expected temperatures for the weekend and wish you were heading out on vacation instead.  Those days when everywhere you look you see dust bunnies collecting in the corners, carpets that need cleaning, cupboards that need organizing.  I know I shouldn't complain. 

OK, I'm done now!  Since there was only one guest at the party, no food or music, it didn't last long, and here's the main reason why.

I'm reading this incredible book;  Rena's Promise: Two Sisters in Auschwitz.  The title is more than obvious of the subject matter.  I'm only about 1/3 of the way through and I'm already affected by the story.  As I go about my day, I find myself reflecting on Rena's and Danka's story.  When I eat, I imagine how hungry they must have been everyday (they spent over 3 years at Auschwitz).  When I go to bed, I imagine what it must have been like to sleep on wooden shelves sometimes 8-12 girls on each shelf, with no blanket during the cold winter months.  When I shower, I think of how lucky I am to have access to things like shampoo, running water, and not having to deal with lice.  When I am having a bad hair day, I imagine Rena getting her hair shaved off every three weeks. While I put on my shoes, and clothes I can only imagine the pain and anguish they felt every minute of every day, and how lonely they must have been without their family. When I hear stories about the wonderful health care bill, and a panel's potential ability to determine your individual care, I envision the SS pointing either to the left (to die) or to the right (you get to live another day).

While many people will never read such a story,  assuming it's only sad, and maybe my dialog above doesn't tempt you to read something like this, but it helps keep me grounded.  It's about your mental attitude.  No more pity parties!  I even appreciate the silly dust bunnies, messy cupboards, and carpets that need cleaning.  My life has been blessed.  What a gift Rena has given us.  Maybe that was her purpose from God, to share her story so we never forget, and appreciate life more.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicks for Free, Really?

As those of you who follow this silly blog know, I have my new chicks up for sale on Craigslist.  I've received numerous requests for "dates", and "help me get back at my spouse" spam.  I didn't see that coming.  But the one that actually bothered me the most is one from a man looking for chicks.  First request was to find out if I still had some available.  His follow up email was to ask if he could have them for free, trade or barter.

Here's where I'm bothered.  He stated that "his family is currently down on their luck".  I can certainly sympathize, and am not adverse to helping my fellow man.  However, if he can't afford the $3.00 a piece cost, how in heavens name is he going to pay for their feed and upkeep?  The cost of chicks is the least expensive part, and anyone who has a backyard flock knows, that buying eggs from the store is typically cheaper than raising them on your own.  We don't raise chickens to save money on eggs.  We do it for the love of the chickens, quality and freshness of the eggs and to be self sufficient. There is no return on investment until they reach 4-6 months of age, and if you do the math, you're likely to never break even. 

Unless of course you are one of those that just lets Mother Nature handle it, and the only food source is for them to scratch up bugs in your yard.  What about housing, security or illness?  I'm not of this mindset.  Maybe it's just me.  What would you do? 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's an Experience

Hatching your own eggs is an awesome experience.  We had a total hatch of 22 chicks, out of 34.  So that's a 64% hatch rate.  That's an overall picture.  However, if I use MDR's "happy" method, I had a 78% hatch rate.  We had 6 non fertilized eggs at the first candling.  Not too bad on our first go around.  We're pretty pleased.  So pleased in fact, we just put in 28 more eggs, with a hatch date of April 14th.

We've sold 6 chicks to a nice family that has a love of animals, so I'm sure they'll do great.  It's hard letting even 1 go.  They've only been around for a couple of days, and I'm already hooked!   We've used Craigslist so far, and are thinking of attending one of the local farm swaps, to see how that goes.  Any suggestions?

"Newbie" was the last chick hatched yesterday, and what we mammals would call an umbilical cord was still attached/stuck.  We left it alone to dry up and fall off.  When I got up this morning it was still there, sticking straight out and dry, and the others were following him around the tub trying to figure it out.  I didn't want to just pull it off and hurt the little Rascal, so I took a small kid scissors and trimmed it back.   It needs to be left on, rather than pulled off, so the chicks body finishes absorbing the nutrients it will need for a good start.  I figure when it's ready, it'll come off on it's own.

All in all, the remaining 16 are doing great.  There is nothing sweeter than waking up to peeping and seeing little fluffy butts!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hatch Rate Question

For those of you who have already completed a hatch using an incubator, I need your help.  How do you figure the hatch rate?  I'm not talking about the math part, that I know (I was educated 30+ years ago, where things like that were actually taught, and my parents cared that I learned it).  I'm talking about determining the actual egg count/number.

Do I count the 6 I pulled out that were obviously not fertilized?  I candled them and pulled 6, nothing in them.

Do I count the one we lost the same day it hatched?  Technically it hatched. I know this won't significantly change my percentage anyway, but what do you count?

If you have advice, please comment or send me a note.

Day 4, Final Hatch Day

This should be the final day for hatching.  We have 20 Rascals as of this morning, with two more bringing up the rear in this marathon. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 3, 16 Chicks and Counting!

This whole process is amazing!  It makes you really sit back in awe at the miracles God creates every day.

We had two from the first batch that really struggled to get out.  Basically, they sat there for nearly 24 hours, so the Moose and I performed emergency surgery.  We carefully chipped the shell away in a complete circle starting and ending where they originally pipped through.  Then we worked on the white membrane.  We learned that you need to leave the clear membrane which holds the blood vessels alone if possible.  They could bleed to death if this is torn away from their bodies too soon. We placed a wet cloth around the shell to help moisten the membrane still attached.

We left them in the incubator overnight to see if they would make it.  It didn't look good.  We figured at least we gave them a fighting chance. 

We were surprised to see them both up and about this morning!  They were numbers 14 and 15.  They're getting their "sea legs" and starting to run around with the rest of the Rascals.

Number 16 also showed up last night from the second batch, and she's a little weak. We have her separated from the group.  I used my salad spinner basket. Seems to do the trick! Now the other 15 are trying to figure out how to get in there! (sorry the picture is so red, it's their heat lamp giving off that wonderful glow)  UPDATE:  we just lost number 16, just too weak.

There are 4 more from the second batch working on their shells. With 5 other eggs still to be determined.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 2, We're Up to 10 Chicks

This has been one of the most awesome experiences!  Incubating eggs from your chickens, watching them hatch, and then moving around. 

We started with 34 total eggs, with two different hatch dates. I candled the eggs and 7 of the 34 were definitely not viable.  There were a few others that were questionable, but I left them in the incubator. When we went to bed last night we had 6 chicks. 

As of this morning, we have 10 hatched from the first batch and another 4 are working on it.  Needless to say, they needed to be moved out as there is not enough room for 10 chicks and remaining eggs in the incubator.  So, they were introduced to their water and food source, and left to explore their new "digs" until they grow a bit more.  They pretty much walk around for a minute or two at the most, and then nap, and nap some more, etc.  They're tired after all the work it takes to get out of their shells.

What fun!  I'm sure you'll get sick of reading my chick updates...

We used a still air incubator and an automatic egg turner.  It was easy to operate. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Let the Hatching Begin!

It's 9:45pm and I have two chicks beginning to hatch!  The egg with the spotlight has a small start on the upper end.  I can't wait!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jack and the Pea Stalk

That is not a typo.  Take a look at this pea plant.  It's nearly 6 feet tall!  It finally has blossoms, so we'll see what we get for pea pods in a few weeks.

We ran out by the Hooligans late tonight, and all is well.  They were so happy to have a little bit of time roaming the Compound.  It rained recently so they made a beeline for one of their favorite dusting areas.

The Moose spotted a turtle in our pond.  OK, I ask you how did it get there?  You can visit my previous blog about how the fish got there, but if anyone comments that a bird pooed a turtle into my pond, I'll ask if they're celebrating St. Patty's Day a bit early!

What are the odds, a completely fenced in garden, with a pond in the middle now has a turtle?  I think I'll buy a lottery ticket.

I have signs of life on my tomato plants. 

I also have a small plague!  They're everywhere!  The Hooligan's don't like them either...

Finally, save those coffee grounds!  I've been putting coffee grounds on my roses, and WOW do I have the buds and blossoms!

Thanks for following along!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I couldn't pass this sign by without taking a picture.  We saw this on a wall at a Zaxby's north of Atlanta on our trip home Sunday.  Doesn't it just say it all?!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Missing in Action

The Moose and I had to travel this past week to Dayton, OH for some training, for our "day jobs". We decided to make the trip up in the truck and are thankful we did.  It was much more comfortable than going through the screening process at the airport, sitting next to disgusting people that don't know what deodorant or a shower is for, much less how to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough.

The trip was about 14 hours, and easily traveled.  We unfortunately did get to see some of the tornado damage in a few areas of Kentucky along I-75.  It was like a scene out of a movie.  I feel for those people trying to put their lives back in order.  Another reason to be prepared for any event.

We left Dayton, OH, stopped in Wilmington, OH to spend some money.  Glenn Beck turned us on to the plight of this town, and unfortunately I don't think much has been done to improve this towns situation.  We went there to spend some money, but frankly there wasn't anything to spend it on.  Downtown is a ghost town of empty shops.  It's so sad.  We tried, got a couple of little things, but that was it.

What we were most looking forward to, was our mini trip to Kentucky.  We rented a cottage on the Taylorsville Lake, about 30 minutes outside of Louisville.  It was really nice, right on the water.  We had the opportunity to go kayaking, but passed since it was too cold for us Floridians!

We did get to a vineyard, and the Bourbon Trail's, Heaven Hill Distillery.  The rollercoaster truck ride through the back roads was just as much fun. 

They have a new beer in KY, called Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.  The Moose had to try it in draft form, so we headed to a famous local tavern (Jessie James, Abe Lincoln stayed here).  He really liked it!  The beer is fermented in the old empty bourbon barrels for 6 weeks.  It definately had the smell of bourbon.

We had a nice time together.  Now we're back to reality..  The Hooligan's faired very well, and so did the garden. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Duck, Duck, Chicken!

Isn't nature wonderful!  When a chicken will take the time, refrain from eating and drinking for weeks on end to hatch an egg, even if it's not her own.  There is something magical about the whole thing!  I've followed Sista's blog, Welcome to the Hen House, for over a year now, I'd call her a long distance friend.  She bothers to read and comment on my blog, offering words of encouragement.  I enjoy her writings, and pictures as well, and today's was extra special.  Here's the link;

Her Silkie chicken went broody, so Sista gave her a few duck eggs to sit on.  Well, one hatched, and a couple more are working their way into the world.   This is better than watching T.V. or playing Angry Birds!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Compound in the Back to Eden Newsletter

The Compound was included in the quarterly newsletter distributed by the Back to Eden folks.  Here's a link to view the newsletter;

Back to Eden Monthly Newsletter

For those of you who haven't yet viewed the video;

Back to Eden Film

You can view it in sections, or all at one time. Or if you like, buy a copy to help support their efforts.  Dana Richardson and Sarah Zentz, the Directors did an amazing job putting this together and of course, who doesn't like Paul Gautschi. 

Thank you BtoE for including us!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blue Tilapia 101

Well, the 100 Blue Tilapia fingerlings are now enjoying their wide open pond at the Compound.   We should see the results of this effort in around 5-6 months, when they will  be around 2lbs, or "market size", per the fish farmer we bought them from.  They consider a "big catch" to be around 18 inches or 3-1/2 - 4 pounds, with records around 10lbs.  Since they typically live around 5 years, I guess over time they just keep growing.

Tilapia are native to Africa, but through some poor management at  aquaculture operations, they were "accidentally" released into the waters of Texas and Florida.  I guess it's better than having pythons floating around in our waterways, like South Florida.   Could you even imagine coming across one of those creepy crawlers?!
Picture found at (cool site):

They can also handle temperatures down to around 50 degrees, but their appetites and growth will slow down.  We purchased some floating fish food, primarily protein, as a supplement  from their typical herbivore diet.  Good buy algae!  A 50 pound bag was around $18.00.  This food will also help the other tiny fish that magically appeared last summer all on their own.  By the way, they number in the thousands now!

The female Blue Tilapia are mouth brooders.  Not all species of Tilapia are mouth brooders.   Once the eggs are fertilized she collects the eggs and holds them in her mouth for 3-5 days until they hatch.  Then the fry's are let out to feed, until they are large enough to be on their own, in about 8-10 days.   The fingerlings  we deposited into the pond were no more than 3/4" to 1" in length.   We were told they are good breeders, and our initial purchase will likely be our only purchase.  Our pond is around 40 feet long by 30 feet wide by 4 feet deep.   That's around 35,000 gallons of water.  The calculation on how many Tilapia we could fit into our pond, is 1 fish per 2.5 - 3 gallons.   That's around 10,000 to 14,000 fish!  We are in no way committed to growing that many, but just knowing the number is staggering.  I also wouldn't crowd them to such a small personal space, I'm just a bit more humane.   A full grown female Blue Tilapia will spawn 3 or more times per year with 1500 to 4500 eggs produced each year.   Their reproduction skills outrank rabbits!

We'll let you know how good our first fish fry turns out!

Here are a couple of sites I visited to learn this information and more.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Start of Something Good - Blue Tilapia and Chicks

The Moose and I have begun the next phase of our "mini-farming" endeavour.  We've purchased 100 fingerling Blue Tilapia for our pond.   In around 4-6 months they should be large enough to process and eat, and will have also started to populate the pond with future generations.  It's just another phase of self sufficiency.  I have to say I was shocked at how small they are;  no more than 3/4 to 1" in length, and cost a buck a piece.  We're hoping they'll help keep the pond clean.  We may also be in the market for some small catfish, to keep the bottom clean.  I'm not a southern girl, don't care for the taste, and won't be eating the catfish.  Maybe, down the road,  I can trade them for something I do need.

We took another leap of faith and purchased an egg incubator.  We have our first 20 eggs rotating as we speak.  B-Day is March 20th.  Of course there are plenty of variables, most of which is;  were the eggs fertilized to begin with, then temperature and humidity control. 

I'll keep you posted.