Adventures In Incubation Continue

By Lauren

Oh where to begin!

Since my last post on the dismal hatch of seven chicks out of three dozen eggs, and purchase of new incubator, things have not gone as smoothly as I had anticipated. The next batch was very encouraging with 16 chicks out of the thirty-two that went into the incubator.  However that was still only around 50% and while a vast improvement not nearly the percentage that I was hoping for.  Neither was it enough chickens for just Trista and I’s needs for the winter.  I am renovating a shed into a bigger chicken house so in order to help keep it warm this winter I need some extra bodies.  Trista is ready to cull a few of her chickens and also needs bodies for the winter.  So, the “bator” got loaded once again and the wait began.  I somehow became busy with life, (no idea how THAT happened) and neglected to candle at week one. Assuming things were progressing smoothly, lockdown came along and I thought I should check and see if there were any duds in this batch.


This is in the new incubator, with near perfect temperature and humidity.


Well as the process of elimination moved further up the line of possibility, we come to roosters.  I have been doing a bit of reading on what can go wrong in the fertility world and there are many variables.

For example

Has there been any illness in the rooster or the hens past.

How many hens does your rooster have to cover? Does he have to many?

Are the chickens nutritional needs being met?

Are your chickens back ends overly fat?

Have you trimmed the feathers around the vents of both rooster and hens? (Yes this can make all the difference.)

How have the eggs been handled prior to incubation.

The list could go on, as you can see its not just a matter of sticking a rooster in with hens. Although that had been my general impression. I have since learned a great deal and at this point I do believe I just have a “Dud” rooster! So, while he is pretty and does his job of protecting and herding the hens around really well, and leaves the humans alone (the youngest kiddo is not hell bent on killing him as he tends to be the one hunted by roosters around here on account of his short stature) the buff rooster will not be coming through the winter with us.  I do hope he enjoys his last summer!

This all brings us to today, and I am so please to tell you that I acquired some hatching eggs from a friend and we had a really great hatch. I put forty in, and candled at week one. I only had to take out two eggs. (Its pretty normal to have to remove a few that have not begun to develop.) SO out of thirty-eight eggs we hatched thirty-five!!!!! THATS 92% HATCH RATE!!!!! Can you tell I was pretty tickled with the outcome of this hatch?

An Americana cross chick

An Americana cross chick

The cuteness is almost to much to handle!

The cuteness is almost to much to handle!

Those cheeks!!!

Those cheeks!!!

Just look at all those FUFFY BUTTS!

Just look at all those FUFFY BUTTS!

I have really learned a lot  about all of this incubation business and am most certainly addicted.  Can’t wait so see what the future will bring!


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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Chickens, Chicks


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Sour Crop 

By Trista
Last night while doing my nightly Chicken chores. My hubby points out a hen looking “not normal”.  She had an enormous crop and not just crop her whole chest was completely swollen.  Now, the hen seemed unfazed as she was still engaging in a vigorous round of tug a war with another hen over some “chicken scrapes” I had put out.  As I made my way over to the “abnormal” hen, I could actually smell her before I could reach her.  It was foul! I picked her up by her legs and a brown, incredibly nasty, liquid started to run from her beak.  The liquid smelled worse than she did, if at all possible.  I have never seen such a condition in chickens before and I had no clue if it was some contagious disease.  So being as my chickens are for the purpose of egg production and meat, I felt that the nasty smelling critter had best be culled!  I will spare you of those nasty details as it was was not a pretty sight!
After cleaning up and coming back inside, I did what I usually do in these situations; I called Lauren.  She too was stumped. So I did some research,  and this is where I found sour crop!  It is described as,
“A chicken having a large squishy balloon like crop, where a blockage of some kind has caused a build-up of food and fluid that starts to ferment and fungus can start to from.  You may smell or hear gases escaping the chicken. ”   (They are not kidding)
The cause of Sour Crop can be improper emptying of the crop,  recent antibiotic use, a fungal infection or worms.
Treatment can be very difficult as it is usually fatal. Although caught soon enough antibiotics can work if the underlying cause is addressed.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the foresight to come grab a camera to better document the situation, but I will tell you it is quite unmistakable…the smell will give it away.
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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Chickens


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This is for you Lauren

By Lauren 

Okay in the spirit of this blog, this post is a little reminder to myself for next spring. 

Last year was the first year I ever started my own plants. I spotted some indoor greenhouses is at Peavy Mart and thought my two south facing windows would be perfect. (Which, by the way they are.) Anyway I purchased the greenhouses, set them up, commenced planting seeds and ended up with ridiculous amounts of tomatoes. But that is a story for another time. Last summer when all of the starts were out of the little green houses I packed them up and put them away. Actually I do believe my mother-in-law had a great deal to do with this. Thanks Edel, you are the best. 

Well spring has come and it was time to dig out the greenhouses and set them up. I had been rummaging around in my garden shed and knew approximately where everything was. So I carted it all up to the house on the deck and commence trying to put it together. And I sat there… For how long I sat there trying to figure out how these prices could possibly fit together, I will not say. But I will tell you it was a significant amount of time from my life that I will never get back. It took a Google search to realize that I did not have all the pieces.  So back to the garden shed I went, and collected all the necessary parts. 

So future Lauren, this is for you. Don’t forget the long pieces go across and the short pieces go up and down.

The next trick of course is making sure I put them somewhere I can find them next spring!!!! 😳😳😳



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Spring Is In The Air

by Lauren

Well, this is more of a failure story than anything else, but they finally hatched!

What? How is hatched chicks a failure you ask? Well this is the first three of a total of seven. Now had I been hatching a dozen I would have said ok, not bad. But there were THREE DOZEN EGGS IN THERE! To say I was miffed was a radical understatement. This is the third batch of eggs I have put through the incubator that I inherited from my mom. At first glance it looks like quite a technical unit. But the problems with it are many.

First batch major humidity problems. Chicks need a constant 60% humidity during incubation and higher through hatching. The reason being that a chick has to rotate inside their shell in order to hatch, and if the humidity is too low, the inner membrane will shrink and the chick will be unable to maneuver into hatch position. It also has to do with how easily they can pip and unzip their shells. Those are technical terms by the way.

Back to my problem. The incubator I have is a forced air and uninsulated. And here in the almost desert, in January, the air in the house is so dry I had a terrible time keeping the humidity up. My first batch we didn’t have a hydrometer. So I bought one at Home Hardware and started over. Well my house temperature goes up and down quite a lot according to the exterior temp. So when I came home one day and checked the eggs to see a temp of 44C I was disapointed. Ideal temp is 37.5C and 41C is lethal. So that batch was totally cooked. Literally.

Thinking I had the problem licked with further adjustment of the thermostat I tried again. This time a friend transported hatching eggs from Edmonton for me. Plymouth Barred Rocks. I had grand ideas of taking the best dozen of these hens, getting a Rhode Island Red rooster and making some Red Rocks. Great layers, big eggs, hardy breed. Until hatch time came along.


Well my patience has been tested with this incubator and I give up!! I am not fighting withe it anymore. Trista and I went together and bought a new one.

I am collecting eggs as we speak for a test batch. Then I will try again to see if I can find some fun breeds to hatch.

Wish me luck…..


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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Chickens, Chicks


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Goat Polio

Let me start by introducing you to Dusty.  

Dusty is a 1 year old pygmy wether.  He is a lot of fun and just as often a pain in the butt.  A few weeks ago when I went out to see Dusty and his pen mates (at the time that was another miniature goat and 2 bummer lambs). I noticed that Dusty was laying face down not moving.  Now this is NOT normal behaviour for Dusty.  Usually my arrival is met with jumping about and lots of noise.  I went in to the pen and tried  to stir him,  no luck.  He made a pitiful sound and fell forward.  I tried to pick him up and place him on his hooves, he held his weight less than 20 seconds and collapsed.  At this point I was panicking,  I was not raised a farm girl and ailing animals still really freak me out.  So doing what I always do when faced with an animal problem, I called Lauren!  She too was unsure what was going on and told me to load him up and get to the vet!  Now to be honest I didn’t know if the poor guy would make it to the vet,  his breathing was slow and laboured, he had no muscle strength and was making some very scary noises.  

I loaded him in the back of my mini van and headed for the vet.   After giving him a once over my vet old me Dusty was blind and in very rough shape.  He told me he believed it to be “goat polio” and that if we had caught it in time it was reversible, if not…… we all know what that means.  He gave dusty a intravenous injection of thiamine and said he would keep him and call me when he knew something.

I had no idea what the heck “goat polio” was and after a quick call neither did Lauren. So I went home and got out my goat books and did some research,   Goat polio or Polioencephalomalacia also known as PEM (which has no relation to the “human” polio) is a neurological condition caused by a thiamine deficiency that causes the brain to swell and start to die.  Caught soon enough is reversible  with thiamine treatment.   Now this left me pretty stumped, if Dusty was deficient shouldn’t his pen mate be as well?  NO just like people some goat require more of some things an another.  That being the case even though I gave Dusty all the right minerals and salt supplements, he wasn’t getting what he needed!  

The vet called at the end of the day and said that Dusty hadn’t improved enough to come home and would have to stay at the vet overnight.  I have to say I was feeling pretty hopeless, he looked really bad when I brought him in.  The next morning the vet called and to my huge relief said Dusty could come home.  He was still blind, and would require injections at home but he could stand on his own.   I brought him home and continued to give him twice daily injections for a week. He was not overly impressed, but by the end of the week he was almost completely himself again.  

It’s been about 2 months now and Dusty is completely back to normal!  

For all you first time goat owners here is a list of symptoms of “goat polio” to look out for. (Ps “goat polio can also affect cattle, sheep and llamas)

Disorientation, depression, stargazing, staggering, weaving, circling, tremors, diarrhea, blindness, convulsions and eventual death.

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Posted by on March 8, 2015 in Goats


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They are finally here!

Last summer was my first year keeping bees. I am ridiculously excited about this fact and in my enthusiasm I have brought 2 (possibly 3) more people into the fold. Our bee colony is growing this year and as is the keeping force so it is not out of the realm of the imagination that the kids want in on the deal. The youngest has been bugging me for a long while to get him a suit that fits and I keep saying “YA YA buddy, I will order one for you .” Well I finally found a source (in Canada to boot) and ordered. urban bee they are out of Delta BC and were lovely to deal with. They have lots of great info on their site.
Anyway, I picked up the mail last night after the boys were in bed, so this morning when we got up at 7:00am I was very excited to see if they fit. The young one was less than impressed with putting on a bee suit, but the oldest was as game as ever! The suits are both big, but last time I checked the kids were not shrinking.


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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Beekeeping


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The Travellers

It has happened before. It will likely happen again. The dogs went on a tour.
Now I should introduce you to my dogs.


And Zeke


They are both BIG DOGS. Zeke, the big loveable beast, is a mutt that was abandoned near my aunt and uncle’s home. They didn’t have the room or time for him and asked if we would be interested in taking him. So we did. Lou is a LGD. Or Livestock Guardian Dog. She is a pure bred Šarplaninac. It is a breed that originates in the Macedonian Šar mountains. She is a fierce protector of our home and critters and is very busy all night long patrolling our property. We love our dogs dearly, but when the two of them take a mind to go on a little tour, I really wish they wouldn’t take the goats with them. Yesterday, the dogs went on the biggest tour they have ever taken and were found a good 3 miles from home. This terrifies me. There are neighbours that snare coyotes in the area that they covered and I was just nauseated to find them there. But what really upset me when I found them was that they had lost the little goats.
We have two Pygmy goats named Lightning and Flash. (Don’t ask me, the boys named them.) and in recent weeks they have taken to following Lou out on walks we take. They have also started to follow Lou whenever she leaves the yard. So my wonderful neighbours and the boys and I spent 4 hours driving around looking for the goats. At dark I finally called it quits, the boys were tired and cold so we headed back home. I was heart sick the the little goats had come to such an end, and as a last ditch effort I checked an old building on the off chance they had ducked inside. Well there they were!!! Huddled in a back corner barely daring to breath. I rounded up some help to catch them (did I mention they are not so tame?) and we hauled them home in the back of my Pilot. (I should really go and see if it smells bad back there. ) They seemed very glad to be home and ran straight to their shed and I barricaded the door.
Now what am I going to do about the dogs? Honestly, I don’t know right now. The temporary solution is to have one of them tied up when we are not outside. Lou usually in the daytime and Zeke at night. I am going to ask some of my dog friends and see if they have any ideas but I think eventually, there will be a fence involved. And the little goats are going to be penned into Fort Knox!


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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized


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