Friday, January 7, 2011

and a huge update in this one: 27th December 2010

General Update

Posted 27th December 2010 at 08:10 AM by pisa
it certainly has been one BUSY year here on the land.

This was the start of the baby invasion from hell/heaven:

Our doe decided 5 mins before leaving for pet day to start pulling out her tummy fur, so decided to keep her home and take the orphaned chicks instead.
Left her at 10:30am and came back at 2 pm to find 7, I think, babies in the nursing box!!!
She's sitting on the bottom level eating, is it alright for me to give the little ones a quick look over, as I'm leaving in a couple of hours?
I'm sitting here and occasionally letting of squeaks of joy!

Which was followed soon with this:
For the last few weeks I had been wondering whether all hens were always present, but had never done a serious head count!
So tonight I investigated a HUGE racket down by the hen house with a hawk hovering over it!
And there was proud first time mum with her clutch of.......................13!!
After a bit of chick wrangling they are temporarily set up in a run, with one of the bunnies' house as a little hidey place. Fortunately I'm already catering for a hen with chicks and got some crumbles, and boy were they hungry. They must be only 1-2 days old, and are still very wobbly on their feet.
And the ruckus they make, upsetting the two broodies sitting on ducks eggs immensely.
Oh well, I suppose I don't have to worry about my egg and roast supply!

And then this:
finally, 1-2 days too early, I checked on the hen, could hear something from the corner, not under her, and it's the first duckling.
At the moment I've got it sitting on a warm wet towel and will place it under the lamp. Anything else? And what if it comes right? Feeding and drinking like a baby chick?
Nature got there first, it died by itself.
Now what: of the remaining three two have pipped ( correct term?) the shell, and I can hear "chirping" from the third one. Shall i take them inside, or leave it to nature to sort itself out?
So far I haven't got a good average for hand raising, in fact only one of the emergency chicks taken in has survived.
But then again, this hen's batting average isn't too good either.
And the more often I check if they are ok the more it's going to disturb the hen!
Executive decisions i suppose are never easy, and I feel as if I'm in a lose-lose situation.
I went down to get them, OH and I had been debating, and he jokingly said, that I just wanted his "permission" to get them inside!
Anyway, another live one, and this time all intact. They are now inside, on a blanket under a lamp and Ive misted the eggs a bit. Both have holes and if I don't see any progress in the next 3-5 hours I might assist.
I had checked on them at 3pm and the eggs had only small holes, so the duckling must have done all the rest of the hatching in the last 3 hours.
Mrs. hen is not impressed, I took her of the nest, and now she's just sitting in the grass looking indignantly around her.
They make quite a different sound to chicks, and it fluffs up while it's quiet and as soon as it hears anything the feathers go all flat again.
oh, i soo hope I made the right decision.

which was followed up by this:
Finally, after quite a broken night, this morning, with assistance, the second duckling came out of the shell.
Looking like the first one, which is doing great. The first one already goes for water etc! I'm spraying the third one now, on and off, and slowly helping it to chip away the shell, but mainly just making sure the membranes don't dry out too much.
That video was excellent, but I have to get OH to help, this duckling is already tooo fluffy to do it on my own!

And then, to top it off, our doe ( rabbit) kindled and gave birth to 10 kits!!!
That was from an unplanned 60sec encounter with the Mr!!!!
I am soo surprised how she could handle that. Now she's back to eating like a horse.
Just as well we bought a freezer chest this morning.
All in a days work, for Mother Nature I suppose.

and then this:
36 hours later and I'm getting worried: they are still extremely wobbly on their feet, and two of them have started to make funny movements: they bend the head down as if to preen their tummy but never get their and their legs go all straight and flap. And they arch their back, and then they arch the other way, almost throw their heads onto their backs, and do a kind of Stevie-Wonder movement with their heads.
They "walk" on the haunches, which according to some info from the net they shouldn't. They are now 5-6 days old. The youngest one, which took the longest in hatching is still seeming normal, not falling over etc.
I just don't know how long to give them if/before euthanise them.
I've changed my tub arrangement: taken the paint tray out, and put two miniature feeder and bell drinker in, given them a short, lukewarm bath to clean the muck off, and a dry towel with a bit of hay under the lamp. At least they are not filthy looking anymore.

But it all turned out well:
I think this saga might have settled: I just put the three bigger ones in with the hen and the other three, and they immediately huddled together! And then seemed to do a headcount, and assume it's alright. I haven't seen her pecking them, but will keep checking throughout the day.
And the catastrophic hen that had been sitting on the duck eggs has taken over the thirteen chicks from that hen, as she has started to lay eggs now!!!
Talk about musical chairs in the chooky childcare world!
Anyway, all seem to be happy, and so am I!
More bunny cages now!

And then the grand finale for the end of the year:
Here are some pics of our girls, picked up today from Hawke's Bay.
Any advice on their condition is more than welcome.
They were born this year, and supposedly have started to come into milk!
They had been with a buck, but the owner doesn't think anything happened, as it was too hot and not enough feed on the paddocks.
They have been drenched, had their hooves trimmed and the horns cut. If I had known what that meant I would've asked them not to, but I assumed they meant debudding, like calves.
Hopefully in a years' time they will have regrown and look nice.

Soo excited, exhausted and just shattered,
Looking forward to school holidays and not having to worry about buses and lunch boxes

Well, that's what I thought:
I hate to admit it, but we've had the third escape this morning, and that certainly sealed their fate in my mind.
We caught them ALL, fortunately, and I will NOT risk that again. They're still just 1.5 kg, so from now on they are in lock up in the cage.
As I am fully aware of the environmental impact if they get loose, I had thought I could contain them in our set up til they are butchering size. But they have proven to be too smart for their own good, well to a point, they all kept hanging around the house, but that's it now. As good as it is for a morning exercise for the kids and me, and the novelty has worn off for them, I can do without the potential threat of having released a pest!
Our permanent set-up still needs to be cleared of an underground wasp nest, but that'll get under way today, and then it's just a half a days work to finish it.
It's interesting how everyone was telling I won't be able to go through with it, but having to grab them at any opportune piece of anatomy and holding fast certainly changed my hands' reluctance!
I'll be using the broomstick method like I do with the chicken, which is basically what kiwi303 described. So it'll be fast and not messy.
Will they be having spasms like chickens?
Next thing now, googling recipes.
beat me up for having started this and not fully thought out the set up properly.
I have learned my lesson, and they are securely behind lock now.
No more fluffying around with being Mrs. Nice Gal.

So, Boxing Day came and we were going to go to join the masses in spending our Christmas cash.
I turned the bunny enclosure into Colditz and chained up the dog in the courtyard , which they share, to eliminate anyone having a chance at escape. Came back and everyone was where they were supposed to be.
So far so good,
but in the early evening looking out of the kitchen window I noticed one of them trying to do the business!!!!!
Out in a flash , upside-downed him and checked. Yup, a BOY!
Closed the cage and took them out one by one: supposedly 7 girls are now 5 boys and two girls!
Which meant changing accommodation again:
dad spending time with his boys and the girls having dad's cage, and mum's cage getting secured with a cable tie over night.

Never a dull day with the animals.

So, hopefully this will be me for this year, I certainly feel like I've had enough excitement to last me for a couple at least.

Hope everyone will have a good New Year, and keep enjoying the lifestyle!

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