Monday, March 15, 2010

Nelson's Nursery & Maternity Ward

March 15, 2010 brings more miracles to our spring! This morning David discovered Smokey in the basement with 4 kittens...and more on the way. One was literally frozen stiff on the cold concrete. He rushed it upstairs to the chick's heat lamp while I moved the mother and kits to the guest bathroom. A few anxious minutes later we had 6 healthy kittens - even little chilly-willy! He started moving again as soon as he got warm, and we placed him back with his mother. Whew! Talk about good timing! This was one day I was glad there wasn't any work and David was poking around outside for lumber!

The best mother cat in the world... with her babies only 3 hours old.

Already their tummies are full of milk, their fur is dry, and they have a nice healthy squeak! We have 4 yellow tabbies, and 2 black/grey/white striped ones. One even has its mother's characteristic gold spot - right on the top of its head!

All's well that ends well ... especially if it ends in lunch!

Chicks 'R Us

Work began on the chicken coop, with David building a frame.

It will have a henhouse enclosed in the coop, and be covered with wire mesh to keep out predators. Kendra helped each day, and then it was time to paint.

Here is a Buff Orpington pullet - a future egg-layer at 3 days old. They are alert and curious, very strong and stable on their feet, and the first to figure out how to eat and drink!

Only days after they hatch, the buffs have a few delicate adult feathers peeking through the down!

The Blue Silky Bantams will one day sport a topknot on their heads and feathers on their feet and legs. They will always be small, but are known for being excellent mothers and having agreeable little personalities. These little cuties are noticeably smaller than the buffs, and are quite wobbly on their feet. They often fall over if they run into a fellow hatch-mate, and get tired easily. The runt of the group drops off to sleep without notice - tipping slowly forward onto his beak and taking a little snooze!

The blue and white silkies get distressed unless they're in a group. Let's face it, everything is better when you can cuddle!

This is a White Silky Bantam - the kind my family had years ago, along with our Rhode Island Reds. They're like the French Poodles of the chicken world - all flash and fashion! Of course, their blue and green "peewee" eggs are practically useless, but with this kind of cuteness, who cares!

A little glimpse of the future! Blue skin and feathered feet!

Cheep and Cheerful

Every spring we have a new project for our homeschooling adventures. This year we decided to raise chickens! We found some plans online for a nifty little coop, David scrounged some supplies from the barn and leftover materials, and with a few baby chicks, we were on our way!

We chose Cackle Hatchery for our chicken resource. They are close enough to drive to (Lebanon, Mo.) and have every breed of chicken imaginable. It was important for us to get some silkies along with our egg-layers. We had them when I was a girl, and they are just so much fun!

March 4, 2010 - The hatchery storefront is packed with chicks of all kinds in lighted bins, along with turkeys, ducks, guineas, and other baby birds. We had only ordered 15 chicks (5 buff orpingtons for egg-layers, 5 white silky bantams, and 5 blue silky bantams), but the Amish were there picking up virtual pallets of pullets!

Drew couldn't resist a little peek on the way home!

We placed them in their indoor box, lined with pine shavings, and set up their feed and water dishes and a thermometer. They must be kept at 95 degrees their first week, 90 the second week, 85 the third, and so on, until they are ready to go outside. Peaches, our dog, thinks we bring home baby animals just for her. She's already trying to mother them!

A red heat lamp will do the trick for keeping these babies warm. How many people can say they have their own Red Light District full of chicks?

It's been a hard day - sleepytime for little ones!