Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quail hatch #2!

This past weekend we had our second round of quail eggs hatch. These were all from eggs that my quail or my friend's quail laid. They hatched pretty early, days 14 and 15, and a couple on day 16 instead of the usual 17. I think this may have something to do with the fact that the eggs were laid in 100-110 degree weather, that may have given the ones that hatched a jumpstart on the incubation.

We had 39 birds hatch out of 92 eggs set, which is a meager 42% hatch rate, but a lot of the set eggs were old and were stored in far less than ideal conditions, at 85 degrees instead of the recommended 55-65 degrees. Three birds died, two of those were very sickly runts from the beginning and one I think was smothered or trampled the first night. Overall I'm pleased with the results and I'm going to do another hatch or two in the fall.

I am thinking about selling sexed quads (one male, three females) for $17.50 or you can add another female and make it an even $20. The birds would all be 3-4 weeks old. This is much cheaper than you can get them at any feed store around here. This seems like a good deal for the buyer and compensates me for my time, feed and hatching costs. I wonder how many takers I'd find around town.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Produce from June

Here's a shot of some of what's been growing at the tiny farm this summer. This shot was taken in late June, but I'm just now getting to it. The big thing that looks like a melon is actually a squash, the little green things in the lower right are a native passionfruit that is a volunteer in my yard. The jar has sun-dried tomatoes in it dried in the solar dehydrator, I plan on saving 24 cups of sun dried tomatoes for the winter as well as trying to grow some winter tomatoes. I have recently planted: Sub-Arctic Plenty, Stupice, and Siberian tomatoes. Hopefully I'll get closer to my year round tomato goal!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Been awhile! Birds in the heat.

Sorry for my lack of posts. Here's a synopsis of what has been happening at the oven usually known as the Tiny Farm.

It's been ridiculously hot here. This whole week the high is around 115 and the lows are in the low 90's. This means that the birds never get a break. The muscovies were being real troopers until today when they finally started panting and just hanging out next to the water dish in the shade all day and completely giving up on chasing me around, which seems to be their favorite thing to do. I don't know why they don't just get in the water.
The chickens are far less heat tolerant than the ducks and are really miserable. Every morning around 5:30 am (when it's a brisk 94 degrees) I give the birds some cool vegetables (lettuce, melon, cucumbers etc) to get them hydrated and cooled off. The sprinklers come on around 6:30 and get the area under their favorite bushes nice and wet. Around 9:30-10:30 when the temps get to around 105, I put frozen water bottles with no lids, in shallow pans under their bushes so they can drink the cool water or stand in it if they want to. I replace the frozen water bottles around 3 or 3:30 when the temps are about 115 and hose off the bushes they hang out under to make sure it stays damp under there for them. Once they go up to roost at night I hose their feet/roosting bar off, which they don't particularly enjoy, but I think it helps them.

The quail get their water from one regular water bottle and one that was frozen the night before so as it melts it makes nice cool water (until of course it heats up into unpleasant warm water). Instead of filling their dust bathing dish with sand, I fill it with ice a couple of times a day. Like the chickens, they stand in it and drink the cool water. I also put a few ice cubes on some heavy cotton fabric in the cages so it keeps the fabric cool as the ice melts.

As you can see keeping birds in the desert, especially the chickens and non-native quail can be a big pain, luckily it's only this much work when the temps are consistently over 110 for several days in a row. Which is hopefully less than three weeks a year. Even with the extra steps each chicken is laying an average of only one egg a week. (Interestingly, the quail are still laying around 5 each a week.) I know lots of people that don't take quite as many extra measures, but I feel like it's my resposibility to do what I can to make them comfortable since I'm responsible for bringing them to Phoenix.

I also have about 100 coturnix eggs in the incubator due to hatch around July 27th! This will be my first batch of quail eggs to hatch from my own birds, I'm interested to see what kind of hatch rate I get.