Quail chicks hatched – WOW!! How did I accomplish an 80% hatch rate? Well, I do follow specific procedures to ensure a better result. These procedures are working. I’ll talk about it today. Will it work for other eggs? I don’t know but you might try it and see if it works for your chickens or ducks or turkeys.
Before I get started on that, I want to take a minute and say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to the veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the FarmCast for every episode. Thank you for turning in for the podcast. I truly appreciate you all so much. Thank you.
Our Virginia Homestead Life Updates
Today I’m going to start with the garden. Just this morning Scott and I harvested the rest of the sunflowers. All that is left out there are various heights of stalks with nothing on top. I see a bunch of tall green sticks with a few leaves. These latest sunflowers will be added to rest to be thoroughly dried. Once dried, we will get to pluck out all of the seeds. They will get an additional period of drying in a single layer just to make sure that they are completely dried and cured. Then I’ll store them in a mason jar. Well, I say A mason jar. More likely it will be many mason jars. I do have lots of half gallon jars and in a pinch I might use some of the gallon jars. I like to keep those for milk, but milking will end in a couple of months. If I can wait that long before getting into those seeds. We shall see how that goes.
I picked a few green beans this morning while Scott was moving the newly cut sunflowers inside the building. The Mexican bean beetles have decimated the plants. Likely this is the last bit of green beans for this year. The plants may come back but by the time they do and recover enough to bloom, the weather will be turning cold. It was a good year. In years past the beetles have taken over before I got the first picking. This year the plants were so healthy it took a while for the pests to arrive. Next year I may even try to control them and keep the beans going just a bit longer. I did little to stop them this year besides squish and squish and squish. And I didn’t do that every day. If I had, I would have controlled them a bit better. But I planted much more than we needed and am delighted to share with nature. When gardening without chemical pesticides it’s always best to grow enough for us and for them.
The bumper crop of purple hulled crowder peas keeps going and going and going. I canned nine pint-sized jars last week. A couple of days ago I picked another batch that will likely give me another half dozen jars of peas. When I picked that batch, I left behind at least as many still green to be picked in another few days. And to top it off, the plants are blooming again. I love growing this crop. They are very pest and disease resistant. Aphids to attack them and the ants farm the aphids. I just work around both of them and enjoy my peas. The plants always perform well with little attention. And every year they have bloomed and bloomed and bloomed through the season. As I said, they are very easy to grow and very tasty to boot.
I planted fall potatoes last week. We shall see if it was too late in the season. It will be days before I see any sign of plants. And weeks before any potatoes are produced. Will the frost kill them before that? We shall see.
Most of the culinary herbs are doing well. The basil, parsley, oregano and thyme are all doing particularly well. All of my cilantro died when I wasn’t looking. I don’t know what happened. I went out there one day and noticed they were all dead. There is always next year. I have plans for starting them inside and caring for them a little better than I did this year. The rosemary is still struggling along. I had to try several times just to get anything to sprout in the spring. Now they are growing very, very slowly. I may need to do more research on soil composition for them. I can’t think of anything else it could be.
Lastly the tomatoes. About five or six days ago I picked five 5-gallon buckets of tomatoes. I cleaned them up and put them on the ripening shelves. This morning I pulled out eight or ten that were rotting. Tomorrow is a big tomato processing day. Well, today is a big tomato processing day also. I’ll get to that in a minute. This very large batch of tomatoes will all be turned into diced tomatoes, I think. That will be the quickest and easiest method of preservation of such a large number of tomatoes. Well canning them whole would be the quickest, but I don’t use a lot of whole tomatoes. In fact, I don’t remember ever using whole tomatoes that I didn’t have to cut up when I opened the jar.
I’m estimating at least a couple dozen jars of diced tomatoes will be processed tomorrow. Perhaps more. Today, I’m cooking down tomato sauce. It’s ready to can. As soon as I finish this, I’ll get in there and start filling jars and getting that water bath canner going. Actually, I have two water bath canners that will hold seven quart jars each. I’ll be using both of them simultaneously. It’s going to be a late night.
While cutting the sunflowers this morning I took a quick look at the tomatoes. Just about the time that I get these hundreds and hundreds of lovely tomatoes processed, another batch will be ready to pick. Perhaps not another five buckets. Maybe only four this time. We shall see.
Cows and Pastures
The grass is growing. The cows are loving it. All day, that’s all they do. Wander around eating and eating and eating. After a while, they go lay down in the shade and begin chewing their cud. Then later in the day, they might go out again for another round of cropping the grass. What a peaceful life.
Will we need hay this winter? I need to ask Scott. Usually by this time of the year we have hay stockpiled for the winter. But not this year. I wonder what’s going on? Is this planned? An inquiring mind wants to know.
Goats, Sheep and Lambs
Everything is still going very well with the ovine animals. Did you know that is the species term for sheep and goats? Ovine. Bovine are cattle. Porcine are pigs. Equine are horses and donkeys. Ovine are sheep and goats. That’s your trivia for today.
All of our ovine are doing very well and I expect that to continue. The deep grass in the pastures keeps the parasites down. I’ve talked about this before. It’s easy to have a healthy herd of goats and a healthy flock of sheep if the pastures are maintained and the animals are rotated regularly to keep them from eating too close to the ground. That’s the secret.
Creamery tasks are moving along. More details are being accomplished. There are many. Hurricane straps, closing in the gable walls, and soon to come, finishing filling in the cracks between the blocks. When doing the block work, Scott left many blocks with the spaces between each block was not filled in completely. There are a lot of these places. You can see through the cracks. Before the cold weather sets in, Scott intends to have all of these openings filled. The cold weather affects how the mortar sets up. The plan is to have that finished before it turns cold. Our first frost date is October 15th. And can you believe it is already September. Time flies when you are having fun.
The Quail Chicks Hatched
This is the last batch for this year. And it is by far the best batch. If you’ve listened to previous podcasts, you know that I put 80 eggs into the incubator. The normal average hatch rate is 70%. That means I could expect 56 eggs to hatch – on average. We had 64 eggs hatch. That is 80%; an unprecedented hatch rate. Now to be fair, we have lost two and may lose a third. But still. It is an incredible accomplishment. I achieved a 65% hatch rate, time before last. Last time only 64% hatch rate. Now that I am looking at those numbers, I don’t know if the 80% hatch rate is my procedures or luck. I used the same procedures for all batches.
The procedures are simple. I collect the eggs and put them points down into our egg cartons. Then I spray all of the shells with Listerine. That’s right Listerine. Don’t wash the shells. They have a protective coating on them that keeps bacteria out. I use the Listerine to deter the bacteria on the surface. The next step I take is to keep them cool but not cold. Of course, we have the advantage of having the nice cheese cooler where the temperature is kept at 52 to 55 degrees. It is the perfect temperature for eggs. The last thing that I do is tilt the egg cartons maybe 10 or 15 degrees from level. Each day I add new eggs and then tilt all of the cartons the other way. Each day the eggs are tilted in the opposite direction. It keeps the insides from sticking. I collect eggs for seven days and then put them all into the incubator. Some people advise spraying again with Listerine just before putting them in the incubator. I have not done that. Perhaps I will try it next year. What I am doing seems to be working really well so far.
Now, I want to go over the current quail chicks situation. Initially, 63 eggs hatched and one didn’t make it out of the incubator. Two others hatched the day we moved the bulk of the little guys out to the brooder. Again, they have to come out of the incubator within three of hatching. The first four hatched on Friday at 16 days. Eighteen days is the average time for hatching quail eggs. We usually hear the first peeps on day 17. So, this was the first novel thing that happened with this batch at 16 days. Three days later, we moved 60 quail chicks to the brooder. There were two chicks that hatched just a little bit earlier in the day. I judged them both to be too weak to move out. They stayed in the brooder until this morning.
The first night in the brooder we lost one chick and then another this morning bringing the total to 58 in the brooder. The two that were left in the incubator were definitely strong enough this morning and I moved them out with the others. We are back to 60 in the brooders. Two brooders with 30 chicks each. From where did the 64th chick come.
After moving those last two out with the others, I went back to clear the egg shells out of the incubator and I found another egg just hatching. I heard him peeping and found the egg with the crack in it. I’m not sure he will make it. The little guy looks to be having trouble standing, but we shall see. I helped him out of the shell and have been keeping an eye on him all day. The membrane inside the shell was stuck to one of his wings and I had to gently pulled it free. That is what happens when you open and close the incubator while they are hatching. The membrane kind of collapses and shrinks over them. He is looking better but I won’t know for a day or two whether he will actually make it.
This batch of quail chicks has been yet another adventure. The time frame from first peeps to today is five days. That’s also unusual. A full seven days will have passed before this last little guy goes out with the others. Life on the homestead is always bringing new surprises.
That’s all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed the latest quail story. These birds are so wonderful. And the birth cycle is quick so I get to see it a lot. New life is always fascinating and quail chicks give the opportunity for multiple experiences each year.
The rest of the homestead is moving along in these last days of summer. Soon the season will change and the routine will change. I’ll keep you posted.
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Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.
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