After the unsuccessful attempt to breed the NZ does last month, it looks like we may have at least one kindling at the end of the month. Today, we spied Ava sporting a “haystache”, which is usually a sign that a doe is pregnant. It’s pretty early (she was bred a week ago), so there’s a possibility this could be a false pregnancy.
We’ll keep an eye on her and Loretta (bred at the same time) and bring them indoors to kindle when they’re closer to the big day. Better to assume pregnancy and be wrong than to dismiss the signs and let these first-time mothers kindle out in the cold.
The hawk killed a Rhode Island Red (RIR) yesterday. Along with the Australorp that was killed (probably by the same hawk) the day before that, we’re down to 6 layers and a roo. The chickens, to their extreme annoyance, will stay in their coop until we can fence off the “death zone” – a brushy, treed area. Despite appearances, the brush has not served as cover for the hens; instead, the hawk has pursued them into thick brush and killed several. We pushed down most of the brush with a tractor yesterday, but the RIR somehow still got into the runoff bed and probably got trapped by the hawk.
Mockingbirds and crows will reportedly chase hawks off, but both are rare around here at this time of year. We’ve ordered reflective mylar tape and will string CDs (just the ones where we bought an entire album only to discover it really only contained one good song) to try to scare the hawks off. We also have an owl statue on the way. Finally, we’re planning to add a scarecrow we can move around.
There’s a 6 month lead time for layers, so we’ll be hatching them continually for a while. Batch #1 of chicks from our flock will be 3 weeks old this week. They’re flying around the brooder and pooping prodigiously. Batch #2 is on track to hatch on Sunday. While it’s disheartening to lose any animals, the deceased hens will live on in the new chicks. The cycle of life continues.