Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Big Bird, Little Bird

3 1/2 weeks old...

3 1/2 days old...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

54 Chicks in the Brooder!

They are as cute as can be, and much happier now that they have food, water and space to run around. We had hoped for a better hatch but are happy with these and with the "hands on" education that these little birds are giving us.

The weather won't be getting as cold the next few nights so that is a relief, since keeping a box at 100 degrees in 40 degree weather is pretty difficult. One thing we decided tonight is that we are glad that we began our quail effort during the most difficult season (one that we will probably avoid next year) - we will really appreciate those easier months next Spring and Summer!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

53 so far...

Granny, Grandaddy, Kyle and Anna Leigh visited the covey today. We counted babies while they were here and think we have around 53 - we'll see if any more hatch out tomorrow. We had two brooder escapees while they were here - it helped to have the extra eyes to see where they went! We were able to catch them and get them back in the brooder (yes, Pawprint was right there and ready to have at them).

The afternoon was full of snacks, good conversation and a front yard football game! Great fall fun!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chicken Houses

We have some friends who are building chicken houses. We went out today to take a look at how the construction is going and WOW! These things are huge! They are 400 feet long (this gave the boys a good idea of how big Noah's Ark was, since it is believed to have been around 450 feet long) and our friends are building four of them!

Take a look:

You can see three in the next photo - the fourth is on
the other end and doesn't have all the framing up yet.

Here's a shot from the front looking toward
the other end. The boys are in this photo,
but they so far back that they look like ants.

This next shot is down the hill (from the chicken houses)
toward the spot where Ronnie and Margaret will be living.

This one was taken from the pasture
looking back towards the houses.

The boys enjoyed romping through the fields so much that I think
we might move our camper out there and live under a big oak tree.

The boys played, Margaret and I talked and walked,
and Ronnie worked....

Just a note, beyond the above field is where Stephen
shot his trophy buck - that is why he is not allowed
to go hunting at Ronnie's farm anymore!

Pat Caught a Bird

Pat, Paul, Sara and Stephen visited the covey today. While peeking into the brooder one little guy tried to escape, but thankfully Pat was quick enough to catch him! We had hoped that they would get to see some "just hatched" chicks, but they will have to make another visit because we are still waiting....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

117 Eggs in the Hatcher

We moved 117 eggs to the hatcher today and are anxiously waiting to hear the first "peeps". We have decreased the temp to between 99.1 and 99.5 and we are trying to keep the humidity up around 60%. Hopefully we will have a good hatch.

Yes, this means that I spent a lot of time with Tek-Trol today getting the hatcher ready for the new arrivals! If you want to take a guess at how many will hatch just post a comment!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Bird in the Hand and a Hero Hound

Can you believe how much these chicks have grown in 2 1/2 weeks?! We just had to get a close up but in doing so this little guy escaped - not just under the brooder but into the wooded back lot! Pawprint to the rescue! Now granted, when we first let the dog out we weren't real sure that she wouldn't eat the bird when she found it, and after a little while we weren't even sure she knew how to find it - but she did - and then we lost it again - and then she found it again. The little quail is now safe inside the brooder box and this will be one of the last close up photos that we take of them for a while!!

We had our first Escapee!!

While refilling the water this morning one of the quail managed to fly up through my opening. I immediately got Joshua to secure the dog and I grabbed a net. Poor little thing wasn't sure what to do with so much freedom though and I caught him right away. I think it is time to spread some netting over my hatch!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Peter Rabbit

I never knew a rabbit could be so much fun but this little bunny has been the most entertaining pet that we have ever had. We got him for Jacob's 7th birthday and he immediately told us that his name is "Peter" (of course!). He is a dwarf rabbit and shouldn't get much bigger - we think he might be a Mini-Rex.

By the way, we don't let Peter and Pawprint play together!


That's the number of quail that have survived the first two weeks! They have tiny feathers all over, and we have to be careful that they don't fly out when we open the hatch to feed them or adjust the temperature!

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Big Daddy"

We had an opportunity to honor our "Big Daddy" (Stephen's Dad), by celebrating his 70th birthday! We enjoyed spending the afternoon with him, grilling steaks, taking pictures and lighting the requested coconut cream pie!

We hope and pray that we will have many more birthday celebrations with him!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess

"Bob White took a long breath, tipped his head back until his bill was pointing right up in the blue, blue sky, and with all his might whistled his name, "Bob-Bob White! Bob-Bob White!"

As Peter looked at him it came over him that Bob White was the plumpest bird of his acquaintance. He was so plump that his body seemed almost round. The shortness of his tail added to this effect, for Bob has a very short tail. The upper part of his coat was a handsome reddish-brown with dark streaks and light edgings. His sides and the upper part of his breast were of the same handsome reddish-brown, while underneath he was whitish with little bars of black. His throat was white, and above each eye was a broad white stripe. His white throat was bordered with black, and a band of black divided the white of the throat from the white line above each eye. The top of his head was mixed black and brown. Altogether he was a handsome little fellow in a modest way." Page 78

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trauma in the Brooder

You won't believe how fast the feet of these birds grow. Joseph noticed that some of them have feet bigger than their heads! Anyway, we removed the rest of the paper towels from the wire flooring today and they did not like it a bit! They are also trying to fly and we noticed that some of them are having a bit of success with their efforts.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hannah's Visit

Hannah visited the Covey today and got a birds eye view of all our little ones. We even managed to catch one for her to see up close. We had a great time visiting with her and her companions. She played with the boys, visited the rabbit, canary and chickens, but I think her favorite thing was just being outside. We asked her mom to leave her here but this request was denied immediately.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wing Feathers and Alabama Football

Ma and Big Daddy visited today to watch Alabama Football and take a look at our new covey of Bobwhite Quail. The first thing Big Daddy noticed is that some of them are beginning to get their wing feathers. Now, since our birds are so wild and we want to keep them that way, there's really no way for me to get a good picture of these wing feathers (hmmm, maybe a better camera with a better zoom?). I did find a photo of a Button Quail that shows what the wing feathers look like as they develop.

I found this photo over at That Quail Place. There is a great forum on the site with a lot of helpful breeders.

We enjoyed Ma and Big Daddy's visit and Alabama won - so, it was a good day!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Inspection

We passed our inspection! The game warden came by today and inspected our quail set up and the area and gave us a thumbs up. He signed our application, so we can mail it in as soon as we get all the info filled out. It will cost us $25 to have a commercial quail breeders license in Alabama.

Mike Davis, Game Warden

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Verse

All that day and night
and all the next day
the people went out and gathered quail.
Numbers 11:32

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Final Count


Jacob wins for the closest guess and Kyle came in second. We had hoped that some of the larger guesses would win but this is how many we've been blessed with. Have I told you that we are incubating 117 more eggs right now?

I've learned a new definition.

existing or present on all sides: encompassing

Yes, I am a college graduate but this is a new word for me. This is the reason we have to monitor the weather, along with constantly checking the temperature inside the brooder box. The ambient temperature outside the box affects the temperature inside the brooder. If we could keep the temperature outside consistent, then we wouldn't need to make the adjustments throughout the day and night.

The good news is that as the chicks get older their tolerance for temperature changes will get better.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Oh my!

Well, we made it through the first night in the brooder. It was a pretty long afternoon yesterday. After placing the chicks in the brooder we kept a close eye on them to see how they were doing and realized right away that we had a problem with the temperature in the box - this due to thermometers that weren't reading correctly!

I took the thermometers out of the incubator and hatcher and spent the afternoon checking the temp, trying to correct the temp, and hoping that it would stabilize and become constant. One neat thing about these chicks is that you can tell if they are too hot or too cold. When too hot they spread out and sometimes just lay around (which is the way I found them once yesterday - I thought I had killed them!). When they are too cold they all try to pile on top of each other up under the heater - yep, did that to them also. I was up until about 2:30 a.m. (yawn) trying to stabilize the brooder and if all that temperature change doesn't kill them then they should be fine. We will keep a close eye on this again today.

When I checked on them this morning the little things were startled and I even saw a couple of them "pop up" like quail will do. It was so funny to see them doing that as little as they are.

We found out that the extra breed of quail that we have are Tennessee Red Quail. These birds are actually Bobwhites with a color mutation.

Believe it or not, we actually had some more quail hatch out last night so we will update our numbers once we have an accurate count.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The "Move"

Well, I have to tell you...I was extremely nervous about moving the chicks to the brooder. First, Stephen wasn't here to help and second, the heater hasn't been real consistent with the temperature. But after putting it off long enough I finally said a prayer, gathered the boys, got a box and began the move.

First, we put the water (with added vitamins and electrolytes) and the feed (Startena) into the brooder so that it would be ready for the chicks. The feed goes on the ground to begin with because it has to be "everywhere". We have paper towels on the bottom of the brooder until the chicks are a week old so that their feet won't slip through the wire.

Each of the boys took turns catching about 20 chicks and putting them into the transfer box. Then we took them out to the brooder where I took each chick and dipped its beak in the water (to teach them where it is). We counted as they were caught and as we dipped them in water to make sure we had an accurate count. We put 96 in the brooder box today and should have a final count by Wednesday (there will be a few more to hatch out).

Most of the chicks look pretty much the same, but we have some that are a "chocolate" color with dark feet. We are trying to find out from the "egg man" if these darker chicks are a different breed.

The following video is of the chicks in the brooder box. If you turn your volume up, you will be able to hear them.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hand Held Birds!

This one was a bit shy...

They are cute aren't they? They are also very small and very fast! We will be moving the ones that have hatched and dried to the brooder box on Monday.

It's an exciting weekend!

The above photo is from Friday, October 5th. We moved the eggs to the hatcher on that date. We woke up the next morning and heard "peeps" coming from the eggs. Within about 30 minutes the first chick was pushing his way out of the egg.

Stephen and I worked on the brooder boxes all day Saturday getting them nice and cozy for the chicks. When we got up this morning there were sugar ants all over them! We just finished putting a barrier around the boxes that will hopefully keep the ants away (poison, but shhh don't tell Joshua or we won't ever get him in the backyard again!)

The chicks have been hatching out pretty steady today and we are anxious to see how many will hatch. We have guesses from 40 to 305 (40 seems to be winning so far).

We had our first "farm crisis" this morning when the boys discovered that the older chicks were pecking at the ones that were just coming out of their shells. One of the big problems with quail is that they can become very cannibalistic (yuck) so we immediately decided to hang some green beads in the hatcher (yes, we put Tek-Trol on them first) to give them something else to peck on. We also put a black plastic bag over the front door to make it darker in the hatcher (we read somewhere that this will help). We paid very close attention today when in his sermon Bro. Mark reminded us that God will increase our faith during a crisis :)

In the photo below, hopefully you can see the two chicks in the bottom corner all dry and cozy and then the chick that has just come out of the egg, wet and tired - he is located on the right side of the right egg tray, towards the middle. It is not easy to get a good photo of these tiny birds!

One neat thing about the way the quail hatch out is that they peck a ring around the egg, leaving a sort of "hinge" on one side. Then they poke their heads up like it is a submarine hatch. It takes them a pretty good while to get out and once they make it, they seem to be exhausted.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Peep, peep, peep!

We are so excited! We moved the eggs to the hatcher yesterday and when we were adding water this morning we could hear the chicks "peeping" in their shells!

About 30 minutes later we watched our first chick come out of his shell! We are busy getting the heaters set up in the brooders today so I will post photos and a lengthier update later! We have 5 chicks out right now.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Painting Boxes

The guys got their paintbrushes out today and painted the outside of the brooder boxes. I think Joseph got more paint on himself than on the boxes, but Jonathan and Joshua hung in there to help complete the task. I also got the hatcher cleaned out today and ready for the eggs. We will be moving the eggs to the hatcher tomorrow afternoon and hopefully the eggs will begin hatching on Saturday. We are a bit nervous since the heaters haven't arrived yet (talk about last minute!). We have a friend with one on standby for us if ours don't arrive in time. The chicks will stay in the hatcher until they dry out (I think this takes about 24 hours) and then the brooder boxes will definitely need to be ready!
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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Our first bag of feed

Here it is - Purina Mills actually makes a specialized feed for our quail! This bag weighs 50 lbs and Joshua didn't have any trouble bringing it in for us. This particular bag is "Startena" which is the starter - it has 30% protein and is medicated. We will feed this to the chicks until they are 6 weeks old. Purina also makes a flight conditioner (19% protein), finisher (20% protein), maintenance chow (12.5% protein), and breeder layena (20% protein) for game birds. So, we shouldn't have to worry about not having the right kind of feed for our birds.

Quote of the Day

"Quail hatch, just looking for a way to die." Walter Walker

This was sent to me by a very helpful gal from Oklahoma. She and her family run the WW Quail Ranch of Oklahoma It is great to have someone with their experience helping us get started. I'm pretty sure that the quote is very accurate, since most of her advice in along the lines of "how to keep the quail alive"!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I'm happy to report that the folks at Cutler's called the warehouse and told them to send us 2 more heaters. So, they are on the way and should get here in time to get the brooders set up.

We also picked up the hatcher today. It looks just like the incubator and is the same size. The difference is that the trays don't rotate and the pans have higher sides so that the chicks can't jump out. Thanks to our friends Ronnie and Margaret for letting us borrow theirs! We are going to get it cleaned up and probably transfer the eggs on Friday.

You still have a few more days to submit your guesses on how many will hatch out.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Uh Oh!

You are not going to believe it! Our heaters for the brooder boxes came in today (we were so excited) but they were both flawed. If you look close you will see a broken part on one of them and if you look closer at the second one you might can see the frayed wire. I have contacted the company to ask them how they want to handle this. We really need to have the brooders set up with the heaters no later than Friday so we can test them out...what do you think will happen?

The Brooder Boxes have Arrived!

Granddaddy worked pretty hard to get the brooder boxes constructed for us. You can see in the photo that we only helped with some final details. They will double as brooder boxes where we will keep the chicks nice and warm and after 3 or 4 weeks we will open the box up so they can get some fresh air on the other end.

We have the brooders in place now thanks to our friend Ronnie K. coming over to help Stephen move them. We are trying to decide what color we want to paint them and we are also waiting for the heaters to come in so we can get them set up. One final detail will be the bracing around the legs of the boxes - if we don't get that done, we might have to get Granddaddy to do a bit more work!


Jonathan decided to try getting a "birds eye view" of a hummingbird. You can see that he is holding the feeder with two of his fingers as perches. The hummingbird in the photo actually landed on his finger! We were very excited that he was able to have a "close encounter" with this tiny wonder.