Thursday, July 27, 2006

Painted Turtle Eggs

Not too long ago I rescued a Painted turtle that was fortunate enough to have crossed the road successfully. However, upon reaching the other side, she was unable to climb the new granite curbing that was recently installed. I was afraid that she would work her way back out into the roadway and fall victim to another passing vehicle, so I stopped.

I decided to take her home to show my daughter, as well as my niece, who was scheduled to visit at the end of July. We have one of those small plastic kiddies pools, which was immediately converted into a turtle pond.

She affectionately has become known as "Painty". Although she's in captivity and restricted to her new turtle pond, she eats better than most. I stopped at a local pond just the other day and was able to pull up a bunch of plants, i.e. duckweed, algae, lily pads and a few others I am not familiar with. These plants along with an occasional shrimp or two, as well as tuna fish have her doing just fine.

I realize and understanding why turtles typically risk their lives to cross roads. However, and perhaps selfishly, I kept her anyway. Sure enough we were not surprised to find that she laid 3 eggs. We gathered them up and just last night buried them as she would have. Although we choose to burry them in a very large flower pot filled with sand, which we intend to monitor and tend to in the hope of seeing and experiencing the birth of these tiny Chrysemys picta.

The picture above is of the three eggs she laid, and was taken with a US quarter to provide an example of just how small they are. Stay tuned to see how these little guys fair...I certainly hope we have better success with these eggs than we did with our chicken incubator eggs.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) is a reptile that is common in North America, and is a water turtle related to other water turtles such as sliders and cooters. The turtle lives in ponds, lakes, marshes, and in slow-moving rivers that have soft, muddy bottoms.

In the wild, this turtle may live for over thirty years: in captivity it can live over twenty years. The painted turtle spends most of its time in the water but often lies on floating logs in the sun, as well as on rocks or by the shore.

During very cold weather painted turtles hibernate, burying themselves for months in the mud beneath streams and ponds. The mud acts as an insulator and helps to keep the turtle warm in harsh winter months. Painted turtles can survive long winters in ice-covered ponds because they can live for several months without breathing oxygen.

These turtles make great pets since they reproduce quickly and pose no threat of becoming extinct. The Painted Turtle is the only species in the genus Chrysemys. It is comprised of 4 sub-species.

Painted turtle eggs incubate an average of 10-11 weeks, but variation is considerable, depending on temperature.
Note: At incubations temperatures of 24-28 CELSIUS only males are produced. At an incubation temperature of 30C, 96 percent of hatchlings are female. Some other reptiles also have temperature-dependent gender of hatchlings.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Wish

To Stephanie, Christopher and Emilie...

I recently purchased Rascal Flatts new album, Me and My Gang. The song My Wish immediately hit me and brought me to my knees! The lyrics from this song express my feelings, desires and wants for my three kids! I hope as they grow and move on with their lives that they're fortunate enough to have their lives 'become all that they want it to' and to know just how much they're loved by their dad and that this, too, is My Wish for them...


I hope that days come easy and the moments pass slow, and each road leads you where you want to go, and if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose, I hope you choose the one that means the most to you. And if one door opens to another door closed, I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window, if it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile, but more than anything, more than anything,

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to, your dreams stay big, your worries stay small, You never need to carry more than you can hold, and while you're out there getting where you're getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too, Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget, all the ones who love you, in the place you left, I hope you always forgive, and you never regret, and you help somebody every chance you get, Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake, and you always give more than you take. but more than anything, Yeah, and more than anything,

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to, your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small, You never need to carry more than you can hold, and while you're out there getting where you're getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too, Yeah, this, is my wish.

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to, your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small, You never need to carry more than you can hold, and while you're out there getting where you're getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too, Yeah this is my wish

Monday, July 03, 2006

Backyard Poultry

Here is a picture of "Lucy". She is one of two Black sex-link hens that we hatched in our incubator last spring (2005) and raised from a tiny chick. Her coop mate is "Ethel", both named from characters on the 1950s television series "I Love Lucy". We also kept a Buff Orpington cockerel - Ricky, which added a nice contrast color, as well as HIS antics and personality. Sadly roosters are NOT allowed in the town we live in, and as he matured so did his voice! I admit he was quite loud and would often start his revelry at pre-dawn. This obvious did NOT sit well with one of our neighbors who filed a complaint with Animal Control. Regretfully we had to get rid of him. We found him a nice home where he's been for over a year with many, many hens. Sadly, we just learned that he was killed by a coyote in broad daylight...

The "Sex-link" chicken is one, which at time of hatch, can be sexed by its color. The Black "sex-link" is a great brown egg layer and has a wonderful disposition.

I am currently in the process of building them a suitable, predator proof coop - one that will be permanent and allow the girls to come and go as they please. However, for now they are housed in a large wooden crate, that's kept up against the back of the house. As a result we have a daily routine where by in the mornings we carry them out back to a temporary coop, which is housed under the rabbits (I'll post an entry on the rabbits at another time), and then in evenings we carry them back to their wooden crate-coop. As a result of this process, both, Lucy and Ethel have become surprisingly friendly and accepting of the entire process. We do not have to chase after them to catch them, they simply allow us to walk up to them and pick them up.

Building the temporary coop under the rabbits has proven to be a great idea. Not only does it allow us to keep these animals in the same area, which is much easier on the feeding and watering but also fany ood, treats etc. that fall thought the rabbit cages get a second chance at being consumed by Lucy and Ethel. They are also very good at keeping the rabbit droppings, food, hay, grass etc mixed with their constant scratching and digging. This makes for a nice mixed compost and allows immediate transfer to our flower beds, shrubs and trees, which are showing their satisfaction with nice growth and beautiful colors this year.

On Sunday June 25 I attend a small animal flea market that was held at a local Sportsman club. This flea market is held once in the spring and once in the fall and is a great place to pick up a critter or two - and with that said I did! In an effort to create a nice variety of poultry in our backyard coop I bought a Barred Rock pullet. Barred Rock's are prolific layers of brown eggs, and are not discouraged by cold weather, which is perfect for our cold New England winters. This gal has been named "New Honey" by our 4 year old daughter. The tricky part now is to be able to cage her with Lucy and Ethel. However, they want NO part of that! They are all to eager to set the proverbial pecking order and with that they are mean and relentless. So for now they need to be kept separated but we're working on getting them acquainted.

We are also once again running the incubator, which holds 42 eggs. Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch, so this batch is due on Saturday, July 8 - right around the corner. This time, however, we are incubating Buff Orpington and Black Langshan eggs, which will add even more variety and color to our backyard poultry coop.

Poultry terms and definitions:
  1. Pullet - A female chicken under 1 year of age.
  2. Hen - A female chicken, greater than 1 year old.
  3. Cockeral - A male chicken under 1 year of age; also called young rooster.
  4. Rooster - A male chicken, greater than 1 year old.
  5. Broiler - A broiler is a chicken raised primarily for meat, as opposed to a one raised to produce eggs.
  6. Capon - A castrated male chicken.
  7. Fryer - A young chicken that is 9 to 12 weeks old and weighs from 3 to 4 pounds.

**** Update 07/12/2006: The eggs in the incubator began hatching this past Friday night. The first little guy out was one of the Leghorn/Orpington crosses. Sadly to report only 7 eggs out of the 42 hatched - what a terrible percentage. Here's the break down:

  1. 2 eggs bad and removed during the incubation period leaving 40.
  2. Of the 7 that hatched: (1) chick died, (1) chick had to be destroyed & (5) are fine.
  3. The five are: (1) Langshan, (2) Buff Orpingtons & (2) Leghorn/Orpington crosses

**** Update 07/31/2006: The chicks are just over 3 weeks old now; they're doing fine and growing fast. With the warm weather, we removed their heat lamp 2 weeks ago - it's not needed. It's still too early to tell, for me anyway, but it looks like there are 2 cockerals; one Orpington & one Leghorn cross, and three pullets.