The new year Spring is a time to look forward to the next generation of animals around the homestead. The real Spring comes when the snow is gone days grow longer and warm, seeds get started, and baby animals take over the homestead. Sometimes the young are part of a greater plan and sometimes they are a happy surprise from Mother Nature.
Chickens are very dependent upon day length when it comes to laying eggs. Eggs don’t always mean chicks as the egg flock usually doesn’t get to broodiness until mid Summer. The bantams can be quick to start but go for quality and not quantity. The bantams require a guiding hand from us in order to improve upon the different type and variety of bantam. Around here it’s hard to get started too early else the cabin becomes one giant brooder with boxes and cages of chicks everywhere. Ideally the chicks need to be at least six weeks old with lots of feathers before heading outside once the temperature gets above 55 degrees. Here that means into May at best.
Even so, this year there are a few bantam chicks growing up indoors wait for the warm days of Spring to get here. It’s hard to go to the feed store and resist the egg layer chicks that are available starting in early March. Hard as it is, they need to be put off at least until April or later. This year it’s time to replace the Buff Orpingtons, Wyandottes, and Rhode Island Reds. In addition a few Barred Rocks, Americanas, and hybrid Black Stars could likely find their way into the box of chicks.
For sure this Spring a few replacement rabbits are needed so a litter or two are planned for later. The oldest doe might have one more litter in her before retirement and one of her daughters will be bred as well. With luck that will give about a dozen to choose from in refreshing the herd. There are two different types of rabbits in the herd – soft furred Rex and Palamino. In terms of colors there are Greys, Coffee, Reds, and Goldens. A few of everything would be ideal, but time will tell.
It isn’t likely that any new types of livestock will get added although there are a number on the Wish List. Last year mini pigs popular at the feed story, but their usefulness is questionable. If some mini sheep were available they could be fun. A couple of dwarf goats might be an opportunity for fresh cheese. Regardless, any of these would be a new commitment that likely isn’t practical, at least this year.