Saturday, November 1, 2014

So I Went to the Auction Last Weekend. . .

Two auctions, actually, as the weekly hay, straw & small livestock auction was Saturday morning, and then the last monthly consignment auction of the year was on Sunday morning.

I had gone to the Saturday auction looking for some pullets to replace the nine that got 'lost' in the dog/chicken incident the second day after DS1 and company had moved in.  Because of course of 11 pullet chicks I'd raised this year to replace my old hens so that we'd have farm fresh eggs this winter, all but two were killed.  And the two survivors were traumatized so badly they have not yet started to lay. Getting as late in the year as it is, and the lack of long hours of daylight for the next several months, there is a pretty good chance they won't start laying now until about mid-February.

Three older biddies laying every other day and three more wounded and healing (so, not laying) do not create enough eggs each week to meet our increased needs.  Or even our normal needs, not counting the extra people in the house now.  So I need to come up with some pullets in lay.  Ordering started pullets from the hatchery at $17-20 each plus shipping is too rich for my blood.  Even the few and far between I was finding on Craigslist were in the $10-12 range.  So, the auction appeared to be my only hope for finding affordable young, productive birds.

Anyway, there were a lot of birds at the auction last Saturday.  Mainly old hens and roosters.  A few pens of chicks that looked a whole lot like meat birds rather than layers.  I set my sights on about five pens, three of which had obviously mature birds in them but their feathers were full and glossy, indicating good health and that they've all ready finished their molt for the year so therefore are ready to lay again.  The other two pens had smaller birds that I thought might possibly be pullets, also with good feathers indicating healthy birds.  Some of the other pens held obvious laying hens, supposedly young, but with ragged feathers and red, upset skin showing. Not the kind of birds I wanted to bring into my flock.

Of the five pens I had my eye on, I ended up winning one, a pen of three nice young hens.  Two are obvious crossbreds, and the third I think is a black Australorp.

the new girls

The head and neck on this one remind me of some silver Hamburgs I used to have, yet her body is heavier than a Hamburg, and she has feathering on her legs more like a Cochin or Brahma.

As you can see, the blue one (gray feathers) has a muff and beard like an Aracauna or Ameracauna, but she also has feathered legs like a Brahma or Cochin. Yet, she is not as big and hefty in body as either of those two breeds.

What breeds they are really doesn't matter.  As long as they lay, I don't care their parentage.  And lay they do.  It's really nice to go from seeing one or two eggs in the nest each day to seeing this:

On Sunday, I went to 'early church' (aka the 8:00 a.m. church service instead of the 10:30 service I usually attend) and then over to the consignment auction which began at 10:00.  The day before, while there looking for chickens, DH had noticed that there were several lots of potted or burlap balled trees, and he hoped we might be able to pick up a dozen or so of them to plant along the edge of the field  out by the road on the part of our frontage that is south of our driveway.  I had noticed some 'antiques' that I was interested in getting and putting to practical use at this little place here:  a couple galvanized wash tubs and a 3-gallon crock.

Turned out that the wash tubs and the crock went for way more than I had in mind to pay for them.  And most of the trees did too--if we wanted to pay nursery prices we would just go to the nursery instead of taking chances with auction trees.  I did, however, manage to win two lots (one was 5 trees, the other was 4) of Norway Spruce for about half the cost of comparable trees at the nursery.

DH, DS1 and I planted them the next afternoon.

The idea is that in ten years they will be tall enough and full enough to make a nice screen for the road and the neighbor's house across the street.

While we were planting, I decided to leave one of the trees in it's pot--we dug the hole and set the tree pot and all down into it, then did not fill the dirt back in around it--so that we can bring it in the house in mid-December and use it as a Christmas tree, then take it outside immediately after Christmas and plant it then.

In the last five years or so I've gotten away from having a tall Christmas tree, mainly because if it's tall enough to reach the ceiling it is also quite wide at the base and therefore  takes up a lot of floor space in the living room where we need all the space we can get to seat our family.  The tree I chose to reserve for Christmas this year is about 3.5 feet tall, not including the pot, and should do nicely on a small table or stand (probably built with cinder blocks).

the designated Christmas tree

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