Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gearing up for Gilmanor!

First, I must apologize for neglecting the blog. I've been so wrapped up in spring planning and hatches. But of course now, one of the busiest weeks of the year on the farm, I've decided to come back. Why is this week so crazy? Saturday is the great Gilmanor Swap as many of you know, and with lists made and crates clean all that's left is a few baths, loading food and treats, and of course the birds! I love telling people about this swap who have never been.. you can see their eyes light up as you continue talking about the 100 or so vendors, the great rare oddities that can be found around every corner, the fantastic hand-made goods and of course the amazing chickens, kittens, puppies, goats, mini horses, sheep, finches, pea fowl.. the list goes on and on. So like everyone else, I'm incredibly excited for Saturday to arrive!

I will have mostly youngsters at this swap, but will also have several POL pullets as well as a few adult birds. Youngsters from 1-6 weeks include lavender orpingtons, silver penciled rocks, partridge rocks, olive eggers, easter eggers, a few black copper marans as well as wheaten ameraucanas, plus several other fun birds. I have someone coming to inspect my lovely group of Swedish Flower Hens very early (2 POL pullets and 4 roos), but if they decide not to purchase them I will be making them available to the public.

Please look for my blue tent with the Shady Lane Farm banner and stop by to say hi! We plan to start setting up at 6:30 and will be ready to sell at 7am.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our 2012 Breeds: Hatching eggs and chicks

Well 2012 has finally rolled around, and plans are well underway for a fantastic year at SLF. Birds are divided into their breeding groups and hatching eggs will be collected starting in a few weeks. Fertility is being confirmed daily and I'm very excited to start hatching! I will be setting the first group of eggs around February 1st and will have chicks available starting March 1st. If you are interested in hatching eggs or chicks, please email me at sue_m_simon@yahoo.com and I will put you on our lists. Because we are not a hatchery and are subject to the whims of mother nature, I will certainly do my best to accommodate specific requests for delivery dates, but can't guarantee an exact date for when your eggs or chicks will be ready. I will certainly be happy to give you an estimate as to when your order will be ready. When I have hatching eggs just about ready for you, payment is preferred via PayPal, and eggs will either be shipped USPS, or I can do my best to meet you locally and will accept cash at that time. Shipping for hatching eggs will be $12 for 1/2 dozen priority with tracking, $16 for 1 dozen with tracking, and express will be $25. If you'd like to do a mix/match for hatching eggs, please contact me for pricing.

For chick orders, payment is due upon placement of order. Chicks can be delivered to swaps, or I can meet you locally for pick up. At this time were are not shipping chicks, pending our NPIP certification. Please note: Chicks are sold as straight run only. Some of our breeds, including the Salmon Faverolles and Wheaten Ameraucanas can be sexed at a few weeks of age because of feather color. If we have any juveniles at the farm that can be sexed, they will be listed here for sale.

As always with hatching eggs, we can't guarantee your hatch rate due to factors beyond our control once the eggs leave our hands. This is especially true for shipped eggs, as with the post office they are subject to rough handling, x-ray, less than ideal temperatures, etc. However, I take extreme care in shipping hatching eggs: each egg is wrapped in a piece of paper towel and then wrapped in small bubble wrap, which is then placed carefully in a box which is lined by large bubble wrap and filled with packing peanuts. Extras are included whenever possible for shipped eggs. I will be happy to discuss my incubation techniques if requested to help you have the best hatch possible!

Our first sale will be 3/31 at the Montpelier Feed and Seed in Montpelier, VA. We will also be attending the Mount Olympus Berry Farm sale in Caroline County, VA on 4/21, and of course at Gilmanor Farm in Glen Allen, VA, which takes place in mid-May.

Also, News Flash! The SLF website is in the works and will be live at the end of January. Ordering will not take place on the web site, but you will be able to see pictures of all of our breeders as well as of the farm, and even some of the horses!

Here are our hatching egg and chick prices for 2012:

Welsummers: Chicks $6, Hatching eggs 1/2 doz $15, 1 doz $25
Black Copper Marans: Chicks $7, Hatching eggs 1/2 doz $15, 1 doz $25
Barred Olive Eggers: Chicks $6, Hatching eggs 1/2 doz $15, 1 doz $25
Partridge Rock: Chicks $6, Hatching eggs 1/2 doz $18
Silver Penciled Rock: Chicks $6, Hatching eggs 1/2 doz $18
Lavender Orpington: Chicks $9, Hatching eggs 1/2 doz $25, 1 doz $40
Wheaten Ameraucana: Chicks $8, Hatching eggs 1/2 doz $25

Breeder's choice hatching eggs: These will all be purebred hatching eggs, but the hens decide on the extras we have each week! I'll guarantee at least 3 different breeds, and as many as 7. $20/doz.

Buff Bantam Brahmas and Salmon Faverolles (LF) won't be available until mid-summer so we have some time to build up our own stock.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And I've gone and done what I said I'd never do..

As I set some eggs in September, I had to wonder to myself... why exactly am I doing this? Well, for several good reasons, which for me, outweighed the bad. I was able to obtain eggs from a wonderful breeder of Welsummers who luckily lived in the next county over. She has some of the best lines of the Wellies I've seen, so those went in. But, hatching eggs is a funny thing.. once you start, you can't stop! So soon after that I set another 12 when I saw eggs come available from a breed I've been craving for years.. and from incredible show stock. This continued 2 more times for some great breeds of birds that will be new to SLF. And, happily, the last group of eggs are hatching today, a joint venture with a great friend and local breeder of Delawares. 2 of the breeds that hatched this fall are rare to this area, so I'm especially excited to have brought them to this area of Virginia.

I'll be announcing these new breeds, as well as our 2012 lineup and prices in January. I will start taking chick orders at that time, and the first hatch will be in late February. I will have hatching eggs available as chick orders permit.

Happy Holidays to all from Shady Lane Farm!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gilmanor Farm sale a huge hit!

It was once again time to drag myself out of bed at dark o'thirty to get ready for one of my most favorite of fall festivities: The Gilmanor Farm sale. Most people who bring birds to this sale do spend a great deal of time preparing for this event, and I was no different. Many more hours go into preparing everything for this event than a horse show I'd go to. But as always, after all the eye rubbing, chicken packing, coffee drinking and chicken unpacking, it's always a great day.

My friend and I pulled in around 6:45am, and got set up. I didn't even have some birds out of the truck yet and I sold a rooster. Most of my sales were done before 10am, and the noon rush before the rain hit sent the rest of my birds on their way. To my great pleasure a good portion of my birds went to some wonderful people that I knew from the online poultry groups I belong to, and other birds went to people that I could tell genuinely were so excited to have the bird they were buying, especially the lovely lady who bought my blue maran pullet, and the young teenager who bought my buff orpington pullet. Such a joy to see people so excited over my chickens.

I was able to bring home a lovely exchequer leghorn pullet to add to my breeding group, as well as some wonderful jellies, and a chicken-shaped fly swatter (because who doesn't need one of those!) I spent the afternoon moving birds around, adding roosts and new nesting boxes, and making sure everyone was doing fine in the new colder weather that was coming in. I also have a new scratch recipe, so I tried that out on them. From their response, I'd say that was chicken thumbs-up all the way around.

The first hatch of quails made it out, and the second hatch will be making their way into the world tonight or tomorrow. The very last hatch of this year will be some outstanding Welsummers from great lines. They will be out in mid-October.

Our best wishes for a wonderful Fall for everyone. Our NPIP testing will be sometime in October or November, with the first chicks of 2012 making their appearance in early March.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Fall Gilmanor Farm Sale

September 17th is fast approaching, and we are very excited for the fall Gilmanor sale. We are very lucky to be located only about 10 minutes from Joel Gilman's beautiful farm. I have started to go through the flock and here is the preliminary list of what I'll be bringing, and numbers may change. All birds are between 3-5 months old unless noted, I will update approximate ages asap. Because we are gearing up for our NPIP/AI testing we no longer can have farm pick-ups, I do apologize. If you see something here you must have please let me know and I can hold your bird(s) for you at Gilmanor, but only until 9am.

-Partridge Rock pullets: 8
-Partridge Rock roos: 3 (they are huge!)
-Silver Penciled Rock roos: 6
-Easter Egger pullets (6 months): 2
-Easter Egger pullet mix (6 months): 1
-Exchequer Leghorn roos: 2
-Cochin roo (sweet, eats out of my hand!): 1
-Barred Olive Egger roos: 2-3
-Barred Olive Egger pullets (possibly): 2
-Wheaten Ameraucana roo (Hodges): 1
-Buff Orpington roos (Hink JC/Green Family Farm): 2
-Buff Orpington pullets (Hink JC/Green Family Farm): 2

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fall is approaching, and pullets are laying!

It has been a very eventful past few weeks on the farm, from earthquakes to hurricanes to, well, anything in-between. SLF came through the earthquake and the hurricane relatively unscathed, with only minor damage. All chickens, cats and horses are safe and uninjured. During the height of the storm I went out to check on everyone, and moved a few birds that got wet into the horse trailer, which became a temporary hotel for some chickens. Sunday was clean-up day and we were very lucky overall to not have more damage, and only a 24-hour power outage. I know some folks have not fared as well, so we wish them all the best for a quick power restoration and things to get back to normal.

The spring pullets are starting to lay, which must have been due to the wonderful new nesting boxes that each pen received, courtesy of Nina's Hideaway Farm and Steve Kroger's amazing wood-working skills. Steve does amazing work, if anyone is looking for something to be built. I have about 30-40 birds right now that are 5-6 months old, so we should be seeing lots of pullet eggs soon.

And more wonderful news: Gilmanor is fast approaching! September 17th is the day, and we will be there with approximately 30 birds for sale. I will list the birds we will be bringing early that week, but it will include some Buff Orpingtons, Silver Penciled and Partridge rocks, and Easter eggers.

And of note, we have decided to venture into Quail! The first hatch is in the incubator now, a coturnix group of various varieties. The next hatch will be Jumbo coturnix. I will keep some breeders of the jumbo coturnix, but the rest will be raised and processed in November and December. If you would like to be notified when we have some quail ready, please shoot us an email and let me know.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful fall!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer heat and building coops

For the first time in two years, I took an entire week off work. What a joy! I drove down to see family in North Carolina, and enjoyed some time on the beach, excellent seafood, and sleeping in past 9am! I was only gone 5 days, but I could tell a difference in some of the younger birds' sizes upon my return. Quite amazing how quickly they can change. I'm absolutely thrilled with the 3 month old lavender orpingtons, and the buffs (albeit only 8 weeks old) are feathering out very nicely and are going to be beautiful birds. I am also quite impressed with some of the partridge rocks.. even just at 8 weeks some of them are already showing nice feather patterning, especially the stock I obtained from Joel Gilman. I'm still waiting anxiously for the silver penciled rocks to feather out. I've been complimented a few times now on the Welsummers, which have some of the best leg coloring I've seen in this breed. I'm very excited to be getting a roo from Gibson/Barber lines, which I think will compliment my birds nicely.

As the chickens population on SLF is expanding (not in numbers at the moment, but size of the birds!) a most important order of business is additional coop building. I've added 2 new coops in the last month, and another will be added this week. I'm also working on a design for breeding pens, and hopefully will be able to build a few of these in the fall. There's only so much work I can do in the extreme heat.. we can run to air conditioning, the birds can't! Each coop built will have anywhere from 50-100% shade. Along with fresh, cool water and some chilled watermelon, all the birds seem to be doing just fine.

I do have a few birds available for sale right now: a 10 week old Cochin cockerel with excellent size, a very sweet bird and outstanding leg feathering; an 8 week old Exchequer leghorn cockerel, and an 8 week old black pullet (maran cross). Roo's are $5, and the pullet is $10. Please contact me if you're interested.