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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hatching is done, babies are everywhere!

As of last weekend the hatching season has ended for us for 2011. The last hatches included lavender orpingtons, barred olive eggers, and the eggs I literally stood over talking nicely to them hoping I'd have a great hatch: the silver penciled rocks, of which I was blessed with 13 babies. The SPR's will all be retained for a breeding flock for next year. Overall it was a great hatching year. I was really pleased with the performance of the Brinsea and the HB 2362. We had an interesting spring in central VA, so watching the humidity levels was a task in itself. I much prefer a more 'dry' incubation method, keeping humidity between 30 and 40%, and then bumping up to around 75% for lockdown.

My beautiful 1 year old layers all went to a fantastic home in Goochland County this past weekend in preparation for the rapidly growing youngsters. I have one more coop to finish, and will have chicks in the house for another month or so, but it's amazing to see the chicks that hatched early the spring in their 'teenage' glory right now. I don't expect eggs out of anyone for a few more months, but can't wait to see what graces the nesting boxes!

SLF has swaps on June 25th and July 2nd, and then will be taking a break until the Gilmanor sale in September.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Gilmanor Farm Sale and information on our 2012 breeds

Whew, it has certainly been a busy spring! We've attended 3 swaps so far this year, and have had a fantastic time. One the biggest sales was the Gilmanor Farm sale, which took place on May 7th under beautiful blue skies. My sister and her husband came down for the event, and by 7am we were set up and selling. I was pleasantly surprised to see the volume of sellers there, some with goats, mini horses, kittens, and of course some amazing and rare breeds of chickens. Luckily I was able to restrain myself and only came home with 2 3-week old stunning partridge cochin chicks (although some beautiful seal-point siamese kittens called to me most of the day!) I sold most of what I brought to sell and really enjoyed telling people about my birds and the fun qualities of some of the breeds I had available. I also brought some of my handmade egg ornaments, blown from my own chicken's eggs. They were a hit! I will certainly continue to bring these to future swaps. At the sale I was able to have a few minutes with Joel Gilman, who raises some of the best Partridge Rocks in the country. I was able to get a few chicks from him, which will be added to my 2 other lines to hopefully have a great group of birds for the 2012 season.

I have only 2 hatches left in the incubators, the first will be some lovely silver penciled rocks and lavender orpingtons, and a week later more of the fabulous barred olive eggers. The breeds we plan to develop and work on over the 2011 to 2012 season are:

• Barred Olive Eggers
• Welsummers (Whitmore, Barber lines)
• Silver Penciled Rocks (Adamson Acres)
• Partridge Rocks (Joel Gilman and others)
• Buff Orpingtons (Hink JC, Green Family Farms, and Clevenger/Coulter)
• Lavender Orpingtons (Hink JC)
• Wheaten/Blue Wheaten Ameraucanas (Hodges Farms, Gary Ramey, John Blehm)
• Black Copper Marans (Davis, Jeane, and Presley lines)
• Exchequer Leghorn (Kat LaDue)
• Marraduna Basque (Skyline Farms)

I have a lovely Silver Ameraucana pullet from John Blehm's line that I may be finding a cockerel for later this fall in hopes to add to my silver numbers, but this is yet to be determined.

It has been a lot of hard work finding the right breeders around the country to obtain the eggs I was wanting, but it was well worth it. I am very proud of my stock and can't wait to see how they grow into adults.

The next swap we will be attending is the CFC Farm Store in Caroline on July 2nd.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring has sprung!

Spring is a fabulous time to live on a farm. The trees are blooming, horses are shedding, and chicks are peeping! I've taken a short siesta from horse showing to dedicate time to the growing flock here, as well as putting up new coops. (Plus with the price of gas, I'm content to enjoy riding the trails on our 50 acres for the time being!) The excitement is growing for the sale at Gilmanor Farm on May 7th, where I will be bringing some Welsummer hens, barred olive egger chicks, mottled java chicks, and maran varieties, my egg ornaments, as well as painted wine glasses. Please stop by and say hello! We'll be under the blue tent with the Shady Lane Farm banner.

My first hatch of EE's are now 6 weeks old, and are looking beautiful. These girls will stay with the SLF flock.

After the terrible storms raged in Virginia last Saturday, I let the girls out on Sunday for a romp. They all enjoyed some fresh spring grass as well as various patches of clover. I have a few red production hens that found it necessary to follow me around like puppies, so I took a book out while they scoured around for fun things to play with.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The chicks are hatching!

With only a week into spring, the chicks have made their presence known. Hatch rates have been fantastic, and the chicks are growing like weeds. So far we have Easter Eggers, a few mixed brown layers, some stunning blue and black copper marans (some clean legged, some feather legged), blue and black ameraucanas, and the latest hatch this weekend was some beautiful blue and black barred olive eggers and mottled javas! (I have another very large hatch of both these breeds due towards the end of April, if anyone is interested). I will post pics very soon. The next hatch will be this weekend, of F2 olive eggers and some more black copper marans, plus some show-quality mottled cochins and porcelain d'uccles. These will be offered for sale. The next few hatches I will be doing this year will be some black ameraucanas (from a very nice show line), silver ameraucanas (John Blehm's line), wheaten and blue wheaten ameraucanas, a mixed maran group (including some golden salmon and golden cuckoo marans), lavender orpingtons, buff leghorns, plus more olive eggers, blue copper marans (Davis), and blue ameraucanas (Cree Farms line).

I do have chicks arriving from Whitman Farm soon (welsummers, delawares, and ameraucanas).

I will have some chicks available at the Gilman swap on 5/7. Happy hatching!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Linus returns with big wins from the TB Celebration Show!

Linus, Leo and I traveled to the Thoroughbred Celebration Show in Lexington, VA from March 17th-20th. This show would keep Linus very busy. Shown as 'Tinsel Town', he definitely turned some heads at the show. Although it's hard to miss a 17h grey horse, especially one as cute as he is. He took 5th place in our first 2 3" jumping class out of 15, which I was very proud of him for. He has tons of scope and shows so much promise; we still have work to do but I'm very pleased with his progress, with his confidence ever increasing. We rode in 4 hunter pleasure classes, 2 on Friday and 2 on Saturday. Linus won BOTH of his classes on Friday, and on Saturday he took a 2nd (out of approximately 24 entries) and a 5th. He was Champion in his first division and Reserve Champion in the second division. Leo was shown in-hand in the model class, and while he didn't pin, he certainly showed himself to have the aptitude to be a well-behaved hunter.

This show was mostly a spectating event for Leo, to get him used to the show scene. I'm proud to say he handled everything in stride, and was a perfectly behaved gentleman. He received lots of compliments on his good looks and cute head, and I even found time to hop on him a few times in the evenings. He is showing great promise, and will be taken to a few more shows to spectate before his debut in some pleasure classes later this spring.

The chicks keep coming! As of right now I have 6 Easter Eggers, 1 buff orpington, 1 olive egger, and 4 'mixes' that will eventually lay a brown egg. Expected this week are blue and black copper marans as well as some stunning blue and black ameraucanas from Chicken Scratch Poultry in IL. Next week will be very busy with 2 hatches, including barred olive eggers and mottled javas from a breeder in TX, and olive eggers plus black copper marans from a breeder in WA. While I'm not much of a bantam fan, I saw some show-quality birds from a breeder in GA and couldn't say no to eggs from her mottled cochins and porcelain d'uccles. Those will be out on 4/2. I will have a limited number of chicks for sale from these hatches. Later in April and early may I will have hatches with more barred olive eggers (these produce a speckled green egg!) and mottled javas, and I am expecting live chicks from Whitmore Farm in MD.

Monday, February 28, 2011

First horse show of the season for Linus, and chick update!

Linus went to his first show of the season on February 19th, and took home a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the Low Hunters. For not much winter schooling I was really proud of him. Our next show is 5/5. We're both very excited for the upcoming Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows, held at the VA horse center. These shows showcase the off the track thoroughbred, or those bred to race that were in race training that for one reason or another never made it to the track. Both Leo and Linus will be attending.

Chick News! The first eggs in the incubator for 2011 are due in 12 days. So far it looks like I've got about 80% that are developing, so crossing fingers everything goes well for the remainder of the incubation. We've had some extreme weather fluctuations lately, which luckily has not affected the temperature much inside the 'bator, but definitely plays with the humidity a bit.

The next set of eggs I will be incubating are some olive eggers from Texas (black and blue barred) as well as some Black and Blue Copper Marans, and some blue egg-laying true Ameraucanas.

I plan to be at the Gilmanor Swap on May 7th.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Welcome to Shady Lane Farm!

First, let me welcome you to the Shady Lane Farm blog. I will admit, the thought of maintaing a blog at first (and still) seems like a daunting task, as simple as it might have initially been envisioned. I once had a great love for creative writing, less of a love for reading, but a great interest in research. When I first began my undergraduate career, I was convinced my full-time career would eventually be medicine. After my second year, I realized this was not a field I was meant for. I transferred schools and made a big plunge: I would major in Fine Arts, specializing in Illustration. After finding that there was a need for trained medical illustrators, I knew I had found what I was meant to do. This lead me to graduate school, where I was accepted into the Biomedical Visualization program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During my second year I had the great opportunity to intern at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, where I studied under the great David Williams. Shortly after graduation I took a position in Boston doing educational and training materials for the Pharmaceutical industry. After 4 years I was ready for a change, and accepted a position in Virginia doing defense materials for medical malpractice cases. The illustrations I create are used in the courtroom to help the jury understand the allegations. I'm constantly researching, learning and strategizing, and it's the perfect job for me.

Outside of the office, I have a very active life on the farm. I currently have two Off The Track Thoroughbreds (commonly known at OTTBs) in training. Linus, a coming 6 year old, is a 17 hand grey gelding with a personality just as big, and is by Weshaam. He's a fabulous horse, excellent mover, and is always mistaken for a warmblood. Thanks to a wonderful show scene in the area, I'm able to get out to horse shows most weekends from early spring through late fall. He showed last year in the 2' baby greens and will be moving up to the 2' 6" divisions this year. I also will be taking him to a few combined tests, and hopefully his first trial. Leo (registered name Powerful Storm), my newest acquisition, is a coming 6 year old as well, stands about 16.2 hands and is a lovely bay gelding. He came off the Finger Lakes Track in early December of 2010, after a 4 year racing career. He is by the great Thunder Gulch out of a Turkoman mare, and was bred by Adena Springs in KY. (Of note, he was once ridden by Kent Desormeaux! He didn't win...) He did finally break his Maiden but never really could cut it after that, and he came to me in need of lots of weight (he was thinner than what I would consider 'race fit') and some treatment for ulcers. After 2 months he is finally starting to come around, and is putting on some nice weight. He's an incredibly sweet horse, and will always try to get in front of Linus when it's peppermint time. I'll probably start his official training in a few weeks, as I firmly believe that OTTB's need time to relax their mind and body before embarking on a new career. As I show throughout the year, I will post results and pictures. last but never least, Paddy, my amazing 27 year old QH gelding, has been with my family for 20 years now. He is retired and enjoying his days on the farm with 2 mares and lots of hay and sunshine.

My other great interest is in chickens. I currently have around 15 laying hens, and sell the eggs locally. Among the breeds I keep are Wyandottes, Barred Rocks, Leghorns, Welsummers, Orpingtons, Delawares, and a few others. Chicks being raised this spring include several varieties of Marans (the chocolate egg layers), easter eggers, olive eggers, the true Araucanas (blue layers), RIR's and a few leghorns. Needless to say, my hands will be full. Plans are in the works to add more pens, and if I'm feeling lucky, I might try to obtain a nice incubator and hatch a few eggs from some of the excellent breeders in the area. I always prefer to buy and support local when I can. It makes for a happier healthier bird.

This blog will focus on the training and showing of my thoroughbreds, different farm activities, recipes, and other information of interest. If you'd like to see some of my paintings, please visit www.suesimonstudios.com. Thank you for visiting, and check back weekly for updates and news.