|Posted by jameshillgoats on February 13, 2014 at 12:25 AM||comments (5)|
It's day number 20 for our olive egger incubation. I have had serious doubts about the viability of this hatch.
First, we have had an unusually cold winter for our region, including TWO snowfalls and (yesterday!) an ice storm. Though we had saved our eggs for setting on some of the warmer days we had, I was still concerned that they may have cooled too much to remain fertile. And during the sleet and freezing rain of the ice storm yesterday, I kept my fingers crossed that we wouldn't lose electricity and interupt the incubation in its last few days. The trees of our southern rural forest are mostly pine. Ice collects in the evergreen foliage of these trees, and the weight of that ice easily snaps their soft-wooded limbs or uproots the entire top-heavy tree. The power lines never stand a chance!
On the two occasions that I candled the eggs, the results were inconclusive. I was unable to visualize blood vessels either time, and was not convinced that the vaguely darkened area I could see was a growing chick. Difficulty in candling dark and colored shell eggs is to be expected though, as the light just doesn't penetrate as well as it does with white or lighter brown shells. The appearance of an air cell in the eggs was enough to give me hope, and I decided to go on with the hatch cycle (though I half-expected to be greeted any morning with the stench of a burst rotten egg bomb!). I was yet to hear any cheeps or peeps to indicate ready to hatch chicks. I wasn't sure whether the movement I saw of just that ONE egg was from a wiggly chick inside, or a hallucination brought on by wishful thinking.
Well, the storm spared us the worst of its ice, and we made it through without losing the lights. On my arrival home from work this morning, I checked the incubator and found...PIPS!!!
Yep, 6 of the 7 eggs have that first tiny opening in the shell that's a sure sign there's a lively little chick in there who is ready to get out! And as I'm typing, I'm almost certain I can hear the very faint occasional cheep. I can't wait to watch the process of the hatch as it progresses. Our Brinsea Mini-Advance has a clear dome cover, which is probably my favorite feature of this handy little incubator. (Read more about this incubator in our product review blog section). And to think I ALMOST threw these little fellows out in their first 2 weeks of development! I'm hoping for mostly hens...I'll keep you posted!
|Posted by jameshillgoats on February 1, 2014 at 12:15 AM||comments (52)|
Here on James Hill we love our egg basket to be full of colorful eggs. As most of you will remember, we have been working on an egg project to produce "olive" eggs...a richer, deeper color than the sage green that some Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers lay. Our hatching thus far in this project produced two roosters and four hens.
That clutch of chicks have matured very nicely, and the hens have started to lay. We are very pleased with the result. A range of olive colored eggs, including one hen who lays a VERY speckled egg. I am a big fan of speckled eggs, and think they look amazing with the olive green color.
The olive green is an extremely difficult color to capture on my digital camera. These are the best pictures I have managed so far, though the eggs have a more green tint in person, rather than grayish as comes through on camera. Still, I think you can see that these eggs are very different than what you will find at the grocers!
These chickens are a cross of Blue and Black Ameraucanas with Black and Splash Marans. In our experience with Marans and Olive Eggers thus far, the Black and Black Copper Marans lay a much darker brown egg than the Blue or Splash. Since the dark outer coating of the Marans is what gives the olive eggs their unique color, the most "olive" of the eggs come from Black Olive Egger hens. The Blue and Splash Olive Egger hens produce an olive colored egg, just not as deep in color.
Of our original six olive eggers that hatched, we lost one of the roosters to predators, and one of the hens to an unknown cause. I had promised a hen to one of our fellow chicken loving friends, leaving us with just a trio of these special birds. But that's OK. We still have our parent stock, so can you guess what's in the incubator right now?!?
|Posted by jameshillgoats on January 23, 2014 at 11:35 PM||comments (5)|
2013 was a very stressful year for our family...we welcomed new members, while we said goodbye to others. We apologize to our readers. In trying to keep up with everything life threw our way, we let our blog go to the wayside.
It is a brand new year, and we look forward to the challenges this year will bring! Our goals are set, and we are making strides (OK...maybe baby steps!) toward reaching them. One of these goals is to bring a new look and focus to our site so that it more clearly reflects our family's purpose and outlook.
We will present more in-depth and informative content on goat and chicken care, recipes and tutorials for cheese, soap and other goat milk products, and LOTS of "upcycle" and DIY projects. Our web store will be functional with unique product offerings by late spring/early summer.
So drop us a line, say "Hello", and let us know what you think as we clear a new path into 2014!
|Posted by jameshillgoats on December 21, 2013 at 1:55 AM||comments (42)|
Over the last few weeks we have put a good bit of time into fine-tuning our recent retail opportunity. We have updated our packaging and presentation, and are striving to bring unique and memorable merchandise to our customers.
You know we love all things antique and vintage, and are passionate about reducing our "carbon footprint" through recycling, upcycling and repurposing items. Going "junking" is a favorite activity for all the members of our family, young and old. So it just seems natural that vintage and upcycled treasures would make their way into our retail offerings!
From delicate china teacups to repurposed barnwood shelves, many of our favorite pieces are being offered as individual purchases or packaged with our soaps in unique gift sets.
Drop by and see us at Serendipity, the upscale flea market on Main Street in Jonesboro, Louisiana. They are open 10am-6pm Tuesday through Friday, 9am-2pm on Saturday. And stop back by our blog and check us out on Facebook...we'll be posting "sneak peaks" of fabulous finds and upcycling projects.
|Posted by jameshillgoats on November 23, 2013 at 11:50 PM||comments (0)|
James Hill Goats is happy to announce that our soaps are now available in a retail outlet! We just set up a booth at Serendipity, an upscale resale shop in Jonesboro, Louisiana. This is an exciting opportunity for us to broaden our market in sales of our handmade goat milk soap. I definitely prefer face-to-face and on-site sales over internet sales. That way, our customers get to experience the wonderful fragrance of our soaps, though most do have beautiful visual appeal.
The owner (Jennifer) is very involved in increasing the shop's foot traffic through local advertising and promotions. I hear the vendors are planning some great Black Friday offers! We will be announcing OUR Black Friday promotion on Monday. Be sure to check back!
|Posted by jameshillgoats on November 10, 2013 at 10:20 PM||comments (45)|
In today's world it's easy to get caught up in the rush, never taking time to experience the simple beauty in our surroundings. Take a moment...take a breath...don't "look"... just see. Below, a single feather from a common guinea fowl. Beautiful.
|Posted by jameshillgoats on November 10, 2013 at 8:55 PM||comments (43)|
Well, my Polish chicks are growing. The only thing is, their crests seem to be growing faster than their bodies! Check out these hair dos!!!
Aren't they great? We now have the chicks divided up into three separate tubs, and they are already getting really crowded. However, my mom and I want to keep them inside another week. They aren't completely feathered out, and we are supposed to have some low temperatures into the twenties this week. You can still see some fluffy chick down on the buffs in this pic.
Since they are still indoors and are now a couple of weeks old, the chicks no longer need supplemental heat. But of course, we will supply a night time heat source by means of a red floodlight when we do move them to their outdoor coop. All the coop preparations are complete, we are just waiting for the weather to cooperate.
For now, I am enjoying having them nearby and watching them grow and develop their own quirky personalities. This is a bit of a broad generalization, but the buff-laced seem the least "panic" prone so far. The silver-laced freak out over the least noise or movement, and the gold-laced are middle-of-the-road types. One little gold-laced roo is particularly inquisitive, and hops up to sit on the rim of the tub and watch the household activity. I'm going to miss their (constant) cheeping when they move to the outdoor coop. Well...maybe not so much!
|Posted by jameshillgoats on October 24, 2013 at 10:45 PM||comments (0)|
Recently I purchased several air plants from Tilly's Air Plants, and have been searching for a unique display medium for a smal collection of them. I finally decided on using an old deer skull that I found in the woods nearby a couple of years ago. First, we applied three coats of varnish to the skull to give it some color and depth:
I only used one coat on the antlers to maintain the contrast between them and the bony part of the skull:
For the base, I "repurposed" an old piece of cedar porch board. The grayish color of the wood compliments the darker brown tint of the varnish, and it had just the right weathered, rustic look:
Since we are going to display the piece sitting on a surface, hot glue was sufficient to secure the skull to the board. If we planned to mount the display on the wall, a small screw or two would have been more appropriate. Air plants require neither soil nor "watering" per se...weekly misting will suffice. This allows the plants themselves to be tucked into the natural openings in the specimen, and secured with a small dot of hot glue. I'm very pleased at how well it turned out. Very interesting and unique!
|Posted by jameshillgoats on October 24, 2013 at 10:05 PM||comments (43)|
The chicks are growing as fast as weeds! We can already tell the males from the females. When polish chicks are a few days old,the pullets have a crest that looks like a fluffy cottonball. The roo's crests look like mohawks! With a little help from the folks on the Polish Chicken Fanciers facebook page, we estimate abot that we have half male and half female. Thank you for your help, fellow Polish lovers! In this picture of two buff-laced chicks, the female is on the left.
Even among the specific varieties, our chicks vary significantly in pattern, and in depth and tint of color. Each one is unique in regard to both feather and personality! Just look at the contrast in these two silver-laced chicks:
I can hardly wait to see how their plummage will develop as they feather out completely. The quality of feather color and pattern will have a big impact on which chicks I decide to keep as breeding pairs and trios.
|Posted by jameshillgoats on October 15, 2013 at 10:50 AM||comments (42)|
With fall comes pumpkins, bonfires and scarecrows...but at James Hill the fall also brings breeding time for our Nigerian Dwarf goats. In looking ahead to next year's kidding season, we take a critical look at the "keepers" from this year's kids. Confirmation, mother's milk production and personality are our top three scoring criteria. And beautiful color or flashy pattern is always a plus!
Jame Hill Please Don't Squeeze is a rich, chocolate colored doeling that will be staying on our farm. She is a well rounded girl with nice shoulders and good spring of rib, as well as a friendly (even clownish!) personality. I would have liked for her dam to have shown a bit more production, but she did well for a first freshener with tripletts. "Squeegy"s" sire comes from excellent milking lines, so she has real potential.
James Hill Gardenia (facing the camera) will be retained in our herd. She is a flashy doeling with a good bit of white patterning. Her very sound confirmation and sweetheart personality make her a solid choice to add to our breeding program. And her dam is a consistent, easy milker...another plus. And look at that dainty little face!
James Hill Ima Princess (shown above in background) was produced by one of my best milkers with a beautiful udder with strong attachments. This blonde doeling also has strong confirmation. She can be a little shy and slow to warm to strangers, but will ease on up for her share of petting once she gets to know you.
I must have been thinking aloud about our planned pairings and the upcoming breeding season. Our herd sire Whiskey Sour has that sparkle is his eyes, and just one request: "Bring on the ladies!"