Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thinking out loud

Wrote this late last night but couldn't upload it.

The Blue Silkie drawing experiment might be working. I did do a watercolor base coat. Unfortunately that warped the bejeebers out of the paper. I went ahead and did all the colored pencil work (just doing one bird at a time right now, better than potentially ruining both). And then I did one of those "don't try this at home" things, and spritzed the whole paper with water until it was completely limp (spraying water on my art is not something I like to do, it scares me) and it's now in the "flattening rack" (blotter paper with a stack of books on top). I'll know in the morning if it's going to be okay. If not, redo... and skip the watercolor (it helped keep the paper color from showing through the fluff). I think it'll be okay.

Is anyone else having email problems lately? I don't know if something's up with my server, or if something's up with the net in general, but things I send are sometimes not getting through, and things people send me are sometimes not getting through. There's no failure notice, the addresses are valid, the spam filter isn't catching them, they simply don't show up. Anybody know what's up with this? It's not happening a lot, but enough to make me wonder what's going on.

Now that the days are getting shorter (waaahhh!) I'm not able to ride in the evenings unless I manage to eat dinner really early, so I'll have to switch riding to mornings. So I've been spending more time out with the birds, in search of future champions, or looking at them and thinking "geez, these are awful." Equal parts of both, I guess! I hatched waaayyy too many birds, and they are showing the signs of having been overcrowded. Arg! Bad me! So many of what I hatched were odd-colors and not-showable. I've culled out a lot but still have a way to go, and I need to sort through last year's breeding stock and get rid of those that don't meet my standards or did not produce good offspring (or were low fertility, etc.) I urgently need to move cockerels into the conditioning coop, but it's still full with the older males. Must get rid of birds!

In fact that's sort of my general thought lately, I need to cut back. I should not have started work on a bunch of new colors, I think that was a mistake. I don't have room to work with that many birds and be able to keep them in any sort of decent condition. I will have some good birds for sale coming up, but it's going to be very few, and I don't know if I want to mess with shipping (I'm not even sure I CAN ship birds anymore, it's been about 6 years since I've tried).

I'm pleased with the BBRed females this year, there are a few out there with significantly improved stippling, and they are definitely keepers. The Brassies and Blue Brassies need work. For a few years they were my best of the "colored" birds and I just kinda let them do their thing and didn't put much thought into it. It shows. Far too many had green legs, the females are getting way too dark-chested, etc. I got rid of the Blue Brassy cock, as he was definitely a producer of green legs (since all the splash offspring were green-legged, and the black Brassy male cannot produce a splash offspring). If I'm pretty strict with color I'm going to cull out almost every single bird I hatched, but that's what it takes. I have a really typey "sport" Brassy male (purebred Black) who I may use in the breeding pen. He's extremely dark, but I like his type and I like how dark-legged he is, I think that might help the green leg issue.

The Cuckoos... well, we'll see. I kept one F1 female. There are five F2 75% Rosecomb males and four F2 50% Rosecomb males to choose from. None are great, to put it mildly (in other words, they all suck). The F2 pullets are very dark, but one might be useable. I'll pick one or two cockerels (the best colored one may in fact be a 50% RC single comb male, hmm).

The youngest Silver cockerel looks like he may end up pretty decent (for an F1 bird!) so I'll be breeding him to the two Blue Silver pullets and their Birchen sister. Then again, should I just breed the F1s to Black Rosecombs next season? Hmm, I did not expect anything but black or birchen in F1, so I dunno... Might get too dark if I go back to Black RC in F2.

The Creles...oh the Creles. I know certain of you want me to persist with them, but I gotta say it's really not looking likely. The one remaining cockerel has virtually no white in his ear lobes. The birds are monstrously huge. None of them have any barring in the wings or tail. I think trying to work with body size/type AND really poor color is just going to end up being a disaster. I think the smart way to do this would be to wait until the Cuckoos are decent, and then breed BBRed to Cuckoo. (Or perhaps to breed BBRed RCs to really tiny Cuckoo OE). I'll give them a little more time but I don't think I'm going to stick with this color. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I think this was not the right way to start it and it puts me on a very long road to getting it right. They are pretty, I will admit that. Just really really huge!

Anyway, the main focus, as always, is on the BBReds and Blacks. I keep the Brassies and Blue Brassies because I adore them. I have at many times thought about selling that whole flock but the truth is I'm not sure I would trust anybody with them. They are not Standard, and I'm not ambitious enough to Standardize them. It's hard to find people who are willing to raise them and really work with them, stick with it, and raise enough of them over the years to make it happen. So, they are my pretty birdies, a genetic line I won't make the mistake of getting rid of. The Silvers and Cuckoos now are "let's see what'll happen" projects, and will be small-scale for a while....probably looking at several more years before they are even showable, if ever.

And that's pretty much my thoughts for the evening.

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