The new batch!


Apr 21, 2020
Well, it’s been two years since the weasel incident that took 40 of my beautiful young quails from me. The survivors living in the hutch are aging out of producing eggs, so I decided it was time to add a new batch to the covey.

I ordered 75 hatching eggs from Myshire: Pansy fee, SSC, and Tibetan Tuxedo, and added some hg eggs into the hatch, none of which ended up being fertile (another confirmation of the age issue with my older stock).

We got the usual 50%-ish hatch rate with mailed eggs, with one albino and a few early SSC fatalities. My three-year-old broke into the incubator twice; I think we would have had an even better hatch rate if I had a secure location for hatching (which will be remedied before the next hatch - my daughter *never* showed any interest in getting into the eggs, definitely caught me off guard!). He’s thought of so many new ways to challenge me and my notions of what kids will do for sure.

I have room for them in the hutch, but realized they need a grow out pen that I can keep the mama brooder plate in for a few more weeks. They are quickly growing out of their brooder, which I fashioned from an old dog bath in our garage left by the previous owner.

I believe (fingers crossed) that the aviary will be completed today. It’s the first structure I have fashioned independently, with no help from my husband, so it’s been a learning process!

I’d like to post regularly about our little pocket farm. Wasn’t sure if that would belong in the chicken stories since we have both (but many more quail).
I felt inspired to give the quail a more natural habitat after seeing how happy the quail at our wedding venue were. I had no idea the conservatory in Rochester even had quail, but it seems perfect that quail would show up in our elopement photos!

We have a fully enclosed raised bed garden built by the previous owner. It has always been a source of puzzlement for me since it’s mostly shaded and some of the beds are too shaded to produce much of anything. I guess she used to grow a lot of leafy greens and the like, but I can’t direct seed lettuce this time of year and have it even germinate! Anyway, I decided to start converting the least productive beds to quail enclosures.

Eventually, the conversion could take over the entire enclosure, but I can’t afford that much hardware cloth all at once! Nor do I have the time to dig down 19 inches in a 100x30ft area (guesstimate) to bury it. I know they say you can do the wire on top of the ground too but I like the buried version. Plus I wanted to add a wire floor buried about 6in above the buried wire sides, so that the weasel would have to dig down, then up, then run into wire anyway. There’s a few inch opening in the center of the floor I figured covering with wire would be overkill on overkill.

I dug down about 20 inches until I hit giant tree roots, then lined the area with hardware cloth. I filled in with soil and added the floor/interior skirt. The garden is only fenced with chicken wire, not buried, so I had to greatly improve the security of the enclosure.

The wheel in the photos is just what I was using to avoid soil all over while I worked.


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The garden fencing is somewhat dilapidated, so my next step was to add extra support so that at least this corner of the garden would be safe from catastrophic failure.

All wood used in this project is recycled from a fence we took down (they previously had used most of the yard for riding/housing horses but imho it’s too little space for a horse, and they changed the zoning laws). Husband wanted the yard to be more open, so we took the fence-inside-the-fence down.

We had a couple rainy days at this point, so I decided to paint the wood. I brought the frames inside the garage, and worked on those until the weather cleared. Then, of course, I had to paint the rest. It’s all treated wood, but there’s something about freshly painted structures that makes everything better! I’m not done with the paint job yet. I’m aiming to paint the “bedroom,” as my toddler calls it, in barn red. That’ll have to be after we get back from our trip, though.


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After getting the initial supports in, I started adding in more hardware cloth and the frames. The whole garden is on a hill, so if anything appears to not be level…well, it’s entirely possible! But the hill doesn’t help.

The husband handed me a level about halfway through. Did I mention I had no idea what I was doing? I went to art school my first time at college and learned to measure for matboards. T-squares and levels are a complete game changer, and I have no idea why we didn’t learn with those. Carpenters are light years ahead making measuring and leveling more efficient! I could have had my matboards lined out in 30 seconds! Of course, I realized art school was a poor choice for RoI and switched, anyway.

At this point, I realized the project was more time consuming than I had realized, mostly because I’m also taking care of my toddler and my 5-year-old. The toddler, like me, would rather hang out with animals all day, so I have the baby quails’ brooder strapped with bungees to keep him out. He doesn’t mean to be rough, but his impulse control hasn’t developed yet, so we can’t set our expectations too high.

I wanted a walk-in enclosure because the space was appropriate for it and this way when the kids want to hold quails (always supervised), they can literally be locked in with them. We lost a few over the last couple years.

Our first batch was from KC and they were so docile - naive me assumed all quails were this way. We’d take them out into the garden while I cleaned the hutch so they could dust bath in the path and nibble on plants, and hopefully eat bugs while adding some manure to the beds. I never had an issue with our KC quails leaving the six-ish foot enclosure.

I tried out a mixed bag batch from a different place - a smaller hatchery I can’t recall the name of, but these babies were WILD! Before I knew better, four or five of them just jumped/flew out into the woods. That was the end of free ranging for them in the garden - I had to start putting them in a dog kennel during cleanings. My son lost a couple more just holding them, so we obviously needed a solution for these potentially wily birds.

The Myshire babies seem extremely docile so far, thankfully! The last one to hatch (the morning *after* my son broke in and left the lid off during lockdown) shows no fear of people at all and will sit in my hand and hang out with me. Regardless, they will be very secure until we know their adult selves are docile enough to free range while I work in the garden.

These shots show the framing progress and the hardware cloth installation. You can see the area that will be their shelter with my roof (my husband seemed quite entertained at my roof design. I think it still needs an overhang on the front, but most of our wind comes from the direction of the woods, so rain would more likely blow in that way.

Im considering adding some levels in six-inch increments inside to take advantage of the height since the quails exhibit excellent jumping skills, but even using painted wood boards would be a cleaning issue over time.

Come winter I plan to add extra boards where the spaces are, but is there such a thing as not enough ventilation in winter? Would it be better to have small, enclosed spaces inside a more ventilated bedroom space?

The top main area of the aviary will be open to the rain. I want to produce quail manure compost, name it something clever, and sell it to the yuppies for gardening one day. We hope to move to an acerage at some point where my quail fun will only continue.


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Yesterday, I added more framing, the hardware cloth “roof”, and finally got to fill the rest of the dirt floor in! Like I said, I originally dug down 19 inches or so. It’s been filled back up about a foot, to which I’d like to be able to add more soil/wood chips to for the compost project. The level of soil now means we won’t be falling into a pit when we try to refill their food/water or hang out with them. I have a friend coming to care for them while we are out of town and wanted to make sure she was not going to break an ankle. Personally, I kind of like the idea of a sunken quail dungeon. I still think being a few inches into the ground will help insulate them from both warm and cold.

My son has claimed the aviary as his own. Last night he said,”please don’t put the baby quails in my house!” Now I feel bad he doesn’t have a playhouse…

Hopefully today is the day we are ready to add our babies! This enclosure will allow me to add the brooder plate for a couple more weeks until they are fully feathered. I notice they barely use it at this point, but we have some cool nights and mornings up here in Central New York, so I want them to have the option.

I’d like to add some plants for them. Not planted in the ground, but maybe in low containers or even in the sides. I have a ton of mint taking over the garden that I would not mind them destroying. Also, kale has turned into a useful garden weed for my birds. Ideally I’d love to have tall grass and shrubs for them, but from what I’ve read here it seems like they would just destroy it.

Today, I finish securing the roof, ripping more boards for supports, adding plants, and finish building and installing the doors/gates. I plan to add a board with a smaller door to their bedroom area, but I’d like it to be removable for cleaning. I’ve never installed gates before, so it’ll probably again be more time consuming than I expect, but I have to get done before we leave on Tuesday. When we get back, I plan to extend the hardware cloth over the enclosed roof and add the levels in the bedroom if I can figure that out. We’ll add more enrichment and modifications as we go along.

The soil I added into the enclosure is from the two beds to the left, which have only ever grown kale and two onions which I moved. They don’t need ten feet of space to not produce anything except onion blossoms and kale that nobody eats. That will be where we expand to first.

Once these babies get their adult plumage and show their personalities, we can pick out breeding groups. I’ll keep the breeding groups in the hutches as needed, and my egg producers in the aviary. I also want to move my old birds to this aviary to allow them to finish their lives as fully as they can, though they always seem content.


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Here are some of our babies - they hatched around the 18-24th of June. The Rosetta is the one I call Favorite who has no fear. We got about seven or eight Pansy fees, seven wilds, and a few silver varieties. I think this white is a silver. I got fewer Tibetans than I would have liked, but the genetics are there to make me some nice dark babies. I can add some k dale blacks in one day, hopefully! I know I don’t post often here, but I read and lurk quite a bit :)


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Here are some of our babies - they hatched around the 18-24th of June. The Rosetta is the one I call Favorite who has no fear. We got about seven or eight Pansy fees, seven wilds, and a few silver varieties. I think this white is a silver. I got fewer Tibetans than I would have liked, but the genetics are there to make me some nice dark babies. I can add some k dale blacks in one day, hopefully! I know I don’t post often here, but I read and lurk quite a bit :)
Those are some beautiful birds. I can hardly wait to see what ours look like. I have 120 Falb Fee eggs in the incubator right now and just like when we first got started with Quail, I still get excited and hate the 2 week wait.
The 2nd to last photo of the black and white one, what is that pattern called? I really love the look of all your stuff!
Here are some of our babies - they hatched around the 18-24th of June. The Rosetta is the one I call Favorite who has no fear. We got about seven or eight Pansy fees, seven wilds, and a few silver varieties. I think this white is a silver. I got fewer Tibetans than I would have liked, but the genetics are there to make me some nice dark babies. I can add some k dale blacks in one day, hopefully! I know I don’t post often here, but I read and lurk quite a bit :)
Beautiful birds.

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