A Dreary Weekend Report

We’ve had a lot of rain the last few weeks, both actual rain and a figurative kind where everything seems to pulling down our efforts.  And weeds of all kind have been growing as the result of that rain.

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See?  Weeds!

The above weeds took up residence in my garden plots, and nurtured by all the rain we’ve had, grew and multiplied in such a way that it look me four days to weed them out.   Not four days straight, mind you, because I was doing other things all day long, too.  But for at least 3 hours every day, during the time I didn’t have to be cooking, cleaning, feeding the chickens, or running to various sports functions for the kids.  The Girl had her last track meet on Tuesday and Little Dude had two baseballs games.  So there was a lot going on in the real outside the garden.

So… four days…

It looks nice now, but I’m better I’ll be out there once more before planting because we’re getting MORE rain and that gives everything I evicted time to grow back.

The chickens benefited from the garden efforts because I would occasionally toss them a grouping of plants where the dirt just wouldn’t shake away from the roots.  (I was trying to keep good soil in the garden, after all.)  The offerings yielded leaves and flowers to nibble, big fat worms, and juicy bugs.  All of which were much enjoyed by the ladies and their boyfriends.

Tuesday was Day 14 for Pavelle and her Baby Eggs.   We celebrated by candling them again and pissing Pavelle off to the point where every time I took away an egg, she bit me.  She’s very devoted, I will give her that!

It was dark because we went later at night but here are her eggs:

Again, sorry that they aren’t as good as the first candling.  It was darker.  We did see bigger blobs inside the eggs and signs of movement.  Even that #2 Easter Egger egg I was certain was empty last time looked like *maybe* it had something in it, depending on which way I turned it.   I’m still maybe 80% sure it’s a dud, but I guess we’ll see.

Today is Day 18, and therefore tonight I will be candling for the last time before leaving Pavelle and her sweet baby eggs to their own devices.  Lock Down this weekend!

Also on Tuesday, after two days of fussing with the incubator and trying to get the temps to even out somewhere between 99-100 degrees, we placed Little Dude’s 4-H eggs in to be incubated.

But not before deciding to make an ‘experiment’ of our own, and put half the eggs in the incubator and the other half under Rapunzel, to answer the question, “which does a better job, hen or incubator?”  I’m betting on hen, because Rapunzel is very very dedicated and the humidity in the incubator keeps giving me fits.  Who knew that there was so much that could go wrong with these things?  I’m so used to just putting the eggs under the hen and letting them do the rest!

We’re going to be candling Rapunzel’s eggs and the incubator eggs today, too, because Little Dude is supposed to do it 4 times on this journey and sketch the results.  Hoping to see something, but they’ve only been in four days and I don’t usually candle until Day 7.

Wish us luck, okay?

And now… onto a bit of sad chicken news.

A few weeks ago, I posted that I was keeping my Easter Egger rooster, Luke, and because I couldn’t decide what to do about Felix, we’d try a go at four roosters.   My logic was that since we’d be doing these 4-H eggs, and would possibly have broody hens raising babies, the flock would be big enough to sustain that many roosters without problems.  And with Pavel sitting on 6 eggs and the 4-H project having 12 eggs, that seemed like a possibility.

And then Jolene got sick, and we had to put her down.

And then Maicey got hurt.  And hassled by the younger roosters who didn’t realize she was hurt and were just trying to make their presence known within the flock.

And then I started noticing that some of younger sexlink hens have started looking … abused…

AND THEN… we had a sudden drop off from 22-25 eggs a day to 14-18 eggs a day.

That’s when I came to the conclusion that my flock is NOT big enough to maintain four roosters.  In all harsh reality, until all these eggs hatch and the chicks grow up (so basically middle to end of the summer), we aren’t even ready for three roosters.  Someone had to go, for the physical and mental health of my flock.  The trouble I was running into was WHO and in what manner.

I am a self-admitted rooster addict. I love them.  I love their bright plumage and handsome faces.  I love their bold as brass attitudes and the little nuances of their courtship rituals.  I love the duality of a bird who will rush to defend his hens with harsh cries and sharp beak, wings beating the air like a male ape beats his chest and yet turn around and eat feed from my hand one piece at a time.  The savage and the gentleman all rolled into one beautiful creature.  I love their awkward first crows and every crow that follows… and a happy morning begins with a chorus of multi-voiced “Rr-r-Rr!!!” loudly proclaiming that the sun is up and so are we!

Knowing this, and reading my blog regularly, you know how much I love my roosters.  How could I possibly decide?

I had four roosters:

Double Dots, the Flock Papa who has been here since the very beginning.

Pip, our first born chick and the 2IC.

Felix, Pip’s skittish and flighty son.

Luke, the Easter Egger I fought so hard to get and wanted to be a hen so this wouldn’t be a problem in the first place.

I’ll start by saying there was NO WAY ON EARTH it was going to be Double Dots on the chopping block.   It ought to be, given him being the oldest, and father/grandfather to all of my Gen 2-ers.  He’s too good a rooster, too well behaved, too well liked by his ladies, to just get rid of without a LOT of thought.

Someday, it will be his turn, if health and/or predators don’t get him.   But that day was not this weekend.

Even still… this leaves Pip, Felix and Luke to consider.

Well… Pip and Luke to consider, because Felix?   I have known for a while that I wouldn’t be keeping Felix. He’s too skittish and flightly and around me.  Not mean, but not accessible.  I began to worry that if we kept him, with age and hormones, would he be the one to someday turn on me in the barnyard?   Could I trust him not to hurt me or Little Dude?   Also, I can’t pick him up, which makes checking him for injuries and caring for him harder.

But Pip?  And Luke?

I agonized and agonized over the whole thing for days, weeks even since the rain made it impossible butcher roosters.

I made lists on paper and in my head of both their pros and cons.  Who was the “nicer” personality wise. Who worked best with Dots and other hens.  They both brought something different to the table, each valuable in their own way.   I asked Mom, Dad, DH, the Girl and Little Dude for input and preference. I agonized some more.

Yesterday, DH said he wasn’t going to take care of the roosters until today.  Last night, he decided to do it then, so he could hunt turkey this morning.

While he butchered Felix, I agonized over Pip and Luke some more, and almost started crying.  DH came back inside the coop and I told him “I can’t do this.  You decide.”

So he walked into the coop and grabbed Pip off the roost.

I couldn’t even watch, and writing it right now is the hardest thing ever.   My little Pip Chick is gone.  I know I’d be feeling the same way about Dots, or even Luke given how much I’ve been invested in the little non-Sith, and I’m trying to remind myself that we needed to do this for the hens.   Because we did, because they are being stressed too much, that’s not fair to them.

But Pip is gone and I want to cry.

Farewell, Baby Boy.  Gramma will always love you.

And good-bye, Felix/Felicia, the little cinnamon colored chick who managed to live despite his hatch-momma’s crazy child-rearing methods.

8 thoughts on “A Dreary Weekend Report

  1. Wow, this is big news! You have been thinking a lot. I can say from experience now that it’s hard to make decisions about your whole flock when you get so focussed on individuals. This is huge for you and it is sad. I would keep Dots too if I were you: personalities that good don’t come around very often. He is still valuable to your flock as long as he’s maintaining fertility and health. Not to mention he’s just special. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been trying to decide between the other two good roosters though. You have so much history with Pip and he was a good boy. It must have been gut wrenching. 😦 On the bright side, Luke will bring new genetics into the flock, which is essential in the long run, and potentially interesting egg colours. And I’m sure the girls will thank you for the relief in pressure on them.

    I’m still in tough decision making mode too. Lydia is too jolly smart for her own good to break her egg eating habit. She only eats her own egg, silently, straight after she’s laid it, so nothing will fool her. This morning The Husband caught Mary eating an egg in the coop. I just about died. From what I can gather she probably accidentally broke it while she was climbing around and had a few pecks at it, as she very promptly went broody and screeched at me from the nestbox when I went to suss out the situation. I caught Lydia and she is currently on death row in a temp pen with Mr Collins. Hopefully I can keep Mary from any further incidents, as it wasn’t her own egg she was eating. But Lydia’s habits are too dangerous to keep her around any longer. I am gutted, as I really like her, but there’s nothing else for it. 😦 Now I’m on the hunt for more pullets to make up my numbers. My, how things are changing…

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    1. It is always something with chickens, isn’t it? I’m sorry about Lydia. Silly girl is too smart for her own good! I hope Mary can be deterred. I tend to ‘forgive’ accidents like the one you described. But recurring egg eating is bad.

      Pip is gut wrenching. It does not seem like the same coop without him there. 😞. Even Dots noticed the difference. At bed time tonight, he kept going back outside and crowing and rushing back in to count heads. He knows he’s missing a vital part of his flock. I tried to explain. He is very intelligent, and looked at me trying to figure out what I was saying.

      Some of the younger hens who made up “Pip’s flock” kept following Dots out to see what he was looking for, too. Cinderella, Maxie, a couple of the sexlink girls. One of them actually stood in the door looking out for him. Rapunzel won’t know until she finishes hatching her eggs. That will be interesting.

      And Pavelle was letting Pip mate her, so the chicks she’s sitting on should be his. Even though they may be weird-haired little things.

      I’m just going to miss my little Pip Chick a lot. We may have more someday who look like him but they will never be the same.

      I do know the flock will be better for the removal of two roosters. I need to keep that in the foremost of my mind. They have needs, too.

      Good luck with Mary.

      If Mr. Collins is in the death pen, is PB a boy then?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lol I like to call it the Bachelor Pen rather than the death pen! 😉 Mr Collins was always headed there, even if PB turned out to be a girl. The timing is tricky as I don’t want Mr Collins to be on his own too much, but he’s still pretty small. But I felt like he was starting to influence PB too much. PB was getting more wary of me thanks to Mr Collins’ endless fear of me and almost everything else in the world. I don’t want PB to be scared of me and he wasn’t eating from my hand out in the open because Mr Collins would make him run away. Mr Collins is a bad seed. PB dominated him for only one or two days a while back, but Mr Collins has otherwise been the boss. PB can still hang out with Georgiana and I’m finding some young girls for him… There isn’t much around at this time of year but some current candidates are black Orpingtons or Wyandottes in a few colours. Decisions! Yes, I’m pretty sure he’s a boy and heard him make a ‘maybe’ rooster noise today.

    Your poor chickies. It’s hard when we have to make these decisions and see them missing their buddies. They just don’t understand why they’ve gone and they do feel it. I hope they all cope ok for you. Looking forward to you getting some babies to cheer things up a bit.

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    1. Well, Black Orpingtons are beautiful, too, and look a lot like Australorps. I have learned there are very subtle differences in body shape between my Orps and Lorps. Some of the hatching eggs LIttle Dude got for his 4-H project are Wyandotte, too. If they make it out all right, I’ll be excited.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So saddened by the news of Pip. He was my favorite. But you have to do what’s best for your flock. He was a good roo and had a good life 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *sigh* It’s NOT the same without him, either. Dots spent two whole days looking for the missing boys. Well, I don’t really think he was looking for Felix, but Pip? They were a team. I have been feeling a LOT of regret about letting DH take Pip and wondering if we could have sustained 3 roosters like I’d originally planned? And then last night, just four day after the butchering, my girls laid a full 24 eggs. First time in weeks. I know that means we made the right call for the hens, but I miss my Pip Chick a lot.

      If you look at some of my recent posts, though, the babies Pavelle is hatch out are his. At least two of them. He was rooster she was mating with when she went broody and 2 of her 3 eggs have hatched. So he will live on in them, provided they don’t turn out to be roosters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t regret it. It is for the best. I’m glad he gets to live on through his babies! It’ll be fun to see how they turn out

        Liked by 1 person

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