Rainy Tuesday Update

So, it’s raining today, with little patches of sunshine here and there.  The weekend was pretty much the same, but the week was pretty exciting around the barnyard and pasture.

First off… we’ve had visitors of the nasty variety.   Two fat brown woodchucks who think they own the place.   Dad shot one sneaking around the garden and caught the other in a trap he placed by their hole.

A couple of days later, we caught this opossum in the same trap.  Which means they are sharing the holes under the barn.

Dad wasn’t targeting the possum, because he read somewhere that they eat ticks. I don’t know if that’s true, but the DO eat eggs and young chicks, and can also kill adult chickens. I’m glad we are one possum less this week.

The neighbor’s white turkeys also paid a visit (which I didn’t get a picture of), but the chickens are getting used to them being around.

Ashley decided to go broody, and spent most of the weekend in Broody Jail.

Now, I know I have said in the past that I wasn’t going to use the Broody Breaker method anymore and just give my hens eggs.  But this hen is a special case.  This is Ashley – she who lost her babies 2 times in the fist week of their lives, kept leaving nest and getting too confused to go back to it, and then raised them to be neurotic weird freaks.  (example, Felix… and Perdie who STILL doesn’t trust me.)   So… no eggs for Ashley.

Besides which, Pavelle’s babies are two weeks old today and Rapunzel’s hatch/incubator babies are due to be hatching today.  Remember?  The 4-H project?   So yeah… I don’t need more babies just yet.  Especially not from a hen I don’t trust.

And while Ashley cooled out in Broody Jail, DH and Little Dude made another attempt to dry out the swampy areas in the middle of the chicken pasture.  Last year, DH made a pond.  This year, he’s spent days (and days and days) digging trenches trying to find where the underground springs run.

The chickens LOVE it because trenches mean mud, dirt, worms, bugs… stuff for them to do and see and EAT.  So they really love helping DH with his trench project.

And lastly what post would be complete without something about Pavelle and her babies?

This past week, Pavelle decided that she didn’t like the cat carrier as a nest, so she moved her babies out of it and up into one of the laying boxes.  They only sleep there at night, because the other thing they REALLY discovered this week was the great outdoors.  She takes them into the tunnels, the run and even into the barnyard.  They have not yet ventured into the greater chicken pasture, but still, the spend a good portion of the day outside, getting whatever yummies nature has to offer.   Whatever it is, they always have full crops when I see them, so it must be good.  🙂

This is Feather Butt, aka The One With The Feathered Feet. If you look closely…
… I *think* Feather Butt might also have a mini-crest. It’s not as pronounced as Pavelle’s was, but it sure looks like one to me, there on the top of his/her head.

 

Happy 2nd Week-aVersary, little Pavelle-Babies!

Three White Hens

Because one of my readers asked for pictures of the Dalmies, I present to you…. three mostly white little hennies.

Perdie, who, as you see, got the most gray from her adventures in the ash pile.  I got pictures of her investigating the nests and it apparently upset her routine, so she went back outside.

Pongo, who is slightly bigger than Perdie in build and has a bit more fluff in the trunk.

Pongo is also the more friendly of the two.  Granted, Ashley raised them all to “hide because it’s safer” … but I can pet Pongo and Maxie.  Perdie doesn’t really want me near her at all.  She is very skittish, as is their hatch-brother, Felix.

Genetics… Pongo and Perdie are most likely Pip’s children, with Australorp mothers.  They act a lot like my Australorps, and also the Orpingtons.  Those two breeds are cousins of sorts, so I guess that makes sense.

They are the most dramatic when it comes to laying eggs.  Often, they will go into several nests in search of the right one, announcing their displeasure at the rejected ones and complaining if their preferred is empty – for a very long time before settling on one.  Or faking the Egg Song in an attempt to get someone out of the nest they want.

I’ve noticed the same behavior in the Orps and Lorps, where as my sexlinks (Abby and the Mystery Bin Girls) are very no-nonsense about it.

Maxie, on the other hand….

… she is a straight to business type of girl.  More like Abby and the Mystery Bin Girls who jump into any available nest, lay their eggs and move on.  Like I said, no-nonsense.

Given that Maxie is a mini-me of Dots, I’m guessing her egg donor was one of the sexlinks.  She’s pretty and friendly, a little smaller than her sisters.  Another indicator that she is a sexlink.  Possible straight-on second generation if we assume Dots as the father.

Maxie was one of the few who avoided the ash pile altogether, so she isn’t even the least bit gray.  Which makes her very smart, in my opinion.

Anyway… that’s the girls.  🙂

 

My Boys 

Okay, so… last week, my hens decided it would be fun to do their dirt bathing in the ashes left over from the burn pile.   They came out of it covered in soot.  All the white hens were gray, all the  Sexlinks and RiRs were various shades “muddy” or “moldy.”  (I don’t know how to describe it.  They look bad.)  And even though it has rained the last few days, they still look filthy.  If I didn’t have so many of them, I’d be tempted to give baths.

But since the girls are unfit for pictures, we will have to make due with pictures of my boys.

Currently, there are four of them.

My handsome Double Dots, as you all know. He’s a golden sexlink, also called a Golden Comet.   I’ve talked about him before.  A lot.  Dots is the father of Pip….

… who was our first-hatch chick, and the oldest of the “2nd generation” flock.

They have an odd sort of relationship.   Pip has a lot of respect for his papa, which is probably good because he grew up alone, with no same-aged hatch mates to back him up when he stepped out of line. Dots and the Aunties (the others hens) put him in his place a lot from the age of 9-weeks to 1 year.

Now the Aunties kind of like and he and Dots work together to protect the flock.  They don’t fight, that I’ve seen anyway.  Dots does chase Pip, if he catches him mating or whatever, but it’s usually only a few feet and then he stops.   They tolerate each other on the roosts at night.

And they BOTH take Felix to task.

Felix (who used to be Felicia, but clearly is NOT a hen) is gen 3 for this rooster dynasty, as I believe he is Pip’s son, born of one of the Buff Orpingtons.  I only guess Buff Orp for the mama because he really isn’t red like the RiR-cross chicks.

image Let’s look at Dani (the red rooster show here), in comparison. This is a younger picture, but he was a deep deep red by the time he went to freezer camp.

Felix started out as a cinnamon colored chick, looked butter scotchy as a teen, and while his reds are coming out (Pip’s mother was RiR), he doesn’t have the same depth or shade of red as Dani.

And since we’ve established that Pip+Australorp gives me the Dalmies (Pongo and Perdie),that really only leaves my two Buff Orpingtons as potential mommas.

Felix has yet to find a place in the flock that suits him.  Both Dots and Pip chase him if goes after the ladies and tries to mate. Part of that is because Dots naturally assumes all the ladies are his, and part because the ladies don’t want to mate with Felix.  He chases, pulls neck feathers and is awkward. The girls run, squawk, and scream until Dots or Pip (or both) go after him.  In other words, he’s where Pip was last summer.  Poor boy.

Some of the bolder hens peck at him, especially at bed time, and I have cleaned and fixed up minor comb injuries as the result of their pecking.

Sadly, he kind of brings it on himself and I don’t know what to tell the poor kid.  Not that he’d 1) listen or 2) understand me, him being a chicken and all.  So he’s just going to muddle his way through this on his own.

At least until his fate is decided.

A friend of mine named him Felicia, and I think she would prefer I keep him around so she can see him the next time she visits.  I have talked to her about it and she has been trying to find a place for him somewhere near her (in Indiana)but let’s face it.  With the threat of avian flu, it’s not likely too many people will want a rooster from an unknown flock out of state.  Even a mostly tame one.

However, I’m included to keep him and see how it goes.  If he can find a balance with his papa and grandpapa (Pip and Dots respectively), and my hens don’t start getting over mated, then by all means… he could stay.  We’re talking about adding more babies later this spring anyway.  (More on that later.)

But there is this little (not so little) guy to consider.

Luke, formerly Leia. Who started crowing not to long ago and hasn’t stopped since.

I mentioned previously that Luke and his sister, Padme, where scared of going outside.   Padme has gotten over it.  She is finally starting to realize that she is a hen and should be outside doing Hen Things.

Luke?  He’s not too sure about this concept of outside hen things.  He will stay inside, sit on the roost and crow for her (or someone else) to join him.  He has a loud, bold as brass little “Ooo-oo-Oooo!” (Because it’s not quite an Rrr-r-Rrr yet.)  and sometime she does come back.   Sometimes he gives up and goes outside to find her.

What’s interesting to me is that Dots allows Luke to do his Ooo-oo-Ooo.

Last spring when little Black Jack was learning to crow (at 9 weeks, not 20 like Luke), Dots assumed it was a threat to his dominance and went on the offensive. I had to rehome little Jack just to keep him safe and ensure a peaceful integration.

But Luke,having been hatched by Abby, raised as a winter baby (like Pip), is not a stranger. He and Dots both crow for me every morning when I go to let them outside.  He crows for me (or, for his sister, or for whomever…) when he is in the coop… and sometimes when he is outside.  He crows more than Pip does.  And definitely more than Felix does.

I wonder if my scaredy little EE isn’t going to turn out to be more dominant of the 3 younger roosters?

Or if Dots just hasn’t noticed because he has been more focused on keeping Felix and Pip in their places?

I am hoping that things stay peaceful.   Again, we are talking about adding more chicks this year… Little Dude wants to hatch Barred Rocks for 4-H.  So if things stay peaceful, and the hens aren’t getting overmated… well, I’d like to keep all four of them as see how it goes

This past Fall, we sent Dani, plus Abby’s four young rooster (my Boys of Summer) to the Freezer Camp. I kept for a long while, hoping that someone would buy or otherwise take the Sumtaler’s off my hands.  But in the meantime, Dots and Pip got very spoiled by having a lot of ‘extra eyes’ watching over the girls.  There were roosters with hens everywhere.  So Dots could spend time with his favorite ladies and forget that he ‘had to chase Pip’ and yet, there was back up in case of unforeseen danger.

I have noticed since their departure from the flock, that Dots and Pip seemed to have their “hands” full with the ladies.  Both of them in the coop while most the hens were outside. Who’s looking after the ladies?

So I think that one or two more roosters won’t hurt, provided they all get along and don’t hurt the hens.  Currently, Felix spends a lot of time outside with the hens.  He is trying to impress them.  A couple of them will squat for him to mate with now.  Most of them still find him annoying.  But again, they thought the same things about Pip last year.

So we’re going to try it.  See how things go, and decide from there if the dynamics need to change or the flock needs thinning.

And now, because I can… here’s Luke making funny faces at the camera:

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Hatching versus Eating 

Eggs!  If you have chickens, then you’ve got eggs.  A little or a lot of eggs mostly depends on the size of your flock, breed and time of year.  But still – you’ve got eggs.

I recently joined a new FB group for chicken lovers.  It’s bigger than the other one I was on, sees a lot more traffic, and has a wider range of chicken-experience.

A post from earlier today has me thinking.  The OP (original poster) sells her eggs $2.50 a dozen for eating and $5.00 a dozen for hatching.

She was contacted by a potential customer who wanted to know things like breeds, housing and care conditions, and if she washed/refrigerated her eggs.

Upon receiving answers, the woman tells the OP that she was wants a dozen, unwashed and unfridgerated and will only pay the $2.50.   The implication here, between the questions of breeds and living conditions, is that she wants hatching eggs.

The OP’s question is “should I sell at her terms, or refuse?”

A new debate has spawned, however.  How do you determine between hatching eggs and eating eggs? And more importantly, should you charge more them? Or less?

(For my international readers, I will make note that here in the U.S.A we have different laws regardless chicken eggs and it is our practice to wash and refrigerate th. I know you guys don’t.  That’s okay because I know your standard care and coop/barn cleaning procedures are different than ours.  We here in US just have to be different.)

Now… to the question(s) at hand.  What determines a hatching egg from an eating egg?

In the stores, eating eggs are not fertile.  I can’t stick one under a broody hen or in an incubator and get chicks.  Or, in most cases, I shouldn’t be able to.  I’ve heard that it happens on occasion.

They are not fertile because the hens and roosters are separated and no hanky lanky has been allowed to happen that might lead to a fertilized egg.

On farms or in backyards across the world, however, there are people raising all kinds of chickens, both male and female.  Hen and Roo.  Chances are good, if you have a rooster, the eggs you collect each day are fertile.  At least some of them.

So… what makes the difference in whether I eat them or use them to raise chicks?

I guess, honestly?  In my case, nothing.  Most of mine are going to be barnyard mix – mutts with a little bit of every chicken breed I’ve brought home in the last 2 years – so I don’t tend to sell them.  I have given some away to friends in the past and know they got nine chicks of a dozen eggs, so 75% hatch rate.

I do sell my excess eggs, usually to people who want to eat farm fresh eggs.  And I’ve been known to slip a few under my broody hens, so I can have cute chicks.

However, there are people who started out as backyard chicken keepers or hobby farmers who have gotten “bit by the bug” and went full on Breeder.  They have different coops for different breeds, separate areas for breeding pens, have their flocks up to date on all immunizations and went the extra mile to become NPIP certified.

These people have gone the extra mile, put a lot of money and time and effort into their chickens that goes way beyond caring for pets.

As NPIP certified, they are legally capable of setting up shop (a physical store or even a website) and selling their wares – eggs for eating, eggs for hatching, day-old chicks, started pullets, etc.  NPIP means they can be a business.  Or they could just specialize in a couple breeds in their back yard.

And that also means they can, and probably should, charge for hatching eggs.

How much should they charge?  Honestly? I don’t know that either.  My favorite site for buying hatching eggs asks different prices for different breeds, different prices if you’re asking for an assortment, and different process for heritage or heirloom birds (these are birds who come from pure bred, non-hatchery stock).  All the variables make all different prices.

For example:

This does NOT include the price for shipping and handling or tax.

I had a breeder friend whom I know from FB sell me 14 eggs for $40. They were not all the same breed, and some were very rare breeds.  I personally think I got a fairly good deal.

Okay, now… before I start rambling and going off on tangents… how about you, dear readers?

Do you sell eggs? For eating or hatching or both?  Do you charge more for the hatching eggs?  Or just give them away like I do?

Do you have (or think there should be) different criteria for what makes an egg a ‘hatching egg’?

Or, if you’re tuning in from somewhere in Europe, are you still trying to wrap your mind around the fact that we wash our eggs and put them in the refrigerator?

I’m curious, and as I’ve shared my rambling thoughts with you, I’m hoping you’ll share yours with me.

The Fab Four 

Aka Ashley’s Babies… or whatever you want to call them… will be eleven weeks old this Sunday.

They don’t really like much, and Ashley raised them with the instinct to hide from everything bigger than them, so getting pics for a decent comparison is hard to do at this point.

But I’m going to share some of the recent pics I do have.  If you fee like making guesses as to gender, have at it!

I will make a better attempt to get good body shots of them. Currently, Felicia looks the most like a little rooster-in-training. So maybe Felicia is really Felix?

Max was the other I thought looked rooster-like when they were little, but his wattles and comb seem to have stalled in the growing, where Felicia’s have gotten bigger and rather red. Close up pics would be good, but since these chicks are skittish (thank you, Ashley, and your ‘let’s hide til the big people go away!’ method of motherhood), by the time I chase them around and pick them up for the close up, they’re too scared to hold still. *sigh*

Snow Birds

I’m needing to post pictures of chickens doing Chicken Things today, and since the temperature decided to warm up and the wind isn’t blowing, they decided to oblige me.

I give you…the snow birds.

Picspam to Keep Me Busy

Yesterday was Day 19, aka Lockdown Day for Abby and her little clutch of blue eggs.  (Easter Eggers -Wee!)  I’m getting anxious about it.  I can’t wait to see how many hatch and what they look like. I’m hoping for different colors and hopefully… sweet little girls.

While we wait… some picspam from the pasture.

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Pavel…Pavelle…perching in the “clubhouse”tree. She really is a pretty little bird.