This will be the last “broody watch” post, as there are no more babies to be had. Pavelle’s wee little ones were getting restless so I went and candled the remaining two eggs. You could see something watery sloshing around inside each. Rotten yolks. Yuck! Rather than risk them breaking overnight, we chucked them and moved Pavelle and the babies to their new nest on the floor. Which, happily, Pavelle accepted. Hopefully, the overnight sleep will help her to feel at home there with the little ones. It has food, water and shelter. All the things a momma and her babies need.
And now to the title of this post – the One with the Feathered Toes.
One of Pavelle’s babies had feathered feet. For those of you who do not know, my little Pavelle is a Pavlovskaya hen, or partial Pavlovskaya.
The Pavlovskaya hen is Russia’s most ancient chicken breed. Its origins are lost in the murky depths of history, but by the time Russians began to take stock of their native chicken breeds in the late 1800s Pavlovskaya hens were already virtually extinct. Many centuries ago this breed emerged in the town of Pavlovo, a small enclave of peasants and craftsmen about 200 miles east of Moscow. The town was known for a number of unique agricultural specialties including the breeding of fighting geese, canaries, and the cultivation of lemons. Some poultry historians believe that the Pavlovkskaya hens are the foundational breed that gave rise to more recently developed crested breeds like the Polish, Barthuhners, and Brabanters.
Pavlovskaya’s have feathered feet and the very originals had five toes, it is said. Somewhere in the recent attempts to bring them back from extinction, the fifth toe has vanished from some blood lines.
Pavelle came to me as an egg from a breeder who had a pair of what she was told were Pavlovs, but she believed them to be not-quite pure because they lacked the feathered feet. Pavelle also has no feathers on her toesies.
So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this:
It means that, whatever else she is, my little Pavelle is definitely in some part Pavlovskaya, and so is this wee little babe who looks nothing like her momma in every other way.
Totally adorable!!! I can’t wait to see how she grows into those feathered feet!
Yesterday was Day 19 for Pavelle and her sweet baby eggs and that means Lock Down.
For those of you who do not know about hatching eggs, a chicken egg takes twenty-one days to hatch. The last three days, Days 19-21, are what people who use incubators call ‘lock down days’ because under no circumstances are you supposed to open the incubator on those days, until the last chick has hatched. This is because in those last three days, the babies do the most growing in preparation to come out of their shells.
When I let my hens sit on eggs, I make sure not to mess with them during those days, so they can do their own thing.
Yesterday, I went to check for eggs and discovered that Pavelle had a brown egg sticking out from under her. She frequently steals other hens eggs from neighboring nests. She had TWO brown eggs, actually… but was also missing one of her her six eggs. I didn’t see signs of eaten shell, but one of the brown eggs I had retrieved from under her had yolk on it, so I assumed the worst.
I know what happened to it now, and I’ll get to that in a minute. But first…
I found this
Pavelle actually had a total of three chicks under her this morning when I left the coop – two of her Pavlov-mix babies and one Easter Egger. There are two EE remaining. Given this is Day 20, and hatch day is technically tomorrow, I won’t worry too much about the other eggs until Wednesday or Thursday.
I set her up with some food and water, in the nest with her to discourage other hens from trying to sit with her in the nest (because that is another reason she keeps getting other hen eggs. They are trying to ‘share’ the nest with her.)
Hopefully, at least one of the other eggs will hatch. The one is EE#2 and we all know I have been iffy about the contents of that one.
This morning when I removed the broken eggs shells from under her, I discovered the missing Pavelle-egg. It apparently tried to hatch YESTERDAY on Day 19, and died. I found it half-buried in the bedding under Pavelle and the live chicks. 😦
I’m used to having them hatch on Day 20 or 21. Day 19 might be a little too early?
I will report back tomorrow with (hopefully) the last chicks and pics of all of them. Pavelle is a bite-y momma, so it’s hard to get pics of them right now.
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.
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.
I give you Pip…
Pip posing with his momma.
Abby and her baby.
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.
It’s spring, and after a long and snowy winter, in which the hens spent more time in the coop than outdoors. The weather is warming up, the grass is growing. Flowers, weeds and bugs are everywhere. Life is good if you’re a chicken.
A couple of weeks ago, several of my hens started exhibiting signs of being broody. Hanging out in the nests longer, or later in the day. Puffed up feathers and growling or yelling while they are in the nest. Growling and yelling at other hens when they are off the nest.
This kind of thing happens every spring. Hens thinking that maybe they want to go brood on some eggs and raise some babies. Its a natural, hormonal instinct for chickens, albeit one that the hatcheries have tried to breed out of their birds because egg/meat production is more profitable than hens sitting on eggs. But if you’re a back yard chicken owner, homesteader, or farmer who wants a self-sustaining flock, a broody hen might be what you’re looking for.
My first year as a chicken owner, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know if I wanted broody hens. Most the websites and blogs who talk about broodies talk about how to broody break them, because most people want eggs. And I had Abby, who went broody less than two months after laying her first egg. I broke her the first time, but decided when she did it again a month later, that it wasn’t worth trying to break her again, and just gave her eggs.
Watching Abby raise her chick – the rooster now known on this blog as Pip – was all it took. I was bitten hard by the bug, and now wait with anticipation for the sign of broodies I can give eggs to. There is something of wonder about watching a mother hen raise her Littles, seeing them explore the world at her side. Learn and grow, and become a part of the flock.
I also like seeing the way genetics plays out in the 2nd Gen chicks. I have a small group of ‘barnyard mix’ hens and two mix roosters who are all very unique in their looks and personalities.
So… anyway… I had five hens who started to act like they might go broody. Penelope, Claire, Julia, Rapunzel and Pavelle.
Penelope an Julia really didn’t do anything. They did that last year, too. Walked around bucky for a week or so and then just stopped. I don’t expect this year to be different.
Claire is STILL puffing up while she’s on a nest and sometimes while she is off it. Given that she actually DID go broody last spring, I’m watching her closely. She might. And she was a good momma, so I would have no qualms about giving her eggs.
Rapunzel went HARD. Rapunzel is a Buff Orpington and Orpingtons are known to be goody broodies. Rapunzel spent the least time ‘going through the motions’ and after a couple of “well, maybe” days, she hopped in a nest and committed to sitting on ceramic eggs. She is very dedicated to them, and I’m going to let her stick with the ceramic eggs because I have special plan for her. Little Dude is going to be doing an Embryology project for 4-H, which means we will be hatching eggs in an incubator and documenting every step of the way. I have eggs coming from My Pet Chicken, because Little Dude wanted Barred Rocks. So we have 4 Barred Rock eggs and 6 “assorted” eggs, which could be any breeds, coming later this week. I’ve decided that I will be giving Rapunzel the chicks that hatch from those eggs. Hopefully, she will accept them as her own. Otherwise, I will have to put them in the brooder and raise them separate of the rest of the flock.
In the meantime, Pavelle is sitting on six eggs. Three are hers, and three came from Padme, the little Easter Egger hen. They are the smallest eggs I have, even though Pavelle is very impressive when she is puffed up and screaming at you, she is still a small hen. Any of the babies she raised will be bigger than her at 6 weeks of age.
If anyone else goes broody in the between time – I’m looking at you, Claire – I will probably share the wealth, rather than give more eggs. Claire, for example, could take on some of the 4-H babies, so Rapunzel, who is a new mother, doesn’t have to raise a potential ten babies on her own. But that is a big IF that has a lot of variables. IF Claire or anyone else goes broody in the next 3-4 weeks. IF the incubation is successful and all the eggs hatch. I’ve never used an incubator before and I’m borrowing one from DH’s aunt for the project. So many variables.
In the last picture, you can see that Pavelle and ‘Punzel are in a prime location. Pavelle will steal eggs from the nests around her, and I constantly have to check underneath her for extras. Which is funny because one time, she had three extras and they were sticking out because she is so small they don’t all fit!
So here’s an update on all the chicks. Abby’s and Ashley’s both.
So, I’ll start with Abby’s chicks. Most of her eggs hatched yesterday, a day early.
Five of them hatched yesterday, and Abby held on to the other egg until mid morning and then she moved off the nest to eat and drink. When she does that, I know the egg won’t hatch, so I removed it.
Of the five remaining babies, one of them passed sometime this afternoon. I found it when I came back from grocery shopping. Sad because it was the cutest one (IHMO) and the one I liked the looks of the best.
I am very disappointed about the little yellow-ish colored one. He was different looking from the others.
Okay, so Pip isn’t one of Abby’s new Littles, but he washer very first Little. He spent most of yesterday going in and out of the coop, pacing and just seemed to be hanging out. He and Abby have a special bond. I have often observed that even though most people don’t give chickens credit for ‘family ties’ in the way we humans think of family, Pip and Abby seem to have it. He has ‘helped’ watch after her other hatches, being the protective big brother to Pavel, Hershey and the Boys all summer. He is respectful of her. In my mind, he was pacing the coop yesterday because he could hear the change in her soft buck-bucks and hear the peeps of the babies,and he knew that his Momma was having her babies.
Today is a different story and he was outside helping Papa Dots watch over the flock! But yesterday he was waiting to be a big brother again. Pip, btw, will be 1 year old on the 29th. Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!
Now… Ashley’s babies… some of whom could either be Pip’s little siblings or offspring depending on which hens mated with which rooster… are going to be four weeks old this Sunday.
They are STILL here. They are, however, very difficult to ‘pen down’ to get pictures of. Ashley has kind of reared them to be wild. I walk out to watch them and they run as far away from me as they can.
I did manage to scoop them up and get some comparative pictures tonight, so we can see how they are, and make some early guesses on Hen or Roo.
First up here is Miracle Max. Max is the biggest. No longer yellow, he is mostly white, reminding me a lot of Eugenie. He (I’m guessing Roo) has a big comb, which is already slightly pinkish and the beginnings of jowly wattles.
This one is is Dalmie #1. She has a black spot on her back and a little higher up on her shoulders, otherwise all white. Smaller comb and almost non-existent wattles. She’s slim in body and has slightly more slender legs.
In case you can’t guess, I’m betting on a little henny with this one.
This is the Dalmie #2. He has a big comb and the start of jowly wattles, but his comb isn’t as pink as Max’s. He’s mostly white, but with a strip of black in his tail and a splotch of up in his hackle feathers.
I included a picture of his feet. Both of the Dalmie’s have slightly grey legs. It’s like a combination of the Golden Comet yellow with the grey of the Australorp. I’m willing to bet anything that the Dalmies are white Australorp crosses.
This is Felicia, aka the Cinnamon Bun. I promised a friend I would name one Bye Felicia… and this is the one we chose to bear that name… and I can’t decide if Felicia is really Felicia…. or Felipe. Smaller comb, but bigger than Dalmie #1’s. Slightly noticeable jowls… but not quite.
This chick also is one of the bolder of the four, and I’ve seen him/her butt chests with Max. That’s usually a sign of a boy, except that I’ve seen hens do it, too, even at that age.
Felicia is my Question Mark. Hen, Roo… this chick is going to keep me guessing.
And while you all are guessing … here’s a video I took this morning of the four of them, plus Ashley, playing a rousing game of “It’s mine! It’s mine!” with something they foraged out of the grass.
One of these days, I need to write down my thoughts on the different types of chicken parenting I have observed this year. Abby, Claire and Ashley each have exhibited vastly different styles of chick raising. Abby is a helicopter mom, always close to her chicks, always near by. Vicious if you threaten them. She isn’t afraid to lay into the hen or rooster who get close to her babies. She barely trusts me with them. Claire is an overseer, who leads her babies outside,demonstrates skills and watches them practice til they learn. She lets them roam, but guards the space she’s designated as theirs. No one goes in or out without her leave. Ashley is very hands off and scatter brained. Her babies follow her, learn from watching, but she often just wanders off and leaves them alone while she forages elsewhere. They freak out, cry and cry until she returns. Vastly different from my other mother hens.
Yes, that is a post for another day,when I have more time to collect and present my thoughts. 🙂
I’ll start with Abby. I reported earlier that she had gone broody while I was fussing over Ashley’s impending hatch date. I decided to order her some Easter Egger eggs to hatch, and they came from My Pet Chicken last Friday.
They shipped quickly, but got sent to the wrong post office, and almost went back to Harrisburg for re-distribution before I caught up with them. It would have taken another week to get them back, almost. Instead, I went to the post office they had been sent to, the next town over, and got them myself. Because there was no way I was making Abby stay on the fake egg longer than she needed to.
Yesterday marked Day 7. Next Friday, I will candle them and see how they are doing. Hopefully, they all will be okay, despite their weird shipping ordeals and the late fall conditions.
Now, onto sadder news…
It’s been months since I first reported the oddity of Pacing Stacey. The situation has not changed. I’ve tried quarantining her, putting her in a smaller cage so hopefully she won’t pace (she did anyway). I’ve tried watching and frequently removing her from the coop. I’ve asked on-line for advice. And last week, I asked a vet.
The vet was astounded and said she has never heard of that before. She is a chicken owner, too. We tossed possibilities around and then she said that IF I brought Stacey in, the most they could do was prescribe antibiotics and hope for the best. I told her I was thinking about euthanizing Stacey. She understood, but added that if I decided to keep her over the winter, to let me know how things progress.
Things I know:
Stacey is still laying eggs. I’ve seen her.
She’s lost weight, and while she’s not starving, she’s a considerable size smaller than her same-breed, same-age flock mates.
She’s obsessive about this. Like OCD obsessive.
The other hens are getting annoyed with her and have started pecking her when she gets close to them.
I don’t see how #4 is going to change over the winter. They will in closer quarters when they are trying to decide if they want to venture into the cold white and most of the older girls are molting. They are cranky. Stacey is annoying. It’s a BAD combination.
Thus, I’ve decided the only course of action, after months of trying to figure this out, is to put us all out of her misery. Euthanize. Freezer Camp. Whatever you want to call it.
I feel bad. I wish I knew something else I could do to take this away from her. Make her normal and happy again. Since I cannot, I must do what’s right for the rest of the flock.
Freezer Camp has been scheduled for tomorrow. Stacey isn’t the only one to go. We will be saying good-bye to the Boys of Summer. Dani, Esther, Snickers, Sumi and Taller.
There was a lot of debate in the last few weeks about keeping one of Abby’s boys.
Esther was the only Easter Egger. But with Abby sitting on six EE eggs, chances of getting another EE roo are good, too.
Sumi and Taller, the Sulmtaler Brothers are a rare breed. I tried to sell them online, but no one wanted them. Then I missed the animal swamp because of my daughter’s cross country meet. Apparently, there was someone there with same-age female Sulmtalers. DH said I could keep one to breed with if I got a hen.
I didn’t get the hen because I missed the swap.
I might have kept Sumi anyway, except I accidentally terrified him a week and ago. It’s a short story. The temperatured drops so that it was switching between sleet and regular rain. He and Esther were hiding under the ramp. I tried to get them both into the coop, wearing my winter hoodie. He’s afraid of me now… like total full on freak out afraid. He flies into a tizzy if I get near him and runs away.
Snickers is a big beautiful beastie, all chocolate brown and fluff. But he’s also a bit untamed and wild. Not mean, just untouchable.
However, Dani is at 22 weeks and the rest of the Boys are at 16 weeks.
And, as noted, most the older girls are molting and cranky. Dots is molting and cranky.
I have one little momma and four wee ones.
And one broody sitting on six eggs,with two weeks to go.
I found blood on the window ledge today where someone was scrapping with someone else.
It’s time thin the flock. It’s time for Freezer Camp. So the Boys of Summer will be joining Stacey on her journey tomorrow.
I’m REALLY going to miss them. We’ve been having crowing concerts the last few mornings and afternoons. Little roosters have such personality and do such amusing things. Not to mention being beautiful. Even Dani, who’s looks I wasn’t impressed with at first, has grown into a handsome, handsome mutt. He’s tall like his papa and brother, and looks like bulkier. Also, if we kept him, I think he’s more dominant than Pip. Pip is definitely NOT an alpha. Dani is.
Here is a good video of Snickers and some of the boys. I took a few more yesterday and the day before, I’ll most them to my Instagram later. There will be available here… or via the sidebar on this page.
This morning, I went to the coop with a heavy heart, intending to feed and let the bigger chickens outside, go about my routine and then search for little yellow bodies in the wet grass. I was met by Dots and his sons crowing in unison, and the sound of Ashley buck-bucking because she still thought she was mother hen. I felt sorry for her because she didn’t realize she had lost her wee ones.
Outside, I heard chirping, but I thought it was wild birds enjoying the sunshine after yesterday’s rain.
So I filled the food dish to take outside and opened up the barn doors — and nearly dropped it when saw three little chicks on the steps. Miracle Max, one of the little spotted Dalmation babies, and the peachy-red one I’m calling Cinnamon Bun.
I reunited them, got them food and water, and went to send my DH and My Girl a text message so they would know the good news.
When I returned to the task of feeding the chickens, I found this…
He was standing on the steps with Pavel, cheeping and looking a little lost. I scooped him up and happily brought him to his mother and siblings.
I truly named Miracle Max correctly. I did not, could not hope for this ending to last night’s horror story. But there they are… all four babies, safe and sound.
I’m going to be observing Ashley. I know it’s hard taking multiple chicks outside for the first time. Abby had a difficult time with her six summer babies. They couldn’t negotiate the ramp, she couldn’t herd them all together. I found her several times sleeping with them on the steps. But it was raining last night and Ashley might erred on the side of ‘get out of the rain’ and didn’t realize her babies had not followed. Then it got dark in the coop and she tucked in for the night, got broody tranked and didn’t realize. This morning, she was flipping out buck-bucking. If they get a little bigger, they can do the ramp on their own without too much help.
But if she can’t take care of them, they might have to go to the brooder box for the next few weeks and Ashley may go on the “No Eggs Ever” list.
We’ll just have to see how the next couple of days go.
So this feather baby is the only one who has a name right now.
Miracle Max. Or Maxie. If it’s a girl.
My poor little miracle baby somehow managed to wander outside while Ashley was sitting on the last unhatched egg. And got cold. So cold that he/she was in deaths door when I found him this evening.
I scooped him up and cupped him in my hands for warm, carried him inside and tucked him under Ashley. He was breathing, but weak and chilled. I figured that his only hope was body heat and the company of his siblings.
I was right. By lock up time, Max was up and around, playing with his siblings and eating chick starter.