More Co-parenting, Sort Of

This is just a brief update on the fate of Claire and the chicks of Baby Land.

The last time, I mentioned that Eugenie had gone back to Hen Things when the babies were 5 weeks old.

They are now 7 1/2 weeks old and Claire has yet to go back to Hen Things. She does wander away from them or them from her… occasionally. But for the most part, they are together. Just without Eugenie.

Not that you would notice a difference, because more recently, Pavelle and her baby AJ have been hanging out with them.

The older chicks treat AJ very well, and Claire seems to tolerate Pavelle so long as her babies don’t get pecked.

And then there was one…

Several weeks ago, I told you all about Claire and Eugenie, a mother-daughter duo who had decided to go broody and hatch eggs at the same time and how, after hatching, they endeavored to co-parent their four chicks. It was awkward at first, but as the weeks have progressed, we (the humans and the other chickens) have gotten used to the little collective of Six. Little Dude even nicknamed them Baby Land.

The chicks of Baby Land are five weeks old this week. They’ve had lots of teaching, lots of supervision, lots of protection.

Over the last couple of days, however, o e of their Mommas has started making the transition from Momma to Hen.

Eugenie, the daughter of the mother-daughter duo, has decided that three weeks of broody and five weeks of mothering is enough, and that, since her own mother is still willing to watch all four of the children, she can go back to doing Hen Things.

I first noticed her dirt bathing away from her chicks the other day. And other last couple days, she has not been hanging out with the collective in the pasture. Not did she sleep with them on the roosts last night.

She laid an egg this morning, too.

Claire is still going strong, though, for now, and will probably stick with the Littles for another week, at least.

She did, however, give me a very harried look last night, when instead of splitting the chicks with her daughter, she had four confused little ones trying to tuck up underneath her wings. I think she wound up sitting on one of them!

Time is running short for these Littles, though. Pretty soon, they will be all on their own.

Co-Parenting, Chicken Style

I’ve talked a lot about mother hens here on this blog. Go figure, huh?  We seem to always have baby chicks being hatched.  This spring/summer especially has been a boom of broody hens.  More than I’ve even mentioned, to be honest.

Pavelle, Rapunzel, Ashley, Tweety, Claire, Ashley (again), Eugenie, and Pavelle again.  Ashley got put in Broody Jail twice after her escapades in raising babies last year.   Poor Claire spent 6 weeks being broody because her first set of eggs didn’t hatch (some died, some were duds).

It’s Claire, along with her daughter from last year’s hatch, Eugenie, who are the subject of today’s post.

You see, when Claire lost the first set of eggs, I decided to give her new, because Claire is a proven good mother and I felt sorry for her losing her babies she worked so hard for.  Eugenie had started to go broody the day or two before and I was deciding what to do with her when I gave Claire her new eggs.

For whatever reason, I gave both of them four eggs each, for a total of eight chicks if they all hatched.

Last Wednesday night, the first chick began break out of his shell under Claire.  He was STILL breaking out of it Thursday morning when I returned to the coop to find Eugenie had two fluffy little chicks under her, and Claire had one more pipping.

By Friday morning, we had a total of four chicks, one dead EE (still in eggs) and two duds. ( and one which had been broken by Pavelle the week prior, because she decided she needed to go broody again,too, and needed to use Claire’s nest to do it.)

So… four babies, two mother hens.

I tried to put them in separate areas of the coop, but as has been the theme this year, the mommas’ both rejected my cat carriers in favor of the floor under the nesting boxes – – AND they decided to co-raise their four chicks together.

The first couple of days were rough all the way around. Both hens  were in extreme broody momma mode and in addition to chasing other chickens away from their wee little ones, Claire would lunge at Eugenie and chase her off, too.  Undaunted, Eugenie would com back, but had too much respect for her mother to chase back.

The other hens started laying eggs outside because it was too much drama to try and lay in the coop.

But as the weekend and the early part of this week progressed, mothers and babies fell into a rhythm that worked of all of them.

I’ve been amazed, watching them navigate a very confusing social situation.  Once the initial ‘turf wars’ were over and Claire accepted that Eugenie wasn’t going to give up her rights to her babies, they ironed out a system of rearing.  Co-parenting at it’s finest.

It began in the coop, with one mother sitting on some of the chicks while the other taught one or two to scratch and dig.  Then they would swap.

They babies usually sleep under Claire at night, while Eugenie sleeps in the nest above them.

Claire took the first brave chick outdoors at three days old, while Eugenie mothered the other three in the coop.

When all four babies were in the coop playing and eating, Claire would teach while Eugenie stood guard against threats (or perceived threats) from other hens.

After a few days, Claire got all four of them outside.  Eugenie followed and they took turns showing the babies how to dig in the dirt to find yummies.

When they go outside, one mother (usually Claire) leads them down the ramp and the other (usually Eugenie) follows behind the stragglers, ensuring that no baby is left behind.

The little yellow/cinnamon colored one likes to sit on both her/his mothers’ backs, which I read somewhere is a sign of love and affection.   Of belonging to that hen.   I guess that means the babies really do belong to both of them, no matter who they hatched under.

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Here is the happy, if unorthodox, little family of six.

I’m not sure if I will ever let two hens hatch out at the same exact time again, but I have no regrets about letting Claire and her daughter raise these ones together. It’s working for them, strange as it may seem to us.

Hatchings, Integrations, Broodies and Hard Decisions

If it’s not one thing with these chickens, it’s another.  And this is shaping up to be a busy week for my little flock of 40.

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I’ll start with this little piece of precious fluff.  Because, really, doesn’t that face just make you want to saw “awwwww!”

A few weeks ago, I had two broody hens.  Claire, one of my veteran broody’s from last year, and Tweety, my small Buff Orpington and a new broody.   I gave them each 3 eggs.  Claire, some barred rocks, and Tweety, some Buff Brahma’s.

And then a week after I gave them their eggs, went into the hospital for my surgery and have been limited to light duty.  Somewhere in there, no one candled the eggs to see what was going on.  Today is Hatch Day, and it is nail biting all the way around because I don’t know if any of the eggs (except this one, obviously) will hatch.  None of Claire’s eggs have hatched yet, but yesterday, Tweety was blessed with this sweet little Brahma.

No other eggs have hatched, but neither hen seems ready to give up the nest, so I won’t let myself worry until Saturday morning.

HOWEVER, the addition of a new little baby has brought out a different Worry, one which will have to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Rapunzel tried to attack Tweety’s baby, in a similar fashion to what she did with her own.    She forced her way into Tweety’s nest and began going after the baby, lunging at it even when it was under Tweety.

Both the kids and I removed her and she went back to try again.

The last time, we put her in the Broody Jail, and there she is going to stay until DH comes home this weekend.   After that… well, I can’t have a hen who will attack and harm babies.   If she was just doing this to her pwn babies, we wouldn’t give her eggs.  But attacking other hens’ babies is an entirely different thing.  It means no babies are safe.

And right now, I have Claire and Tweety to worry about… plus Pavelle thinks she wants to go broody again is in a pre-broody stage right now.   And Eugenie (Claire’s little snowball from last summer) is 98% definitely broody now, and will be worse by the time Rapunzel gets out of the Broody Jail this weekend.

(I was planing on putting Eugenie into broody jail tonight, after we integrate the Brooder Bunch, but now that’s not going to happen and it’s all Rapunzel’s fault.)

But Rapunzel will not be released back into the flock.   I’ve made the decision that DH needs to send her to Freezer Camp.   I can’t rehome her, because if anyone else tries to have chicks around her, or gives her eggs (Buff Orpington’s are supposed to be good broody mommas, after all) then she will do the same thing to them.   I couldn’t ethically do that to some innocent person, so Freezer Camp is the only viable option.

The babies in the brooder are 6 weeks old, and mostly feathered out.  The Brahma,whom we have decided might be a hen are calling Rachel, Cutie and Grumpy and the only hold outs, but they have enough feathers to be okay.  They don’t sleep under the brooder lamp anymore anyway, and also, they are all getting HUGE.

What you see in the above pictures represents their last day in the brooder box.   It’s raining, so they didn’t go outside.  But tonight, after everyone is sleeping, the kids and I will sneak them into the coop and put them on roosts.  When they way up Friday morning, they will be a part of the flock.  As you can see,Dots already likes Winnie.  He was very kind to her.

I think it will go well.  All of the nice days, the babies got to be int heir playpen and the rest of the flock got to see them and know they were there.  It will be an adjustment, but it should work out fine. .

 

 

 

The Brooder Bunch at 5 Weeks

Well, the Brooder Bunch, aka the 7 babies we hatched for Little Dude’s 4-H project, are five weeks old this week and heading closer to the 6 week mark, where had their mother not so violent to them, they might have been set loose to fend for themselves as young member of the flock.

As mentioned in the last post about them, I have been letting them outside in their playpen on nice days to get the flock used to them.  I intend to let them loose after they all hit 6 weeks old and see how the flock receives them.  Right now, there is moderate curiosity, but no meanness.  And no one seems to have noticed that Cutie and Grumpy are definitely boys.   I think that it will help that Pavelle’s chicks are around the same size and running around.  I think it will go well.

I have pictures of them all to share now.  Feel free to click on them for bigger images.

Chipmunk,the partridge Welsummer.  She is one of the three who are more fully feathered out.   She is friendly and sweet, and very curious about everything.

Goth Chick, the little all-black Mad Scientist chick. I am assuming this chick is a hen, due to the smallness of the comb and lack of wattles.    She is another of the ones who feathered out quickly, loves to fly and is shy, but not skittish.

CW, the Columbian Wyandotte.  I know nothing about Wyandottes, but I’m hoping this beauty is a hen, but over the last week, ‘she’ has started to grow wattles and a comb.  They are small, but noticeable in all that white fluffy.   CW is the biggest of the seven brooder babies.

Rocky, our little Barred Rock.  Another breed I’m not familiar with, but if I had to guess,  Rocky looks like a little henny.   Rocky is shy, but friendly.  (S)he is one of one slower feathering ones, and has only just started to fill out.

Cutie, one of other Rocks. Either a Light Barred or Silver Penciled.  They both look really close in coloring, at this point.  Cutie is a rooster.  I’ve known that since he was two or three weeks old.  The comb and wattles just confirm it.

He is one of the ones who was pecked by Rapunzel.  His feet healed, but for a while, he had a deformed, maimed toe.  It was gnarled and black.  Last week, the little dead toes fell off, just at the knuckle, leaving Cutie with a little nub.

Grumpy, the other other Rock.  Again, either Light Barred Rock or Silver-Penciled.   I honestly don’t know which is which.  Also a rooster.  His toes are better, too, but they weren’t as badly damaged as Cutie’s.

Grumpy and Cutie are both aloof and standoffish.  Not flighty, but not accessible.  I don’t know if that has anything to do with Rapunzel pecking them, or just a rooster thing.  They like to hang out together and butt chests.  Rooster things.

Cutie likes to wait til the other chicks get the treats, too.  watching my older roosters, I know that is a trait I admire in Double Dots.

The Light Brahma, whom Little Dude calls “Rap” and I call Brahma.   This chick is supposed to be a Light Brahma, but as the feathers come in, they are all black.  I’m guessing Dark Brahma now, but since the poor little thing is only now getting feathers, I wont really know.  No signs of a comb or wattles yet.  I am hoping for a hen, but IF this actually is a Light Brahma, then it might be a rooster.  The pictures I’ve been looking at suggest that the Light Brahma males have more black in their coloring. 

However rough their start, these chicks are doing very well, and I can’t wait to see how they grow up.

Pavelle’s Littles on their Own

While I was away having my surgery and recuperating, Pavelle finally decided to go back to Hen Things and leave her little not-so-littles to their own devices.

I have not seen them much since my surgery because I was still really, really sore.   But now that I’m able to look at them and take pictures of them.   I have plenty, because I want to take a stab at Hen or Roo.

First, here are the group shots, because they hang around a LOT together.

Now here are the individual pics:

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Feather Butt, who still has tiny tufts of feathers on his/her legs.  Also, LOOK!   FF is growing CHEEKS!  Like Pavelle’s fluffy cheeks!

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking rooster for this little one, but after a week+ of growth and not seeing them… I’m seeing more of a little pullet in Feather Butt’s mannerisms now. Also, her comb is smaller than Mini-Pav’s (which you will see soon) and reminds me more of Pavelle as a young hen.

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Mini-Pav is looking a lot like a little roo.

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The comb is much, much more pronounced than his momma’s ever was at that age.

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And here he(she) is standing tall and at attention while the others scurry off because I scared them?  Also – wattles!!!!!

Yeah, I am thinking Mini-Pav is a little roo. What do you all think?

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Eggy, the little part EE part Felix-spawn

The EE part of Eggy’s heritage is going to be hard to tell. Right now, Eggy has little-to-no comb.  No wattles.  No cheeks.

She reminds me a lot of Padme at that age, which is why I’m hoping she is a little girl.  But then again, I thought LUKE was a little Leia for a while, too.

So, what do we think readers?  Wanna play a nail-biting game of Hen or Roo with the babies?  They are 7 1/2 weeks now.