Busy Week

Well, last week was an extremely busy one, and not all of it was.

My aunt and uncle came to visit from Florida.  It was nice seeing them, but we were trying cram as much stuff into one visit as we could and it didn’t work out well.  Especially not with My Girl starting her first real job (as a hostess at a restaurant) and Little Dude having 4-H meetings and birthday parties.  So what honestly ended up happening was my Dad took his sister and her husband places and I ran my kids to their places and it was just wound up a crazy exhausting week.  For everyone.

In the middle of this, my former sister-in-law’s mother die.  It was sudden and not expected and my ex-sil was devastated, not to mention my niece and nephew.  Saturday was the funeral.  We all (mom, dad, my aunt and uncle, me, My Girl, and a fiend of my niece’s) pitched in to set up and run the after-funeral memorial luncheon.  It’s what families do.

Yesterday was DH’s 40th birthday.  We did a ‘cowboy’ theme, wore bandanas and cowboy hats.  It was simple, but great.

In the chicken world, we’re up to about 12-17 eggs a day now.  More of the younger girls are laying and the older ones are moving more fulling into molting. Yay, fun!

Dani and Eugenie are 8 weeks old today.

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8 weeks old!

 

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Dani, Eugenie, and their Momma

They don’t often hang out with their mother any more, but today when I was getting pictures of them, I did manage to catch a rare pic of the three of them by the waterer.   Mostly, they do their own thing now, which largely entails avoiding upsetting the older girls and hanging out together.

Sometimes, I find them both in the bushes with their big brother Pip.  I don’t know if they’re starting a club for former “Littles” or what but he tolerates them pretty well and doesn’t mind if they hang with him and his ladies.

Yes, Pip is getting his own ladies.  About 5 or 6 from what I can tell, who prefer him to Dots.  Yay, Pip! 🙂  His voice is also deepening.  He is growing up.

Pip also likes to help his mother with her new babies.  They are two weeks old now and I’ve seen Pip watching over them and teaching them how to scratch.

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Abby’s Littles, 2 weeks old

Well, here they all are…Abby’s littles one, at 2 weeks.  These are the ones who’ve survived so much just to get here.  Starting on the top row, we have Choc Orp #2, Choc Orp #1, Baby Sulmtaler #2,  (row 2) Pavel, Esther, and Baby Sulmtaler #1.  # indicates birth order.  Esther is the oldest.

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Esther, the Easter Egger baby

 

Little Dude says Esther is the easter egger’s name.  Regardless if it’s a boy or girl.  I’m hoping little girl, because I can’t keep them if they are boys.  I’m only allowed 2 roosters.  Dh’s edict.

But look at ‘Esther’s’ wings!  They are longer and more filled out than the rest of his/her siblings.

I’m beginning to see where some of what Abby did with Pip last winter was not just a winter thing, but how she is going to raise all her chicks.   She kept them all indoors for about a week (with the exception of the little choc orp who somehow got outside and stayed outdoors overnight).  Then she started encouraging them to come out.  The first handful of days, she couldn’t get them all to go back up the ramp after they’d come down it, so she would up sleeping on the steps at night with them until Little Dude and I came to lock up and then we would scoop her and her babies up and put them in the coop.

Sunday,she managed to take them in on her own before we got there.  🙂

Unlike Claire, who encouraged independence and exploration, Abby keeps her six remaining chicks close to her, secured in the weeds around the steps and in the run.  They don’t go much further than that, but she teaches them how to find things to eat by digging in the dirt and how to find shelter and shade in the weeds and tall grass.

No fence climbing or forays to the pond like Claire allowed Dani and Eugenie.

It’s amazing how different their mother styles are.

 

 

Chickens are my happy place, and they keep dying

I feel like a horrible chicken caretaker/mama/owner/person.

In the last week and a half, I’ve lost three baby chicks.  The first last Sunday, was the egg I found half broken and half still alive.  The second, Thursday morning, the last to hatch and our much-hoped for 2nd Easter Egger.

The third, this morning’s tale of woe.

One of Abby’s seven remaining babies somehow spent the night outside.  ALL night.

Please don’t ask me how, because I’ll be honest with you, she has been keeping them close to her and inside the coop.  I hadn’t realized he or any of them had gone outside at all, or else I would have have looked for him last night and he would probably still be alive.

But that’s jumping the gun.  Here’s what I DO know.

Last night, we counted heads and locked up, as usual.  Little Dude counted the heads of all the older ones.  28, including Abby.  Her little chicks were tucked up in under her for the night, except three who had their heads sticking out from in under her.

I went outside to lock up the coop door and get the treat dish.

This was at 8:30-:8:45ish.  They usually start going inside about 8-8:20, so this gives everyone time to find a spot on the roosts and tuck in.

I must have walked past the spot where I found the baby (a Chocolate Orp), two or three times but in the shadows, I didn’t notice it.

This morning when I went to let them out, I realized Abby only had six babies trailing after her.  NOT the right head count.  I freaked, especially after we had found poor little Stevie crsuhed in the wood shavings last month.

Then I went outside, thinking maybe he got brave and went out with the big girls.

That’s when I saw three of our pullets walking near (not touching) something brownish and fluffy on the steps near the waterer.  He was tucked up like he was sleeping and I swooped in to pick him up.  He was breathing, but gasping and his poor little body was limpish and cold.

He must have slept their all night, getting colder and colder as the night air leeched any remaining sun-warmth from the concrete steps.

I both marveled that he wasn’t injured visibly and that nothing had eaten him outright. He would have made any predator a good snack.

I tried to get Abby to stop trying to teach the others to scratch long enough to sit on him and get him warm, but she was in Busy!Momma mode and didn’t seemed to take much notice of the limp, gasping bundle in my hand, so I took him quickly with me to wake up My Girl (Little Dude was headed to Hershey, PA with his grandparents today so I was on my own), and together she and I got our med-brooder set up under a heat lamp.  I had her take the Vitamin B solution I used when Baby was doing poorly back in March because I am out of Sav-a-Chick electrolytes (the irony, I almost bought some this weekend), and told her to put some in a little dish of water.  My hope was to get him warm enough to drink and eat and beyond reason, pull through to go back to his momma.

While I waited for her to get a small dish for the  water, I dabbed some by finger into his mouth and laid him in the med-brooder, and went about the regular chores because the coop still needed cleaned and the chickens still needed fed.

About that time I heard a weird sound, like a cry, and I went to check on him and saw him attempting to move around.  Breathing heavy.  He thrashed a bit, rolled over and got stuck on his back.

And then, suddenly, the thrashing stopped and his legs stiffened up.  His breathing ceased.

My Girl arrived just then with the water.

She says she blamed herself for not coming quick enough with the vitamin water.

I could say the same for not seeing him in the shadows last night at lock up.  What kind of caretaker does that?

I’m a little too shell-shocked to be sad.  More like stunned and emotionally worn from losing so many so fast.

My chickens have been my happy place for the last year and three months, since we brought the first box of twenty (seventeen little golden roosters and three sweet little hens) home to live with us.  They’ve given me joy in times when the rest of my life was raining down sorrow.  Amusement whether I needed a laugh or not.  Smiles because how can you not smile at a happy chicken doing their thing?  They’ve given me something to focus on when I needed it the most.

More than a hobby, or livestock, or pets.

They don’t hate or judge or make demands on me that I can’t meet.  The only thing they ask for is love, a clean coop, fresh water, food… and treats.

I feel like I failed these three dead chicks.  I know I couldn’t have done much to help any of them, but I feel like should have been able to.

Broody Watch 12.2 – the final Abby edition

 

ETA: We lost him, after all.  😦

Well, it happened, against ALL the odds.  The final EE egg hatched!

the last Easter Egger is born

At bedtime, I noticed the first pip.  I was overjoyed because I didn’t think it would hatch.  It was way later than every one else.  Also, one of those two EE eggs was the one that candled fully dark.  I couldn’t see anything and marked it with a ? to watch.  When the first EE pipped, I thought for sure that the remaining one was the dark one.

I suppose one of them was the dark one, but they both hatched anyway.  Thus proving I have a lot to learn about candling eggs.

The total hatched was eight chicks: 3 chocolate Orpingtons, 2 Easter Eggers, 2 Sulmtalers, and 1 Pavlovskaya.

This morning after the last baby hatched, Little Dude and I moved momma and babies to the maternity suite.  They will have more room there, plus privacy and relative safety.

the little Chocolates explore their new home while momma sits in the newest brother

It’s going to harder to get pictures of them all while we’re waiting for the little EE to fluff out.  The maternity suite allows for maximum privacy, even from me.  Really I should have rethought that. ☺️

Ah well!  The hens seem to like it and that’s all that matters.

Broody Watch 12.1 – Baby Picspam

Well, all but one of the eight remaining eggs has hatched.  It might just be time for some picspam of Abby and her Wee Ones.  🙂

And while I was there taking the last pictures, Little Dude and I got to witness the last baby Sulmtaler being born.  🙂

Still waiting on the last Easter Egg to pip and hatch. I hope it does, because that would be awesome to have 2 of them. 🙂

Broody Watch 11.2 – The First Baby

Abby’s first baby of this hatch!  Came out of an Easter Egger egg.  I’ve never seen one still wet before.  

Is it supposed to be so dark?  

I’m still wet behind the ears, can I go back to momma now?

The choc orpington that was pipped this morning still hasn’t hatched yet but it probably won’t been too far behind this one.  

There are four others pipped now that I could see.  Not sure what they are, I only scanned briefly with my eyes while watching this one snuggle up to Momma.  

I wonder how many we will have tomorrow morning? 

Broody Watch 11- First Pips 

Finally! The part where I get to share the Good News!!!!!!  We have our first pips!!!!!

Easter Egger on right.
Chocolate Orpington (also on right)

The babies are coming!!  The babies are coming!!!

LOL I have no life.

 (Actually,I have a very busy life right now. I had plans to go see my in-laws today and drop off eggs to them (with other things), take my son to the park, pick up a small bag of chick starter for these little ones, we have company coming on Friday, and I have about 3 weeks to help my son get ready for his first 4-H Roud Up.)

I spent some time this morning reshaping the nests in the maternity suite so Abby had fresh straw and a clean area.  Claire really timed her abandonment of her Littles perfectly so Abby could use either side of the maternity suite.