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.
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.
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.
DH digging the Trench
Two sexlink hens helping.
Abby loves to supervise the help efforts.
Tweety, also coming to help, because she heard there were worms!
You can by the mud on her face that she helped a LOT. Right?
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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:
It’s true. Felicia is growing more and more to look and act like a little roo-ling. I just can’t bring myself to call him Felix, so Felicia he remains.
My little Miracle Max… or Maxie. Who looks scarily like a female version of Dots.
The Dalmies… so named because of their Dalmatian-esque color scheme… have been given Dalmatian worth names… this one is Pongo, named after the father dog in 101 Dalmatians. Pongo is mostly white,with the black spots on the back, tail and neck,but is growing up to have a slightly smokey grey color in the head and neck.
I am uncertain if Pongo is just in need of a bath or if this is a really cool color variant. Since none of the others look dirty, I have to hope it’s the latter. 😉
Dalmie #2 is named after the female Dalmation… Perdita, or Perdie. Like Pongo, she has black splotches on her back, neck and tail. But rather than the smokey grey, Perdie has gold/red in her neck and chest feathers. It’s really kind of neat!
The gold/red is the same color as my sexlinks… Abby and the Mystery Bin girls. If we’re right in thinking that Pongo and Perdie are Pip’s babies, then this is his sexlink heritage coming out in Perdie.
Aren’t barnyard mixes interesting? You really never know what you’re going to get!
Fart eggs. Rooster eggs. Whatever you want to call them, it’s the term for a teeny tiny egg that sometimes gets laid and often has no yolk.
They can be laid by new layer whose bodies aren’t used to laying eggs yet,or by older hens who may be having reproductive issues.
I found one in the coop last night at bedtime.
Now, we do have two little hens who are just a little over 20+ weeks, and who have started hanging out in the coop more, checking out the nests. One is our chocolate Orpington, Hershey. The self-proclaimed Queen of Fluff.
The other, of course, is her sister, the ever curious little Pavel. Pavelle.
The only thing keeping me from thinking it’s Pavel’s egg, though, is the fact that this little egg is a nice brown color, and the egg Pavel hatched from was more of a very pale peachy-pink. Almost white, but not quite.
Now, there is also Abby, who could decide to go back the business of laying eggs any day now. Just because it’s winter is no reason to think she won’t. She went right back to it last winter, with Pip sitting in the empty nest beside her because he had no clue what his Momma was doing. (and the proceeded to sit in the nest with her newly laid egg afterwards, because apparently she’d left it alone and it needed baby sat. Ah, Pip! A big brother, even then!)
We also have all the Rhode Islands Red who’ve been in and out of various stages of molting this winter.
So… anyone could have laid the teeny tiny egg, really.
A few more pics for size comparison. We had a normal-sized tiny egg (which I assume is Hersehy’s new egg?) the day before, in the same nest. So it could be Hershey’s tiny fart egg.
As you can see, it didn’t have a yolk, just incredibly thick whites. And the shell was hard to crack. Like really. It was thinker than I imagined it would be.
Well, I promised an actual flock update, because I haven’t given one in a while.
There’s not much to say about the old ones. They hate the nasty Cold White and some of them are still in various stages of molt.
Is this normal molting? I envisioned them losing their feathers in October/November…not January! And yet, aside from Amy, I know I have at least four more hens who are in the midst of a slow molt. Does it always take this long? I’m so glad we haven’t have negative temperatures, because they would freeze! Especially Amy! I mean, look at her!
I’ve been feeding them Feather Fixer mixed in with their regular food, because I heard it helps them molt quicker/get over it faster. Whatever. I don’t think its working. Or else it is working and they would be molting until June without it??? Again, is this normal for it so long???
Seriously,because I feel so bad for the poor cranky things!
Now…since it is cold and windy today, and the flock all opted to stay inside and bug me while I attempted to clean their beds and fill the feeding tubes, I did manage to get pictures of Ashley’s Babies. They are eleven weeks old. as of yesterday.
The tricky part is that all the white ones – Max and the Dalmies – kind of remind me of Eugenie at that age. She was big,had a slightly pink face, which stood because she is white, and I wasn’t sure at first if she was a henny or a slow-developing roo. Keep that in mind as you look at the white chicks. Feel free to click the pics to make them bigger.
Max looked like a boy when he/she was little,but now I see inklings of a little hen.
I think this is the same one I named Dalmie #1 in previous pics. Not sure.
A gentle reminder that as per Twiglet’s comments on prior posts, we think Pip is the father of the Dalmies.
So… I’m betting anything that Felicia is really Felix. If this chick starts laying eggs in the spring, I will be so surprised.
Well, that’s the scoop on Ashley’s Babies. If you’re up for a game of “Henny or Roo?” Feel free to take your best guesses in the comments.
ETA: If anyone is interested in comparing these chicks to Dani and Eugenie at roughly the same age…
And now… here’s a special treat… Abby’s baby Easter Eggers. The will be 8 weeks on Thursday.
These chicks don’t have names. I’m trying not to name them until I know what they are. That, and Little Dude wants to name them after Sith Lords. And I don’t want an Easter Egger named Darth Maul. *sigh*
The darker chick is smaller, really skittish and mouthy. Based on behavior alone, I think she’s a hen. She is curious about me, but afraid to come close. She likes treats and will eat out of my hand and then yell at me for more when I walk away.
The yellow/buff-ish one is bigger and less skittish, but standoffish. Like a little rooster-in-training. He also likes treats but doesn’t demand them, like his sibling.
Now… these chicks are staying. When the other 2 vanished without a trace, I told DH that under no circumstances were we sending either of these to Freezer Camp if they were roosters. Why? Because he told me I could keep Esther if I really, really wanted, but I flip flopped, and then he said “well, you do have Abby’s 6 eggs.” So I aired on the side of Abby having potentially 6 new EE chicks.
This is why you don’t count your chicks before they hatch, people. Pavel hasn’t forgiven me for sending her favorite brother to Freezer Camp… and Abby only has two chicks.
So…unless the little yellow/buff one has major dominance issues with Dots and Pip, these chicks are here to stay. No matter what.
I’ll end this post by pointing out anew section of the blog I’ve just started working on. Meet The Chickens, a series of bio pages for my flock so that when I say Dots, Abby, Jolene, Wilda… you know who I mean. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but for various reasons, I just haven’t. Mostly because I have over 30 birds at any given time and it’s hard to pinpoint their personalities at a glance. Look for me to do a page or two a month, highlight each bird. Hopefully by the end of 2017, I’ll have gotten them all on there. Right now, it’s just Dots. 🙂