On April 11, 2015, I became a first time chicken momma to seventeen little yellow rooster chicks, and their three little brown&yellow sisters. It’s been five years since then, and a lot has happened. I’ve seen chickens come and go, added a lot of different breeds, and watched mother hens hatch out lots of babies.
We still have one of the original flock, our beloved Double Dots, who celebrated his first birthday without his sister this year. She would have enjoyed the day. It was warm, with sunshine and new green grass. Dots enjoyed but for her.
He is starting to show his age. His crow sounds like that of a little old man. The feathers around his face seem more white (gray hair, chicken style?) than they used to be. But he still walks around the coop/run/pasture with an air of purpose band and determination.
On May 5th, the handful of Rhode Island Reds we have left from our second round flock will also turn five.
Happy birthday (belated and early) to all my birds!
It’s been a stressful week.
I’ve suspected for a while that someone (or more than one some one) has been picking on my Silkie rooster, Frost.
Frost is a timid little guy, smaller than my other roosters and a bit of a loner. Lately, he’s been hanging out a lot by himself. I’ve wondered at it, but with my new, full time job, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit and observe what’s going on. However, with Covid-19 shutting down basically every thing, I find myself on an every other day work schedule and time to watch them.
I still couldn’t pinpoint who was picking on him, but you know how it goes… Sometimes when one does to, more if them will, too.
Frost started hiding in the duck house and I’d have to put him in at night.
And then last night, I found him there, huddled in the corner and caked with mud … and blood. Looked like he’d been mud wrestling with a bear, and lost.
I brought him inside, tucked him away in a nest and began doing a head count. At the same time, slowly looking at all the possible culprits.
Our youngest rooster, Barry, a little one my RiR Maicey hatched and raised at the end of them summer… also looked like he’d been mud wrestling, but won. I am pretty sure he did it.
The pictures I am about to show are NOT pretty. And they are very heart-breaking.
I had to bathe him, which is hard because he has very brittle feathers where he’s been trying to grow them back.
So it was more like him standing in the kitchen sink while I sprayed warm water over him to get out the mud and blood.
His eyes are swollen and I’ve been treating them with Vetricyn spray. You can tell it stings him when I spray it, but it’s necessary.
He is currently residing in a dog crate on our porch. Until his eyes are a little better, I can’t risk returning him to the flock.
The bully Barry’s days are numbered. It’s time we decided who of the 8 rooster we were sending to Freezer Camp anyway, but it’s been decided that it will happen sooner rather than later. There will be four of them leaving.
Possibly five if Frost doesn’t get better. I’m worried about those eyes, but I have faith in my Vetricyn.
And DH is building a smaller, enclosed coop, that I can possibly put Frost and some of the hens who’ve been over mated by over-enthusiastic younger rooster and need time to regrow feathers. He’s doing this emergency build right now, in the snow.
I love my DH. He is awesome on so many levels.
On a happier and more exciting note, tomorrow is Day 21 for my broody Columbian Wyandotte, Winnie and her seven little eggs. I am nervously awaiting the first signs of new peeps. I will talk more about that as it happens.
On Thursday, Pavelle’s two little chicks will be three weeks old. Last week, she moved them out of the cat carrier nursery where they hatched and into the nests. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to encourage our chickens to sleep in the nests, but YOU explain that to a broody momma with babies to protect. Especially my little attack pineapple. Seriously, it’s much better to just let Pavelle handle her babies in her own way and clean up after them than it is to try and impose my will on her.
Other things to note… I was quite wrong about them not having feathered legs. The bigger of the two, who came from an olive EE-cross egg does, in fact, have feathered legs. Given the overall size of the chick and yellow coloring, I am guessing Sylvester the Buff Brahma to be the father.
They go outside almost every day now. Almost because we’ve had very up and down weather, and on the cooler, rainier days, Pavelle does not stray too far from the coop.
Here are some pictures of them from around the 1 1/2 – 2 week mark. If you look closely at the bigger, non-black chick’s legs, you can see the feathers on the sides.
And now here are some pics from over this past weekend.
Three years ago today, I became the proud Chicken Momma to 20 little sexlinked chicks. Seventeen little yellow roo-lings and three sweet little hens.
Our brand new chicks.
Weren’t they cuties? Looking back on it, we are pretty sure that the little rooster napping on My Girl’s chest is no other than Double Dots himself. He still loves to be picked up and cuddled, my little lap rooster. I suspect he discovered his love of hugs on that first night.
Of those original twenty, only two remain… Double Dots and his sister, Abigail.
I’ve talked about them a lot, because no one has personality than these two, Dots is, of course, my main rooster. He’s is a fierce protector, a gentle lover of his ladies, and an all around lovable bird. Abby is the quintessential ‘mother hen’ and the boss of the flock. She let’s Dots ‘think’ he is, but really, it’s her and always has been.
Dots looking regal (with a Rhodie in the background)
I tried getting a picture of them together, but Abby kept walking off.
Or looking the other way.
There, finally! My beautiful little birds!
Here they are now, in pictures taken just this morning. For three, they are still healthy and happy, although Abby gets a little cross with the younger hens and Dots is always grumbling about the ‘little roosters’ who are helping him watch the flock.
Happy birthday, Abby and Dots! Here’s to many more!
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:
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.
Yeah, I am thinking Mini-Pav is a little roo. What do you all think?
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.
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.
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. 🙂