Hatching Day Came Early

So, last night I was worried that Ashley being off the nest would cause the unhatched babies to die.  

This morning, I have three peeping babies, two working on hatching and one still remaining.  

One of the two partially hatched eggs looking like Ashley was trying to help it.  The shell is picked off on one side but not the membrane.  The baby was breathing but not broken free.  I’ve read that unless you know what you’re doing and very careful, ‘helping’ is not something we humans should do.  We risk shrink-wrapping the chick in the membrane so I’m not sure I should try and help it along or leave and see it gets out on it’s own or with help from Momma. 

The troubling thing is that Ashley was once again off the eggs.  When I found her, she was in the next nest with the egg she was ‘helping’ while the three chicks were sitting confused with the other eggs.  I put her back, but I am worried that she isn’t going to be reliable as a mother hen.  She can’t just leave the babies while they are trying to hatch and keep warm.  

No pictures as of yet.  The three babies I saw were yellow/white and one of them had a black spot on the back of its head.  

Broody Watch For Ashley, Week 2

Ashley’s Eggs 🙂

  

Just a brief update on Ashley and her eggs.  Here they are as of this morning. 

A friend and I candled them Friday night and it looks like all six are developing.  I’ve never had a hatch where all the eggs were fertile and growing, so that’s exciting.  🙂 

I can candle again this Friday but after that, she’s on her own.  Friday is Day 18, and next Monday is hatch day.  

Ashley is doing well.  She doesn’t nest hop anymore.  I rarely see her outside but I know she is going out and getting food. 

And she lets me pet her and lift her up to check the eggs.  Of course, I also give her oatmeal and little treats with her breakfast on the days she doesn’t go outside on her own. 

Broody Ashley

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so this is Ashe, all grown up into the very lovely Ashley. My Girl insists we call her Ashley, since she isn’t a boy, but I still call her Ashe.

Ashley is 6 1/2 months old and very broody.  She spent two weeks being buck-bucky and pulling her feathers out of her chest.  Literally, she was bald on her underside but wasn’t sitting on eggs.  I actually thought she was sick or something, because she’s too young to molt.

Last Thursday, she was walking around puffed up and screaming at everyone, challenging other hens at bedtime.  Being really confrontational.  Still not on a nest.  I’m thinking, “someone pissed Ashe off!”

Friday morning, she had chosen a nest and tucked in on two eggs. That was the point where I said “ahhh!  This is what a broody Australorp looks like!”

She spent Friday and Saturday nest hopping, mostly because she kept choosing nests that other hens like to lay eggs in.  The other hens, some of them older and scarier, forced her out of said nests.  The nest thing is a common problem.  I don’t exactly know why because we have 28 laying boxes.  That’s one box for each laying hen, plus a couple empties.  But they lay in … 4 – 6 of them.

I know… I have nothing.  I don’t understand chicken logic.  I’m pretty sure it isn’t logic.  But there you have it.  28 boxes, 24 hens, 3 more young pullets who start laying soon… plenty of boxes.   They use a max of 6.  (If I ever convince DH to revamp the coop in any major ways, I will insist on fewer boxes, maybe like 12 or 15, and more roosting areas.  Perches and ladders.  But I would need to convince him first. ;-))

By Sunday night, however, Ashley had managed to find a box no one cared about, settled in on a ceramic egg (I have an egg eater.  I slipped ceramic eggs into some of the boxes to discourage her until I can figure out which hen she is. We’re all betting on Stacey, given her weird behavior but have not caught her doing anything naughty.)  and puffed up grumpy.  When she stayed there, same nest through half of Monday, I selected six of our own eggs and slipped them under her.

 

Ashe’s eggs.  I do NOT know which hens are responsible for these eggs.  Given the color and size, I am hoping a good sampling of all my breeds.  At least as far as the mommas are concerned. 

The darker eggs are most likely Rhode Island Red, or possibly the sexlink/Comets.  I chose a sampling of colors and sizes, to get hopefully, some eggs from my older and younger flock.

Dots and Pip have both been active mating with their girl friends, so either could be the Papa.

I had considered sending away for more Easter Eggers.  But the nice lady I bought Pavel and her brothers from couldn’t verify fertility this last in the year, and My Pet Chicken couldn’t ship until next week.  Given that it’s going to be getting colder in the next few weeks, I really didn’t want to make her wait a whole week sitting on a ceramic egg.

Especially not when she’s so young yet and I don’t know what kind of momma she will be.  I’d much rather give my own eggs to newbies, until I see how they will react to babies.  Abby and Claire can have ‘pay for babies’ because I know, now, that they will be awesome moms.

Hatch Day is October 24th.  I’ll probably candle the eggs sometime next week, at the 2 week mark.  There’s not going to be much to see before then anyway.

Fertility, based on last weeks dozen eggs, is at least 3/4.  This is NOT scientific.  I took a fresh dozen eggs and made up a pan of scrambled eggs to feed the chickens.  Protein for the molters.   I checked each egg as I cracked it.  I counted 9 bulls-eyes out of the 12 and the remaining 3, I simply couldn’t see from the way the yolk dropped into my bowl.  Not scientific, no.  But it does mean I should get a small handful of babies.

The only hitch in this is that I was planning our Fall Coop Cleaning for the next couple of weeks and now I’m going to have to clean and spray for mites AROUND a broody hen.  because moving her would be stupid.

They never make it easy, do they?

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s October, Already?

I’m honestly not sure where August and September when. One minute, I’m helping Little Dude with his 4-H projects and the next minute, school is starting, then both my children had their sport seasons start AND the garden started booming.

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These pictures are from last week.  The green beans are still flowering and still producing.   The carrots are doing well, too.  I’ve been slowly harvesting them, cutting into cubes and freezing for soups and stuff over the winter.

The cabbages did well.  I harvested, and discovered that if I left the plant in the ground rather than did the roots up, they will start growing a new head.  I don’t think any of them will be big enough to harvest before frost, but the chickens might enjoy them?

I had decent luck with the broccoli, too.  I need to check them again, but I suspect they will slow down eventually.

I’m waiting to harvest the potatoes and sweet potato. Also, the brussel sprouts, which I’m not sure what to do with.  I’ll probably Youtube “how to harvest brussells sprouts” soon.

Over all, I’m very proud of my experimental garden.  I’m already planning for next year.

Dad’s tomatoes, though… those things were the best.  So far, we’ve done over 30 quarts of whole tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, home made ketchup (first time ever), salsa, chili and home made tomato soup (also a first time ever).  The soup and ketchup were my idea and I can just say — yum!!!

 

And, of course, since this is my ‘chicken blog’ I have to talk about the chickens.  🙂

I have a lot of videos and kooky pics up on my Instagram.

The older ladies and Dots are all in various stages of molting.  Some of them look rougher than others.  Some of them (Abby, for example) barely looking like they’ve lost any feathers at all.  But the over abundance of feathers everywhere is a testament that they are molting.

When does this end?  Winter is fast approaching and I’m looking at my semi-balding birds and thinking “they will freeze!”  And “I can’t knit so so no chicken sweaters!”  Especially not for 30+ birds.

Actually, I am NOT an advocate of chicken sweaters.  They are bad for our birds.  Cute, but bad.  Just say no. Okay?

All the babies are getting bigger.

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Dani and Eugenie.

 

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Pavel or… Pavelle … or who, I have been assured by someone on Instagram is, in fact, a pretty little girl.  🙂  She’s sweet and intelligent and loves to ride on my shoulder and ‘talk’ to me.

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“Esther” who is NOT a girl, but a handsome little cockerel.  I’m torn between renaming him Eddie or simply shortening Esther to Es.

I’m in the process of negotiating with my DH to let me keep him, along with Dots and Pip.  We have enough hens to justify three roosters and Esther is the low boy on the totem pole.  He might fit in just fine.   Plus,I read somewhere that an Easter Egger + a brown-egg layer will produce Olive egg layers.  IF  Es were to mate and I were to hatch those babies, I could potential have olive green eggs some day?

DH is thinking about it.  He wants Easter Eggers.  Es is our only survivor.  It could happen.

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The Sulmtaler Brothers.  I call them Sumi and Taller.  I shouldn’t name them.  If I can’t sell them, they are off to Freezer Camp by the end of November.  But they’re so cute.  And Sumi crows better than Dani does!

The chocolate orps (whom I have no pictures of because they won’t hold still for me) are boy & girl.  The little roo, I call Snickers.  He’s cocky and I think he’s been trying to establish dominance over Sumi.  They’ve been squabbling.   He also tried to mate with an Australorp yesterday. I wish I’d gotten a video of that because she went off on him, claws up and everything.  All the rest of my hens are pretty docile so I’ve never seen that happen before.

The hen is Hershey.  She is sweet, but standoff-ish.  She likes her privacy.

 

 

As the instagram caption says, Stacey as has been acting weird.  She paces the coop ALL DAY.  Always.  It looks like she’s looking for a nest box, but she never gets in one.  I don’t know what’s actually going on and Google is not my friend.

This is Ashley. Aka Ashe… some of you may remember Ashe was the little Australorp who kept the injured Baby company when they were chicks.   She is going to be a momma in about 2 1/2 weeks.  🙂  It will probably be my last Broody of the year, as winter is approaching.

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.

 

Broody Watch 7 – The Abby Edition

Yes, that’s right dear readers!  Our very special and most beloved Abigail has finally gone broody, after teasing me all spring and making Claire take the first plunge.  Sneaky little Abby girl.  🙂

Actually, she went broody Thursday of last week, but I had her sitting on a couple of plastic eggs while I waited for a special delivery of hatching eggs. See?  I was promised by my DH that if Abby went broody again, I could give her hatching eggs procured from somewhere off the farm.  I am a member of a chicken group on FB, where people post pictures of their chickens and also sometimes sell eggs/chickens, as well as provide tips and how-tos.  I’ve learned a lot from them.

 

I was able to purchase hatching eggs from another member of that group, a nice lady named Donna.  All Abby had to do was hold tight and wait until the package arrived.

The box came in the mail this morning! I picked it up at 8:30 am.
The eggs were all snug in a nest of newspaper…
… and wrapped in their own personally bubble wrap cocoon. Despite the precautions, there were three broken ones. 😦
The eggs – chocolate Orpington, Sulmlater, Pavlovskaya, and Easter Egger. Total 11 eggs.
I added two eggs, which Abby herself laid on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, before the urge to hunker in and sit tight overtook her. This gives Abby a total of 13 eggs.
I didn’t actually think they’d all fit underneath her, but she just made soft little bucking noises and wiggled around until she got comfy… and then closed her eyes.

Things to note:

  • Thirteen eggs is a LOT more that I gave Abby the last time she went broody and more than I gave Claire, either.  If anyone else decides to go broody in the next week or two – I’m looking at you Penelope – I fully intend to just sneak a couple, two or three, out from under Abby.  That way, the (hypothetical) new broody won’t stay broody long and Abby will have some room on the nest for her!  We’ll call it sharing the love.  🙂
  • I still don’t own an egg candler, so I still won’t be able to check and see how many are viable.  Not too worried about Donna’s eggs, but Abby’s sweet little eggs are questionable.  I have  2 roosters (one of which doesn’t get much action) and 12 hens.  The eggs I eat every day seem to be mostly all fertilized, so I’m giving Abby’s eggs an 80% probability.
  • I still owe everyone the Week 15 & Week 16 posts for the Mystery Bin girls and their brooder mates.  I have the pics, but just haven’t started it.  We’ve been busy in the rest of real life.  I’ll get it done soon.
  • I also need to weed the garden soon.

I think that’s everything!  Estimated hatch date is July 13th, 21 days from today.   I am unsure if the day they were laid will hold any bearing on when they hatch.  But they were all put under her today.

 

Broody Watch 6.0

This will probably be my last Broody Watch post for Claire.  The 4th egg does not appear to be hatching, despite her insistence that she remain sitting on it.  I’m giving it until tonight, but then, if it hasn’t hatched, I’ll be removing it from her nest.

The three chicks she already has are quite active and will soon be ready to explore the world around them.  She can’t help them do that if she’s sitting on a dud egg.

Momma and babies enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs and chick starter this morning.  All three of the babies came out from under Claire to try some of the yummiest.  Scrambled egg is my traditional post-hatching meal for the chicks&mama.

Traditional as in “that’s what I did with Abby, so Claire gets to do it, too.”  Why mess with what works?

I don’t know if it’s evident from the video, but yesterday when I came down to find two of Claire’s chicks running around the laying boxes next to their nest, I decided to take a risk and move Claire, babies, and 4th egg into their newly fashioned maternity suite.

I added food and water, which Claire barely looked at as she settled in on top of the egg and tucked her babies under her for good measure.  She’s still there this morning, so I’m going to take that as a success.  🙂

Oh, yeah… and the babies have been tentatively named.

As they were born during my Dad’s birthday week (tomorrow is his birthday), I decided preemptively to name the chicks in honor of him.  The first born, the little red-head, is Dani (or if she is a he, Danny), the second born, smaller and light tow-headed yellow/white, is Eugenie (Eugene) and the third, a slightly bigger, more yellow chick, is Stevie.

Editing to Add:  I just went down to the coop to see how things were faring and found that Claire had abandoned the other egg.  She moved her three chicks to the nest on the right side of the ‘maternity suite’ and left her egg there.  It was cold, so I removed it.  As expected, it was nothing but a mass of 21-day yolk.  Yuck!  Tossed it in the trash.   Claire, Dani, Eugenie, and Stevie are a whole family now.  

On a totally non-related blog issue, I’m realizing that I need a category/tag for the ‘born on the farm’ babies like Pip and these three.  Am considering calling them a “Windstone Comet Cross” because that’s our farm name, their papa is a Golden Comet and they’re a cross between him and something else.  This is obviously NOT an official name, and they’re really just barnyard mutts, but their my barnyard mutts.

Or, I could call the tag “barnyard mix” too.

Thoughts?  Reader preference?  Do the tags even matter?

 

 

Broody Watch 5.0

Well, as of this morning, there are three babies hiding under Claire’s considerable red fluff.

The last couple of days, Claire has been a real sweetheart compared to how she normally is.  A part of the ‘broody trance’ stage, she let me pet her, feed her by hand, and lift her up to look at the eggs/babies.   Now that more of them have hatched, the broody trance is giving way to ‘Mama Mode’ and Claire’s true personality is asserting itself.

That is to say, I got bit 5 times trying to get these pictures and video.

Ouch!

There is one last egg, the paler one I mentioned was cracked already.  It’ still cracked, but the crack is bigger.

Claire shows no signed of giving up on it yet, and keeps tucking it underneath her like she’s expecting something.

As tomorrow is Day 21 for that egg and one of the other (already hatched) chicks, I’ll wait and see what she does next.  They have that saying about it – Mama Knows – so if Claire is still waiting for a chick, maybe I should, too?

Then again, it’ been cracked since Monday and no signs of anything coming out, movement, or cheeping.

But I’ll let Claire make that call.  If she abandons the egg in favor of caring for the Wee Ones, I’ll know.

Broody Watch 4.0

Babies!!!! 


Went into the coop for lock up and and found that my flock had grown by two. 

The little red-head on the right is the chick I posted the video of in update 3.5.  He/she is dry and fluffy. 

The blondie on the left is still partially damp. 

Of the three eggs still under Claire, the light colored one has a crack in it.  It had that crack a day ago, though, so I don’t think it’s hatching.   The  brown one on the very left has a pip.  The brown one in the middle wasn’t there earlier, and is NOT one of Claire’s eggs.  So I removed it.  

But yay!!! Two babies!!!! And maybe another by tomorrow! 

Broody Watch #3.5

In Which A New Window Is Opened and New Life Peers Outside

I went down to check for eggs and to say hello to Claire and I thought I hear the soft sounds of a baby chick. So I took a chance and lifted Claire ever so slightly…

… and got to see the first of her babies tentatively gaining access to the world.

I guess it’s a good thing I made preparations for that maternity ward already, huh?

I promise I’ll check back in tomorrow and let you all know how it goes.