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.

Pavelle’s Babies – Week 1

Yesterday, Pavelle’s wee little chicks celebrated their One Week-aversary.  They are living happily in a cat carrier under the laying beds, with their food in the corner in front of them and a place to go for shelter.   Pavelle being as small as she is, they have room to move around freely in there.  She brings them out in the morning and afternoons, teaches them to dig and scratch in the deep litter bedding and is slowly introducing them to the other chickens.

img_2458-2
Little ‘Feather Butt’ – aka the one with the feathers on his feet.  This one is the biggest of the three chicks.   He/she is friendly and inquisitive, not afraid of the bigger birds or me.  And he/she stood up to Dots when he tried to tidbit with their chick feed.   Ran right up to him and cheeped in Dot’s face.  So he/she has inherited Pavelle’s bravery in the face of birds 50x his size.
img_2459-2
Miini- Pav.  🙂  Mini-Pav is the smallest of the three chicks, and does not yet have as pronounced wing feathers as the other two have.  He/she is also the shyest one, preferring to hang back where Feather Butt and Egger Baby will run forward.
img_2460-2
The Egger Baby.   The somewhere in-between middle chick.  Not the biggest, not the smallest.  Curious enough to stick her head out and look at stuff (me, the Bigs) but not brave enough to be the first one out there.

Feather Butt and Mini-Pav do not have the pronounced foreheads that their mother had as a chick.  A reminder that they are cross-breeds and not pure anything.   Pavelle likely has some Polish in with her Pavlovskaya … and Pip, of course, the Rhode Island Red and sexlink genetics.   So maybe they won’t have crests and funny hair-dos like their momma.   Or maybe they will?  Who knows at this point?

I give you – the Babies!

The weather has been up and down, and Pavelle has yet to decide if she wants to take them outside. I’ve seen her bring them to the door and peek out, but has not attempted to lead them any further.

I’ll admit, I am both excited and fearing that day and a little glad that she has not.  The last chicks I watched go outside for the first time .. vanished, and Abby kept the remaining babies hidden for the rest of the winter.     So caution on Pavelle’s part is not without good reason.

ETA:  Okay, I wrote that part up there *points up*  and then went to the barn to let everyone and THIS happened, just to prove me wrong…

 

Feather Butt was the one balking.  I finally stopped the video and went to put Mini-Pav and Egger Baby back inside because it became so obvious that Pavelle was not able to convince Feather Butt that it was, in fact, safe.   But there you have it… it’s a good bet that she will get them outside sooner rather than later.   To be fair, there is only so much she can teach them inside the coop.  The big wide world awaits!

Today marks Day 14 for Little Dude’s 4-H hatching project.We’ll be candling again tonight and on Saturday.   Sunday-Tuesday are Lockdown Days.    The incubator has been an interesting experience in frustration and balance.  Finding and KEEPING the right temperature and humidity both.  I personally like giving the eggs to broody hens.

 

Broody/Baby Watch – the One With the Feathered Toes 

This will be the last “broody watch” post, as there are no more babies to be had. Pavelle’s wee little ones were getting restless so I went and candled the remaining two eggs. You could see something watery sloshing around inside each. Rotten yolks. Yuck! Rather than risk them breaking overnight, we chucked them and moved Pavelle and the babies to their new nest on the floor. Which, happily, Pavelle accepted. Hopefully, the overnight sleep will help her to feel at home there with the little ones. It has food, water and shelter. All the things a momma and her babies need.

And now to the title of this post – the One with the Feathered Toes.

One of Pavelle’s babies had feathered feet. For those of you who do not know, my little Pavelle is a Pavlovskaya hen, or partial Pavlovskaya.

The Pavlovskaya hen is Russia’s most ancient chicken breed. Its origins are lost in the murky depths of history, but by the time Russians began to take stock of their native chicken breeds in the late 1800s Pavlovskaya hens were already virtually extinct. Many centuries ago this breed emerged in the town of Pavlovo, a small enclave of peasants and craftsmen about 200 miles east of Moscow. The town was known for a number of unique agricultural specialties including the breeding of fighting geese, canaries, and the cultivation of lemons. Some poultry historians believe that the Pavlovkskaya hens are the foundational breed that gave rise to more recently developed crested breeds like the Polish, Barthuhners, and Brabanters.

~ Greenfire Farms – Pavlovskaya

Pavlovskaya’s have feathered feet and the very originals had five toes, it is said.  Somewhere in the recent attempts to bring them back from extinction, the fifth toe has vanished from some blood lines.

Pavelle came to me as an egg from a breeder who had a pair of what she was told were Pavlovs, but she believed them to be not-quite pure because they lacked the feathered feet.  Pavelle also has no feathers on her toesies.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this:

img_2390
Little tufts of yellow feathers on the ankles of this wee little chick!

It means that, whatever else she is, my little Pavelle is definitely in some part Pavlovskaya, and so is this wee little babe who looks nothing like her momma in every other way.

img_2388
You can even see some feathering on her legs, too.
img_2391
Although, even close up, it looks like she’s just got wood chips stuck to her.
img_2387
I’m cute little Pavlovskaya/RiR/Comet cross, aren’t I?

Totally adorable!!! I can’t wait to see how she grows into those feathered feet!

Broody/Baby Watch – Breakfast with Momma 

Proof that Pavelle and the Mini-Me look alike.   On the left… Abby, with wee little Pavelle sitting in front.  On the right… Pavelle and Mini-Me.

The two remaining Easter Eggs have not done anything. I tell myself that today is Day 21 and official Hatch Day, so they could still do something, but there aren’t even pips, and Pavelle has pushed them to the back of the nest. I’m thinking these three might be it, but I’m willing to give it another day just in case.

Broody/Baby Watch – Pavelle’s Lock Down 

Yesterday was Day 19 for Pavelle and her sweet baby eggs and that means Lock Down.

For those of you who do not know about hatching eggs, a chicken egg takes twenty-one days to hatch. The last three days, Days 19-21, are what people who use incubators call ‘lock down days’ because under no circumstances are you supposed to open the incubator on those days, until the last chick has hatched.  This is because in those last three days, the babies do the most growing in preparation to come out of their shells.

When I let my hens sit on eggs, I make sure not to mess with them during those days, so they can do their own thing.

Yesterday, I went to check for eggs and discovered that Pavelle had a brown egg sticking out from under her.  She frequently steals other hens eggs from neighboring nests.  She had TWO brown eggs, actually… but was also missing one of her her six eggs.   I didn’t see signs of eaten shell, but one of the brown eggs I had retrieved from under her had yolk on it, so I assumed the worst.

I know what happened to it now, and I’ll get to that in a minute.  But first…

img_2370
I found this little Easter Egger chick this morning, on Day 20.  It is a bright yellow with brown/black on the top of it’s head, with puffy little EE cheeks.

I found this

img_2368
I know I am a cutie 🙂

Pavelle actually had a total of three chicks under her this morning when I left the coop – two of her Pavlov-mix babies and one Easter Egger. There are two EE remaining. Given this is Day 20, and hatch day is technically tomorrow, I won’t worry too much about the other eggs until Wednesday or Thursday.

img_2365

I set her up with some food and water, in the nest with her to discourage other hens from trying to sit with her in the nest (because that is another reason she keeps getting other hen eggs. They are trying to ‘share’ the nest with her.)

Hopefully, at least one of the other eggs will hatch. The one is EE#2 and we all know I have been iffy about the contents of that one.

This morning when I removed the broken eggs shells from under her, I discovered the missing Pavelle-egg. It apparently tried to hatch YESTERDAY on Day 19, and died. I found it half-buried in the bedding under Pavelle and the live chicks. 😦

I’m used to having them hatch on Day 20 or 21. Day 19 might be a little too early?

I will report back tomorrow with (hopefully) the last chicks and pics of all of them.  Pavelle is a bite-y momma, so it’s hard to get pics of them right now.

 

Broody Watch – Candling Pavel’s Eggs 

Today marked the end of the first week for Pavelle and her eggs.   With the exception of Abby’s first-time hatch, I have been candling once a week leading up to Lock Down, to give me a better idea of how many chicks to anticipate.   Nothing was more disappointing than finding out Ava’s egg was infertile and that Pip was destined to be a singleton chick. (Of course, he has made up for it by being a good big brother to Abby’s subsequent hatches, so there is that.)

In preparation for Little Dude’s 4-H eggs, I have made a first time attempt at photographing the eggs as we candled them.

It’s only a week out and it’s kind of difficult at this point to accurately predict.  Also, the darker the egg shell, the harder it is to really tell what’s going on in there.

Luckily for Pavelle, her eggs are white-shelled and came out fairly clear.  You can see signs of development in all three eggs, which is promising.

Padme’s Easter Egger greens, however, are difficult.  I had a hard time with them when we gave some to Abby, too.   #1 and #3 are dark, with an outline.  This is how Abby’s EE eggs were, the ones that hatched.  I didn’t see much in the way of veins or anything with those very dark ones, but I got babies out of them.  I’m going to say, for now, that they have babies.  #2 — appears to be clear and empty.  I don’t see anything at all going on in there.  I’m going to wait until next Tuesday to level a final verdict on it.

But for now, I’m predicting five chicks.

Broody Girls

It’s spring, and after a long and snowy winter, in which the hens spent more time in the coop than outdoors.  The weather is warming up, the grass is growing.  Flowers, weeds and bugs are everywhere.  Life is good if you’re a chicken.

A couple of weeks ago, several of my hens started exhibiting signs of being broody.   Hanging out in the nests longer, or later in the day.  Puffed up feathers and growling or yelling while they are in the nest.  Growling and yelling at other hens when they are off the nest.

This kind of thing happens every spring.  Hens thinking that maybe they want to go brood on some eggs and raise some babies.  Its a natural, hormonal instinct for chickens, albeit one that the hatcheries have tried to breed out of their birds because egg/meat production is more profitable than hens sitting on eggs.   But if you’re a back yard chicken owner, homesteader, or farmer who wants a self-sustaining flock, a broody hen might be what you’re looking for.

My first year as a chicken owner, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know if I wanted broody hens.  Most the websites and blogs who talk about broodies talk about how to broody break them, because most people want eggs.   And I had Abby, who went broody less than two months after laying her first egg.   I broke her the first time, but decided when she did it again a month later, that it wasn’t worth trying to break her again, and just gave her eggs.

Watching Abby raise her chick – the rooster now known on this blog as Pip – was all it took.  I was bitten hard by the bug, and now wait with anticipation for the sign of broodies I can give eggs to.  There is something of wonder about watching a mother hen raise her Littles, seeing them explore the world at her side.  Learn and grow, and become a part of the flock.

I also like seeing the way genetics plays out in the 2nd Gen chicks.  I have a small group of ‘barnyard mix’ hens and two mix roosters who are all very unique in their looks and personalities.

So… anyway… I had five hens who started to act like they might go broody.  Penelope, Claire, Julia, Rapunzel and Pavelle.

Penelope an Julia really didn’t do anything.  They did that last year, too.  Walked around bucky for a week or so and then just stopped.   I don’t expect this year to be different.

Claire is STILL puffing up while she’s on a nest and sometimes while she is off it.  Given that she actually DID go broody last spring, I’m watching her closely.  She might.  And she was a good momma, so I would have no qualms about giving her eggs.

Rapunzel went HARD. Rapunzel is a Buff Orpington and Orpingtons are known to be goody broodies.  Rapunzel spent the least time ‘going through the motions’ and after a couple of “well, maybe” days, she hopped in a nest and committed to sitting on ceramic eggs.   She is very dedicated to them, and I’m going to let her stick with the ceramic eggs because I have special plan for her.  Little Dude is going to be doing an Embryology project for 4-H, which means we will be hatching eggs in an incubator and documenting every step of the way.   I have eggs coming from My Pet Chicken, because Little Dude wanted Barred Rocks.  So we have 4 Barred Rock eggs and 6 “assorted” eggs, which could be any breeds, coming later this week.  I’ve decided that I will be giving Rapunzel the chicks that hatch from those eggs.  Hopefully, she will accept them as her own.  Otherwise, I will have to put them in the brooder and raise them separate of the rest of the flock.

In the meantime, Pavelle is sitting on six eggs.  Three are hers, and three came from Padme, the little Easter Egger hen.  They are the smallest eggs I have, even though Pavelle is very impressive when she is puffed up and screaming at you, she is still a small hen.  Any of the babies she raised will be bigger than her at 6 weeks of age.

If anyone else goes broody in the between time – I’m looking at you, Claire – I will probably share the wealth, rather than give more eggs.  Claire, for example, could take on some of the 4-H babies, so Rapunzel, who is a new mother, doesn’t have to raise a potential ten babies on her own.  But that is a big IF that has a lot of variables.  IF Claire or anyone else goes broody in the next 3-4 weeks.  IF the incubation is successful and all the eggs hatch.  I’ve never used an incubator before and I’m borrowing one from DH’s aunt for the project.  So many variables.

In the last picture, you can see that Pavelle and ‘Punzel are in a prime location. Pavelle will steal eggs from the nests around her, and I constantly have to check underneath her for extras. Which is funny because one time, she had three extras and they were sticking out because she is so small they don’t all fit!

 


Pavelle

Rapunzel