The Flock Update

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.

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Like Amy,who waited until the week of Christmas to drop all her feathers at once.  You can’t see it from this picture,but her entire underside is BARE NAKED.  It happened over night.  She is currently in the prickly ‘porcupine’ stage.

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.

Miracle Max

Max looked like a boy when he/she was little,but now I see inklings of a little hen.

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Max on the right.  Dalmie # 1 on the left. A behind view.

Dalmie #1

I think this is the same one I named Dalmie #1 in previous pics. Not sure.

Dalmie #2

Dalmie #2.

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Dalmie #2 (center) with Felicia and Pip

A gentle reminder that as per Twiglet’s comments on prior posts, we think Pip is the father of the Dalmies.

Felicia 

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…

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Eugenie,of course, is the white one!

 

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.  🙂

The Fab Four 

Aka Ashley’s Babies… or whatever you want to call them… will be eleven weeks old this Sunday.

They don’t really like much, and Ashley raised them with the instinct to hide from everything bigger than them, so getting pics for a decent comparison is hard to do at this point.

But I’m going to share some of the recent pics I do have.  If you fee like making guesses as to gender, have at it!

I will make a better attempt to get good body shots of them. Currently, Felicia looks the most like a little rooster-in-training. So maybe Felicia is really Felix?

Max was the other I thought looked rooster-like when they were little, but his wattles and comb seem to have stalled in the growing, where Felicia’s have gotten bigger and rather red. Close up pics would be good, but since these chicks are skittish (thank you, Ashley, and your ‘let’s hide til the big people go away!’ method of motherhood), by the time I chase them around and pick them up for the close up, they’re too scared to hold still. *sigh*

When Motherhood Grows On You

Well, Ashley’s babies turned the infamous “6 Weeks” on Sunday.   In terms of the flock, they are now old enough to fend for themselves and Ashley can start considering loosening the apron strings and return to doing Hen Things.

There are two ironies in that statement.  The first being Ashley’s babies have been, in a matter of speaking, fending for themselves all along. Not one, but two nights spent out of doors huddling together under the barn for warmth and shelter.  Having a momma who invariably failed to keep the other chickens from chasing them, whose survival method amounted to “let’s just hide in the cat carrier a little longer, and the big hens will go away.”

Second irony –  now that they’re old enough to NOT need her, Ashley is suddenly stepping up her game as a Momma.  She’s more protective, attentive, is STILL letting them try to fit under her wings at night (it looks ridiculous!), searches for them if they get separated from her or each other… all the things she wasn’t doing a few short weeks ago.

Not a ‘natural born mother’ like Abby or Claire, but still, it’s somehow managed to grow on her.  And she, in turn, has managed to raise her four wee babes up to be young chickens in training.  Six weeks old!  I honestly did NOT think, given their rocky start with her, that they would make it this far.

Here they are (above) back on November 20th.  This is the first time they spent the night up top of the beds rather than in the cat carrier.  I’m sure it was getting cramped for the five of them anyway,but at this point, they were still using it as a shelter from the Big Hens in the day time.

However, after a few days, I removed it because it became clear that they weren’t using it to sleep in at night and were ready to join the rest of the flock.

This was, also, the odd point at which Ashley started actually mothering them.  It’s like she suddenly realized that “omg! my babies are growing up!  I have so little time with them!  MUST DO MOMMA THINGS!”

And “do Momma Things” she certainly has!   She’s even navigating the waters of sharing the coop with Abby and her wee little chicks without turf wars.  It’s been interesting to watch her transition from a hen I wasn’t sure should be a mother into a pretty okay protector.   She’s still teaching them foraging, how to seek safety and stuff like that. She’s just much more attentive about it now than she was back in October.

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Ashley, Max, Dalmies #1 & #2, and Felicia huddling in the cold this morning.

I’m not sure where this leaves me in my previous assessment of her mothering skills.   Has her failings as a mother hen been because she is a young hen, not high up in the pecking order and certainly not confident enough to peck at the hens who chased or otherwise went after her babies?  She’s gotten better in the last two weeks. Is that because she’s also maturing right along side her babies?   Will she be the same way with another set of babies, should she go broody again?   Or should I continue to be leery of letting her have eggs?

Certainly humans learn and mature as parents right alongside our children. No one denies us the right to have them based on ‘first time parenting mistakes.’  Is this something I should give the chickened -the benefit of the doubt?

(Ideally, it’s a moot issue unless she goes broody again.  Which is possible.  Abby’s on her 4th broody and Claire keeps thinking about it,but I keep taking eggs away from her.  It’s too cold now for little little chicks.)

Chicks!

So here’s an update on all the chicks.   Abby’s and Ashley’s both.

So, I’ll start with Abby’s chicks.  Most of her eggs hatched yesterday, a day early.

Five of them hatched yesterday, and Abby held on to the other egg until mid morning and then she moved off the nest to eat and drink.  When she does that, I know the egg won’t hatch, so I removed it.

Of the five remaining babies, one of them passed sometime this afternoon.  I found it when I came back from grocery shopping.  Sad because it was the cutest one (IHMO) and the one I liked the looks of the best.

I am very disappointed about the little yellow-ish colored one. He was different looking from the others.

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Pip!

Okay, so Pip isn’t one of Abby’s new Littles, but he washer very first Little.  He spent most of yesterday going in and out of the coop, pacing and just seemed to be hanging out. He and Abby have a special bond. I have often observed that even though most people don’t give chickens credit for ‘family ties’ in the way we humans think of family, Pip and Abby seem to have it.  He has ‘helped’ watch after her other hatches, being the protective big brother to Pavel, Hershey and the Boys all summer.  He is respectful of her.  In my mind, he was pacing the coop yesterday because he could hear the change in her soft buck-bucks and hear the peeps of the babies,and he knew that his Momma was having her babies.

Today is a different story and he was outside helping Papa Dots watch over the flock!  But yesterday he was waiting to be a big brother again. Pip, btw, will be 1 year old on the 29th. Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!

Now… Ashley’s babies… some of whom could either be Pip’s little siblings or offspring depending on which hens mated with which rooster… are going to be four weeks old this Sunday.

They are STILL here. They are, however, very difficult to ‘pen down’ to get pictures of. Ashley has kind of reared them to be wild.   I walk out to watch them and they run as far away from me as they can.

I did manage to scoop them up and get some comparative pictures tonight, so we can see how they are, and make some early guesses on Hen or Roo.

First up here is Miracle Max.  Max is the biggest.  No longer yellow, he is mostly white, reminding me a lot of Eugenie.  He (I’m guessing Roo) has a big comb, which is already slightly pinkish and the beginnings of jowly wattles.

This one is is Dalmie #1.   She has a black spot on her back and a little higher up on her shoulders, otherwise all white. Smaller comb and almost non-existent wattles. She’s slim in body and has slightly more slender legs.

In case you can’t guess, I’m betting on a little henny with this one.

This is the Dalmie #2.  He has a big comb and the start of jowly wattles, but his comb isn’t as pink as Max’s.   He’s mostly white, but with a strip of black in his tail and a splotch of up in his hackle feathers.

I included a picture of his feet. Both of the Dalmie’s have slightly grey legs.  It’s like a combination of the Golden Comet yellow with the grey of the Australorp.   I’m willing to bet anything that the Dalmies are white Australorp crosses.

 

This is Felicia, aka the Cinnamon Bun.  I promised a friend I would name one Bye Felicia… and this is the one we chose to bear that name… and I can’t decide if Felicia is really Felicia…. or Felipe.   Smaller comb, but bigger than Dalmie #1’s.  Slightly noticeable jowls… but not quite.

This chick also is one of the bolder of the four, and I’ve seen him/her butt chests with Max.  That’s usually a sign of a boy, except that I’ve seen hens do it, too, even at that age.

Felicia is my Question Mark.  Hen, Roo… this chick is going to keep me guessing.

And while you all are guessing … here’s a video I took this morning of the four of them, plus Ashley, playing  a rousing game of “It’s mine! It’s mine!” with something they foraged out of the grass.

 

One of these days, I need to write down my thoughts on the different types of chicken parenting I have observed this year. Abby, Claire and Ashley each have exhibited vastly different styles of chick raising. Abby is a helicopter mom, always close to her chicks, always near by. Vicious if you threaten them. She isn’t afraid to lay into the hen or rooster who get close to her babies. She barely trusts me with them. Claire is an overseer, who leads her babies outside,demonstrates skills and watches them practice til they learn. She lets them roam, but guards the space she’s designated as theirs. No one goes in or out without her leave. Ashley is very hands off and scatter brained. Her babies follow her, learn from watching, but she often just wanders off and leaves them alone while she forages elsewhere. They freak out, cry and cry until she returns. Vastly different from my other mother hens.

Yes, that is a post for another day,when I have more time to collect and present my thoughts. 🙂