The Autumn Chicken Report

Or is it the Late Autumn Chicken Report?  Because winter is almost here people.   As reported in my last post, the chickens are in various stages of molt.  They look pathetic, although some of the earlier molters are almost feathered back.

Hopefully, the others will hurry up and NOT still be half naked by the time the snow starts sticking.

October (or rather the end of October) meant the return of Halloween, jack o’lanterns and pumpkin seeds.  I’ve always been jealous of pictures and videos of peoples’chickens pecking holes in pumpkins left out for them.  Mine do not do that. They ignore whole pumpkins like the plague and even broken up ones, they would just eat the seeds and not the pulp.

This year, however, they were more than interested in our post-Halloween offerings and devoured not only the pumpkin seeds and guts shown above, but six medium sized jack o’lanterns over the course of the first week of November.

I am glad they enjoyed it,  because in the next couple of weeks, I was tasked with the painful process of deciding which of them Summer Boys stayed and which ones were sent off to Freezer Camp.  If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I have a general weakness for roosters.   Between their beautiful plumage and strong, unique personalities, how could I not fall in love with the little buggers?  But every year, we hatch an average of 5-8 roosters and I’m only allowed to keep a minimum of three, depending on the size of my hen-to-rooster ratio.

This year, including Dots and Luke (saved from last year), we had a grand total of eights roosters.  DH said I could keep three this year, if one of them was Phillip, the smaller rooster hatched out of one of Pavelle’s little white eggs.   He is about half of Dot’s size and not likely to get much bigger.

So while the chickens were blissfully enjoying the pumpkin treats, I was looking at my roosters, talking to them, interacting with them, and trying to decide who should stay and help Dots keep his flock safe.

This is NEVER an easy decision for me, and the last time I had to do it, a mistake was made.   

I will probably never forgive myself for allowing DH to take Pip that day instead of Luke.  I miss him.  Everyday, I miss that little guy.   He was our first chick ever and worked well his father and mother in taking care of the flock.

Phillip (or Leapy as I call him sometimes), is Pip’s son from Pavelle and reminds me a lot of him, personality wise.

So, before I go into who got tickets to Freezer Camp, let me introduce to the Summer Babies.

Of these, the roosters were Philip, Gus, Cutie, Sylvester, Apache and A.J.

I have also thought at times that Darcy could really be a Mr. Darcy, but that one is either a late bloomer or a big hen.   So we aired on the side of ‘big hen’ and kept Darcy, for now.  She will winter over that will us time to see if she is really a he.  Or not.

This year, I decided to rectify the mistake of keeping Luke,making him first on the list for Freezer Camp.

We would be keeping Dots (as usual because it’s dumb to get rid of a good rooster, and I learned that the hard way with Pip) and Philip… so I had a spot for one more keeper.

The candidates I was deciding from were Cutie ( a light barred rock from Little Dude’s incubator project) and Sylvester, the only hatched buff brahma.  Of the Summer Boys those two were my favorites.   Cutie because he was so incredibly beautiful and Sylvester because he was raised by my Tweety girl and has always been friendly.

Like last time, I simply couldn’t decide right up til the end.  What it came down to was which one could I pick up without too much hassle.  Cutie always fights me until I got him in my arms.  But then he would settle in.   But he would still fight me.  So on Freezer Camp day, I made the decision in favor of keeping Sylvaster and letting Cutie go.

I hope that it doesn’t turn out like the Luke vs Pip decision.   I really don’t.   I couldn’t take that again.

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Incidentally, it really wasn’t “freezer camp” this year.  We decided to can them instead and got 9 jars, 8 pints and 1 quart of meat out of them.   They will be used to make soups and stews and maybe to grind up for chicken salad.   

 

The last thing we needed to do was give little Not Cocoa a better name.   She is part Easter Egger (because Luke is her papa) and part Rhode Island Red.   We called her Not Cocoa because we named Cocoa first and she is… not Cocoa.

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How hard is it to come up with a good name for me?  I’m adorable!

 

So we’ve been debating it a while, and finally, on Thanksgiving, we came up with a suitable name… Nutmeg.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you all with a picture of Double Dots and his ladies enjoying their Thanksgiving morning breakfast of oatmeal mixed with scratch grain, BOSS, meal worms and cranberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatchings, Integrations, Broodies and Hard Decisions

If it’s not one thing with these chickens, it’s another.  And this is shaping up to be a busy week for my little flock of 40.

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I’ll start with this little piece of precious fluff.  Because, really, doesn’t that face just make you want to saw “awwwww!”

A few weeks ago, I had two broody hens.  Claire, one of my veteran broody’s from last year, and Tweety, my small Buff Orpington and a new broody.   I gave them each 3 eggs.  Claire, some barred rocks, and Tweety, some Buff Brahma’s.

And then a week after I gave them their eggs, went into the hospital for my surgery and have been limited to light duty.  Somewhere in there, no one candled the eggs to see what was going on.  Today is Hatch Day, and it is nail biting all the way around because I don’t know if any of the eggs (except this one, obviously) will hatch.  None of Claire’s eggs have hatched yet, but yesterday, Tweety was blessed with this sweet little Brahma.

No other eggs have hatched, but neither hen seems ready to give up the nest, so I won’t let myself worry until Saturday morning.

HOWEVER, the addition of a new little baby has brought out a different Worry, one which will have to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Rapunzel tried to attack Tweety’s baby, in a similar fashion to what she did with her own.    She forced her way into Tweety’s nest and began going after the baby, lunging at it even when it was under Tweety.

Both the kids and I removed her and she went back to try again.

The last time, we put her in the Broody Jail, and there she is going to stay until DH comes home this weekend.   After that… well, I can’t have a hen who will attack and harm babies.   If she was just doing this to her pwn babies, we wouldn’t give her eggs.  But attacking other hens’ babies is an entirely different thing.  It means no babies are safe.

And right now, I have Claire and Tweety to worry about… plus Pavelle thinks she wants to go broody again is in a pre-broody stage right now.   And Eugenie (Claire’s little snowball from last summer) is 98% definitely broody now, and will be worse by the time Rapunzel gets out of the Broody Jail this weekend.

(I was planing on putting Eugenie into broody jail tonight, after we integrate the Brooder Bunch, but now that’s not going to happen and it’s all Rapunzel’s fault.)

But Rapunzel will not be released back into the flock.   I’ve made the decision that DH needs to send her to Freezer Camp.   I can’t rehome her, because if anyone else tries to have chicks around her, or gives her eggs (Buff Orpington’s are supposed to be good broody mommas, after all) then she will do the same thing to them.   I couldn’t ethically do that to some innocent person, so Freezer Camp is the only viable option.

The babies in the brooder are 6 weeks old, and mostly feathered out.  The Brahma,whom we have decided might be a hen are calling Rachel, Cutie and Grumpy and the only hold outs, but they have enough feathers to be okay.  They don’t sleep under the brooder lamp anymore anyway, and also, they are all getting HUGE.

What you see in the above pictures represents their last day in the brooder box.   It’s raining, so they didn’t go outside.  But tonight, after everyone is sleeping, the kids and I will sneak them into the coop and put them on roosts.  When they way up Friday morning, they will be a part of the flock.  As you can see,Dots already likes Winnie.  He was very kind to her.

I think it will go well.  All of the nice days, the babies got to be int heir playpen and the rest of the flock got to see them and know they were there.  It will be an adjustment, but it should work out fine. .

 

 

 

The Brooder Bunch at 5 Weeks

Well, the Brooder Bunch, aka the 7 babies we hatched for Little Dude’s 4-H project, are five weeks old this week and heading closer to the 6 week mark, where had their mother not so violent to them, they might have been set loose to fend for themselves as young member of the flock.

As mentioned in the last post about them, I have been letting them outside in their playpen on nice days to get the flock used to them.  I intend to let them loose after they all hit 6 weeks old and see how the flock receives them.  Right now, there is moderate curiosity, but no meanness.  And no one seems to have noticed that Cutie and Grumpy are definitely boys.   I think that it will help that Pavelle’s chicks are around the same size and running around.  I think it will go well.

I have pictures of them all to share now.  Feel free to click on them for bigger images.

Chipmunk,the partridge Welsummer.  She is one of the three who are more fully feathered out.   She is friendly and sweet, and very curious about everything.

Goth Chick, the little all-black Mad Scientist chick. I am assuming this chick is a hen, due to the smallness of the comb and lack of wattles.    She is another of the ones who feathered out quickly, loves to fly and is shy, but not skittish.

CW, the Columbian Wyandotte.  I know nothing about Wyandottes, but I’m hoping this beauty is a hen, but over the last week, ‘she’ has started to grow wattles and a comb.  They are small, but noticeable in all that white fluffy.   CW is the biggest of the seven brooder babies.

Rocky, our little Barred Rock.  Another breed I’m not familiar with, but if I had to guess,  Rocky looks like a little henny.   Rocky is shy, but friendly.  (S)he is one of one slower feathering ones, and has only just started to fill out.

Cutie, one of other Rocks. Either a Light Barred or Silver Penciled.  They both look really close in coloring, at this point.  Cutie is a rooster.  I’ve known that since he was two or three weeks old.  The comb and wattles just confirm it.

He is one of the ones who was pecked by Rapunzel.  His feet healed, but for a while, he had a deformed, maimed toe.  It was gnarled and black.  Last week, the little dead toes fell off, just at the knuckle, leaving Cutie with a little nub.

Grumpy, the other other Rock.  Again, either Light Barred Rock or Silver-Penciled.   I honestly don’t know which is which.  Also a rooster.  His toes are better, too, but they weren’t as badly damaged as Cutie’s.

Grumpy and Cutie are both aloof and standoffish.  Not flighty, but not accessible.  I don’t know if that has anything to do with Rapunzel pecking them, or just a rooster thing.  They like to hang out together and butt chests.  Rooster things.

Cutie likes to wait til the other chicks get the treats, too.  watching my older roosters, I know that is a trait I admire in Double Dots.

The Light Brahma, whom Little Dude calls “Rap” and I call Brahma.   This chick is supposed to be a Light Brahma, but as the feathers come in, they are all black.  I’m guessing Dark Brahma now, but since the poor little thing is only now getting feathers, I wont really know.  No signs of a comb or wattles yet.  I am hoping for a hen, but IF this actually is a Light Brahma, then it might be a rooster.  The pictures I’ve been looking at suggest that the Light Brahma males have more black in their coloring. 

However rough their start, these chicks are doing very well, and I can’t wait to see how they grow up.