Busy Week

Well, last week was an extremely busy one, and not all of it was.

My aunt and uncle came to visit from Florida.  It was nice seeing them, but we were trying cram as much stuff into one visit as we could and it didn’t work out well.  Especially not with My Girl starting her first real job (as a hostess at a restaurant) and Little Dude having 4-H meetings and birthday parties.  So what honestly ended up happening was my Dad took his sister and her husband places and I ran my kids to their places and it was just wound up a crazy exhausting week.  For everyone.

In the middle of this, my former sister-in-law’s mother die.  It was sudden and not expected and my ex-sil was devastated, not to mention my niece and nephew.  Saturday was the funeral.  We all (mom, dad, my aunt and uncle, me, My Girl, and a fiend of my niece’s) pitched in to set up and run the after-funeral memorial luncheon.  It’s what families do.

Yesterday was DH’s 40th birthday.  We did a ‘cowboy’ theme, wore bandanas and cowboy hats.  It was simple, but great.

In the chicken world, we’re up to about 12-17 eggs a day now.  More of the younger girls are laying and the older ones are moving more fulling into molting. Yay, fun!

Dani and Eugenie are 8 weeks old today.

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8 weeks old!

 

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Dani, Eugenie, and their Momma

They don’t often hang out with their mother any more, but today when I was getting pictures of them, I did manage to catch a rare pic of the three of them by the waterer.   Mostly, they do their own thing now, which largely entails avoiding upsetting the older girls and hanging out together.

Sometimes, I find them both in the bushes with their big brother Pip.  I don’t know if they’re starting a club for former “Littles” or what but he tolerates them pretty well and doesn’t mind if they hang with him and his ladies.

Yes, Pip is getting his own ladies.  About 5 or 6 from what I can tell, who prefer him to Dots.  Yay, Pip! 🙂  His voice is also deepening.  He is growing up.

Pip also likes to help his mother with her new babies.  They are two weeks old now and I’ve seen Pip watching over them and teaching them how to scratch.

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Abby’s Littles, 2 weeks old

Well, here they all are…Abby’s littles one, at 2 weeks.  These are the ones who’ve survived so much just to get here.  Starting on the top row, we have Choc Orp #2, Choc Orp #1, Baby Sulmtaler #2,  (row 2) Pavel, Esther, and Baby Sulmtaler #1.  # indicates birth order.  Esther is the oldest.

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Esther, the Easter Egger baby

 

Little Dude says Esther is the easter egger’s name.  Regardless if it’s a boy or girl.  I’m hoping little girl, because I can’t keep them if they are boys.  I’m only allowed 2 roosters.  Dh’s edict.

But look at ‘Esther’s’ wings!  They are longer and more filled out than the rest of his/her siblings.

I’m beginning to see where some of what Abby did with Pip last winter was not just a winter thing, but how she is going to raise all her chicks.   She kept them all indoors for about a week (with the exception of the little choc orp who somehow got outside and stayed outdoors overnight).  Then she started encouraging them to come out.  The first handful of days, she couldn’t get them all to go back up the ramp after they’d come down it, so she would up sleeping on the steps at night with them until Little Dude and I came to lock up and then we would scoop her and her babies up and put them in the coop.

Sunday,she managed to take them in on her own before we got there.  🙂

Unlike Claire, who encouraged independence and exploration, Abby keeps her six remaining chicks close to her, secured in the weeds around the steps and in the run.  They don’t go much further than that, but she teaches them how to find things to eat by digging in the dirt and how to find shelter and shade in the weeds and tall grass.

No fence climbing or forays to the pond like Claire allowed Dani and Eugenie.

It’s amazing how different their mother styles are.

 

 

Milestones

In all the upheaval of babies hatching, babies dying, my aunt and uncle coming to visit and Little Dude’s 4-H projects, I forgot to post Dani and Eugenie’s Week-aversary post.  Now, here it is time for another one!

Dani and Eugenie, week 6
Week 6, standing next to a 19-week old Australorp. The Australorps are getting HUGE, btw!
Week 7.

Dani and Eugenie are now mostly on their own.  I catch them hanging out sometimes with their momma, sometimes with big brother Pip, and sometimes with their papa Dots.

Last week, they even stayed inside the coop to ‘help’ auntie Abby teach the new wee ones how to scratch in the wood shavings.  From a respectable distance, of course!

The rest of the flock seems to have no real problems with them.  They share time at the water dish and while they still don’t get first dibs at the treat dish anymore, they aren’t being ostracized for trying, either.

Usually I find them snuggled together at night, although sometimes Dani likes to perch in the rafters above everyone and Eugenie would rather perch near one of the adult roosters at night.  Sometimes Pip, but mostly Dots, so I often see them both sleeping with their papa.

The rest of the flock does not shun or push them away, like they did with Pip. I think that because they already ‘did this’ with Pip as a baby, they know what to expect and don’t care as much that there are little ones running around with them.

a Mystery Bin Girl, age 20 weeks

Our spring time pullets are all going to be 20 weeks this week.  This means they are reached their sexual maturity.  I am not sure how many of them are laying, but we’re currently getting between 12-14 eggs a day.  Some of them are quite small, while others are clearly the work of the older girls.  Once again, I wish for a video camera to see who is coming and going from the nests.

And lastly…

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Abby’s Easter Egger baby
Look at those wings!

 

A Good Papa


Just thought I’d share this picture of Double Dots with his and Claire’s 6 week old babies.  

She’s not looking out for them any more, but it looks like papa is!  

I owe everyone a Week-a-versary post for these ones, but I have some clean up to be in prep for Abby’s wee ones to arrive (2 pips this morning! Yay!) so I forgot to take pictures other than this one.  I’ll get them later.  I’m sure I’ll be down to the pasture several times today, anyway! 

Gaining Independence 

Eugenie and Dani discuss their options while waiting for their turn at the breakfast bowl

I think that Claire must have been listening in when I said I wondered how she was going to handle letting her chicks gain their independence.  Or regaining her own independence, maybe?

Since making that post, I’ve been watching them, only to see that it was starting.  

Yesterday afternoon, Claire walked off and left the chicks to fend for themselves most of the afternoon.  They hung out near her, but she did not stop the pullets from chasing them or pecking if they wanted treats the chicks had. 

The day before, she had done just that.  Stepped in.  Protected.  Admonished. 

She maintained a distance until one of them – usually Eugenie – became frightens and began crying for her in plaintive, sharp “Momma! Momma! Momma!”  Then she would come walk them a while, calming her children and then subtly wandering off once again.

This mornjng when I opened the coop door, the chicks came out with a pack of the pullets, made their to the dish, and were chased away by … Everyone, basically.    

Eugenie likes to eat standing in the dish.  No one let her.  Dani had to budge his way in line, only to be pushed out. 

They took perches on the wall (picture above) and pouted, waiting for the crowd to thin and the important first wave (which included their mother) left the dish.  They are no longer welcome in that group of privileged First Breakfasters.  

I don’t know how long the transition will take.  Claire was still sleeping with them last night.  But we are definitely seeing the beginning of the end of their ‘childhood.’ 

still waiting for breakfast
Little Dude and Dani
Dani is almost as big as Little Dude’s head

Number 5 is Alive

Does anyone remember that movie?   Just me?  Okay, well, then…

Today marks Dani and Eugenie’s 5th week-aversary.

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Claire’s Happy Little Family, week 5 🙂

Aren’t they the sweetest family, still?  Claire has truly surpassed my worries about her as a mother.  She is protective, yet lets her children have the space and independence to explore and learn on their own.   She teaches by showing once and then doing.

She apparently has help because some of the pullets (who still apparently think Claire is the Patron Saint of Young Chickens) have taken it upon themselves to watch over the babies.  As Eugenie still likes to wander off on her own sometimes and often confuses her momma with other Rhode Island Reds,  I guess this is a good thing that some of the pullets have appointed themselves to watch over and give guidance.  It’s sweet of them to repay Claire’s accidental protection with intentional.

It is still very hard to get pictures of both of these chicks.  Eugenie takes any attention I pay them as an attempt at picking her up and she will run for it.  But I did manage to get these of the happy little family.

Already at 5 weeks, most of their baby down is gone.  Eugenie is still a snowball.  Dani, a warm brown with white & tan feathers mixed in.

I am curious about how the next few weeks will go.  Dani and Eugenie, by virtue of it being summer time and not the dead of winter, have an entirely different relationship with their momma than Pip did with Abby.  They wander more, explore more. There’s more to eat, do and see.  They’ve already lost most of their baby fuzz and in that regard, they are ready to be free of momma.  But at 5 weeks, Claire is still putting them in bed in the coop by 5pm.  For all the freedom she gives them, bedtime is still very strict.  I can’t tell if either of them (or both) still sleep under her.  They returned to the maternity ward after their trial of the roosts.  I guess they prefer the solitude of the nest there to the crowded perches.  If I peek under the curtain – which I did yesterday – at least one of the chicks is sitting next to Claire, not under.

I wonder if Claire will push them away and out of the nest, return to her sisters, earlier than Abby did?  It’s summer, it’s warm.  They all won’t need to huddle and cuddle for body heat.  Or will they just slowly drift apart over the course of the summer, as age and more independence asserts itself?

Will the babies notice so much?  Or will they not care?  Pip stuck close to Abby most of the winter, even to the point of sitting in the nest beside her when she began laying eggs again and “baby sitting” her egg after to make certain no one touched his potential sibling.  It was hard to explain to him that momma didn’t need his help in the slightest.

How will these chicks be?

Week-Aversaries for the Middle of June

Okay, so here are the week-aversaries for the middle 2 weeks of June and a lotof picspam.  🙂

The “Littles” who are not so little, are 16 weeks old now.

Week 15, which was last week.

 

Week 16, which was this week

I’m going to have to stop calling them the Littles now because, truth to be told, the are NOT little. The Buff Orpington boys are ever bit as big as Pip and one one them is as tall as Dots. He’s a dark orange boy who thinks he’s The Boss but he’s still afraid of Dots. I laugh at him because I know he’s not the real boss. (That would still be Abby. Even Dots defers to her!)

Week 15 was a milestone for the five roosters in this bunch of brooder-mates. It is the age at which I guesstimated the boys would be old enough/big enough to head off to Freezer Camp. And also the point at which I wanted the young pullets to be integrated into the bigger flock. Originally, I’d thought to keep them all segregated until Week 15, and then integrate but, as previously mentioned, we did the integration early. It went well, and is still going well.

But no… Littles they are not. More like Mediums. Claire’s babies are the new Littles… and when Abby’s clutch happens, those will be the new Wee Ones. It’s an on-going cycle.

In the last couple of weeks, the boys in this bunch have been learning to chase the ladies, and are grabbing necks and pulling feathers, which results in lots of screaming on the part of the girls and bucking-from Dots. He does not, however, get after them and chase/reprimand them for it the way he does when Pip tries to make moves with the older hens. In short, I don’t think Dots considers them ‘his’ the way he does the older hens. He lets the 5 Brooder Boys get away with their antics, as long as they don’t go near the older ones.

This morning, I observed two of them trying to grab the same hen by the neck at the same time.   The brutes.

It’s time.  Freezer Camp registration has been scheduled for this Saturday, with five openings.

I’ve been debating sending Pip to camp instead of one of the Brooder Boys.  He’s so shy and such a loner, and I’m very afraid he won’t mingle with the girls even after the other boys are gone.  His being an only child really has hindered him in some aspects.

However, he’s also our First Farm Baby and very handsome.  I rather like his looks very much.  So, we’ll be keeping him, but I’m going to be watching him once the other Boys go.  If he doesn’t open up to the pullets before Dots snags them up by the time Abby’s new children are hatched and grown, we may still be looking at that option.  I’d hate to do it, but keeping one of the others would at least mean new genetics.  Pip is Dot’s son, so right now, any babies would all be related.  😦

And now… to lighten the mood from all this talk of Freezer Camp… here’s some pics of the Brooder Bunch from the last couple of weeks.  They have really been enjoying the Pasture a lot.

This week was Week 3 for Claire’s Littles.

Claire, Dani (Danny) and Eugenie.

It’s really hard to get pictures of them because Dani and Eugenie are always in motion and they spend so much time in the shade trees with the bigger chickens.

But here they are at Week 3.

I am still very amazed that Eugenie is so white.  It flies in the face of everything I thought about the sexlinks and their off-spring and Rhode Island Reds and their off-spring.  Genetics makes for an interesting study, don’t you think?

Here are two chicks, whose mothers are both Rhode Island Reds (or the same mother, because Claire laid 2 of the 3 eggs that hatched, so 2 of the three original chicks were hers)… and one of them is redder than red … and the other is as white as a snowball.

I’m making gender guesses now, btw.  Dani, I am pretty certain, is actually Danny.  He has a way bigger comb and I can see places where the nubs of spurs are going to be.  Eugenie, on the other hand, has an almost non-existent comb.  I’m giving her fair odds on being a little girl.

Anyone else care to make early guesses are welcome to do so.  We did so well guessing the other bunch of Littles.  🙂

That’s it for this week’s birthdays! This is about the time I stopped doing Week-aversaries for Pip, so it will likely be the last day for this batch of young ones, too.

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.