My Boys 

Okay, so… last week, my hens decided it would be fun to do their dirt bathing in the ashes left over from the burn pile.   They came out of it covered in soot.  All the white hens were gray, all the  Sexlinks and RiRs were various shades “muddy” or “moldy.”  (I don’t know how to describe it.  They look bad.)  And even though it has rained the last few days, they still look filthy.  If I didn’t have so many of them, I’d be tempted to give baths.

But since the girls are unfit for pictures, we will have to make due with pictures of my boys.

Currently, there are four of them.

My handsome Double Dots, as you all know. He’s a golden sexlink, also called a Golden Comet.   I’ve talked about him before.  A lot.  Dots is the father of Pip….

… who was our first-hatch chick, and the oldest of the “2nd generation” flock.

They have an odd sort of relationship.   Pip has a lot of respect for his papa, which is probably good because he grew up alone, with no same-aged hatch mates to back him up when he stepped out of line. Dots and the Aunties (the others hens) put him in his place a lot from the age of 9-weeks to 1 year.

Now the Aunties kind of like and he and Dots work together to protect the flock.  They don’t fight, that I’ve seen anyway.  Dots does chase Pip, if he catches him mating or whatever, but it’s usually only a few feet and then he stops.   They tolerate each other on the roosts at night.

And they BOTH take Felix to task.

Felix (who used to be Felicia, but clearly is NOT a hen) is gen 3 for this rooster dynasty, as I believe he is Pip’s son, born of one of the Buff Orpingtons.  I only guess Buff Orp for the mama because he really isn’t red like the RiR-cross chicks.

image Let’s look at Dani (the red rooster show here), in comparison. This is a younger picture, but he was a deep deep red by the time he went to freezer camp.

Felix started out as a cinnamon colored chick, looked butter scotchy as a teen, and while his reds are coming out (Pip’s mother was RiR), he doesn’t have the same depth or shade of red as Dani.

And since we’ve established that Pip+Australorp gives me the Dalmies (Pongo and Perdie),that really only leaves my two Buff Orpingtons as potential mommas.

Felix has yet to find a place in the flock that suits him.  Both Dots and Pip chase him if goes after the ladies and tries to mate. Part of that is because Dots naturally assumes all the ladies are his, and part because the ladies don’t want to mate with Felix.  He chases, pulls neck feathers and is awkward. The girls run, squawk, and scream until Dots or Pip (or both) go after him.  In other words, he’s where Pip was last summer.  Poor boy.

Some of the bolder hens peck at him, especially at bed time, and I have cleaned and fixed up minor comb injuries as the result of their pecking.

Sadly, he kind of brings it on himself and I don’t know what to tell the poor kid.  Not that he’d 1) listen or 2) understand me, him being a chicken and all.  So he’s just going to muddle his way through this on his own.

At least until his fate is decided.

A friend of mine named him Felicia, and I think she would prefer I keep him around so she can see him the next time she visits.  I have talked to her about it and she has been trying to find a place for him somewhere near her (in Indiana)but let’s face it.  With the threat of avian flu, it’s not likely too many people will want a rooster from an unknown flock out of state.  Even a mostly tame one.

However, I’m included to keep him and see how it goes.  If he can find a balance with his papa and grandpapa (Pip and Dots respectively), and my hens don’t start getting over mated, then by all means… he could stay.  We’re talking about adding more babies later this spring anyway.  (More on that later.)

But there is this little (not so little) guy to consider.

Luke, formerly Leia. Who started crowing not to long ago and hasn’t stopped since.

I mentioned previously that Luke and his sister, Padme, where scared of going outside.   Padme has gotten over it.  She is finally starting to realize that she is a hen and should be outside doing Hen Things.

Luke?  He’s not too sure about this concept of outside hen things.  He will stay inside, sit on the roost and crow for her (or someone else) to join him.  He has a loud, bold as brass little “Ooo-oo-Oooo!” (Because it’s not quite an Rrr-r-Rrr yet.)  and sometime she does come back.   Sometimes he gives up and goes outside to find her.

What’s interesting to me is that Dots allows Luke to do his Ooo-oo-Ooo.

Last spring when little Black Jack was learning to crow (at 9 weeks, not 20 like Luke), Dots assumed it was a threat to his dominance and went on the offensive. I had to rehome little Jack just to keep him safe and ensure a peaceful integration.

But Luke,having been hatched by Abby, raised as a winter baby (like Pip), is not a stranger. He and Dots both crow for me every morning when I go to let them outside.  He crows for me (or, for his sister, or for whomever…) when he is in the coop… and sometimes when he is outside.  He crows more than Pip does.  And definitely more than Felix does.

I wonder if my scaredy little EE isn’t going to turn out to be more dominant of the 3 younger roosters?

Or if Dots just hasn’t noticed because he has been more focused on keeping Felix and Pip in their places?

I am hoping that things stay peaceful.   Again, we are talking about adding more chicks this year… Little Dude wants to hatch Barred Rocks for 4-H.  So if things stay peaceful, and the hens aren’t getting overmated… well, I’d like to keep all four of them as see how it goes

This past Fall, we sent Dani, plus Abby’s four young rooster (my Boys of Summer) to the Freezer Camp. I kept for a long while, hoping that someone would buy or otherwise take the Sumtaler’s off my hands.  But in the meantime, Dots and Pip got very spoiled by having a lot of ‘extra eyes’ watching over the girls.  There were roosters with hens everywhere.  So Dots could spend time with his favorite ladies and forget that he ‘had to chase Pip’ and yet, there was back up in case of unforeseen danger.

I have noticed since their departure from the flock, that Dots and Pip seemed to have their “hands” full with the ladies.  Both of them in the coop while most the hens were outside. Who’s looking after the ladies?

So I think that one or two more roosters won’t hurt, provided they all get along and don’t hurt the hens.  Currently, Felix spends a lot of time outside with the hens.  He is trying to impress them.  A couple of them will squat for him to mate with now.  Most of them still find him annoying.  But again, they thought the same things about Pip last year.

So we’re going to try it.  See how things go, and decide from there if the dynamics need to change or the flock needs thinning.

And now, because I can… here’s Luke making funny faces at the camera:

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On this November Day

I have a lot of things to update on today.

I’ll start with Abby.  I reported earlier that she had gone broody while I was fussing over Ashley’s impending hatch date. I decided to order her some Easter Egger eggs to hatch, and they came from My Pet Chicken last Friday.

They shipped quickly, but got sent to the wrong post office, and almost went back to Harrisburg for re-distribution before I caught up with them. It would have taken another week to get them back, almost. Instead, I went to the post office they had been sent to, the next town over, and got them myself. Because there was no way I was making Abby stay on the fake egg longer than she needed to.

Yesterday marked Day 7. Next Friday, I will candle them and see how they are doing. Hopefully, they all will be okay, despite their weird shipping ordeals and the late fall conditions.

Now, onto sadder news…

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Stacey is STILL pacing.

It’s been months since I first reported the oddity of Pacing Stacey.  The situation has not changed.  I’ve tried quarantining her, putting her in a smaller cage so hopefully she won’t pace (she did anyway).  I’ve tried watching and frequently removing her from the coop.  I’ve asked on-line for advice.  And last week, I asked a vet.

The vet was astounded and said she has never heard of that before.  She is a chicken owner, too.  We tossed possibilities around and then she said that IF I brought Stacey in, the most they could do was prescribe antibiotics and hope for the best.  I told her I was thinking about euthanizing Stacey.  She understood, but added that if I decided to keep her over the winter, to let me know how things progress.

Things I know:

  1. Stacey is still laying eggs.  I’ve seen her.
  2. She’s lost weight, and while she’s not starving, she’s a considerable size smaller than her same-breed, same-age flock mates.
  3. She’s obsessive about this.  Like OCD obsessive.
  4. The other hens are getting annoyed with her and have started pecking her when she gets close to them.

I don’t see how #4 is going to change over the winter.  They will in closer quarters when they are trying to decide if they want to venture into the cold white and most of the older girls are molting.  They are cranky.  Stacey is annoying.  It’s a BAD combination.

Thus, I’ve decided the only course of action, after months of trying to figure this out, is to put us all out of her misery.  Euthanize.  Freezer Camp.  Whatever you want to call it.

I feel bad.  I wish I knew something else I could do to take this away from her.  Make her normal and happy again.  Since I cannot, I must do what’s right for the rest of the flock.

Freezer Camp has been scheduled for tomorrow.  Stacey isn’t the only one to go.  We will be saying good-bye to the Boys of Summer.  Dani, Esther, Snickers, Sumi and Taller.

There was a lot of debate in the last few weeks about keeping one of Abby’s boys.

Esther was the only Easter Egger.  But with Abby sitting on six EE eggs, chances of getting another EE roo are good, too.

Sumi and Taller, the Sulmtaler Brothers are a rare breed. I tried to sell them online, but no one wanted them.  Then I missed the animal swamp because of my daughter’s cross country meet. Apparently, there was someone there with same-age female Sulmtalers.  DH said I could keep one to breed with if I got a hen.

I didn’t get the hen because I missed the swap.

I might have kept Sumi anyway, except I accidentally terrified him a week and ago.  It’s a short story.  The temperatured drops so that it was switching between sleet and regular rain.  He and Esther were hiding under the ramp.  I tried to get them both into the coop, wearing my winter hoodie.  He’s afraid of me now… like total full on freak out afraid.  He flies into a tizzy if I get near him and runs away.

Snickers is a big beautiful beastie, all chocolate brown and fluff.  But he’s also a bit untamed and wild. Not mean, just untouchable.

However, Dani is at 22 weeks and the rest of the Boys are at 16 weeks.

And, as noted, most the older girls are molting and cranky.  Dots is molting and cranky.

I have one little momma and four wee ones.

And one broody sitting on six eggs,with two weeks to go.

I found blood on the window ledge today where someone was scrapping with someone else.

It’s time thin the flock.  It’s time for Freezer Camp.  So the Boys of Summer will be joining Stacey on her journey tomorrow.

I’m REALLY going to miss them.  We’ve been having crowing concerts the last few mornings and afternoons.  Little roosters have such personality and do such amusing things.  Not to mention being beautiful.  Even Dani, who’s looks I wasn’t impressed with at first, has grown into a handsome, handsome mutt.  He’s tall like his papa and brother, and looks like bulkier.  Also, if we kept him, I think he’s more dominant than Pip.  Pip is definitely NOT an alpha.  Dani is.

Here is a good video of Snickers and some of the boys. I took a few more yesterday and the day before, I’ll most them to my Instagram later. There will be available here… or via the sidebar on this page.

Not many pictures of Stacey. All she really does anymore is pace. It’s sad.

Father and Sons

I just wanted to share this post, because I have the best roosters in the world.  


Double Dots, my Golden Comet (aka sexlink) rooster.  He’s a year and a half old and the ‘papa’ of the coop.  

Pip, his oldest son, who is now 10 and a half months old.  Pip is his father’s right hand man, a protective big brother and learning to be a good boyfriend to the hens.  

Dani, (I should call him Danny now but he’s been Dani so long and it sounds the same so he doesn’t know he has a girl name.) who is just trying to earn a place.  He’ll probably wind up in Freezer Camp, sadly, but he’s starting to grow into himself.   

Do you see the family resemblance between father and sons?  

Do you have roosters you think are ‘the best in the world’?  

Tell me about them.  

Life in the Coop

This is my second Autumn with chickens.  It’s hard to believe that Double Dots, Abigail and their Rhode Island Red flock mates are a year and a half old now!

 

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And Pip, my beautiful baby boy, is going to be a year old at the end of November.  He’s a picture of him from back in September, when the weather was still warm.  His younger siblings have been getting a lot of camera time lately, but only because I’m trying to sell the Sulmtalers and that means taking pictures of them.

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Speaking of… look how handsome they are getting!  From left to right, we have Taller and Sumi.  Sumi is the more dominant,  He crows and everything! Taller is his buddy.

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Dani/Danny, who is now 20 weeks old and turning into a beautiful boy in his own right.  He has found his crow now.  It’s not quite his papa’s and not quite like big brother’s either.   He looks mostly like his Rhode Island Red heritage, except for that white streak in his tail feathers. He’s tall, finally getting some bulk on him.

Dots as begun chasing him, too, so now Pip has a bit of a reprieve in that regards.

I am beginning to wonder if Dani wouldn’t actually wind up being more dominant than Pip if we were to keep him.  His behavior is different than Pip’s, more assertive.  He walks around, growling and trying to catch the ladies’ attentions.  They, naturally, ignore him.

Pip chases him, too.  He and his Papa have similar ideas about the new kid on the block.

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For reference, a recent picture of Dots.  Molting has not been kind to him.  His beautiful tail feathers are gone, gone, gone.  But he still reigns supreme in the flock.

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Pretty Eugenie, who looks so much like her Papa and pretty much no one else.  You’d never know she has an RiR for a momma.

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Snickers, my handsome Chocolate Orpington boy.  He acts like he might have a dominant personality, too, someday.

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And Hershey, his sister, who is also very pretty.

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Pavelle/Pavel.  I took this one just this morning  She is so much smaller than her brothers and sisters. She can actually perch on the chicken wire!

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Es and Pavelle are snuggle buddies at night.  They go up into the rafters together and tuck in for the night.

I am still unsure what to do about Es.  He and his brothers have been listed for sale in the local FB sale communities.  If they aren’t taken by the end of November, they will be off to Freezer Camp.

A new wrinkle in my decision-making process?  Abby, my beautiful Abigail who is the momma to Pip and all these little ones?  Has decided to go broody.  Again.  Her 4th time in less than 2 years of life.

I found her tonight, still in the same nest she was sitting in this morning.  Still puffed up and bucky.  DH wants me to get (he means buy.  I’m looking at My Pet Chicken) hatching eggs for her.  Easter Eggers.

If I do that, then I also have to take Ashley’s babies into considerations.  Two broody momma’s raising babies over the winter?

That’s a lot of babies.  And a lot of potential new roosters.  I’d probably have to give up the idea of keeping one of Abby’s summer boys in favor of these new Littles to be.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

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!