Adventures in Egg Laying

The Mystery Bin Chicks are growing up and trying new things.  They are seventeen and a half weeks old now, and I guess that it’s time.

The last time I posted, I mentioned that Stacey has been investigating all the laying boxes and making mini nests.

I got a cool video of her digging her way into one of the nests, building the sides up really high.  She likes deep beds she can hide in.

I posted it on Instagram but I will share here, too.

She went on to lay her first egg later that day.

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Stacey’s first egg. 🙂
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Stacey’s egg (right), Rhode Island Red egg (left)

Stacey is a neurotic new layer. Every morning she jumps into every single empty laying bed, fusses and digs and then hops out.  Nest after nest until, finally, she goes into the nest she laid her first egg in and lays the egg.  I don’t know what she’s looking for and not finding in those other nests, but it’s becoming her new morning ritual.

Sadly, in her attempts to find a good place to lay, she caused trouble I did not need.

I took Abby out of her broody bed, as usual, not thinking that anything would happen.  Stacey came along right behind me and jumped into Abby’s nest. She knocked one egg out of the nest (it broke) and stepped on another.  I got her out, put her in another bed with much scolding and went straight to find Abby, interrupted her dirt bath, and plopped her back on the nest.

Now, I’m not letting Abby out every morning any more.  Maybe every other day and during times when Stacey is done laying her egg.  I’m so heartbroken over the eggs lost.  Mickey and I had just candled them (yes, I broke down and bought a candler) to see if all the other badness could be overcome.  The only upside is that the eggs lost were two I had question marked because I didn’t think they were developing. I won’t, however, be risking any more eggs in that manner.

This morning, right around the same time Stacey was doing her morning bed inspections, one of the other little girls, Candy, climbed into a nest and began rearranging.

Again, I have video on Instagram.  Here it is…ourhappy homemaker.

I checked back later and found the tiniest little egg there.

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Candy’s First Egg
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Candy’s Egg (right), Stacey’s Egg (left)
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Candy’s egg (right), Stacey’s egg (middle), Rhode Island Red egg (left)
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Candy’s Egg (right), Rhode Island Red Egg (left)

No matter how you slice it, Candy’s egg is small.  🙂

Last but not least…

Here are some random visitors to the barnyard…

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A toad who’s been visiting the run. We usually find him on the side of the gate.
Flutter by Butterfly
Flutter by Butterfly

The time of New Eggs Approacheth

This year’s spring chicks are 17 weeks old this week. There are quite a few of them whose wattles and comb are getting bigger and redder.  

Yesterday, I noted that someone had been tearing apart the laying beds on the far side of the coop.  The side that used to be the Grow Up coop.  

I watched them a little in the afternoon and observed one of the pullets checking out the beds.  She walked the length of coop, sticking her head in the nests and looking around.  

Today, she brought a couple of friends with her.  

Abby was 17 weeks when she started laying.  She was my only layer for weeks.  Then her sexlink sisters started, and lastly, after all the rest of the Boys were sent to Freezer Camp, the RiR girls started. 

I don’t expect this year’s girls follow Abby’s ambitious footsteps but I can definitely see signs that I may someday soon be finding little pullet eggs in the nests alongside those of the big girls.  

It’s coming.  The eggs are coming.  

Broody Watch 5.0

Well, as of this morning, there are three babies hiding under Claire’s considerable red fluff.

The last couple of days, Claire has been a real sweetheart compared to how she normally is.  A part of the ‘broody trance’ stage, she let me pet her, feed her by hand, and lift her up to look at the eggs/babies.   Now that more of them have hatched, the broody trance is giving way to ‘Mama Mode’ and Claire’s true personality is asserting itself.

That is to say, I got bit 5 times trying to get these pictures and video.

Ouch!

There is one last egg, the paler one I mentioned was cracked already.  It’ still cracked, but the crack is bigger.

Claire shows no signed of giving up on it yet, and keeps tucking it underneath her like she’s expecting something.

As tomorrow is Day 21 for that egg and one of the other (already hatched) chicks, I’ll wait and see what she does next.  They have that saying about it – Mama Knows – so if Claire is still waiting for a chick, maybe I should, too?

Then again, it’ been cracked since Monday and no signs of anything coming out, movement, or cheeping.

But I’ll let Claire make that call.  If she abandons the egg in favor of caring for the Wee Ones, I’ll know.

‘All Grown Up Now’

Well, our little Pip is ‘all grown up now’ … in the sense that starting with Saturday and his (?) 9th week-aversary, Abby has finally decided to ‘cut the cord’ and let her chick become a true member of the flock so she can go back to being a hen.

Pip is too big now, anyway, to fit underneath her for cuddle-time anymore.  This is much to Pip’s disappointment.  They still sit next to each other on the roosts, but I’ve watched, as the week has progressed, and she has been spending more time with the rest of the girls, doing girl things, like sunbathing and hunting for things to eat.  Pip has been regulated to following a bit behind the flock, and spends more time now by him (?)self.  Being independent and all.

Abby and Pip, size comparison
Abby and Pip, size comparison
Abby and Pip, size comparison
Abby and Pip, size comparison

The above pictures were taken on Saturday, to show much Pip has grown. The last week-aversary pics, he was not that big, but now is half momma’s size.

Week 9's Photoshoot
Week 9’s Photoshoot
Pip... weeks 1 through 5
Pip… weeks 1 through 5
Pip, weeks 6 through 9
Pip, weeks 6 through 9

Week 9 is generally when I stop chronicling the growth of the chicks.  That’s about when I did it for both the Golds and the Reds.  However, considering Pip has no siblings, if anyone is still interesting in seeing his (?) growth, I could keep going.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, that I keep putting a ? after any reference to Pip being a him.  A few weeks ago, I was pretty sure Pip was a baby Roo, but more recently, Pip kinda has a look like a little henny, too.  Compare the pics of Pip and Abby I posted above.

So, I guess gender could still be up in the air. We’ll just to keep waiting to see. Pip is my wild card, so to speak. A cross between the two breeds I raised last spring. There’s no telling what’s going to happen.

Abby (left corner, in the weeds) with her flock once again
Abby (left corner, in the weeds) with her flock once again
Abby sunbathing with the Maicey
Abby sunbathing with the Maicey

With all the nice, sunny weather we’ve had the last week and a half, the hens have certainly been enjoying life.  THIS is what they were doing while other chickens to the south of us have been trying to navigate the dangers of the dreaded White Stuff.

Poor chickens!  If only they knew winter is NOT over yet, no matter what the Ground Hog said.

On the plus side, with the increased sun, my eggs production has gone up from 4 eggs to a  whopping 6!!!

But the exciting thing is this…

The 'Breakfast Bunch' starring Abby, Claire, Amy and Jolene
The ‘Breakfast Bunch’ starring Abby, Claire, Amy and Jolene

YES!

The girl in the top picture is my Abigail, Pip’s loving momma… finally doing the henny thing and laying eggs once again!  Of course, she was laying in the same box Jolene likes to use… so poor Jolene was stuck looking for a place to lay and actually pitched quite a fit about it.

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EGG!   See it!!!  Right there!!!!!

(This is, ironically, the box Abby laid her very first egg in back in August… and also the same box where Pip’s egg was laid back in October.  And ALSO the box where Abby and Pip slept at night for a couple of weeks before Pip gt big enough to fly up to the roosts.  It’s a very popular laying box.)

And… this is our week since Saturday.

Happy Thursday, everyone!!!!

 

Still Laying For Winter?

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Lots of eggs still!

I found these seven eggs in one nest yesterday, plus three more in other nests.  Plus we have one or two hens who tend to lay up in the top of the barn, in the hay mow.

Not counting those, I had ten eggs yesterday out of fourteen hens.

Not too shabby for a winter hail.

 

Are your our hens still laying?  If so, how many eggs are you getting?  Do you think the warmer weather this winter is affecting your chickens?

 

Pip is officially an only child

That is to say, I gave up the hope that the other egg would hatch.  I think I was working towards it for a couple of days now, but Abby helped me to see it in a rather blunt mother hen way.

I’ve read (because this is my first time hatching eggs, so I can’t claim to be any expert on what a chicken will do) that a mother hen will instinctively know when to abandon and egg and will, once all eggs that will hatch have hatched, start teaching her new babies all they need to know about life.

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Yesterday, Abby was up showing Pop how to ‘forage’ for the chick starter feed they’d spread all over the non-nest half of their box. Notice how she blatantly left the other egg while doing it.

This morning, I found her outside the box, scratching up a patch in the coop, and clucking like she wanted Pip to hop out of the box and join her in more advanced foraging.  Pip just kept looking up at her and cheeping back at her as if to say “are you kidding, Momma?  It’s too high! This is my home!”

So Abby gave up and hopped back in with her chick… waited a few minutes and then, while I watched, the whole process repeated.

With the same end, too. Pip does not think he is ready to leave the box yet.

The underlying message was clear, however.  The other egg, Ava’s egg, was not going to become a chick.

I did attempt to candle it once last week, and it looked like something was in there, so today when I left the coop,  took the egg with me.  It was cool, because yeah, Abby isn’t sitting on it religiously.

Ava's egg... laid the same day as the egg which became Pip.
Ava’s egg… laid the same day as the egg which became Pip.
This is what I found when I cracked it open. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn about candling brown eggs, because there wasn't anything inside except some very watery, slightly smell yolk.
This is what I found when I cracked it open. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn about candling brown eggs, because there wasn’t anything inside except some very watery, slightly smell yolk.

It was always a gamble.  At the time, I had 16 hens and 1 rooster.  Also, the days just before I collected these eggs, the rooster had a limpy leg so he spent one day in a cage to heal and one day unable to breed his hens because he kept falling off the ones he mounts.  So really, there was a good chance neither of those eggs would hatch at all.

Really?  If you look at it that way, Pip is our miracle baby.

I’ll admit it, though, I was hoping Ava’s egg had hatched, too.  After Rebecca died, I really wanted Ava’s egg to hacth and be a little girl, because Abby, Ava and Rebecca were my gold sexlink hens, and the chick would be all sex link.  They are sweet, gentle girls and even Dots is a gentle, but firm, rooster.  I was kind of hoping beyond hope that we’d get one more.  *sigh*

The next time one of our chickens go broody, I will given her more than two eggs.

And in the meantime, I will enjoy Pip.  Every day with Pip will be an adventure, so very much different from raising the others.  He won’t be raised in our brooder box under a lamp.  He’ll be raised in the coop, with his momma, papa and aunties.  He won’t grow up afraid of me cleaning the coop (ALL the others were afraid).  He doesn’t spend his time in the dark, pecking the sides of his box, like his bio-mom did.  He doesn’t spend all day cheep-cheep-cheeping in fear of the unknown.  There won’t be an unknown for him.

So yes, I will enjoy watching Pip grow up this winter.

 

Snow, Thanksgiving and Eggs that say ‘Peep’

We’re still reeling a little from last Saturday’s sad, sad events.  I miss poor little Becky a lot.  You would think I wouldn’t notice, given that there are 16 other birds to look after, but I know she’s gone.  There is an empty space where one little sexlink girl should be.  😦

It snowed the other day, more than a few flurries, and it covered the ground.

As you can see, they really weren’t too happy about it.  Luckily for them, the snow was gone by mid-afternoon.  Someday, it won’t just go away. What are they gong to do then?

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Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and because it was a holiday, Little Dude and I made the birds a special breakfast of oatmeal with craisins (dehdrated cranberries).

This, we took down to them in the morning and (like the scrambled eggs)poured it over a dish of their regular feed/scratch grain mix.

I don’t give them table foods like that every day, but I figured I owed them because we were intending to lock them in the run all day because we weren’t going to be home for Thanksgiving.  We were visiting family, and when we’re going for longer periods of them, I like to keep them closer to safety.

So they got oatmeal as a holiday/I’msorryI’mlockingyou up gift.

 

We also gave them two seed cakes in a mesh bag to occupy their minds.

They weren’t sure what to make of them at first, but by the time we got home from our holiday dinner, all the of it was gone.

For reference… this is what the suet cakes looked like:

Not very big.  About the size of my fist, and I have small hands, for an adult
Not very big. About the size of my fist, and I have small hands, for an adult

 

And.. finally… if anyone is keeping track… today is Day 20 in the Adventures of Broody Abby.  Not that there is anything too adventurous about sitting in a laying box for three weeks, quietly saying buck-buck-buck.  She’s missed… well, everything. I don’t even think she knows her sister is gone.  😦

As of this morning, one of her two eggs has a crack in it that wasn’t there last night and when I bent down to get a closer look (no handling them, I just lift Abby up about a half inch) I could hear the distinct peep-peep of a little one.

I don’t see anything one way or another with the other egg.  I am handling them as little as possible.  I didn’t even candle them, so there is no knowing what will happen in the next couple of days.  It’s all very exciting!

Maybe by the next time I post, there will be babies.  🙂

 

 

A Baker’s Dozen

Honestly, I kind of thought I wasn’t going to see everyone lay until next spring, given my ladies’ habit of waiting 1 – 2 weeks after someone lays before a new one starts.  That and little Claire being such a b-word while she’s in a laying box.  She sits there half the morning and screeches at anyone (me, Little Dude or the other hens) who come inside the coop.  And she bites.

I think it intimidates the other hens, because in the last couple of weeks I’ve seen some of the girls silently checking out the laying boxes, only to be scared off by the racket she makes.

But in the last couple of days, they all seem to be getting in on the act.  I’ve had as many as five hens in the boxes at the same time, all laying.

This afternoon has seen the most activity, with a lot of newbies getting in on the action.  This almost meant the coop was filled with screeching and cackling.  Dh said it sounded like someone was killing them at one point.

The result is thirteen new eggs. That’s thirteen out of sixteen hens. Yesterday was only ten.

I don’t really know if everyone is laying or not (just some of them not every day) or if I’m still waiting on a few stragglers.

In related news, I had my first egg sales. My sister in law bought five dozen eggs on Wednesday. I should have kept on dozen, because we needed it and we didn’t realize, but that was a couple days ago and I was still only getting 7 – 8 eggs a day.

Too Much Going, Too Many Cold, Rainy Days

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Dots and his ladies last week, during of of many cold, rainy days we had.

So the last couple of weeks have been cooler, rainy and not much fun for me. I would have thought the birds would have felt the same, but they actually seemed to enjoy the cooler weather. Even on the day I could see my breath, they were outside, peck and clucking and foraging. I brought them treats in the form of warm oatmeal and pie crust (left over from a couple of home-made pies), and old bread, and they seemed to enjoy that.

Now that the rain has stopped, they’re doing some extensive exploring of the pasture and the swampy area next to it. It’s not uncommon for me to go down in the afternoons and find nothing up little tails sticking up out of the tall grass in the swamp.

Today, they are all exploring the sumac patch which is growing closer to the barn.

I’m wondering why they’re just NOW exploring these areas when they’ve been there the entire time, but at the same time, I figure that hey! it’s a big barnyard and they are getting older.

I’m up to 8 hens laying how, out of 16, so that’s half. The newest girl, Madison, laid her first egg today.

Five days ago, we got another, whom Little Dude has dubbed ‘the dangerous layer’ because she doesn’t lay in the box. we’ve found her eggs outside in the run (during one of the cold, rainy days), in the grass near the run, and once on the ground in the coop, right next to their water. ONCE (and only the once), she made it into a box.

We don’t know who she is, though, as I’ve never seen her lay. We just find it on the ground somewhere. I have suspicions, given how close the eggs are to the run and coop, that she’s making the attempt to get to a laying box, but she’s either coming from a distance away (like the pasture or the swamp) and doesn’t quite make it or she isn’t quite in tune with her own body and is misjudging how long she has before oops!egg!

Either way, it’s an easter egg hunt to find her egg every day.