And then there was one…

Several weeks ago, I told you all about Claire and Eugenie, a mother-daughter duo who had decided to go broody and hatch eggs at the same time and how, after hatching, they endeavored to co-parent their four chicks. It was awkward at first, but as the weeks have progressed, we (the humans and the other chickens) have gotten used to the little collective of Six. Little Dude even nicknamed them Baby Land.

The chicks of Baby Land are five weeks old this week. They’ve had lots of teaching, lots of supervision, lots of protection.

Over the last couple of days, however, o e of their Mommas has started making the transition from Momma to Hen.

Eugenie, the daughter of the mother-daughter duo, has decided that three weeks of broody and five weeks of mothering is enough, and that, since her own mother is still willing to watch all four of the children, she can go back to doing Hen Things.

I first noticed her dirt bathing away from her chicks the other day. And other last couple days, she has not been hanging out with the collective in the pasture. Not did she sleep with them on the roosts last night.

She laid an egg this morning, too.

Claire is still going strong, though, for now, and will probably stick with the Littles for another week, at least.

She did, however, give me a very harried look last night, when instead of splitting the chicks with her daughter, she had four confused little ones trying to tuck up underneath her wings. I think she wound up sitting on one of them!

Time is running short for these Littles, though. Pretty soon, they will be all on their own.

Co-Parenting, Chicken Style

I’ve talked a lot about mother hens here on this blog. Go figure, huh?  We seem to always have baby chicks being hatched.  This spring/summer especially has been a boom of broody hens.  More than I’ve even mentioned, to be honest.

Pavelle, Rapunzel, Ashley, Tweety, Claire, Ashley (again), Eugenie, and Pavelle again.  Ashley got put in Broody Jail twice after her escapades in raising babies last year.   Poor Claire spent 6 weeks being broody because her first set of eggs didn’t hatch (some died, some were duds).

It’s Claire, along with her daughter from last year’s hatch, Eugenie, who are the subject of today’s post.

You see, when Claire lost the first set of eggs, I decided to give her new, because Claire is a proven good mother and I felt sorry for her losing her babies she worked so hard for.  Eugenie had started to go broody the day or two before and I was deciding what to do with her when I gave Claire her new eggs.

For whatever reason, I gave both of them four eggs each, for a total of eight chicks if they all hatched.

Last Wednesday night, the first chick began break out of his shell under Claire.  He was STILL breaking out of it Thursday morning when I returned to the coop to find Eugenie had two fluffy little chicks under her, and Claire had one more pipping.

By Friday morning, we had a total of four chicks, one dead EE (still in eggs) and two duds. ( and one which had been broken by Pavelle the week prior, because she decided she needed to go broody again,too, and needed to use Claire’s nest to do it.)

So… four babies, two mother hens.

I tried to put them in separate areas of the coop, but as has been the theme this year, the mommas’ both rejected my cat carriers in favor of the floor under the nesting boxes – – AND they decided to co-raise their four chicks together.

The first couple of days were rough all the way around. Both hens  were in extreme broody momma mode and in addition to chasing other chickens away from their wee little ones, Claire would lunge at Eugenie and chase her off, too.  Undaunted, Eugenie would com back, but had too much respect for her mother to chase back.

The other hens started laying eggs outside because it was too much drama to try and lay in the coop.

But as the weekend and the early part of this week progressed, mothers and babies fell into a rhythm that worked of all of them.

I’ve been amazed, watching them navigate a very confusing social situation.  Once the initial ‘turf wars’ were over and Claire accepted that Eugenie wasn’t going to give up her rights to her babies, they ironed out a system of rearing.  Co-parenting at it’s finest.

It began in the coop, with one mother sitting on some of the chicks while the other taught one or two to scratch and dig.  Then they would swap.

They babies usually sleep under Claire at night, while Eugenie sleeps in the nest above them.

Claire took the first brave chick outdoors at three days old, while Eugenie mothered the other three in the coop.

When all four babies were in the coop playing and eating, Claire would teach while Eugenie stood guard against threats (or perceived threats) from other hens.

After a few days, Claire got all four of them outside.  Eugenie followed and they took turns showing the babies how to dig in the dirt to find yummies.

When they go outside, one mother (usually Claire) leads them down the ramp and the other (usually Eugenie) follows behind the stragglers, ensuring that no baby is left behind.

The little yellow/cinnamon colored one likes to sit on both her/his mothers’ backs, which I read somewhere is a sign of love and affection.   Of belonging to that hen.   I guess that means the babies really do belong to both of them, no matter who they hatched under.

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Here is the happy, if unorthodox, little family of six.

I’m not sure if I will ever let two hens hatch out at the same exact time again, but I have no regrets about letting Claire and her daughter raise these ones together. It’s working for them, strange as it may seem to us.

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. .

 

 

 

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!