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.


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. .





This is Jolene.

  She is a two year old Rhode Island Red hen, and also Little Dude’s favorite hen in all the coop.  She was the first of the Rhodies to let him pick her up and respond to his affections.  

She’s sick.   

I’m not sure how evident it is from the pictures, but her abdomen is swollen like an over full balloon.  I’ve spent the last week treating her – or trying to treat her – for being egg bound.  Warm baths in epson salts, a soft next, dark room away from her flock in the comfort of our porch.  Liquid calcium drench.

I even stuck my finger up her vent looking for an egg.  I didn’t find one, though.  

She stopped eating when I separated her from the flock, so after two days of nothing happening, I put back with her flock.  She eats, forages, but walking at a slower pace. The swelling has not gone away.  Her walking is getting slower and more difficult.  She can’t jump up on to the roosts at night now.  

She hasn’t passed an egg or yolks.  I haven’t seen her poop in days.  

I’ve looked up the symptoms and everything I’ve read says this is not good.   

In the meantime, she’s slowly suffering, and we’re suffering right along with her as we’re watching her do it.   

Little Dude has not wanted to lose ‘his chicken.’  He wanted me to ‘wait and see.’  He’s asked me in that tentative way that proves he is thinking things through “are you sure she just won’t get better with time?”  

Last night, I told him he needed to say good-bye, because this afternoon, Dad and I were going to do the right thing and cull her.  I don’t want to wait it out until she either dies or her abdomen bursts from the pressure of whatever is making her swell.  

I don’t want to come down one morning to let them out, or in the afternoon to collect eggs and find that she keeled over and the rest of the flock decided to cannibalize her. Because chickens are opportunistic little onmivores.  

So we hugged and snuggled her and said our good-byes last night.  Told her what a good girl she was and how sorry we were.  Told her that Becky and Ava, Madison and Dottie and poor little Riley were waiting for her on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, in a pasture of fresh grass and fat juicy bugs.  That there was a patch of dirt, warm from the sun, waiting for her to stretch out in.  

She laid her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes, as if to let me know that she understood.  I hope she does.  

Today is going to be a rough day.  

What’s a Farm Without a Garden?

You’ve heard me go on and on about the chickens, chicks, eggs and everything feathered and cheeping.  This is a ‘chicken blog’ after all.  But I’ve spent very little time talking about the experimental garden we planted this year.

I think I made one post earlier here… or it might have been on Instagram.

Anyway… my DH built me two garden plots out of old railroad ties and filled in with top soil.  I wanted something a little taller, so I wouldn’t have to bend as much to weed and stuff but the whole concept of a raised garden is lost on him in someways.  This was close to what I wanted, though.

We planted green bean bushes and carrots in one plot and then an experimental plot with things my children like to eat – Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, celery, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The summer has been so-so.  Not enough rain and too many hot days.  The celery is iffy and only one broccoli is doing anything worth talking about.  The cabbage and Brussels sprouts are flourishing, though, as are the green beans.


The carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes are all on a wait-and-see basis.  I’ll let you know how they turn out – if they turn out – when the time comes.


I planted a garden earlier this spring.

I haven’t mentioned it much because we’ve been caught up in broody hens and baby chicks and a whole bunch of real life stuff.  I keep meaning to mention it, if that makes any feel any better.

DH built me these lovely garden plots out of old railroad ties and dutifully filled them with topsoil – by hand until my back started hurting and then I bullied him into using the tractor and bucket to do the rest.

We planted a variety of things I’ve never tried growing before, but the kids love.  Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, celery, beans and carrots.

Dad and DH both planted individual plots of strawberries.

Dad planted corn, several types of squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, and radishes.

Then DH’s gave us some black raspberry bushes to transplant.

In short, we have things growing everywhere.  Some better than others because we’ve only been getting one good rainfall a week at best.

Except for the weeds.  Those were growing like gangbusters all over the place!

Last night, DH, Little Dude and I weeded out the garden boxes, so the real plants could grow.

This morning, I tossed an armful of pulled weeds into the pasture for the chickens.  They like grass and leafy things, but do you think they would eat them?

Nope!  My spoiled little birds turned their noses up at it.

Now… if I’d have given them some of the yummy veggies, it would have been a different story!