Yes, the fight for dominance is over. My little ‘Leapy Man’ aka Philip has won the bid for Main Rooster. (Don’t ask why I call him Leapy, I just do. Actually, it’s Philip, but sometimes we called him Filipe and from Filipe, we evolved into Leapy.)
Philip, aka Leapy, a two-year-old Barnyard Mix with a unique heritage and a strong personality.
Philip is the bio-son of Pavelle and his egg was fertilized by Pip, who is, of course, Dots’ and Abby’s boy.
The new Second in Command, or 2IC, is Sylvester, the Buff Brahma that my Tweety Girl raised last year. He is a year-and-a-half old and although he is BIG, he is gentle.
They have been Dots’ 2nd and 3rd for a while now, so it makes sense that with him deposed, they would each move up a rank. The position of 3rd is not yet filled. It won’t really matter because once winter is over, and we cull the Summer Boys, most likely they will all go.
Would you like to meet them? My Summer Boys?
Of them, the only one I really like is LRJ. He is sweet and nice and quite handsome to look at.
Manly is shy and hard to pick up, not unlike Pip was at that age. And for being part EE, he is not a spaz like Luke and Padme were. He’s just… Skittish.
Rory is like Luke incarnate. Big, rough with the ladies, but he’s also incredibly skittish. More than Manly. He’s just a wild brute.
Branson is full of ‘small dog syndrome’ or … Little Rooster Syndrome. He’s small enough that I can hold him in one hand, but he acts like he is bigger than Sylvester. He’s the youngest and wants to mate all the girls. They don’t like him. Even his mother, Pavelle, does not like him now that he’s hit puberty.
This ^^^ would be why my coop has so much chaos. Because of these Summer Boys. I suspect LRJ might make a good 3rd of I decide to keep him. It’s a tough call.
So how’s Dots, you ask?
He’s doing well. His eye has healed and it seems as though the new head roosters have decided that he isn’t a threat to their positions. He hangs out mostly in the coop, for now, which is probably good for him because he doesn’t like the winter cold anyway.
He doesn’t crow in the mornings anymore. He used to lead the chorus of ‘good morning! good morning!’ and now, I never hear his crow in the morning. My Girl did say that he was in the coop crowing for the ladies with him this afternoon when she went down, I’m encouraged to know that he is. at least, no longer afraid of the hens. He’s also not afraid of the younger Summer Boys.
Now, if you’d like, I’ll show up pics of some of the other new, summer additions to the flock. I didn’t update all summer and we have quite a few new faces.
Here’s a few more from around the barnyard…
And lastly, DH adopted three beef calves… please meet, Sampson, Delilah and Sheila.
We’ve had a lot of rain the last few weeks, both actual rain and a figurative kind where everything seems to pulling down our efforts. And weeds of all kind have been growing as the result of that rain.
The above weeds took up residence in my garden plots, and nurtured by all the rain we’ve had, grew and multiplied in such a way that it look me four days to weed them out. Not four days straight, mind you, because I was doing other things all day long, too. But for at least 3 hours every day, during the time I didn’t have to be cooking, cleaning, feeding the chickens, or running to various sports functions for the kids. The Girl had her last track meet on Tuesday and Little Dude had two baseballs games. So there was a lot going on in the real outside the garden.
So… four days…
It looks nice now, but I’m better I’ll be out there once more before planting because we’re getting MORE rain and that gives everything I evicted time to grow back.
The chickens benefited from the garden efforts because I would occasionally toss them a grouping of plants where the dirt just wouldn’t shake away from the roots. (I was trying to keep good soil in the garden, after all.) The offerings yielded leaves and flowers to nibble, big fat worms, and juicy bugs. All of which were much enjoyed by the ladies and their boyfriends.
Tuesday was Day 14 for Pavelle and her Baby Eggs. We celebrated by candling them again and pissing Pavelle off to the point where every time I took away an egg, she bit me. She’s very devoted, I will give her that!
It was dark because we went later at night but here are her eggs:
Again, sorry that they aren’t as good as the first candling. It was darker. We did see bigger blobs inside the eggs and signs of movement. Even that #2 Easter Egger egg I was certain was empty last time looked like *maybe* it had something in it, depending on which way I turned it. I’m still maybe 80% sure it’s a dud, but I guess we’ll see.
Today is Day 18, and therefore tonight I will be candling for the last time before leaving Pavelle and her sweet baby eggs to their own devices. Lock Down this weekend!
Also on Tuesday, after two days of fussing with the incubator and trying to get the temps to even out somewhere between 99-100 degrees, we placed Little Dude’s 4-H eggs in to be incubated.
But not before deciding to make an ‘experiment’ of our own, and put half the eggs in the incubator and the other half under Rapunzel, to answer the question, “which does a better job, hen or incubator?” I’m betting on hen, because Rapunzel is very very dedicated and the humidity in the incubator keeps giving me fits. Who knew that there was so much that could go wrong with these things? I’m so used to just putting the eggs under the hen and letting them do the rest!
We’re going to be candling Rapunzel’s eggs and the incubator eggs today, too, because Little Dude is supposed to do it 4 times on this journey and sketch the results. Hoping to see something, but they’ve only been in four days and I don’t usually candle until Day 7.
Wish us luck, okay?
And now… onto a bit of sad chicken news.
A few weeks ago, I posted that I was keeping my Easter Egger rooster, Luke, and because I couldn’t decide what to do about Felix, we’d try a go at four roosters. My logic was that since we’d be doing these 4-H eggs, and would possibly have broody hens raising babies, the flock would be big enough to sustain that many roosters without problems. And with Pavel sitting on 6 eggs and the 4-H project having 12 eggs, that seemed like a possibility.
And then Jolene got sick, and we had to put her down.
And then Maicey got hurt. And hassled by the younger roosters who didn’t realize she was hurt and were just trying to make their presence known within the flock.
And then I started noticing that some of younger sexlink hens have started looking … abused…
AND THEN… we had a sudden drop off from 22-25 eggs a day to 14-18 eggs a day.
That’s when I came to the conclusion that my flock is NOT big enough to maintain four roosters. In all harsh reality, until all these eggs hatch and the chicks grow up (so basically middle to end of the summer), we aren’t even ready for three roosters. Someone had to go, for the physical and mental health of my flock. The trouble I was running into was WHO and in what manner.
I am a self-admitted rooster addict. I love them. I love their bright plumage and handsome faces. I love their bold as brass attitudes and the little nuances of their courtship rituals. I love the duality of a bird who will rush to defend his hens with harsh cries and sharp beak, wings beating the air like a male ape beats his chest and yet turn around and eat feed from my hand one piece at a time. The savage and the gentleman all rolled into one beautiful creature. I love their awkward first crows and every crow that follows… and a happy morning begins with a chorus of multi-voiced “Rr-r-Rr!!!” loudly proclaiming that the sun is up and so are we!
Knowing this, and reading my blog regularly, you know how much I love my roosters. How could I possibly decide?
I had four roosters:
Double Dots, the Flock Papa who has been here since the very beginning.
Pip, our first born chick and the 2IC.
Felix, Pip’s skittish and flighty son.
Luke, the Easter Egger I fought so hard to get and wanted to be a hen so this wouldn’t be a problem in the first place.
I’ll start by saying there was NO WAY ON EARTH it was going to be Double Dots on the chopping block. It ought to be, given him being the oldest, and father/grandfather to all of my Gen 2-ers. He’s too good a rooster, too well behaved, too well liked by his ladies, to just get rid of without a LOT of thought.
Someday, it will be his turn, if health and/or predators don’t get him. But that day was not this weekend.
Even still… this leaves Pip, Felix and Luke to consider.
Well… Pip and Luke to consider, because Felix? I have known for a while that I wouldn’t be keeping Felix. He’s too skittish and flightly and around me. Not mean, but not accessible. I began to worry that if we kept him, with age and hormones, would he be the one to someday turn on me in the barnyard? Could I trust him not to hurt me or Little Dude? Also, I can’t pick him up, which makes checking him for injuries and caring for him harder.
But Pip? And Luke?
I agonized and agonized over the whole thing for days, weeks even since the rain made it impossible butcher roosters.
I made lists on paper and in my head of both their pros and cons. Who was the “nicer” personality wise. Who worked best with Dots and other hens. They both brought something different to the table, each valuable in their own way. I asked Mom, Dad, DH, the Girl and Little Dude for input and preference. I agonized some more.
Yesterday, DH said he wasn’t going to take care of the roosters until today. Last night, he decided to do it then, so he could hunt turkey this morning.
While he butchered Felix, I agonized over Pip and Luke some more, and almost started crying. DH came back inside the coop and I told him “I can’t do this. You decide.”
So he walked into the coop and grabbed Pip off the roost.
I couldn’t even watch, and writing it right now is the hardest thing ever. My little Pip Chick is gone. I know I’d be feeling the same way about Dots, or even Luke given how much I’ve been invested in the little non-Sith, and I’m trying to remind myself that we needed to do this for the hens. Because we did, because they are being stressed too much, that’s not fair to them.
But Pip is gone and I want to cry.
I give you Pip…
Pip posing with his momma.
Abby and her baby.
Farewell, Baby Boy. Gramma will always love you.
And good-bye, Felix/Felicia, the little cinnamon colored chick who managed to live despite his hatch-momma’s crazy child-rearing methods.
Aka, the post in which I admit I’m not as observant as I’d like.
A few posts ago, back in March, I posted that I had a possible broody hen. Our little Maicey spent more than a week debating whether or not to commit to sitting on eggs, but in the end, did not.
One of my constant readers, however, noted in the video I posted that Maicey was limping.
I confirmed, yes she was, but I couldn’t find an injury and after a couple days of pretending to go broody, the limp had stopped.
Flash forward to this week. A couple of things have been happening.
1) Both Felix and Luke has been ‘feeling their oats’ as we say. That is, they are hormonal young cockerels trying to steal a couple hens away from big papa Dots or big brother Pip.
2) Luke has become fixated on Maicey, much like Pip did Riley last year.
3) There has been a noticeable change in Maicey’s behavior. She’s not a shy hen normally, but is now skittish, running away from all the roosters, even Dots, hiding in corners, and squeaking like a scared rabbit whenever they approach. This is not like her at all.
I thought over-mating, and have been debating that I can’t keep all four, and which two should be the ones to leave.
I decided to put Maicey in the dog crate I use for medical separation or broody breaking, to give her a break from the elbows and hoping that, in her absence, Luke would find someone else to fixate on.
Later on, yesterday, I took outside for supervised exercise, and just sat watching her and watching the others. She sat on my lap for a while. Luke came over and made a play for her attention and I told him to go away.
He did, and she eventually got down off my lap in her own and went to forage.
I watched her for a long time. And then, I noticed her limping again. She hasn’t done it for a while, but when Dots approached and tried to wing dance for her, she squeaked and ran, well limped away.
So I go over, pick her up, and purely by chance, my hand brushed the underside of her fluff, down by the start of her legs.
There was something hard and dried on. I parted the fluff, and see – much to my horror- a huge gash in her side, just above her leg.
I’ll post a picture in a minute, but let me warn you, it’s NOT pretty.
I have been asking myself HOW did I miss that??? Never mind how it happened – we think a rooster spur injury, and are planning for Dots and Pip to get mani-pedis soon – but literally HOW DID I NOT SEE this big an injury on a chicken I handle every day? How? I can’t even – I don’t have words to describe the guilt I feel over missing it.
I immediately took her into the house, plopped her in a sink of warm water and try to clean up around it so I can see.
There is caked on dirt and other stuff, and something that looks like an advanced stage fungal infection. All likely.
It smells gross, it looks grosser.
She stood rather still and took most of my efforts at cleaning rather well. Maicey is good girl. I kept telling her how sorry I was and how good she was being. She really was. Anyone else would have pecked me, scratched or tried to get away.
I kept up until I hit a point where the deepest dirt was. When I touched her there, she cried they squeaky rabbit cry, and tried to get out of the sink.
My poor Maicey Grace!!!
My inquires on Facebook yielded the possibility that this is a spur related injury.
I’m treating with Scarlex Oil spray, vitamin B (orally) and if she continues to have pain, I can add penicillin and baby aspirin.
She is going to be in the dog crate for a couple of days, but I will also be taking her out for supervised exercise, so I can ensure her safety.
And yes, the boys with spurs are getting mani-pedis soon.
I’ve also begun checking the other hens for injuries, now that I know where to look. So far, this is just her.
I’m still upset over not seeing this. How do you just not see that big an injury on an animal you see and hold every day? Maicey is one of the favs. My lap hen who likes to sit in my lap and get petted. How did it go undetected this long, especially when I checked her over back in March?
I’ll keep everyone updated on her status, and how it heals.
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.
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: