Broody Suite

Spring is beginning to look like a reality here in northern Pennsylvana. The snow from our mid-March blowout is starting to melt, the grass is turning green, there were robins in the front yard… and the chickens had gone from 5-9 eggs a day (January/Feb) to 18-22 eggs a day. My average for the month is 17.something per day. I have few who stagger, so it’s highly possible every one is laying.

The next thing you know *cough*it’s already happened*cough* someone will go broody.

I have this vision in my head of the ultimate chicken coop. Sadly, I have a limited space to work with in the barn. My own allotted chicken space and that’s it. Unless I convince DH to build a second coop, we’re pretty much working with that same space. But I’m constantly trying work in changes and tweaks that might result in something closer to the ideal of my imagination.

We’ve been remodeling the house, and last spring, we did the kitchen, tearing out all the old cabinetry that has been there for close to 40 years.

This full sized until had an old dual oven in the empty spaces.  Today, I gotto looking at it and realized that it would make a good ‘maternity suite.’  Kind of like last year’s ideas to put them under the laying beds, or the cat carrier idea (which worked, although it was cramped due to height constraints.)

But this?  Could be ideal because could remove the doors, hang curtains for privacy and it was was wide inside to put both a decent sized nest AND a feeder/waterer.

After getting permission from Dad (whose cabinet it is) and asking DH to cut it down, this is what we came up with:

And… as luck seems to have it, I might actually have a broody hen.

 

 

This is Maicey. She is My Girl’s favorite hen out of all the others. Maicey has never gone broody before, but it sure looks like it.  I’m going to give her a couple of days to see is she sticks with it and give her some of the barnyard mix. I’ve saved out one of Abby’s and Hershey’s (I was there when they laid them luckily) and hopefully some of Pavelle’s.   I don’t buy specialty eggs (from breeders or hatchery) for new broodies. Too much of a chance they will be like Ashley, or mean to the babies.

If she stays broody, Maicey will be the first to try out the new broody accommodations.

Broody Watch 8 – Disturbing Turn of Events

I’ll start with the happy bits- some pretty pictures of enjoying her daily respite from the nest.

Abby is so pretty this morning.
I tried to get s picture of her preening kn the rock but she knows somehow and moved

This has been a frustrating week for the broody hen.  When she goes outside, Dots chases her.  He would probably like to mate but Abby is having none of it.

In addition, since the Boys all went to Freezer Camp, the pullets formerly known as the Littles have been squabbling amongst themselves and the older hens for their place in the flock.   Abby, being broody, has been absent for a while and missing all of it.  Stacey picked a fight with her yesterday.

Stacey did NOT win.  Who saw that coming?  Abby is, broody or not, the queen of our flock, and those young’uns better not forget it.

Thirteen eggs might have been ambitious for her second hatch.  Friday or Saturday when I took her off the nest for her morning routine, I noticed that one of the eggs was missing and several of the remaining eggs were covered in dry gunk.

Several possibilities go through my mind, all of them not good.

  • It could have been broke/eaten by another hen while Abby was off the nest.
  • She could broken it getting back in the box.

And now the other eggs were dirty.  They aren’t supposed to be dirty because of bacteria which could kill the baby embryos.

I can’t clean them off because you’re not supposed to wash off the protective bloom for the same reason.

Argh!!!  What to do?

I finally decided to take a clean, dry rag and buff off the worst of the dried on gunk.  Hopefully, that wouldn’t damage the chances of her losing the babies.

And hopefully, neither will yesterday.

I have no words for yesterday.  It was a screw up all the way around.

The Girl had an interview for her first job, so we were rushing around to get mornjng chores, breakfast and showers.  I took Abby off the nest as usual, but didn’t stay to watch her to see if she got back on.

I also failed to check if none of the other hens snuck into the barn.  They aren’t allowed to wander in the barn.

And it was a very long day for us.  We went from the interview (she got the job) to buying the clothes she would need for work to buying spray paint for Little Dude’s soapbox derby car.  Then lunch, and then I had to start cooking dinner when we got home.

I sent Little Dide down once with veggie tidbits from the salad I was making dinner, but he went through the gates and not the barn.

In short, no one checked them out.

At lock up time, I found Maicey inside the barn.  Not the coop.  She’d been locked up all day.  No access to food or water.  She destroyed my partial bale of straw looking for a place to lay her egg.  Straw everywhere!  Also, poop everywhere.  She must have pooped every three steps she took!

I picked her up and plopped her in the coop where she literally stuck her whole head in the water dish to get a drink!

And that’s when Little Dude discovered the worst part of Yesterday.

Abby was not on her nest.  She was in a laying box underneath her nest, sitting on two other eggs.  Totally broody tranced.

Her eggs were cool, but not cold.

I picked her up and put her back, but she barely noticed.  Just settled in and went back to silently buck-bucking.

It’s possible another hen was on her nest when she got back to the coop.

It’s also possible she was so broody-tranced she just picked a nest and climbed.

I have no clue how long the eggs were left uncovered.

Google tells me that eggs can go 10 hours without a hen and still hatch.

I’m crossing my fingers.  She made it back to the nest this morning and snuggled in, so I’m hoping the next two weeks go off without a hitch. But now I have two things to worry about.   And also, am wonder long if getting broken egg on them damaged the embryos and Anny somehow knows.  Could she have gotten off those eggs because they wknt hatch and she knows it???

Yeah, too much to worry about.

😦

‘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.

image image

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!!!!

 

An Early Christmas Gift…

… for my birds.

Yesterday DH, the kids and I finished up the last of our Christmas shopping.  After wrapping and packaging up gift baskets for teachers and the bus driver, we headed down to the barn to collect the last of the eggs for the day, count heads and lock up the chickens for the night.

I was apprehensive because while we were busy, this was happening in the barn yard:

Abby took Pip waaaay outside the run today, and let him explore the weeds in the barnyard.
Abby took Pip waaaay outside the run today, and let him explore the weeds in the barnyard.

As you can see, the snow from Saturday didn’t last long. We still had a small powdering yesterday morning but by afternoon it was mostly a memory.  Abby decided to show Pip the secret treasures a weed patch can hold.  Personally, I think that he’d be better off looking in the spring, when there are actually bugs to find.  But what do I know?

So, I was apprehensive, because while I was snapping this picture, Little Dude spotted a bigger, darker figure flying overhead, looking for God only knows what, and Pip is just small enough to snatch if the big flying shadow hungry enough.

It must not have been, because Pip was in the coop with his Momma, Papa and Aunties when we went down to lock them up.

DH came with us, and we gave the chickens an early Christmas present… a new roost for their coop.

A little back-story here, but before Thanksgiving, Dad and I clipped their wings so that we could lock them in the run on the days we go away and can’t watch them.  I think I’ve mentioned in other posts that, some days the barn yard and pasture aren’t enough for them and these chickens cross the road to come looking for… I’m not sure what.  Me?  Little Dude??  Bugs???  Greener grass????

And while it’s less of a problem on days when someone is here to see them safely back across the road, on holidays where we might be gone it’s a huge problem.  (The fence is in the planning stages now.  Yay!)

But a more interesting problem, however, has risen inside the coop as a result of the wing-clip.

My girls can no longer roost in the rafters.  They’ve been trying, because they like it up there. and I guess (I’ve read anyway) that the ones who roost highest up have some kind of social status in the flock.  But mostly, there’s about five or six hens who really liked roosting up in the rafters.

Since Thanksgiving, they’ve all been trying to reach that Nirvana … to sad/pathetic/sometimes hilarious results.   Little Dude and I have watched several go crashing into the side of the coop time and again.  There’s also been some domestic squabbles about who’s sitting in which spot on top of the laying beds (there’s a shelf on top where they sleep sometimes).  All this because some of the girls can’t jump up to the rafters.

So after a few nights of this, I asked DH to build them a perch they could use, halfway between the beds and the rafters.  I figure if they had a shorter distance to go up, some of them could make it into the rafters and some might stay on the roost.

I placed Dots, Madison and Maicey on the perch myself, but while I snapped pictures and helped with clean up, Penelope, Henrietta and a couple of the others made it up there themselves.  By the time we left, Henrietta had found her way back into the rafters and the Promised Land.  Even Dots had snuggled into a squat on the perch and closed his eyes.  He usually sits in the corner on the top shelf of the beds.

Over all, I’d say it was a successful project.

It’s Always Maicey

This is Maicey. She’s the Girl’s favorite hen.  In general, Maicey is a sweet little girl, but she’s also the most …. precocious?  Nefarious?  Infamous?  I don’t know what you want to call it, but Maicey is it.

I’ve begun taking pictures of Maicey every morning to send to the Girl, and I thought I would start sharing them here… or, rather, on the Facebook version of here… with a tag of #morningswithmaicey

The pics above are yesterday morning.

image
Today’s ‘Morning with Maicey’… she really does love windows. If there was room, she would have laid an egg there. She’s done it before.

Anyway, if you’d like to follow along with Maicey’s morning adventures, like the Facebook page. It’s basically got the same content as here, although occasionally I’ll post other stuff, too.