Today is a sad day. My little Pavelle Marie, the most unique, bravest, and most interesting member of our flock, died today, from an attack by an unidentified predator.
Her body was found in the shallow duck pond, which gives me the thought that she might have snatched by a hawk or some other bigger bird, but was dropped. I have no basis for this assumption, other than the fact that I had to scoop her body out of the water.
She is, to date, the second bird we’ve lost to predator attack in the almost five years we’ve had chickens.
But she is irreplaceable.
You see? She isn’t a Polish, as she looks, but part Pavlovskaya, and they are rare. I got her as an egg from a breeder who didn’t think her parents were really Pavlov because they lacked the feathered legs. But she was, and two of her offspring I’ve hatched has had the feathered legs.
So she was.
She was also brave enough to chase a full-sized make turkey and scold it for coming into her pasture.
She loved being a mom and hatched four sets of babies in two years.
She was intelligent and listened when I spoke to her. And then ignore me because that’s what chickens do.
In one of my last posts, I shared pictures of some of the newest members of my flock. These included three Khaki Campbell ducks named Hewey, Dewey and Lewey (after Donald’s three nephews). Hewey (the boy) and his two sisters came to me as eggs gifted to me by my friend Loretta.
They were hatched by my Light Brahma hen, Rachel, who never having been a mother before, had no idea that her babies were not normal chicks.
Rachel with her newborns. Hewey was the first one born, the biggest. He turned out to be a boy.
Rachel, and her babies, back in August after they were a couple of weeks old. Raising ducklings has been an amusing adventure. They are not like chicks.
For starters, my chicks all tend to stay under their mother exclusively for at a bare minimum of five days before venturing out into the wide world. Some, occasionally, on day 1, while waiting for siblings to hatch, but not many. It may be just my mother hens keeping them close, but not sure. The ducklings? As soon as they were dry and fluffy, they wanted to wander and explore, boldly running up to anyone they met and quacking a happy “Hey! Hi! Can we be friends?”
I got to witness this more than once because while Rachel was raising them, Pavelle was raising the bantams and cochins we got ( also from Loretta) and some orphaned chicks her daughter sat on but refused to raise. (Turns out Heather is not a good momma). There were sharing the floor, and it turns out that the ducks looked on Pavelle’s babies as new friends to explore the world with. At least until they started getting bolder and bigger and the chicks did not grow with them.
Another big difference was the ducks… and water. Ducks love water. Rain, puddles, swimming pools, water tubs, you name it, ducks love it.
Chickens like to drink it, and to wade into after bugs, but not to swim in. And my chickens do not like rain.
So imagine Rachel’s surprise when it rained the first time and her babies refused to run into the coop with her to stay dry, and in fact, ran around happy as clams… or ducks in water? I went to check on her and found her grumpily trying to sit on them because her instinct was to keep them dry and theirs was to go out and play.
As we had a very wet summer, Rachel eventually gave up trying to keep them dry and just went with it.
The other big difference I noted was that when a mother hen raises chicks, she lets them to their own devices somewhere around the 6-week mark. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, but usually around then.
Ducklings – according to what I’ve read – stay with their moms a little longer, around 10-weeks, or between 1.5 to 2 months.
Rachel, being a chicken, soon found her children had outgrown her, and could not, by Week 4, sit on them. Usually, she’d one or two under her and one sitting nestled close beside and they would take turns. And by that time, she wanted to show her ‘chicks’ how to roost on the lower roosting bars. only, her chicks weren’t chicks, they were ducklings who couldn’t figure out how to fly onto the roost.
Eventually, she gave up trying and some nights, she would snuggle on the floor with them, and other nights, she would go to the roost. There was no rhyme or reason, just whatever she felt like. eventually, and much too early for ducks, she returned to doing Hen Things and left motherhood behind.
The ducks were on their own, although they continued to follow her around most of the summer and into autumn.
A few random pics of them growing up.
They have been a different sort of poultry experience. They like water, like snow, and love to make messes with their waterer. I’ve started leaving the water outside because the coop was getting very damp.
A couple weeks ago, one of the hens (yes, apparently female ducks can be called hens still) started laying eggs. And then the other joined in. They don’t lay every day, but almost every day.
Today, I brought up a full dozen duck eggs.
They are white, and about the same size as my older girls’ chicken eggs. I assume that next year when they are older, they will be bigger. But they are still a good size.
Here are two of the duck eggs with a chicken egg in the middle. The one on the left is one of the smaller duck eggs. The one on the right is one of the bigger ones.
And below, for anyone interested, is a comparison of Duck versus Chicken eggs. I found it via google, here.
I’m about to fry one up and eat it, and I’ll report back with any difference in taste.
Occasionally when I go to the coop to be with my chickens, I have the opportunity to witness one of my hens laying their eggs. Such was the case three weeks ago when I witnessed my sweet, inquisitive Maicey laying her egg.
I had a broody hen (Briar Rose) whom I intended to give eggs to that night, so I picked up Maicey’s egg and tucked it away so it would not get mixed in with the other eggs. So I knew who that egg belonged to.
When I gave Briar her eggs, I labeled them, and Maicey’s egg became known as #1.
Number #1 turned out to be the fourth egg of five to hatch. (We are still waiting to know the fate of the fifth.)
It is a tiny little baby, with red downy feathers, a small crested-looking head and, much to my surprise when I picked it up to say “hello” … slightly feathered legs.
For those of you keeping score at home… I have three crested birds. Pavelle, the little Pavlovskaya, and her two children, Heather and Phillip.
Phillip, who is Pavelle and Pip’s offspring, is the only rooster I have right now capable of siring a crested (or in this case, partially crested) chick. He is, himself, a barnyard mix of Pavlovskaya, Rhode Island Red and Golden Comet, which would make this little chick 2-parts RiR, Comet and Pavlov. With feathered legs like its Auntie Heather.
I’m excited. I really am. Not only is Maicey one of our favorite hens, but this is also Pip’s grand-baby. You all know how much I love(d) and miss my little Pipsqueak. And Phillip acts so much like his papa. I’m so excited!
There is one more egg we’re waiting on to hatch. I’ll let you all know how it goes in the morning.
First, there was Pavelle, who went back in March, but thanks to the cold and snow, I was able to convince her that it wasn’t time for babies.
Then, she went broody again, and as we all know now, has three week old babies.
The week Pavelle’s babies hatched, one of my Australorps went broody. All the way broody.
I gave Briar six eggs. When I candled them the first week, all six were developing nicely. Sadly, half way through the second week, one of the eggs was broken in a next squabble.
Five eggs remain, and they are due to hatch this Sunday.
Briar has been a good broody in the same tradition of Abby and the Buff Orps. She has barely left the next for anything since she started this adventure. She also tolerates me petting her (with screeches but no biting) and allows me to lift her up to count eggs and remove ones she has stolen from other nests.
I’m looking forward to seeing how she does with her babies this weekend.
And while Briar was sitting in her babies, another Australorp went broody.
Ashley went hard and fast last week while I was working a full time week and no one was watching what she was doing. After the last time, I had decided that it might not be a good idea to give her eggs again, lest she lose those chicks like she did Maxie and her siblings. Last year when she went broody, I was able to put in the dog crate and break her.
This time? She wasn’t caught in time and she’s so deep in it could take a long while to break.
Also, she’s been pushing Briar off her nest in an attempt to have those babies. I have to remove her twice a day, leading to me wonder which hen will be on the nest when the first baby hatches.
I’ve been debating just giving her a handful of eggs and getting it over with, because maybe she’s matured in the last two years?
But then yesterday… This happened…
Amy is one of the RiRs who go through the motions every spring but never follow through. She’s done it two years in a row but never actually falls broody. She spent most of mid-April walking around in “thinking about it” mode and then stopped. I assumed that was the end of it.
Yesterday, I found her in a box, puffed up and bucky. I guess with Briar and Ashley acting like it’s fun, she went and jumped off the deep end.
So now I have two extra Broodies. I need to come to a decision about Ashley soon, and now Amy as well.
Do I give them both eggs? Or let Ashley chill out in the dog crate for a while? Can I trust her again after last time? Decisions, decisions.
On Thursday, Pavelle’s two little chicks will be three weeks old. Last week, she moved them out of the cat carrier nursery where they hatched and into the nests. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to encourage our chickens to sleep in the nests, but YOU explain that to a broody momma with babies to protect. Especially my little attack pineapple. Seriously, it’s much better to just let Pavelle handle her babies in her own way and clean up after them than it is to try and impose my will on her.
Other things to note… I was quite wrong about them not having feathered legs. The bigger of the two, who came from an olive EE-cross egg does, in fact, have feathered legs. Given the overall size of the chick and yellow coloring, I am guessing Sylvester the Buff Brahma to be the father.
They go outside almost every day now. Almost because we’ve had very up and down weather, and on the cooler, rainier days, Pavelle does not stray too far from the coop.
Here are some pictures of them from around the 1 1/2 – 2 week mark. If you look closely at the bigger, non-black chick’s legs, you can see the feathers on the sides.
And now here are some pics from over this past weekend.
(We hope it’sspring anyway. Winter has not wanted to give up this year!)
And that means the return of green grass and bugs in the chicken pasture…
And broody hens…
Yes, my little Pavelle is broody. She is puffed up like a little prickly pineapple and yells at you when you walk by, let alone look at her.
This is actually the second time she has gone broody since March, but it was colder then and still pretty snowy. I managed to convince her that it wasn’t a good idea at the time. Took all of four days for her to realize that it would not be fun to have babies in the snow.
She’s more determined this time around. I’ve decided that of she is still in “attack pineapple mode” (Pavelle’s version of broody) by Friday, I will give her a couple of eggs. Three or four. She will either give up by then or be full blown broody.
And the spring time fun begins.
Last weekend, I cleared some of the deep bedding out of the coop.
We still need to do some spring cleaning on the pasture itsself, but it’s been to snowy still to do much.
And I’ll leave you all with this message from Maicey…