Snow Birds

I’m needing to post pictures of chickens doing Chicken Things today, and since the temperature decided to warm up and the wind isn’t blowing, they decided to oblige me.

I give you…the snow birds.

Picspam to Keep Me Busy

Yesterday was Day 19, aka Lockdown Day for Abby and her little clutch of blue eggs.  (Easter Eggers -Wee!)  I’m getting anxious about it.  I can’t wait to see how many hatch and what they look like. I’m hoping for different colors and hopefully… sweet little girls.

While we wait… some picspam from the pasture.

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Pavel…Pavelle…perching in the “clubhouse”tree. She really is a pretty little bird.

 

On this November Day

I have a lot of things to update on today.

I’ll start with Abby.  I reported earlier that she had gone broody while I was fussing over Ashley’s impending hatch date. I decided to order her some Easter Egger eggs to hatch, and they came from My Pet Chicken last Friday.

They shipped quickly, but got sent to the wrong post office, and almost went back to Harrisburg for re-distribution before I caught up with them. It would have taken another week to get them back, almost. Instead, I went to the post office they had been sent to, the next town over, and got them myself. Because there was no way I was making Abby stay on the fake egg longer than she needed to.

Yesterday marked Day 7. Next Friday, I will candle them and see how they are doing. Hopefully, they all will be okay, despite their weird shipping ordeals and the late fall conditions.

Now, onto sadder news…

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Stacey is STILL pacing.

It’s been months since I first reported the oddity of Pacing Stacey.  The situation has not changed.  I’ve tried quarantining her, putting her in a smaller cage so hopefully she won’t pace (she did anyway).  I’ve tried watching and frequently removing her from the coop.  I’ve asked on-line for advice.  And last week, I asked a vet.

The vet was astounded and said she has never heard of that before.  She is a chicken owner, too.  We tossed possibilities around and then she said that IF I brought Stacey in, the most they could do was prescribe antibiotics and hope for the best.  I told her I was thinking about euthanizing Stacey.  She understood, but added that if I decided to keep her over the winter, to let me know how things progress.

Things I know:

  1. Stacey is still laying eggs.  I’ve seen her.
  2. She’s lost weight, and while she’s not starving, she’s a considerable size smaller than her same-breed, same-age flock mates.
  3. She’s obsessive about this.  Like OCD obsessive.
  4. The other hens are getting annoyed with her and have started pecking her when she gets close to them.

I don’t see how #4 is going to change over the winter.  They will in closer quarters when they are trying to decide if they want to venture into the cold white and most of the older girls are molting.  They are cranky.  Stacey is annoying.  It’s a BAD combination.

Thus, I’ve decided the only course of action, after months of trying to figure this out, is to put us all out of her misery.  Euthanize.  Freezer Camp.  Whatever you want to call it.

I feel bad.  I wish I knew something else I could do to take this away from her.  Make her normal and happy again.  Since I cannot, I must do what’s right for the rest of the flock.

Freezer Camp has been scheduled for tomorrow.  Stacey isn’t the only one to go.  We will be saying good-bye to the Boys of Summer.  Dani, Esther, Snickers, Sumi and Taller.

There was a lot of debate in the last few weeks about keeping one of Abby’s boys.

Esther was the only Easter Egger.  But with Abby sitting on six EE eggs, chances of getting another EE roo are good, too.

Sumi and Taller, the Sulmtaler Brothers are a rare breed. I tried to sell them online, but no one wanted them.  Then I missed the animal swamp because of my daughter’s cross country meet. Apparently, there was someone there with same-age female Sulmtalers.  DH said I could keep one to breed with if I got a hen.

I didn’t get the hen because I missed the swap.

I might have kept Sumi anyway, except I accidentally terrified him a week and ago.  It’s a short story.  The temperatured drops so that it was switching between sleet and regular rain.  He and Esther were hiding under the ramp.  I tried to get them both into the coop, wearing my winter hoodie.  He’s afraid of me now… like total full on freak out afraid.  He flies into a tizzy if I get near him and runs away.

Snickers is a big beautiful beastie, all chocolate brown and fluff.  But he’s also a bit untamed and wild. Not mean, just untouchable.

However, Dani is at 22 weeks and the rest of the Boys are at 16 weeks.

And, as noted, most the older girls are molting and cranky.  Dots is molting and cranky.

I have one little momma and four wee ones.

And one broody sitting on six eggs,with two weeks to go.

I found blood on the window ledge today where someone was scrapping with someone else.

It’s time thin the flock.  It’s time for Freezer Camp.  So the Boys of Summer will be joining Stacey on her journey tomorrow.

I’m REALLY going to miss them.  We’ve been having crowing concerts the last few mornings and afternoons.  Little roosters have such personality and do such amusing things.  Not to mention being beautiful.  Even Dani, who’s looks I wasn’t impressed with at first, has grown into a handsome, handsome mutt.  He’s tall like his papa and brother, and looks like bulkier.  Also, if we kept him, I think he’s more dominant than Pip.  Pip is definitely NOT an alpha.  Dani is.

Here is a good video of Snickers and some of the boys. I took a few more yesterday and the day before, I’ll most them to my Instagram later. There will be available here… or via the sidebar on this page.

Not many pictures of Stacey. All she really does anymore is pace. It’s sad.

Miracle Max’s Greatest Miracle Yet – A special Week-a-Versary

So last night, I reported that Ashley’s chicks had vanished and were not in the coop, unable to be found and I was certain they were dead.

This morning, I went to the coop with a heavy heart, intending to feed and let the bigger chickens outside, go about my routine and then search for little yellow bodies in the wet grass.  I was met by Dots and his sons crowing in unison, and the sound of Ashley buck-bucking because she still thought she was mother hen.  I felt sorry for her because she didn’t realize she had lost her wee ones.

Outside, I heard chirping, but I thought it was wild birds enjoying the sunshine after yesterday’s rain.

So I filled the food dish to take outside and opened up the barn doors — and nearly dropped it when saw three little chicks on the steps.  Miracle Max, one of the little spotted Dalmation babies, and the peachy-red one I’m calling Cinnamon Bun.

 

 

Ashley reunited with the first three babies.

I reunited them, got them food and water, and went to send my DH and My Girl a text message so they would know the good news.

When I returned to the task of feeding the chickens, I found this…

The fourth baby, a little Dalmie.

He was standing on the steps with Pavel, cheeping and looking a little lost. I scooped him up and happily brought him to his mother and siblings.

All four babies together.

 

I truly named Miracle Max correctly.  I did not, could not hope for this ending to last night’s horror story.  But there they are… all four babies, safe and sound.

I’m going to be observing Ashley.  I know it’s hard taking multiple chicks outside for the first time.  Abby had a difficult time with her six summer babies.  They couldn’t negotiate the ramp, she couldn’t herd them all together.  I found her several times sleeping with them on the steps.  But it was raining last night and Ashley might erred on the side of ‘get out of the rain’ and didn’t realize her babies had not followed.  Then it got dark in the coop and she tucked in for the night, got broody tranked and didn’t realize.  This morning, she was flipping out buck-bucking.  If they get a little bigger, they can do the ramp on their own without too much help.

But if she can’t take care of them, they might have to go to the brooder box for the next  few weeks and Ashley may go on the “No Eggs Ever” list.

We’ll just have to see how the next couple of days go.

First Look at the Babies

Yesterday, Ashley the Australorp became a mother.

This is the first little one I saw.  You can’t tell, but it has black spots on it’s back.
And peeking out from behind, a little yellow one with no black on it.  (Possible Buff Orp)
A 3rd with a cinnamon red color.  Possible RiR, Possible sexlink/comet.  Really could be the sexlink because the RiRs tend to be darker.  And look!  You can see the black spots on the first chick!

I wound up with a fourth chick as of last night, also yellow with black spots.  Two more eggs to account for, but today is the actual hatch date, so it could take a day or two for them to hatch.

In the meantime, here’s a video of yesterday’s four, being cute:

 

And Ashley being the cross-momma because I was messing with her babies:

I’m headed down there right now to feed and check on the current baby situation.  Here’s hoping for more chicks and momma who wants to be the momma. *crosses fingers*

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.

Chicks, Bigger Chicks and Flock Updates

Wow!  It’s been 3 weeks since my last post about pretty much anything.  I’ve been posting things on my Instagram, but it’s easy to post to Insta where I need time to sit and type up a post here.  Especially if I want it formatted nice.

So anyway, yesterday this happened…

… and it happened again today!

Yesterday marked 6 weeks for Abby’s babies.  She celebrated it by, as you can see, laying an egg.  The chicks didn’t really celebrate it.  They were too busy being lost, confused and at times scared.  You see?  Yesterday, there momma decided that they were big enough to fend for themselves and she went back to doing Hen Things.

They day before yesterday?  She was still Momma.  Yesterday, she was Abby the Hen.  Not the Momma.

You see the source of their confusion?

They stick together, not unlike Dani and Eugenie did at that age.

Speaking of…

Eugenie and Dani, age 12 Weeks.
Dani has been crowing, though not often.  He has been increasingly chases by the older hens and sometimes (but not often) Pip.

In the past few weeks, there has been a clear division among the roosters.  Dots has the most hens.  He hols sway over the the whole barnyard.  Pip has a small handful of 3-5 hens who follow him around.  He helps protect and also looks after the younger ones.  Like Eugenie, Dani and Abby’s babies.  He is a good big brother, and turning into a decent boyfriend for the hens who have decided they like him.

Dots still chases Pip.  It’s a rooster thing.  They don’t fight, though.  I’m glad.

Dani has been regulated to Pip’s old status as the flock loner.  Even Eugenie has started hanging out with the pullets and trying to make friends with the other hens. She perches in the rafters at night.  Dani sleeps on the window ledge or the very lowest roost.  They still eat together, though, if no one chases Dani off.

Dani has made attempts to establish dominance over Abby’s chicks.  He challenged one of the Sulmtaler Boys last week.  Sadly, this was when Abby was still Momma and she went after him.  Which totally ruined his chances of having dominance any time soon.

Now that Abby is Not the Momma, things may change.  For now, her babies are sticking together, as there is safety in numbers.  They are also sticking to the weeds and bushes on the side of the fence.  Good coverage.  She taught them well. 🙂

I am looking to Rehome any of the Boys.  If you’re in the NY/PA/Maryland area and don’t mind meeting “somewhere in the middle” you can contact me here, via PM.  Offer includes Dani (RiR/Gold Comet cross) the Sulmtaler Boys, and at least 1 Chocolate Orpington.

I still don’t know about the others yet.  Crossing my fingers for hens.  Especially Pavel.  My heart will be broken if that little chick is a boy.

Okay… update on the status of the coop.

How do you tell if you’re mite/lice free?  I treated the coop twice, as recommended and will probably do so one more time, just for good measure.  Same with the chickens.  Everyone got treated twice.  I still don’t see anything on the birds, other than around Dots and Pip’s vents.  I would need someone to hold them to get pictures, otherwise I can’t explain what I’m seeing.

I’ve been asked if I use DE in my coop.  No, I do not.  But my chickens free range in their pasture all year round. I don’t lock them up, even in the winter.  There are 3 decent dirt bathing spots inside the barnyard, with ample dirt.  One of them is a circle where we burn wood, branches and barnyard debris.  It is loaded with wood ask, which is also good for chickens to bath in.  So I’m not in the habit of buying DE when they have plenty at the ready.

I mentioned the last time that I’m just going to start adding preventative measures to my coop cleaning.  Spraying the walls, roosts, floors and beds when I take out the old bedding.  I’ve been doing that 3-4 times a year with deep little method, so spraying then should not be an issue.

I’m also wondering if I shouldn’t add a rotation of deworming prevention. I do give them things like cucumbers, pumpkin and squash, which I’ve read in several places that the seeds are good for natural deworming.

Anyway… check out the Insta or FB pages.  There’s been videos and pics.  Again, it;s easiet to post a quick pic when I’m busy than sit down to type up a post.  Life gets that way sometimes. 🙂

It’s Tuesday. Picture Time!

It’s Tuesday!  That’s picture day in the coop… or birthday picture day!  Dani, Eugenie and the Easter Egger baby were all born on Tuesdays.  

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Dani and Eugenie are 9 weeks old today.  

While I usually find them together – Claire taught them well, didn’t she? – I have noticed Dani sneaking into the coop with the pullets.  He tries to eat with them, and they chase him away.  Ah, young crushes!  

After he gets chased away, he finds his sister and resumes his duties of watching over her.  

They are not much difference in size, honestly, and now about ¾ the size of the March pullets.  (Well, some of them.  The Orpingtons and the Australorps are HUGE!)

At night, they snuggle in together just below the roosts. Sometimes, Eugenie likes to sleep on the roost with her papa, but Dots is not as receptive to Dani and will chase him.  So usually Eugenie will also leave the roost to stay with him.  

I worry what will happen to Eugenie when the time comes to decide Dani’s fate.  If he is culled, will she become a loner like Pip?  Or will Big Brother take her under his wing?  Or will she start hanging out with Abby’s babies?  

Speaking of Abby’s babies…

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This is what week 3 looks like.  🙂

The two Sulmtalers like to chest butt each other and Choc Orp #1 (top left in the college) has a big comb and little red wattles.  Yes, I have a minimum of 3 little roosters in this batch.  I have no clue how to gauge little Pavel, the Pavlovskaya or the Easter Egger, as all of these are breeds I am unfamiliar with.  EE (or Esther, as Little Dude calls him/her) is my biggest chick, with long dark wings and all that orange in the chest and shoulders.  So beautiful!  Hopefully a little hen I can keep.  

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Aren’t they adorable?

And lastly… my first ‘Baby Boy.’  Pip.  The no-longer Cute and Fluffy… but the Handsome and Funny.

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I took these pictures this morning.  Pip lead his ladies to the back gate and realized I hadn’t taken a picture of him recently.  He really is a beautiful little Pipsqueak.  🙂

Milestones

In all the upheaval of babies hatching, babies dying, my aunt and uncle coming to visit and Little Dude’s 4-H projects, I forgot to post Dani and Eugenie’s Week-aversary post.  Now, here it is time for another one!

Dani and Eugenie, week 6
Week 6, standing next to a 19-week old Australorp. The Australorps are getting HUGE, btw!
Week 7.

Dani and Eugenie are now mostly on their own.  I catch them hanging out sometimes with their momma, sometimes with big brother Pip, and sometimes with their papa Dots.

Last week, they even stayed inside the coop to ‘help’ auntie Abby teach the new wee ones how to scratch in the wood shavings.  From a respectable distance, of course!

The rest of the flock seems to have no real problems with them.  They share time at the water dish and while they still don’t get first dibs at the treat dish anymore, they aren’t being ostracized for trying, either.

Usually I find them snuggled together at night, although sometimes Dani likes to perch in the rafters above everyone and Eugenie would rather perch near one of the adult roosters at night.  Sometimes Pip, but mostly Dots, so I often see them both sleeping with their papa.

The rest of the flock does not shun or push them away, like they did with Pip. I think that because they already ‘did this’ with Pip as a baby, they know what to expect and don’t care as much that there are little ones running around with them.

a Mystery Bin Girl, age 20 weeks

Our spring time pullets are all going to be 20 weeks this week.  This means they are reached their sexual maturity.  I am not sure how many of them are laying, but we’re currently getting between 12-14 eggs a day.  Some of them are quite small, while others are clearly the work of the older girls.  Once again, I wish for a video camera to see who is coming and going from the nests.

And lastly…

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Abby’s Easter Egger baby
Look at those wings!

 

Broody 10 – Day 18 

I keep waiting for the story of this broody adventure to be about cute fluffy chicks.  Instead, I keep getting one disaster after another.

I found this when I went to take Abby off her next for the morning.  Today is Day 18. Tomorrow would be ‘lock down’ and I wanted her to have one more day of sunlight and a chance to stretch her legs.

So this? Is not good?

I don’t really know what happened, but I can guess.  Abby didn’t leave the next at all yesterday, but when I was checking eggs in the afternoon, there was a new pullet in the bed next to her. They don’t usually choose the beds next to Abby because Abby likes the higher boxes. Everyone else chooses the lower beds, but I found Lola right next to Abby in the corner box.

If Lola started on the other side and checked other beds, she could havewalked over top of Abby and caused something like this.

Now… to the Good… the baby is still alive in there. I can see the membrane rising and falling. That’s breathing and movement.  I put it back under Abby.  I don’t really know what else to do.

I don’t have an incubator, and I don’t have the money to run out and buy one.  Even if I did, I don’t have time to set up, learn not to screw it up, and put the egg in.  So it’s back under momma for the time being.

I did ask the lady who sold me the eggs what she thought I should do.  I could attempt to help it hatch the rest of the way, or leave it go and see what comes naturally.

Of course, today I’m going to be out of town and not home most of the day.  So whatever advice she has for me will be left unfollowed until later on today or tomorrow.

Today is Day 18.  “Lock down” is tomorrow.  I expect to see chicks Wednesday at the latest,until something else happens.

I’m praying nothing else happens.  I already feel so bad.  :-/

And now… for the cute…

Since I couldn’t take her off the nest for this morning, I decided to give her food and water in bed.  Chickens are so cute when they drink.  🙂