Turducken Without the Duck

Our neighbor has turkeys.  White ones.  Or rather, our neighborhood has turkeys.  White ones.

You see?  They free range everywhere, and don’t care whose farm they are on.  Not only that, but these are second generation turkeys.  The neighbor’s tom and most the first flock died, and the hen mated with wild turkeys… to produce this:

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Pretty, aren’t they?

They like our farm, and since the end of summer, they’ve been coming and visiting.  Checking out the garden.  Eating out of the bird feeders. I’ve even caught them checking out the chickens from the other side of the fence.

Dots and Pip usually meet them on our side, all bluster and bucks and warnings about whose pasture it is.

Today, the wandering white turkeys decided to check out the inside of the chicken pasture.

I was surprised, because they didn’t hurt my chickens. Just walked around doing their own thing. Pavel and several of the hens ran over to check it out. One of them puffed up his feathers at Pavel but did not attack or anything.  Given they’ve been running wild for months and months, I was a little worried when she ran right up to them!

 

How are your Chickens Handling the Snow?

I only ask because half (or more than half) the people on the eastern coast of the U.S. are getting a ton of snow this weekend.

How are your chickens handling it?  Do they like snow?  Cold weather?

Or if you’re like me and NOT getting a bunch of snow, how do your chickens like it when you do?

Do you do anything to help them get outdoors on the cold days?  Or do your chickens mostly stay inside?

Everyone does ‘chickening keeping’ differently, so I’m curious.

Mine are, as frequent readers know, semi-free range.  They have a coop, a run, and a fenced in pasture that keeps them away from the road and out of the top of the barn, but doesn’t not prevent predators.  They have room to wander and eat grass/bugs/whatever, but not room to hurt themselves trying to cross the actual road.

I chose supposedly ‘winter hardy’ chickens when I was buying breeds, but I’ll be honest, that term does NOT mean that they LOVE winter.  Or even like it.  In fact, my older birds are downright chicken when it comes to winter.  The big babies huddle inside  where the Cold White isn’t and make a fuss if I try to get them outside.

My younger group from last spring’s chicks?  Actually pretty adventurous.  Or maybe they are too afraid of spending all day in the coop with the cranky older girls to be afraid of a little snow?

Pip doesn’t like it.  He’d rather be inside with the older ones, but since Dots does, too, one of them has to go outside with girls who want to stay out.  So he’s getting used to it, too.  In the name of ‘being the Man’ and protecting the flock.

Also, I try to help where I can.  I know the snow freezes their toes, so on the mornings when there is snow on the ground but it’s not still snowing, I will spread straw on the ramp and in the run, giving them a place to walk that isn’t cold and wet.  I might also entice with warm oatmeal or Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

One the days when it’s still snowing, I don’t bother. They don’t go outside. Just look at the open door like I’m crazy.

So that’s how I help my chickens ‘enjoy’ winter. How about you?

The Fab Four 

Aka Ashley’s Babies… or whatever you want to call them… will be eleven weeks old this Sunday.

They don’t really like much, and Ashley raised them with the instinct to hide from everything bigger than them, so getting pics for a decent comparison is hard to do at this point.

But I’m going to share some of the recent pics I do have.  If you fee like making guesses as to gender, have at it!

I will make a better attempt to get good body shots of them. Currently, Felicia looks the most like a little rooster-in-training. So maybe Felicia is really Felix?

Max was the other I thought looked rooster-like when they were little, but his wattles and comb seem to have stalled in the growing, where Felicia’s have gotten bigger and rather red. Close up pics would be good, but since these chicks are skittish (thank you, Ashley, and your ‘let’s hide til the big people go away!’ method of motherhood), by the time I chase them around and pick them up for the close up, they’re too scared to hold still. *sigh*

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.