Pavelle’s Babies – Week 1

Yesterday, Pavelle’s wee little chicks celebrated their One Week-aversary.  They are living happily in a cat carrier under the laying beds, with their food in the corner in front of them and a place to go for shelter.   Pavelle being as small as she is, they have room to move around freely in there.  She brings them out in the morning and afternoons, teaches them to dig and scratch in the deep litter bedding and is slowly introducing them to the other chickens.

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Little ‘Feather Butt’ – aka the one with the feathers on his feet.  This one is the biggest of the three chicks.   He/she is friendly and inquisitive, not afraid of the bigger birds or me.  And he/she stood up to Dots when he tried to tidbit with their chick feed.   Ran right up to him and cheeped in Dot’s face.  So he/she has inherited Pavelle’s bravery in the face of birds 50x his size.
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Miini- Pav.  🙂  Mini-Pav is the smallest of the three chicks, and does not yet have as pronounced wing feathers as the other two have.  He/she is also the shyest one, preferring to hang back where Feather Butt and Egger Baby will run forward.
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The Egger Baby.   The somewhere in-between middle chick.  Not the biggest, not the smallest.  Curious enough to stick her head out and look at stuff (me, the Bigs) but not brave enough to be the first one out there.

Feather Butt and Mini-Pav do not have the pronounced foreheads that their mother had as a chick.  A reminder that they are cross-breeds and not pure anything.   Pavelle likely has some Polish in with her Pavlovskaya … and Pip, of course, the Rhode Island Red and sexlink genetics.   So maybe they won’t have crests and funny hair-dos like their momma.   Or maybe they will?  Who knows at this point?

I give you – the Babies!

The weather has been up and down, and Pavelle has yet to decide if she wants to take them outside. I’ve seen her bring them to the door and peek out, but has not attempted to lead them any further.

I’ll admit, I am both excited and fearing that day and a little glad that she has not.  The last chicks I watched go outside for the first time .. vanished, and Abby kept the remaining babies hidden for the rest of the winter.     So caution on Pavelle’s part is not without good reason.

ETA:  Okay, I wrote that part up there *points up*  and then went to the barn to let everyone and THIS happened, just to prove me wrong…

 

Feather Butt was the one balking.  I finally stopped the video and went to put Mini-Pav and Egger Baby back inside because it became so obvious that Pavelle was not able to convince Feather Butt that it was, in fact, safe.   But there you have it… it’s a good bet that she will get them outside sooner rather than later.   To be fair, there is only so much she can teach them inside the coop.  The big wide world awaits!

Today marks Day 14 for Little Dude’s 4-H hatching project.We’ll be candling again tonight and on Saturday.   Sunday-Tuesday are Lockdown Days.    The incubator has been an interesting experience in frustration and balance.  Finding and KEEPING the right temperature and humidity both.  I personally like giving the eggs to broody hens.

 

When Motherhood Grows On You

Well, Ashley’s babies turned the infamous “6 Weeks” on Sunday.   In terms of the flock, they are now old enough to fend for themselves and Ashley can start considering loosening the apron strings and return to doing Hen Things.

There are two ironies in that statement.  The first being Ashley’s babies have been, in a matter of speaking, fending for themselves all along. Not one, but two nights spent out of doors huddling together under the barn for warmth and shelter.  Having a momma who invariably failed to keep the other chickens from chasing them, whose survival method amounted to “let’s just hide in the cat carrier a little longer, and the big hens will go away.”

Second irony –  now that they’re old enough to NOT need her, Ashley is suddenly stepping up her game as a Momma.  She’s more protective, attentive, is STILL letting them try to fit under her wings at night (it looks ridiculous!), searches for them if they get separated from her or each other… all the things she wasn’t doing a few short weeks ago.

Not a ‘natural born mother’ like Abby or Claire, but still, it’s somehow managed to grow on her.  And she, in turn, has managed to raise her four wee babes up to be young chickens in training.  Six weeks old!  I honestly did NOT think, given their rocky start with her, that they would make it this far.

Here they are (above) back on November 20th.  This is the first time they spent the night up top of the beds rather than in the cat carrier.  I’m sure it was getting cramped for the five of them anyway,but at this point, they were still using it as a shelter from the Big Hens in the day time.

However, after a few days, I removed it because it became clear that they weren’t using it to sleep in at night and were ready to join the rest of the flock.

This was, also, the odd point at which Ashley started actually mothering them.  It’s like she suddenly realized that “omg! my babies are growing up!  I have so little time with them!  MUST DO MOMMA THINGS!”

And “do Momma Things” she certainly has!   She’s even navigating the waters of sharing the coop with Abby and her wee little chicks without turf wars.  It’s been interesting to watch her transition from a hen I wasn’t sure should be a mother into a pretty okay protector.   She’s still teaching them foraging, how to seek safety and stuff like that. She’s just much more attentive about it now than she was back in October.

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Ashley, Max, Dalmies #1 & #2, and Felicia huddling in the cold this morning.

I’m not sure where this leaves me in my previous assessment of her mothering skills.   Has her failings as a mother hen been because she is a young hen, not high up in the pecking order and certainly not confident enough to peck at the hens who chased or otherwise went after her babies?  She’s gotten better in the last two weeks. Is that because she’s also maturing right along side her babies?   Will she be the same way with another set of babies, should she go broody again?   Or should I continue to be leery of letting her have eggs?

Certainly humans learn and mature as parents right alongside our children. No one denies us the right to have them based on ‘first time parenting mistakes.’  Is this something I should give the chickened -the benefit of the doubt?

(Ideally, it’s a moot issue unless she goes broody again.  Which is possible.  Abby’s on her 4th broody and Claire keeps thinking about it,but I keep taking eggs away from her.  It’s too cold now for little little chicks.)