On April 11, 2015, I became a first time chicken momma to seventeen little yellow rooster chicks, and their three little brown&yellow sisters. It’s been five years since then, and a lot has happened. I’ve seen chickens come and go, added a lot of different breeds, and watched mother hens hatch out lots of babies.
We still have one of the original flock, our beloved Double Dots, who celebrated his first birthday without his sister this year. She would have enjoyed the day. It was warm, with sunshine and new green grass. Dots enjoyed but for her.
He is starting to show his age. His crow sounds like that of a little old man. The feathers around his face seem more white (gray hair, chicken style?) than they used to be. But he still walks around the coop/run/pasture with an air of purpose band and determination.
On May 5th, the handful of Rhode Island Reds we have left from our second round flock will also turn five.
Happy birthday (belated and early) to all my birds!
It’s been a stressful week.
I’ve suspected for a while that someone (or more than one some one) has been picking on my Silkie rooster, Frost.
Frost is a timid little guy, smaller than my other roosters and a bit of a loner. Lately, he’s been hanging out a lot by himself. I’ve wondered at it, but with my new, full time job, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit and observe what’s going on. However, with Covid-19 shutting down basically every thing, I find myself on an every other day work schedule and time to watch them.
I still couldn’t pinpoint who was picking on him, but you know how it goes… Sometimes when one does to, more if them will, too.
Frost started hiding in the duck house and I’d have to put him in at night.
And then last night, I found him there, huddled in the corner and caked with mud … and blood. Looked like he’d been mud wrestling with a bear, and lost.
I brought him inside, tucked him away in a nest and began doing a head count. At the same time, slowly looking at all the possible culprits.
Our youngest rooster, Barry, a little one my RiR Maicey hatched and raised at the end of them summer… also looked like he’d been mud wrestling, but won. I am pretty sure he did it.
The pictures I am about to show are NOT pretty. And they are very heart-breaking.
I had to bathe him, which is hard because he has very brittle feathers where he’s been trying to grow them back.
So it was more like him standing in the kitchen sink while I sprayed warm water over him to get out the mud and blood.
His eyes are swollen and I’ve been treating them with Vetricyn spray. You can tell it stings him when I spray it, but it’s necessary.
He is currently residing in a dog crate on our porch. Until his eyes are a little better, I can’t risk returning him to the flock.
The bully Barry’s days are numbered. It’s time we decided who of the 8 rooster we were sending to Freezer Camp anyway, but it’s been decided that it will happen sooner rather than later. There will be four of them leaving.
Possibly five if Frost doesn’t get better. I’m worried about those eyes, but I have faith in my Vetricyn.
And DH is building a smaller, enclosed coop, that I can possibly put Frost and some of the hens who’ve been over mated by over-enthusiastic younger rooster and need time to regrow feathers. He’s doing this emergency build right now, in the snow.
I love my DH. He is awesome on so many levels.
On a happier and more exciting note, tomorrow is Day 21 for my broody Columbian Wyandotte, Winnie and her seven little eggs. I am nervously awaiting the first signs of new peeps. I will talk more about that as it happens.
Eggy, or the Egger Baby, is the last of Pavelle’s chicks.
He/she is the egg-child of Padme the Easter Egger and … well, I thought Pip, but now I’m not too sure about that.
So… what is it about Eggy that makes me suspect Pip might not be the father?
In short… color and personality.
Eggy here is a bright buff yellow, with only small EE cheeks.
So… mostly yellow chick with a yellow and black/brown momma. Two potential fathers.
One rooster had an all yellow momma and a white papa?
The other rooster had a red momma and a white papa?
Going off looks alone, I’d have to guess Felix is Eggy’s baby daddy.
And then, there is personality. Eggy is high strung, flighty, hard to catch, does not really relax in my hands like the other two do.
This describes Padme, yes, and could be an Easter Egger trait. But it always describes Felix. A lot.
Pip, not so much. He didn’t like me pick up but when I did, he settled in because he trusted me.
Feather Butt trusts me. Mini-Pav mostly trusts me. Eggy is a frantic spaz.
So, based off personality, is this Pip’s chick? I don’t think so, but anything is possible.
Here is a recent shot of Momma and babies (and a fake egg that was in the nest with them). They are 5 weeks old now and practically as big as she is!
They are also almost fully feathered out.
I believe that Pavelle will be pulling away from them soon. Going back to doing Hen Things and not Momma things. Today she seemed to be giving them space. Still hanging with them – or allowing them to hang with her – but not really showing them things like she has in the past. Letting them do their own thing.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Well, it’s Week 2 with Claire’s Wee Ones, and I thought, since her babies are technically the 5 round of babies I’ve raised here on the farm, I’d do some comparing. So here’s EVERYONE at the age of Two Weeks.
Dani and Eugenie’s momma is an RiR. Their papa is one of the Comets.
I’m looking for similarities. Dani looks an aweful lot like the RiRs at this age. Eugenie is more white like the Comet boys (despite the fact that Eugenie has a smaller, almost non-existent comb and that screams “hen”). Neither of them looks much like Pip, despite sharing a father and their mothers all being RiR.
There is, I suppose, a slight possibility that Pip might actually be the papa to one or both of them. that would make whichever one 3/4 RiR (Dani?) … BUT… Pip has (I’ve mentioned before) had a tough time mating with the hens because they all have found him incredibly annoying. I know of three hens he’s successfully mated with. The rest, he either got beaten and chased by the hen in question or Dots chased him away.
I don’t really think Pip is the papa. But that’s a story for another day.
This will probably be my last Broody Watch post for Claire. The 4th egg does not appear to be hatching, despite her insistence that she remain sitting on it. I’m giving it until tonight, but then, if it hasn’t hatched, I’ll be removing it from her nest.
The three chicks she already has are quite active and will soon be ready to explore the world around them. She can’t help them do that if she’s sitting on a dud egg.
Momma and babies enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs and chick starter this morning. All three of the babies came out from under Claire to try some of the yummiest. Scrambled egg is my traditional post-hatching meal for the chicks&mama.
Traditional as in “that’s what I did with Abby, so Claire gets to do it, too.” Why mess with what works?
I don’t know if it’s evident from the video, but yesterday when I came down to find two of Claire’s chicks running around the laying boxes next to their nest, I decided to take a risk and move Claire, babies, and 4th egg into their newly fashioned maternity suite.
I added food and water, which Claire barely looked at as she settled in on top of the egg and tucked her babies under her for good measure. She’s still there this morning, so I’m going to take that as a success. 🙂
Oh, yeah… and the babies have been tentatively named.
As they were born during my Dad’s birthday week (tomorrow is his birthday), I decided preemptively to name the chicks in honor of him. The first born, the little red-head, is Dani (or if she is a he, Danny), the second born, smaller and light tow-headed yellow/white, is Eugenie (Eugene) and the third, a slightly bigger, more yellow chick, is Stevie.
Editing to Add: I just went down to the coop to see how things were faring and found that Claire had abandoned the other egg. She moved her three chicks to the nest on the right side of the ‘maternity suite’ and left her egg there. It was cold, so I removed it. As expected, it was nothing but a mass of 21-day yolk. Yuck! Tossed it in the trash. Claire, Dani, Eugenie, and Stevie are a whole family now.
On a totally non-related blog issue, I’m realizing that I need a category/tag for the ‘born on the farm’ babies like Pip and these three. Am considering calling them a “Windstone Comet Cross” because that’s our farm name, their papa is a Golden Comet and they’re a cross between him and something else. This is obviously NOT an official name, and they’re really just barnyard mutts, but their my barnyard mutts.
Or, I could call the tag “barnyard mix” too.
Thoughts? Reader preference? Do the tags even matter?
Well, as of this morning, there are three babies hiding under Claire’s considerable red fluff.
The last couple of days, Claire has been a real sweetheart compared to how she normally is. A part of the ‘broody trance’ stage, she let me pet her, feed her by hand, and lift her up to look at the eggs/babies. Now that more of them have hatched, the broody trance is giving way to ‘Mama Mode’ and Claire’s true personality is asserting itself.
That is to say, I got bit 5 times trying to get these pictures and video.
There is one last egg, the paler one I mentioned was cracked already. It’ still cracked, but the crack is bigger.
Claire shows no signed of giving up on it yet, and keeps tucking it underneath her like she’s expecting something.
As tomorrow is Day 21 for that egg and one of the other (already hatched) chicks, I’ll wait and see what she does next. They have that saying about it – Mama Knows – so if Claire is still waiting for a chick, maybe I should, too?
Then again, it’ been cracked since Monday and no signs of anything coming out, movement, or cheeping.
But I’ll let Claire make that call. If she abandons the egg in favor of caring for the Wee Ones, I’ll know.
After two days of trying, I finally got the video I took of Claire’s latest outing from the nest onto Youtube.
I can’t help but compare Claire’s broodiness to Abby’s, as before this, Abby was my only point of reference.
When Abby was broody, she was very ‘zoned’ or in what I call her ‘broody trance.’ She rarely got up on her own, and I had to carry her out at least once each morning and each afternoon, so she could take care of the personal matters of eating and pooping. She wouldn’t even notice when I did it, but sit there in one spot for several minutes, softly buck-buck-bucking to herself. When she finally snapped out of it, she’d run for the food, the water and back to her nest as quickly as she could. Only once or twice did she do more than that. Dirt bathing once on a sunny day. Abby loves her dirt baths! But no, the drive to hatch her babies (baby, in the end it was just Pip) was so strong, it eclipsed everything else. She lost a LOT of weight, especially towards the end. She still hasn’t gained it all back, really. Which isn’t a bad thing. It just means she is isn’t overweight in any way.
Claire is not so entranced yet, even into her second week of broody. She still screams when people (or, other chickens) come into the coop to lay eggs. When she leaves the nest, I am treated to spectacles like the video below. She runs around, bucking loudly (not soft at ALL!) to announce to the world that she is there and they’d all better get out of her way. At the morning treat dish (it’s not really treats. I give them 2 scoops of feed + a 3/4 scoop of scratch to start their morning and everything else is what they can forage, and there’s 12 of them, so no one gets a lot)…. as I was saying, at the morning treat dish, she guards it closely, putting her foot in the feed if someone crowds too close. She yells. She puffs up, flares her tail feathers and spreads her wings wide to make herself look huge and scary.
The morning I took this video – Wednesday, I think – Dots happened to be in the run when she came out. He hasn’t seen her in a while, as he’s been preoccupied with grandstanding so the Littles roosters know he’s the Boss. That takes up most of his time now. So he hasn’t seen her. Well, he tried to woo her… and… scream… yell… puffed up feathers… Claire does NOT want a man right now. Sorry, Double Dots.
She’s got one week left of sitting on the nest before the eggs hatch. If they hatch. I am still hands-off. No candling, and the only handling I do is to remove the extra eggs from her nest. These are eggs she either steals from nearby nests or ones hens lay while Claire is outside.
“Lockdown” begins on Saturday. That is ‘Day 18’ for the earliest two of the four eggs. Wednesday the 11th being the day she committed to sitting for real. When this happens, I intend to feed her scrambled eggs once a day, so she can stay on the nest as much as possible over those last three days.
I did that with Abby, too, but she really, really needed it. She was so out of it the whole way through her broody that by the time her final three days happened, I was beginning to worry. (Did I mention she lost waaaay too much weight?)
I’m not seeing where Claire is losing tons of weight, but, as I observed before, she isn’t as entranced as poor Abby was. But I’m still preparing to make her scrambled eggs for the weekend.