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.

Broody Ashley

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so this is Ashe, all grown up into the very lovely Ashley. My Girl insists we call her Ashley, since she isn’t a boy, but I still call her Ashe.

Ashley is 6 1/2 months old and very broody.  She spent two weeks being buck-bucky and pulling her feathers out of her chest.  Literally, she was bald on her underside but wasn’t sitting on eggs.  I actually thought she was sick or something, because she’s too young to molt.

Last Thursday, she was walking around puffed up and screaming at everyone, challenging other hens at bedtime.  Being really confrontational.  Still not on a nest.  I’m thinking, “someone pissed Ashe off!”

Friday morning, she had chosen a nest and tucked in on two eggs. That was the point where I said “ahhh!  This is what a broody Australorp looks like!”

She spent Friday and Saturday nest hopping, mostly because she kept choosing nests that other hens like to lay eggs in.  The other hens, some of them older and scarier, forced her out of said nests.  The nest thing is a common problem.  I don’t exactly know why because we have 28 laying boxes.  That’s one box for each laying hen, plus a couple empties.  But they lay in … 4 – 6 of them.

I know… I have nothing.  I don’t understand chicken logic.  I’m pretty sure it isn’t logic.  But there you have it.  28 boxes, 24 hens, 3 more young pullets who start laying soon… plenty of boxes.   They use a max of 6.  (If I ever convince DH to revamp the coop in any major ways, I will insist on fewer boxes, maybe like 12 or 15, and more roosting areas.  Perches and ladders.  But I would need to convince him first. ;-))

By Sunday night, however, Ashley had managed to find a box no one cared about, settled in on a ceramic egg (I have an egg eater.  I slipped ceramic eggs into some of the boxes to discourage her until I can figure out which hen she is. We’re all betting on Stacey, given her weird behavior but have not caught her doing anything naughty.)  and puffed up grumpy.  When she stayed there, same nest through half of Monday, I selected six of our own eggs and slipped them under her.

 

Ashe’s eggs.  I do NOT know which hens are responsible for these eggs.  Given the color and size, I am hoping a good sampling of all my breeds.  At least as far as the mommas are concerned. 

The darker eggs are most likely Rhode Island Red, or possibly the sexlink/Comets.  I chose a sampling of colors and sizes, to get hopefully, some eggs from my older and younger flock.

Dots and Pip have both been active mating with their girl friends, so either could be the Papa.

I had considered sending away for more Easter Eggers.  But the nice lady I bought Pavel and her brothers from couldn’t verify fertility this last in the year, and My Pet Chicken couldn’t ship until next week.  Given that it’s going to be getting colder in the next few weeks, I really didn’t want to make her wait a whole week sitting on a ceramic egg.

Especially not when she’s so young yet and I don’t know what kind of momma she will be.  I’d much rather give my own eggs to newbies, until I see how they will react to babies.  Abby and Claire can have ‘pay for babies’ because I know, now, that they will be awesome moms.

Hatch Day is October 24th.  I’ll probably candle the eggs sometime next week, at the 2 week mark.  There’s not going to be much to see before then anyway.

Fertility, based on last weeks dozen eggs, is at least 3/4.  This is NOT scientific.  I took a fresh dozen eggs and made up a pan of scrambled eggs to feed the chickens.  Protein for the molters.   I checked each egg as I cracked it.  I counted 9 bulls-eyes out of the 12 and the remaining 3, I simply couldn’t see from the way the yolk dropped into my bowl.  Not scientific, no.  But it does mean I should get a small handful of babies.

The only hitch in this is that I was planning our Fall Coop Cleaning for the next couple of weeks and now I’m going to have to clean and spray for mites AROUND a broody hen.  because moving her would be stupid.

They never make it easy, do they?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Adventures in Egg Laying

The Mystery Bin Chicks are growing up and trying new things.  They are seventeen and a half weeks old now, and I guess that it’s time.

The last time I posted, I mentioned that Stacey has been investigating all the laying boxes and making mini nests.

I got a cool video of her digging her way into one of the nests, building the sides up really high.  She likes deep beds she can hide in.

I posted it on Instagram but I will share here, too.

She went on to lay her first egg later that day.

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Stacey’s first egg. 🙂
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Stacey’s egg (right), Rhode Island Red egg (left)

Stacey is a neurotic new layer. Every morning she jumps into every single empty laying bed, fusses and digs and then hops out.  Nest after nest until, finally, she goes into the nest she laid her first egg in and lays the egg.  I don’t know what she’s looking for and not finding in those other nests, but it’s becoming her new morning ritual.

Sadly, in her attempts to find a good place to lay, she caused trouble I did not need.

I took Abby out of her broody bed, as usual, not thinking that anything would happen.  Stacey came along right behind me and jumped into Abby’s nest. She knocked one egg out of the nest (it broke) and stepped on another.  I got her out, put her in another bed with much scolding and went straight to find Abby, interrupted her dirt bath, and plopped her back on the nest.

Now, I’m not letting Abby out every morning any more.  Maybe every other day and during times when Stacey is done laying her egg.  I’m so heartbroken over the eggs lost.  Mickey and I had just candled them (yes, I broke down and bought a candler) to see if all the other badness could be overcome.  The only upside is that the eggs lost were two I had question marked because I didn’t think they were developing. I won’t, however, be risking any more eggs in that manner.

This morning, right around the same time Stacey was doing her morning bed inspections, one of the other little girls, Candy, climbed into a nest and began rearranging.

Again, I have video on Instagram.  Here it is…ourhappy homemaker.

I checked back later and found the tiniest little egg there.

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Candy’s First Egg
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Candy’s Egg (right), Stacey’s Egg (left)
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Candy’s egg (right), Stacey’s egg (middle), Rhode Island Red egg (left)
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Candy’s Egg (right), Rhode Island Red Egg (left)

No matter how you slice it, Candy’s egg is small.  🙂

Last but not least…

Here are some random visitors to the barnyard…

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A toad who’s been visiting the run. We usually find him on the side of the gate.
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Flutter by Butterfly

Broody Watch 8 – Disturbing Turn of Events

I’ll start with the happy bits- some pretty pictures of enjoying her daily respite from the nest.

Abby is so pretty this morning.
I tried to get s picture of her preening kn the rock but she knows somehow and moved

This has been a frustrating week for the broody hen.  When she goes outside, Dots chases her.  He would probably like to mate but Abby is having none of it.

In addition, since the Boys all went to Freezer Camp, the pullets formerly known as the Littles have been squabbling amongst themselves and the older hens for their place in the flock.   Abby, being broody, has been absent for a while and missing all of it.  Stacey picked a fight with her yesterday.

Stacey did NOT win.  Who saw that coming?  Abby is, broody or not, the queen of our flock, and those young’uns better not forget it.

Thirteen eggs might have been ambitious for her second hatch.  Friday or Saturday when I took her off the nest for her morning routine, I noticed that one of the eggs was missing and several of the remaining eggs were covered in dry gunk.

Several possibilities go through my mind, all of them not good.

  • It could have been broke/eaten by another hen while Abby was off the nest.
  • She could broken it getting back in the box.

And now the other eggs were dirty.  They aren’t supposed to be dirty because of bacteria which could kill the baby embryos.

I can’t clean them off because you’re not supposed to wash off the protective bloom for the same reason.

Argh!!!  What to do?

I finally decided to take a clean, dry rag and buff off the worst of the dried on gunk.  Hopefully, that wouldn’t damage the chances of her losing the babies.

And hopefully, neither will yesterday.

I have no words for yesterday.  It was a screw up all the way around.

The Girl had an interview for her first job, so we were rushing around to get mornjng chores, breakfast and showers.  I took Abby off the nest as usual, but didn’t stay to watch her to see if she got back on.

I also failed to check if none of the other hens snuck into the barn.  They aren’t allowed to wander in the barn.

And it was a very long day for us.  We went from the interview (she got the job) to buying the clothes she would need for work to buying spray paint for Little Dude’s soapbox derby car.  Then lunch, and then I had to start cooking dinner when we got home.

I sent Little Dide down once with veggie tidbits from the salad I was making dinner, but he went through the gates and not the barn.

In short, no one checked them out.

At lock up time, I found Maicey inside the barn.  Not the coop.  She’d been locked up all day.  No access to food or water.  She destroyed my partial bale of straw looking for a place to lay her egg.  Straw everywhere!  Also, poop everywhere.  She must have pooped every three steps she took!

I picked her up and plopped her in the coop where she literally stuck her whole head in the water dish to get a drink!

And that’s when Little Dude discovered the worst part of Yesterday.

Abby was not on her nest.  She was in a laying box underneath her nest, sitting on two other eggs.  Totally broody tranced.

Her eggs were cool, but not cold.

I picked her up and put her back, but she barely noticed.  Just settled in and went back to silently buck-bucking.

It’s possible another hen was on her nest when she got back to the coop.

It’s also possible she was so broody-tranced she just picked a nest and climbed.

I have no clue how long the eggs were left uncovered.

Google tells me that eggs can go 10 hours without a hen and still hatch.

I’m crossing my fingers.  She made it back to the nest this morning and snuggled in, so I’m hoping the next two weeks go off without a hitch. But now I have two things to worry about.   And also, am wonder long if getting broken egg on them damaged the embryos and Anny somehow knows.  Could she have gotten off those eggs because they wknt hatch and she knows it???

Yeah, too much to worry about.

😦

Short Timers

Today marks six weeks with the Mystery Bin Girls!  

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Happy 6-week-aversary, Girls!!!

They’re getting so big!!!   

And the brooder is getting so crowded!  

Every morning now, Matilda and Peanut will sit on the top perch and stretch their necks to peek over the top of the brooder and see … whatever they can see.  Sometimes, one of them will jump out and sit and watch me work.  Matilda likes to do that the best.  She’s a very curious girl, and had very keen eyes.  I can tell she is thinking lots of things.  

She’s going to have a lot to think about this week.  Tomorrow, Dad and I will be hanging the door between the main coop and the ‘grow up coop’ so that they will be able to move in soon.  

There’s a lot still to be done.  Before the hanging, I need to clean the coop and remove all the old ‘deep litter’ and straw, and give the side the little ones will be in a good cleaning.  There are also new curtains to be hung on both sides.  

Dad did a minor tweak to the laying boxes, as well.  He added a couple of inches to the front of the boards, thus making the beds a little deeper.  

I am hoping this will help keep the straw in the next and not so much on the floor, as well as provide a more comfortable nesting environment for the hens who are laying eggs.  

I don’t know if you can tell from these pictures, but they really do look deeper in real life: 

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After the split, I’ll be adding straw to all the laying boxes.  We didn’t use the bottom rows last year.  Now that they’re deeper, I hope they will start.  Might add some plastic eggs to them to encourage the thought. 

More pictures when I get coop cleaned out and the curtains hung.  🙂