Feathers, Feathers EVERYWHERE!!!

I can not believe the feathers, they are everywhere!!!

I do not know how my other chicken keeper friends are finding their feather issues, but mine are awful this fall!!!  I have never seen it so bad…  Not only are we having a bump crop of apples and acorns, but now feathers!!!  Could this mean that we are in for a rough winter ahead?  Not sure, but I will have to prepare myself and my ladies + one Roo (junior) very soon.

To leave or discard (if at all possible)?  My concern are the little mice that LOVE the environment the feathers + food provide….  I have already had to break up 4 very carefully placed piles of feathers forming above the chicken run.  I feel bad I have to disturb the little vermin’s new home, but I can not allow them to make homes where my chickens live, and that’s mostly for me…  Chickens would LOVE to fight over the mice ~ hahaha.  So, everyday I’m able to remove the feathers from the chicken run, but I’m finding it very difficult to get under the coop (my girls favorite spot).  I’m thinking that in a couple of weeks, I will take a leaf blower from the outside and blow them into the open part of the run to scoop them up. Or should I leave them for the winter time to keep the chickens feet warm ~ LOL

Another day with mylittleeggheads,

~anna

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Giving away the Rooster(s)

I had the hard task of finding a good home for the two roosters that I couldn’t use in my small flock. They were just turning 3 months and I knew that I was running out of time before all hell would break out in my grow out pen with only two pullets in it.

I knew that it would be a challenge, mostly because some owners of chickens view roosters as expendable or for a better word “dinner.”  That is very understandable and acceptable.  I also know from experience that when you give away or sell anything and place a condition on it, it’s out of your control what happens after you walk away….with that being said; I knew I had to hit the grown running to find “good” home(s) for these two little ones…

My ideal situation for them was a new family starting out with chickens who could have a rooster (not all properties, or town ordinances allow roosters), wanted to breed, or for guarding an existing flock for free range purpose (I guess a dog or donkey could do the same ~ LOL).  I hit a lot of dead ends, but always found someone who would take them off my hands for chicken stock/soup or a meal (they were very honest with me).  For me, that was my very last resort!  My goal if I had NO choice was to ask if they could live long enough to enjoy a winter and full summer with the ladies 🙂

Then one day my phone rang with a dear friend telling me that she found someone who would take both roosters and that they would be on a horse farm with two small flocks of hens.  I was thrilled!!!!!!!  I made arrangements to drop off my birds, I bid farewell, kissed them on their heads, I told them to behave and have a wonderful life!

A week later I was able to see a picture of one of the roosters sitting in a young boys lap. I was so happy to see this little boy with a great big smile hugging my Franky’s off spring. Life goes on and I was able to be part of bringing a little joy to a young boy who will have these memories forever.

I found peace with it, and for someone who has never given away pets ~ that was HUGE for me 🙂  Have a wonderful day all…

~anna

I can do hard things.

A wonderful read…Thank you @almostfarmgirl 🙂

Almost Farmgirl

Jeremiah pulled the covers back and kissed me goodbye at about 7:30.  I was still in bed, unmotivated to get up and start my Sunday.

“I put fly masks on the horses and scrubbed the trough.  The stalls are clean, and the water buckets are filled.  The chickens are fed.  The barn cats are let out.  And don’t let our cats convince you to give them second breakfast” [for those of you who haven’t met them, our house cats are basically hobbits…] “because I just fed them too.”

I rolled over to say thank you when a rooster crowed in the distance, as though he knew he’d been left out.

“Oh, right,” Jeremiah continued, “I let the chickens out too.”

Jeremiah is gone a lot for work, especially lately, but when he has time, he does a sweep of the barn before leaving so that I don’t have to worry…

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Chicks are now pullets and cockerels at 7 weeks!

My small little clutch of eggs that were hatched out by the most unlikely hen, have reach a ripe age of 7 weeks yesterday!

Mother hen threw up her wings at 5 1/2 weeks…  What a trooper she is!  In all honesty, the chicks were starting to get really big. Three out of the five are Roosters!!!  I’m so disappointed, I knew that I had 1 cockerel (and I was okay with that since loosing my big boy Franky), and now I will have two cockerels to re-home.  I so wish I could trust them to get along, but we all know that’s not possible.

This morning I watched Mother hen peeking in on her pullets and cockerels, but not wanting to say hello… She wants to keep them in a pecking order according to her rank.  The other day I had them all out together (older hens and young ones) and she was the only one pecking them on the head. Mother hens can be mean.

My next difficult decision will be .. which Roo to keep!  I already have an opinion on the Easter Egger / RIR mix …I think too aggressive of Rooster for me!  I don’t need wimpy, but would like to walk across the lawn and not have to worry :). After reading up on these two as a cross, I’m a bit skeptical. This young Roo is already trying out his vocals and pushing his weight around!!!  The only plus to keeping him over one of the others are his comb and wattles at maturity (Egger has pea comb and little to no wattles).  Winters are tough here in Catskill Mountains – that would mean less frost bite to worry about. The other crosses are a Buff / RIR and a Barred Rock or a Black Sex Link (I don’t know since I find genetics so difficult), both cockerels are beautiful ~ I will have to see how their personalities develop.

I have the next few months (Sept through early Nov) to integrate them into the flock.  I have split the coop in half (they can be seen by the older hens) and will let them out separately and together under supervision.  I was able to pull it off without a hitch two summers ago when introducing 8 new pullets to 5 hens and a Rooster.  This time I’m expecting 13 hens to give 2 pullets and a young cockerel the business.

I hope to come out of this unscathed… or I should say, the new additions unscathed 🙂

A very sad event…

My Big Boy
My Big Boy

On August 2nd, 2015 my RIR Rooster Franky who just fathered 5 beautiful fluffy butts died in my arms of an apparent heart attack.  He was majestic, larger then life and took the responsibility of his hens very seriously.

For the past month he was showing signs of fatigue, he was brought to my vet who has chickens of her own and we tested (which came back negative for anything), and covered all illnesses with two rounds of different antibiotics.  He never turned the corner…

It was so sad to see such a strong Rooster decline so quickly….  My heart breaks as my yard is now so quiet.  My hens don’t know what to make of it – I haven’t let them out for the last two weeks to free range because I had Franky inside with me.

I have been wondering if Franky whispered in my hens ear and said “it’s time to make babies.”  Or better yet, my hen instinctively knowing something was wrong and that he wouldn’t survive.  She got the job done and put a clutch of eggs together.  I’m so proud of her…

Either way, I’m Happy that I have his offspring…. Hybrids be what they may….

Fluffy Butts have arrived!!

She did it!!!  My Buff Orpington lowest in pecking order, the smallest Buff Orpington’s I have ever seen hatched out her babies…  I heard the pipping and peeping start on day 19 and 5 emerged on day 20. FIVE beautiful baby chicks two are golden and three black with white markings.

We started out with eight eggs under her… at about day 11, I had noticed a strange odor at the nest, when I lifted her I noticed that there was shavings stuck to her left foot.  An egg had broke…  I was very sad and nervous because I didn’t know if she had done it on purpose or it happened for another reason (I later in the same week figured out why). I looked over the nest to see if the eggs were covered with remnants of the broken egg, they didn’t look bad, and I removed what I could. The rest of the incubation period with CC sitting on 7 beautiful eggs went without a hitch!  Mind you, her and I did this stint together… I picked her up ever so carefully once a day so that she could relieve herself and encourage her to eat.

Day 18, I didn’t move her!  All my reading said she should be in lock down…  and so she sat and flattened herself low to the nest.

Day 19, I walk by her and she is clucking in very low tones… I thought I was disturbing her, but later find out she was feeling movement and speaking to her little ones from her belly to theirs.

Day 20, PEEPING!!!  All different sounds… some low, some very loud!  I started to talk to CC and all of a sudden this little golden baby chick came out from under CC and greeted me 🙂 I felt like a little kid in grade school ~ I was amazed, in awe, and very much in LOVE…  My worries were over and CC was SO proud of her accomplishments.

Day 21, I know I have two more eggs under her… All the eggs went under her the same day, Why is this taking this long?  I will admit that I didn’t candle the eggs like had planned at day 10 ~ I was nervous about moving them too much and having a mishap with one drop from my hands.  I got the courage to candle the two remaining eggs… 1 egg wasn’t fertile at all (not surprised, it’s not Franky’s favorite hen), and the 2nd egg had stopped growing at about day 11 (maybe the broken egg took up too much of it’s surface-smothering it ~ I didn’t catch it). The egg that broke half way through the process came from one of my hens that I had to pull into my chicken hospital for almost 7 days and put on an antibiotic for egg yolk peritonitis ~ it seems she is having some issues laying… I did notice that her eggs were a little on the thin shelled side (another story for another time).

I’m THRILLED and CC is a PROUD MOMMY HEN  Day 19 first baby chick

Day 3, first outing with Mom
Day 3, first outing with Mom

Day 11 …

I’m reading up on this “Broody Hen laying experience” everyday only to get more nervous about my hens health as the days go by…..  I try to compare my experience to those of others – most have wonderful outcomes even if their hen successfully hatches one egg (I would be thrilled as well), and some have hens that are so dedicated die on the nest from hunger.

My hens health….  CC does not come off nest unless I remove her.  She is not taking in any water and only eating small amounts of food which is getting less and less as the days go by.  I understand that hens metabolism slows down in order to hatch out these babies!   Even so I have chose to intervene; it’s hard to feed a chicken who does not want to eat – harder to make her drink.  I do the best I can.

I’m loving every minute of this, but would be lying if I said it’s not stressful!!!!  Today is day 11 with 10 or so days to go (July 6th can’t come quick enough for ME!).  I have a back up incubator if she decides to jump off the nest and not go back, or if I find her health has deteriorated too much.

My concerns now:  CC’s health first!  Projecting ahead …. How many will hatch (I haven’t candled yet – it’s something I should do in the next day or so), and the hen to roo ratio 😜

~anna

My first Broody Hen

I can’t believe it!!!!  I checked on my girls about 5pm last night and noticed my Buff Orphington (CC) was acting very strangely.   I didn’t pay much attention to it and closed them up as usual for the night.  This morning I noticed all came out of the coop for their morning breakfast but CC (short for cupcake).  I opened the nest box door and noticed she was right where I left her last night.  I picked her up to find that she had NO feathers on her breast bone or belly!  Here we go!!!  Now my head is spinning ….

I don’t want baby chicks!  I don’t have the room in the run for them (my coop can fit 30, but not my run).  What do I do?!?!  Of course I know I can try and brake her of this “natural thing” that comes over her, but that’s too mean – she wants to be a mommy hen.  I took her out and put her down for some food and water.  She clucked the entire time under her breath.  I know sooner turn around, and she’s back in the coop sitting on another hens egg.  That’s it.. I feel horrible!  I started putting all the girls eggs one by one under her.  She is now sitting on 8 beautiful eggs.

My fiancé made me (without even asking) a maternity ward in the garage for her.  So this evening I will move her to a safe spot for the next month or so.  I wont lie… I’m very nervous about this decision and excited at the same time.  I have done all the reading today that I can to keep myself abreast of how and what to expect in the very near future.

My concerns:  Will she be a good mommy hen?  Will she leave the nest half way through the process (I will be getting a incubator as back up)?,  Will she look to destroy the newborns?  So much to think and worry about…

Pictures of set-up to follow in the morning. to be continued……

Will my little eggheads forgive me?

I must take a road trip to visit my mother in the near future.  I’m having a neighbor watch over the house, my cat Lucy and my chickens…

I’m so nervous and I know that I shouldn’t be.  I’m starting to make my notes for what I need done while I’m away!!!  As I start to think about it, I can feel the anxiety building …  I never realized how much I do for my girls!  I think besides having the chickens needs met while I’m gone, the worst for me is not permitting them to free range for almost 7 days!!!  They absolutely will get on each others nerves and feathers will be missing. My coop and run are like Fort Knox, but one never knows when there is complete silence around a house, what predators will be lurking.   I always lock my girls up at night, but I will have to leave the pop door open and that’s only to make it easier for my neighbors to take care of the birds (my Roo is too protective and I don’t want to have anyone frightened by him).   The chicken chores will have to be done at dusk… I guess next on the list is to invest in is a automatic door opener/closer…. Anyway, they will be stressed and I will be stressed worrying about them.  Until next time 🙂