Changes They Are A’Comin’

The hot and muggy weather has broken, but I feel it inching back. After the brutal winter, I’m kinda okay with that. I like being

New Nest Boxes

New Nest Boxes

warm. And it allowed me to get the chicks off the heat lamp so much earlier this year than I have been able to in the past. The new box design helped with that — the plastic on the bottom of the front helped reduce drafts and keep in body heat. The design is great as they have plastic bottom for easy cleaning, mesh for air flow and a hole in the top where the heat lamp would normally go. One side swings open and has chest clasp for easy security. Once the chicks are all dispersed, Guapo will be getting an upgrade for his nighttime digs.

I’ve identified the Americuana and Black Star that I’m keeping: Chicken Hawk and Blackie. Chicken Hawk is very aggressive, especially for a hen. Since she won’t be bred, I can live with it (I would not want to pass that aggressive on to future chicken generations). It is surprising to see her assert her “alphaness” over the rest of the chicks — she is very confrontational. I’m interested to see how that behavior plays out when she is integrated with the flock.

I shall call her "Chicken Hawk."

I shall call her “Chicken Hawk.”

The Blue Lace Red Wyandottes will be sorted last. I’m seeing some rooster characteristics emerge but want to be sure before I sell or process. And with the remaining chicks, I want to keep at least one that is close to Wyandotte standards. There is one BLRW, that, if proves to be female, I’m keeping, regardless of how far away she is from the standards. I call her Fluffbutt. Why? She has a beautifully rounded fluffy butt, rather than regular tail feathers. I’m hoping this will stay true as she matures. I think it is a lovely look and want to reproduce it. We’ll see what happens. They are about 9 weeks now and transitioning from crumbles to big girl food. I was bringing them outside on good weather days — that was a pain. Fortunately, they’ve moved outside permanently, to a segregated area in the pen. The fresh air and exercise is good for them, as is the access to bugs and greens.


Penny, Marcia and Kelly (guinea hens) finally decided the eggs won’t hatch after all and gave up. Yeah! Now they can go back to bug hunting. The Japanese Beetles are out in force. We did some “retraining,” i.e., picking the beetles and giving them to the guineas, and that seemed to help. Once the trio were out of the nest and roaming the yard, I quickly gathered up the rancid eggs and threw them out. How do I know they were rancid? Snoop would sneak behind the girls and get an egg and eat it. And boy did it smell! He did this several times as they started to leave the next more and more.

The summer digs.

The summer digs.

But now, one of the hens is broody – Little Red. She may actually hatch some eggs since she was on Guapo’s list. Of course, she’s exhibiting “all these eggz r mine” behavior and I can’t collect any. (I only have one nesting box that all the girls shared.) She doesn’t hiss like the guinea did, but she does peck. Good thing I wear gloves. Typical interaction:

LR: Peck

BHH: I’m just getting eggs.

LR: Peck

BHH: But you’re not even sitting on these.

LR: Peck

BHH: And you’re breaking some; I see yolk all over your chest.

LR: Peck

BHH: What – ever.

Now, it’s just a waiting game with her. She’ll either give up and abandon the eggs in a few weeks, or will actually hatch some. At which time I will need to provide her a secure location away from the flock. I’m not sure how they would interact with the babies, even though these babies were hatched with the flock. My fear is they would be attacked and killed. I simply don’t know and don’t want to take the chance.

On a side note, read my new page about wanting to go back to school. It’s not happening and the story of why may interest you.

Winona meandering around the empty guinea nest.

Winona meandering around the empty guinea nest.

And I’m going to try to be a little more frequent with posts — it’s a little tough working full-time, but hey, I won’t be going to school so my calendar will be opening up.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the beautiful Little Red, trying to become a mama. And don’t forget to show some love — girls gotta eat!

 

 

 

 

 

All your eggz r mine.

All your eggz r mine.

Blue Hen House

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How the Quintuplets Became Triplets

With lots of other updates.

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Beulah and one of the triplets.

So after uploading my last post, I went outside to do a headcount. I generally don’t do that during the day, just at night when I’m locking them up. But I couldn’t find two of the quints earlier and usually I can eyeball everyone within 30 seconds without trying. So I starting hitting the usual spots: Under the airstream, under the addition to the house, the compost heap… nothing. So I went to the coop thinking they might be there. Well, they were, sorta. Their bodies were in the pen outside the coop — headless.

My best hypothesis is a fishercat or weasel shimmied its way under the coop, dragged my poor girls out and ripped their heads off. Didn’t even eat them. After I disposed of the poor things, I spent the afternoon re-enforcing the bottom boards (lots of rocks!) of the coop, moved the solar lights around the pen, and rigged up a radio to play all night long. So far, it’s worked. The good news is we are running electric out back so that will increase the lights as well as eliminate the extensions cords I have running through the lawn to power the radio.

Survivors include Dirty Girl, Brownie, Beulah, and two other generic quints. The two dead girls were generic quints.

Beautiful Winona

Winona in better days.

Winona Update: Winona seems to be actually doing better. I’m pretty sure I’m not kidding myself. I had moved her to a sick coop in the shed because she became too weak to go to the food dish and waterer. I really thought she was going to die and I didn’t want that happening in the coop.

But she has since started opening both eyes and walking a little. I see her eating and drinking. One eye is all black while the other looks to have the pupil wide open. Kinda weird. I’ll try to take pictures. She still sleeps a lot but her droppings are more firm and normal. I’m concerned that she won’t be well enough to put in with the flock by winter. There’s no way she can survive a New Hampshire winter by herself in the shed. So I need to start making a contingency plan in case she needs an extended convalescence. Of course, she may relapse. She may still pass away. I’m taking it day by day.

Beulah has found her and now lays her eggs in the shed. She visits Winona often and sometimes brings the flock with her. Very glad Winona is not contagious! And I am very impressed with the loyalty I see in Beulah. I really did not expect that with chickens.

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Getting used to their new home.

Keet Update: They’re in the coop! I don’t let them out yet as I want them to imprint on the coop as home but they are living out there now. The girls don’t like not being able to go in and out of the coop at will, but they’re adjusting. And since I can’t get them to lay eggs in the coop right now, it’s not like I’m missing out. This weekend will be the trial of letting the keets out. I am concerned about their flying away, but I’m hoping between their comfort level with the girls (there was very little bullying the first night and I used my water bottle to break it up when it did happen) and knowing there is food in the coop, they’ll be smart enough to come home.

Rumney Livestock Auction: Went to my first livestock auction this past weekend. It was more to check it out and see if it was something we’d do in the future. Mr. Hen House, my impulsive man, bought a batch of fertile duck and peacock eggs. They are in the incubator now and will be candled this weekend. If they are successfully hatched, I will most likely sell the ducklings at the auction (really not prepared for ducks at this time). I’m not sure about the peacocks. I love the way the look and would love to have them in the yard. I’m pretty sure I can house with the chickens, although if we build the big hen house that Mr. Hen House is contemplating, that will resolve the housing issue. But they are loud! And I do live in a neighborhood. So… not sure what I will do at this point. Let’s see if they hatch first.

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The (temporary) new boys.

We also picked up a pair of beautiful Blue Laced Red Wyandottes to replace the two quints. However… they are roosters! They were not identified as roosters on the cage tag or when they went up for auction. And Mr. Hen House just had to have them. (They really are quite beautiful.) They weren’t crowing like the other roosters in the barn. We didn’t find out they were roosters until he went to pay for them and by then we were committed. We brought them home, put them in quarantine (a big MUST when getting new birds), hoping against hope they were hens and two days later one of them started crowing. We held out hope that it was a mated pair, but then the second one started crowing. They are going back. We’ll trek up for the next auction and get whatever we can for them. And Mr. Hen House will need to control his impulsiveness this time.

With that said, you can get good livestock inexpensively at the auction although you do need to eyeball them. I saw more than a few chickens that had mite problems. There were goats and rabbits as well and they have been known to sell cows, horses, etc. It’s very catch-as-can, and all dependent on what folks bring in to sell.

Other good news: The girls have practically eliminated the Japanese beetle problem! I’m sure there are nasty grubs in the ground, percolating and growing to emerge as beautiful and destructive beetles. And then beetles will fly in from all over… but the girls have it under control. My grape vines look normal this year. Now I just have to keep the girls from eating the grapes. One thing at a time…

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(Feel free to help a chicken out by making a purchase at the link below. These ads pay for their food!)