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!)

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Tough Poultry Weekend

Beautiful Winona in better days.

It was a tough weekend. I ended up putting Winona into the dog crate as a temporary sick coop and placed her in the shed. I really didn’t think it would come to this nor did I think I would need an infirmary any time soon. All my birds are young, healthy, and I don’t hang around other chickens collecting germs. Plus, I had no problems with my first flock several years ago. But this has taught me I need a sick coop as soon as I have chickens. The rest of the flock is, as far as I can tell, healthy as horses. More on them in a moment.

When Winona was too sick to come downstairs to eat or drink, that’s when I moved her. If I brought her water, she’d drink it. I gave her chick food, but I’m not sure if she touched it. In the sick coop, she is not eating at all (I tempted her with soft carrots and strawberries) and I don’t know if she’s even drinking. I’m very sad for her. I’m also seeing the need to learn to butcher chickens so I can take sick girls out of their misery. All in all, it’s been a downer.

Then to top it off, I lost one of the keets. I was so thrilled when I brought them outside over the weekend. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, as much as their little high-strung selves can. When I went to bring them in, three of them flung (yes flung!) themselves against the fence, screaming to get away. Once I gently put them in the box to go back inside, I went to capture the 4th. This little bugger went to the far end of the run and squeezed out through the fence. (It’s a different fence that what is in the back of the run – same style, slightly wider – that the other three hurled themselves upon.) Wonderful.

He ran to the garden bed without the coop, and squeezed through again. I chased him around the chicken yard a few times (yes, it was comical!). I thought if I gave him a break, he’d calm down. So I brought the others back to their home and came out with the box, hoping to capture him. And he was no where to be found. And still hasn’t been found. I tried flushing him out of some brush, but he obviously wasn’t there. I’m trying to image the little thing hiding so well, and being able to eat, that he’ll liveIMG_0416 wild and free but the reality is he probably contributed to the circle of life.

So it’s been a sucky poultry weekend. And the keets are currently banned from going outside again for awhile. We’ll have to revise the fencing a bit. Which is a shame because the weather has become better and enjoyable. A great opportunity to acclimate.

And, while I definitely understand their benefit in pest control, I’m starting not to like them so much. Chickens are definitely much calmer and practically train themselves. Hopefully, the guineas will become calmer with age.

To top of the fun, the quints have learned to escape. They jump/fly/helicopter right over the fence. Brownie is generally left behind so she and Beulah are becoming friends. I’ve given up trying to lock them in. They wander the yard so we get the benefit of their bug eating and naturally-produced fertilizer. It’s another fencing issue I hope to address this weekend.

I think I’ll end there and mull over necessary improvements so I don’t run into these problems again. I hope you all had a better weekend than I did!

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