Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chick & chicken update

Happy Saturday!

Life goes on here at Razzberry Corner.  Mama hen Charlotte still doesn't accept the 3 reject chicks.  I put all 10 chicks together every day & separate the mama from them, but allow her to see them all.  Sometimes they're in the coop (if it's raining outside) or sometimes they're outside.   The 3 rejects needed interaction with the other chicks.  Since I've started this, the 3 are now developing normally and are acting so very much better.  I think Little Red (a Rhode Island Red) chick is going to survive! 

Little Red and the other 2 reject chicks
Little Red on her side of the fence, a couple red sex-link pullets in the adult chicken pen
Little Red's one of my favorites, of course, because I love an underdog. She's doing so well, I'm so happy for her now.  I really wasn't sure she was going to live back when she stopped eating.  She took the rejection from the mother hen very hard.  I put a little stuffed moose in her pen and forced her to sleep underneath the floppy antlers.  In the beginning she could hardly stand and would just lay under the antler.  The 2 other chicks followed her lead and snuggled under the moose antler's too, not realizing she was just weak/exhausted and wasn't starting a trend of where to sleep.  Eventually Little Red got strong enough to stand up and liked to stand on the back of the moose and the other 2 followed along.  Now, after a long day of playing in the pen, Little Red runs to the moose and tucks herself up under the floppy antlers happily.  It's very cute.  That's her mama moose.

Little Red

 My other favorite chick has been named Big Bird, and is from an egg of Big Bonnie, the shelter hen. 

Big Bonnie, molting

 Big Bird is huge, compared to the other chicks.  

Big Bird

But his mother is huge, too.  And he's growing a comb.  

Big Bird and his big comb

Possible rooster alert!  Big Bird is one of the elite 7 chicks who mama loves.  But Big Bird looks similar to one of the 3 rejects and sometimes, if mama's in a very bad mood, she attacks Big Bird.  Big Bird is very independent and likes to be alone.  He's also very observant, noticing everything.  The other chicks don't pay attention to things like Big Bird does.  Funny how chicks have personalities.

Mama Charlotte in a cage in the chick pen, separating her from the chicks so she wont hurt the 3 rejects
Big Bird, on the right, is intently watching Brindle cat who's up on the chicken coop roof.  None of the other chicks even noticed the cat up there.

Last night mama Charlotte got confused at bed time and started attacking Big Bird by mistake, mistaking it for one of the 3 rejects.  I was putting the chicks to bed in the coop and heard her screaming inside, I didn't expect her to attack Big Bird, he's an elite chick, so I had BB in with her to sleep under her wings for the night.  Anyway, BB took a beating from mama hen.  I ran in & grabbed her & BB.  BB was standing with it's face hidden in a corner and mama hen attacking him from behind.  I didn't see any open wounds on BB, but he was screaming bloody murder.  I put BB with the 3 rejects & the moose until it got pitch black and everyone was sleeping except for BB, who was then screaming for his mama, he still loved her and wanted to sleep with her.  So I went back out & snuck BB under mama hen's wing and she accepted him again.  Mama Charlotte is having a tough time these days being a mother. 

We now have 2 roosters, after the loss of Leggy.  They are Muffin, an Americauna, and an unnamed silver laced wyandotte cockerel. 

Muffin the rooster

silver laced wyandotte cockerel

The silver laced wyandotte is such a sissy.  If anyone looks at him funny he pops up in the air and runs away.  He's been practicing his crow - he has a very deep voice.  He's a large bird with long legs - very tall.  I wonder if he'll turn into a good rooster.  Muffin will always be lead rooster as long as he's able.  But he's 3.5 years old now, a new young strong rooster may try to take over Muffin's turf.  We'll see.

Muffin in foreground, un-named rooster in background, white leghorn pullet on right

 And now Big Bird is a possible budding roosterette.  It'll be a long time before he grows up to an adult rooster, but maybe he'll be a keeper.  Although, thinking about it, I don't really want a huge & heavy rooster, a big rooster could hurt the smaller hens when mating...

The chickens have started explosion molting, including Mama Charlotte.  Maybe that's adding to Mama Charlotte's bad mood these days.  Feathers are everywhere in the chicken pen - it looks like a bunch of feather pillows were emptied out there!  I'll have to start raking them up.  I like the chickens molting early like this, as it's still hot out.  This way they'll have their new coats grown in in time for winter.

Gold-laced wyandotte pullet
Brindle cat walked all over the roof of the chicken pen and the chicken coop this morning.  Only Muffin and Big Bird were upset about this occurrence.   I tell you, Big Bird is a budding cockerel!


Watching the chicks from above

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rest In Peace, Leggy

May you rest in peace always.
You were and always will be my favorite chicken of all times.

I love you, Leggy.

Oct 15, 2009 - July 24, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Egg production

Despite all the chaos going on in the coop these days, I've been monitoring our egg production.  We raised 9 pullets this spring, and I planned on them starting to lay their first eggs in July.  Well, now it's late July.  Hello, ladies, where are my eggs?

I mentioned in my last post that we have 15 older hens: Of these about 10 older hens don't lay at all and 3 that lay routinely (Big Bonnie, the shelter hen, Penny, the shelter hen, and Candie) and 2 older  hens that lay sporadically. 

Here is a pic of our eggs.  The darker brown ones are Candie's, the medium brown smaller eggs are Penny's, and the large lighter eggs with spots are Bonnie's. The 2 older hen eggs are much smaller and I don't put them in an egg carton, so they won't be mixed up with the larger eggs that we sell or give away.  I eat them myself or use them for cooking.

Here are the smaller eggs from the older hens.  Wait a minute - what's that smaller egg?  We are wondering if maybe one of the new pullets have started laying.  I assumed they'd all start laying at around the same time.  But maybe, just maybe, one or two of the new pullets have started laying.  We'll see - I expect a lot more eggs in the near future!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chicken Chaos Continues with an Injury!

Yesterday I posted how I separated Mama hen Charlotte from her 7 chicks and mixed her 7 and the 3 reject chicks into one pen, so the 3 reject chicks had time outside being treated normally.  If mama hen is there, she tries to kill them.  All went fine with the 10 chicks being together, no issues.

However, an issue arose with Mama Charlotte being mixed with the general chicken population.  Little Dottie hen attacked Charlotte.  I locked up Dottie in the coop to keep her off Charlotte.  But a few hours later I realized Charlotte had been injured!  No!

Charlotte's wattle had been torn and was bloody.  No other chickens were picking on her, but she looked bad.  I brought her inside, cleaned her up, put antibiotic ointment on her wattle, inspected for any damaged to her neck (there was none), and put sugar on the wattle to stop the bleeding.  It bled for quite a while.  Luckily the only injury was to the wattle.  She was kicking it and had blood on her foot and on her face from kicking herself. 

Charlotte spent a couple hours calming down inside the bathroom in the dark.  She was fed some treats and water and was inspected again.  The bleeding ceased, so she was cleaned up again and then was put in the coop to sleep with her 7 chicks, who were missing their mama hen very much.  The 7 chicks refused to settle down at nighttime when mama wasn't with them.  I separated the chicks last night, 7 and 3, because I didn't want mama hurting the 3 overnight, and mama had enough stress for the day.  The 3 chicks were exhausted, anyway, and are used to sleeping with a stuffed animal (a moose) - they sleep under it's big floppy antlers, so all was quiet overnight.

This morning I put Charlotte back into the big chicken pen, locked up Dottie and Cheryl, who also was aggressive to Charlotte, and released all the chicks together in the neighboring pen.  The chicks love to be outside, especially the 3 reject chicks.  I'm concerned that I'm going to break Charlotte from her mothering tendencies by separating her from her chicks too early like this, but I want the 3 chicks to thrive, also. 

I never thought having chicks this summer would be this much work.  The first spring batch of chicks was no work, but this batch is more complicated.  This will be the last chicks of this year, as the flock is getting bigger than we need.  We have 15 older hens: Of these about 10 older hens that don't lay at all and 3 that lay routinely and 2 hens that lay sporadically.  We raised 9 pullets and 1 cock this spring (the cock was a mistake, we were told her was a pullet at the store!) to bring our eggs back to about a doz/day by fall.  Then we had a crazy and fun idea to raise some mixed run chicks to see what we got just to add some variety to the flock.  4 of these chicks came from our own hens, and 6 from the farmer's market to bring them up to 10 even.  What a mistake it was to raise these last chicks.  And you know, I bet that most of them turn into roosters, after all this work! :( 

Such is life...  Have a great July Sunday!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chaos in the Coop!

Last time I posted I mentioned that Mama Charlotte hen wasn't accepting 3 chicks and these 3 poor chicks had to be raised separate from the other 7 chicks and Charlotte.  I feel bad for the 3 coutcast chicks; the mama hen tries to kill them if she has access to them.  The 3 outcast chicks love the mama hen and only want to be with her.

This is affecting the 3 chicks terribly.  They aren't eating well.  2 of them are Americaunas - the larger of these 2 is fine, she's feeding herself and developing normally.  Then there's the second Americauna - she doesn't eat as well as her sister, but she'll make it.  She's kinda listless and really wants to be with the other chicks.  Then, lastly and most sadly, is the Rhode Island Red.  She barely eats at all, is way behind developmentally, and now has developed a foot/walking issue.  She was normal when we got her. I don't think he's getting the proper nutrition.  I think she'd be fine if she'd eat.  We have started her on a drop of vitamin E in the beak at nighttime, a secret we learned that helped guinea keets when they had nutrition issues and developed walking disabilities.

For the last week we've been letting mama hen and her 7 chosen chicks out into a separate pen, giving them access to the pen and to their own private coop at will.  This gives the 3 chicks some private time without mama Charlotte and the other chicks, which is good for them.  They feel less left out when mama's not ignoring them.  They've been locked into their own private section of the coop, which is separated by a mesh fence from mama hen and her baby coop area.

Today I decided to lock mama hen into the big chicken pen, and let ALL 10 chicks together into the chick pen.  Mama hen can see the chicks through a fence, but cannot get to them.  That way all 10 chicks can be outside together.  The babies all get along, it's the mother hen that hates the 3 babies.

At first mama Charlotte went crazy being locked away from her babies.  She was hysterical.  She paced back and forth along her side of then fence.  The chicks wanted to be near her, but they still took the time to wander away from her side of their pen and check out the area.  The 3 reject chicks were so happy to be outside and also to be with the other chicks.  They naturally fit right in.  They are the happiest chicks in the world right now, they are no longer rejects.  Little Rhode Island Red started pecking and eating normally with the other chicks.

Mama hen clucked hysterically along the fence line.   The guineas, who wander totally free outside all fences, came by to see the commotion in the chicken pen.  It was the talk of the farm.  The 2 outside cats came by to see what was going on, too.  Everyone was worried to hear a mama hen screaming.

Here's an individual shot of the RIR.  She's hobbling a little with her walk, but she looks so much better, happier, now that she's with the other chicks.

Dear old Leggy rooster has kept close to the action, keeping a close eye in an attempt to make everything all better. Mama Charlotte doesn't care if a rooster is near her, but NO other hen or pullet is allowed to be near her right now.  Charlotte's in a bad mood and everyone knows.  She's separate from her babies.  The world might end.  You keep your distance, or she will attack you!

For some reason, little Dottie hen decided that Mama Charlotte needed a good butt-kicking.  Little Dottie hen is very small, she's a bantam white leghorn/Americauna mix.  But to my surprise she won the fights with mama Charlotte.  I left Dottie and Charlotte outside together, thinking Charlotte would chase away Dottie eventually, but Dottie continually came back to fight, and Dottie was winning, pinning down Charlotte and biting Charlotte's head.  I had to physically remove Dottie's beak off Charlotte's head more than once and decided that Dottie needed to be separated. 

Because we have 9 four-month-old pullets, our chicken coop is kinda busy.  The pullets are considering laying for the 1st time and spend many hours a day inside the coop, nesting and watching other birds nest.  They are trying to figure the whole egg-laying-thing out.  So the regular coop is taken.

So that left only the chick coop for Dottie's jail.  This is the coop where Charlotte and the chicks normally stay.  Today it is Dottie's jail coop.  If Charlotte only knew that Dottie was spending the day in HER coop, she'd be even more angry.  Dottie's doing ok all alone in the coop.  She's very independent and doesn't appear to mind being locked up, she's spent most of the day napping and making nests.

I took a couple of quick pics of the rest of the flock.  The left most bird in the back is a red sex link pullet (you can tell by the small comb), to the right in the far back is the red sex link shelter hen, Penny,  then there's Candie, who was named after my sister-in-law (she's the black chicken with spots), then there's Muffin (brown./black Americauna rooster with a big tail), behind Muff is Cloe (brown/white hen), the white/grey hen up front is Luna, who we rescued from Craig's List, way back in the back right with her head down is Cheryl, who was named after my sister, right up front in the center is Jade, and the tail on the left front belong to my fav hen, Lucy.

Her's my gal Lucy, trying to sneak out of the chicken pen while I'm distracted with the camera.

Jade, the small brown bird in the center, is Lucy birth daughter.  She's inherited a lot of Lucy's personality.  All the birds are looking to see if I have treats for them.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Chicks, Vines, and Guineas

Last I left you a week ago the mother hen, Charlotte, had not accepted the new chicks I gave her.  She hatched 4 of her own, and I bought 6 additional chicks, which she did not want.

Since then we got Charlotte to accept all but 3 of the new chicks.  So, sadly, 3 chicks don't get raised by a mama hen.  It's a sad situation.  The 3 don't eat very much on there own.  They want mama to tell them to eat.  They are separate from Charlotte and her chicks, but they can see Charlotte and the other chicks, and worse, they can hear her clucking to her babies.  But they are the outcasts.  It is truly so sad that she will not accept them.  Charlotte tries to kill them if we add them to her babies. 

This weekend I've been letting Charlotte and her babies outside into the pen, so that the 3 lone chicks have the run of the coop.  That way they don't have to see the other babies or hear the mama that hates them clucking to the other chicks.


On the same sad note, Charlotte abandoned 3 eggs that did not hatch.  She abandoned them 3 days after her babies hatched.  We had our hands full trying to get Charlotte to accept the new chicks, so we set the 3 eggs aside for a day without any heat.  We assumed they were not viable eggs.  Finally we cracked open the eggs expecting to see that they were just rotten eggs, but, to our horror, we saw they were chicks who were much further behind in the development stage.  They were already dead.  We should have put them in the incubator back when the mother abandoned them.  But now it was too late for them.  How very sad, it broke my heart.


Sometimes farm life is sad.  I don't know what else to say.


On a much different note, I've spent this weekend and last weekend weeding, cutting down brush and bushes, and removing vines.  It's been raining every day here in Maryland/Washington DC/Virginia, and the weeds and vines have taken over.  I fill up the dump truck in the Mule tractor with weeds, vines, trees, brush, and dump it out in the woods.  I must have dumped about 7 loads.  I love the little Mule, it is a handy vehicle for a farm.  Work around the farm never really ends.  When I have a free day, it's always a decision of what will I do today, not what needs to be done.  The list of things that need to be done is too long to keep track of!

I found some poison ivy when I was pulling vines down off the house.  I thought I was very careful not to touch it, I was wearing gloves.  I'm not highly sensitive to poison ivy; I don't catch it just from being near it.  However, when I was pulling it off the house and putting the vines in the Mule, the cut part of the vines must have ran across my arm and deposited it's oil on my arm.  Three days afterwards the worst poison ivy rash I've ever had appeared in a perfect line on my inner right forearm.  It's a line of huge blisters, it looks like a small mountain range on my arm, and it itches like crazy.  I haven't been scratching it and have been putting all sorts of treatments on it, keeping bandages on it so I don't scratch it by mistake or rub it on something.  Five days after it appeared, it's still there, all inflamed and blistery and huge, a mountain range looming across my inner arm .  I also got random poison ivy blisters on various places, one on my arm, a couple on a leg.  They aren't bad because they are just one blister, and they're going away.  I hope the mountain range doesn't leave a huge scar...     

To attempt to make this a happier post, here's a picture of one of the guineas saying hello to a woodchuck in a field.  Actually, the guinea was telling the woodchuck to leave now if he wanted to live.  The guinea quickly brought backup and they chased the woodchuck away.  our guineas are possessive and demanding birds, and they don't like to share.

This morning two male guineas were chasing each other around, running circles around each other.  They make me laugh, at least.

Happy Sunday.  I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mother Hen Issues

Uh oh!  I was bragging about how wonderful Charlotte the mama hen was, and how she'd accept chicks that she didn't hatch to her brood.  She's accepted chicks before, she's been a mama hen many times before.

However, she spent 2 days getting to know her own chicks before I added new chicks this time.  And now she doesn't want the new chicks.  I guess 2 days was too long a period to go before I added new babies.

Charlotte hates the little Rhode Island Red chick.  She bites it terribly.  She knows it by color.  There's also an Americauna she knows is not her, it's a brownish color, she'll bite it, too.  There are a few Americauna chicks that look just like her own Big Bird chick, and by mistake she has even pecked Big Bird now when she mean to peck those other chicks.

If too many chicks come out from under her wings all at once, it freaks Charlotte out.  She knows she only had four chicks.  She cranes her neck and looks at each chick, trying to recognize it by color, and she'll peck at the ones that aren't her original chicks.

I turned out the light in her coop, covered all windows and doors and covered the crack under the door going into her coop.  It has to be dark.  There is a fan blowing outside air in in the window, so it's not terribly hot in there yet this morning.  If Charlotte cannot see the chicks she's ok.  They all nest up under her wings, they all accepted her just fine.  I don't know how long I can keep it dark in there.  I'm just hoping eventually she'll accept them.

Most likely I'll have to separate the chicks somehow, and one batch will be raised without a mama hen.  Hey, at least they'll be friendly, as I'll be their mama.  What work...


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Chick Update - additional chicks are added

Charlotte and her chicks are doing fine.  Four chicks hatched out of seven on the 4th of July.  There are still three eggs under Charlotte; we don't think they will hatch and will remove them tomorrow.  They are not peeping.

There are 2 black cuckoo maran chicks, one red sex link (who's yellow), and one mixed chick named Big Bird.  The fathers are either Muffin, an Americauna, or Leggy, a white leghorn.  The red sex link chick came from a red sex link mother bird (Penny) and is a second generation red sex link, and of course is mixed with the rooster.  First generation red sex links chicks are red if female and yellow if male.  This doesn't always hold true for second generation.  We'll see - I love genetics and am curious if it is actually a rooster.

Big Bird and Mama Charlotte are pictured below.  Big Bird is very independent and doesn't always need to be under mama's wings.  The other birds like to be protected by her, but Big Bird is ok being by herself.

Today I picked up six additional chicks from the farmer's market:  5 Americauna's and 1 Rhode Island Red.  They were exhausted when I brought them home.  I gave them water and food, but they mostly wanted to sleep all afternoon.  I kept them separate until tonight, when we put them under Mama Charlotte's wings.  Charlotte will accept them and raise them as hers.

Now there's one new baby under Charlotte.  It looks like Big Bird.

Now there's two new babies.  Big Bird is looking at them.

Now there's 3 new babies.  Charlotte is checking them out as they snuggle under her wings.

All 6 are now under Charlotte's wings.

Big Bird decided she better find a place under her mama's wings.  Charlotte has spread her wings to accommodate the 10 chicks and the 3 eggs.  She's a good mama hen.

Goodnight Charlotte.  I'll check on her once more tonight, but she'll be fine with the new babies.  She has her work cut out for her.