Experiments in Flock Management

Each year there are decisions to be made about how to manage the flock of hens.

Said decisions typically include choosing whether or not we’re adding to the flock in the Spring (or Fall); if we are adding to the flock, how many and what breeds we’ll bring in; when to bring them in; and how long they’ll stay sequestered before integrating them into the flock at large. Part of the whole decision making process is deciding which of the hens will be retired. Another part is when transitions will be made – and how. It’s important to not make too many changes or to stress the flock out – it can really affect their health.


February 21, 2014

A number of years ago it occurred to us – that while it’s fun to get a smattering of this breed and that breed (one year I think we added something like 10 different breeds) – it sure gets to be a challenge in the coming years what breed came what year. That’s when we decided that when we add to the flock, we typically add half a dozen or a dozen chicks of a particular breed at a time. It sure makes it easier to keep things straight.

This year we brought in 13 black Cuckoo Marans and 12 California Whites.

It was about 4 or 5 weeks into observing chicks that we realized we had a couple roosters.

Both roos, unfortunately, are black Cuckoo Marans. I really wanted MORE of those incredibly dark brown eggs, not less. But oh well.

As you can see in the picture above, the roos grow at a substantially faster rate than the pullets. At 8 weeks old last weekend it was becoming obvious that we were going to need to pull the roos out of the enclosure for the chicks and integrate them with the big girls.

Let’s just say they weren’t amused – and catching them was a little bit comical. But catch them I did and they were sent out to make it in the wider world.

They tried and tried to get back to their little girls, but to no avail.

Over the course of the last week we debated whether or not we’d open the baby enclosure up to allow the rest of the babies out into the rest of the flock.

The Cuckoo Marans are certainly big enough.

The California Whites – not so much.

So – we decided to separate them out – bringing the Cuckoo Marans out and leaving the California Whites in.


Before….


During


…and….


After.

It took the Cuckoo Marans a whole day to leave the inside of the coop and venture out to get food and water – they wanted their sisters!

Just in case you weren’t aware – chickens are NOT solitary creatures. They bond to one another – and they mourn when they are separated.

The goal in this flock management experiment is to let the California Whites grow a bit bigger over the next few weeks, and THEN integrate them into the rest of the flock.

The great thing about the way that we keep our babies sequestered (the separation allows them to see one another as the babies grow), means a very smooth integration to the flock at large. Without that opportunity to become visually comfortable with one another, it can spell disaster (and sometimes death) for the babies that are being integrated. That simply hasn’t been a problem for us with the method we use.

So we wait… for the California Whites to grow. And the roos to start crowing…

Oh My Goodness Gracious!

This is Shelly.

Shelly is a California White chicken. She’s 15 months old. She went broody the first time when this past December, when she was just a young’un!

When she went broody again in June we decided to try and find some fertilized eggs to purchase to let her set on.

We were fortunate enough to find www.eggs2u.com and got a dozen eggs – six Dominique, six Silver Laced Wyandotte.

We got the eggs June 15th. Shelly has taken her responsibility as broody hen VERY seriously – rarely leaving the nest.

Today was Day 21 – when, typically, chicks start to hatch.

Here are some pictures – brace yourself – they’re just too cute for words!

Seven chicks have hatched. Sadly, two didn’t make it. Gosh, to work so hard to hatch out of those super tough shells and then die. UGH! BUT, by bedtime tonight, we had five beautiful little chicks. I’m not sure which is what breed – but you know what? I really don’t care! I’m having too much fun just sitting and watching them!

More on the babies soon – I promise!

That’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles Central tonight!

Not a good sign…

Today I was in and out of the house for various reasons. The girls (big and little alike) rushed to meet me each time – they always expect snacks. How can I deny such enthusiasm?

At about 1pm I went out to get eggs. Everything was hunkey dorey.

John got home at 4pm. He came in from the back and asked, “Was there a chicken showdown today?”

You see, there’s been LOTS of posturing going on the past few days. I’ve wondered if it’s pecking order being worked out, or if it’s roos starting to feel the effect of puberty.

We went outside and he showed me this sight – LOTS of white feathers. No blood – but LOTS of white feathers. There were a few more over further into the front yard. And just a smattering by the back porch – but these ones from a Blue Andalusian.

So who is missing white feathers? Or is someone missing? We did a quick survey and can’t seem to find our big girl white chickens – the California Whites. Oh dear. (Shelley, of course, is still broody and is safely tucked away in the dog kennel sitting on her dozen eggs happily.)

We did a quick head count and found the White Ameraucana – I’m wondering if this one is a girl or a boy! See… (sorry, fuzzy! He/She wasn’t so sure he/she was happy to have a close up picture taken!)

Look at those tail feathers… They’re definitely longer than the average hen’s… Only we’ve only ever had one Ameraucana – Crayon – and she’s definitely an egg layer!

Anyway – found the White Ameraucana. He/She? was fine – missing no feathers.

Found all four of the remaining Delawares. All present and accounted for – no missing feathers, either.

So… that leaves the California Whites. What could have happened? We do have a new neighbor two houses down – with big dogs – that have been seen roaming freely this week. Our neighbor across the street was quite cross with them and their owner yesterday over some destruction they did in her perfectly manicured yard.

When putting the girls to bed tonight and doing a head count, we realized that, indeed, one of California Whites (the no-name one), AND one of the Blue Andalusian baby girls are missing.

STINK!

When did this happen? I was in the house – at the kitchen sink (looking out over the coop and side yard), at the desk (looking out from a different angle over the coop and the side yard), in the laundry room (same view, slightly different angle), my room (looking into the branches of one of the Camellia’s they hang out on during the day often). How did I not hear anything?!

This is not a good outcome thus far! Two of the big girls gone, two of the little girls gone.

Wondering if I should be worried – a lot. Some worry will come perfectly naturally, of course! That’s just paranoid Mom’s way!

It makes me glad we’ve got Shelley setting on those dozen eggs, though! I wonder what the outcomes/odds on successful hatch will be. We’re ten days in on her setting – here’s hoping she takes her job seriously!

I’ll update if we find out anything else. I sure hope it wasn’t those new neighbor’s dogs!

The Garden, the Flock, et al…

Ever have one of those – well, months! – that just seem to whiz by? I’ve been taking pictures every few days with the sincere intent of updating on the chicks, the big girls, the garden, etc.

Today ends my procrastination! Today I update! (Okay, so technically, it’s tonight now. So sue me!)

The Garden

John has been sick. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery. Honestly? We’re behind. We’d hoped to get newspaper or brown paper bags down, and then compost or bark mulch on top – but illness, finances, and nuttiness of life took over and it just hasn’t happened yet. That changed today!

A load of compost was delivered – hooray! Yes, this means lots of manual labor on my end, but that will be good for me. I’m just trying to decide how I’m going to keep the stuff out of my cast!

It’s so great to see the corn coming up! And it’s really doing well! We’ve not had much luck with corn in the past, so this is exciting! We’ll try and get it thinned this weekend, and get it mulched.

 John planted two types of pole green beans – the ones in this picture are flourishing – particularly in comparison to the second variety – which seems to be a bit slow and lacking in oomph. I’m hoping a little time will remedy that. I’m determined that WE will eat the green beans this year – NOT the deer!

We were able to actually can some of the green beans from last year – but we ran out quite some time ago – so way not enough! It’s such a bummer when you have to go back to the store bought stuff.

We have actual squash hills now. The plants look so beautiful and healthy – hallelujah! There will be squash soon! I love that so much. Funny how I’ve been missing Mom and Grandma so much this year – the wait for the yellow crookneck squash definitely reminds me of them! J

I’ve done a horrible job of planting flower seed this year. Well, I did get some Cosmos in next to the corn – it’s coming up nicely. And the sunflower, nasturtium, and Shirley poppy in the front bed. It’s nice that the sunflowers are coming along so heartily!

As I’m sure you’ve been able to ascertain from these photos – I haven’t been doing much weeding. I’m a bad gardener! I think that’s part of the reason I’m so excited about the compost delivery today – it’s amazing what a nice layer of mulch can do for a weed problem! Just throw down a layer of saved paper grocery bags, put the compost on top – and voila! No more weeds! You better believe I’ll be out there soon getting that plan into motion!

The Flock

 

 

Remember the Chicken Vortex? First Hallie went missing. Then two of the babies – both Delawares. About a week ago, as I was driving by one of our chicken-owning neighbor’s place, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful Rhode Island Red. “Could it be?” thought I. I promptly determined to bring one of my missing chicken fliers to said neighbor. Later that afternoon William and I did just that, and the neighbor took us to their coop – and said, “Nope. Just our regular group of girls.” She *did* sort of look like Hallie. I wasn’t sure! It was one of those moments when I thought – why haven’t we banded our girls?!

For two nights our babies were missing. Friday we had a family BBQ that we planned to attend. John stayed home – still in the throes of his flu. About halfway into the evening I got a text from him saying, “One of the Delawares is home!”

 We don’t know where she was for 2 nights – but we were thrilled she decided to and found her way home!

 Sunday afternoon as the boys were putting the trash out for collection the next morning Jonathan said, “Doesn’t it smell like there’s something dead over here?” We nosed about but couldn’t find the source. The cats are always finding mice and the likes and playing with them to death – sometimes leaving the partial remains when they’re bored. But couldn’t find anything like that. Yesterday afternoon my cousin Bob and her children were over to play. Her daughter Ari and Karina (my niece who is staying with me this week) were playing hide and seek in the yard when they came in yelling “There’s a dead chicken under the tree!!!” Yes, there certainly was. Poor Hallie. She’d obviously been there for some time. We looked there! But she was quite dark, and it is in a cluster of ground-hugging cedars – and well – we missed her. So – the Chicken Vortex seems to have only gotten one chicken – one of the baby Delawares.

Shelly, one of our California Whites, has gone broody once again. This is the second time for her – the first time was in the dead of winter. You can read about it here. She’s been essentially glued to the nest for several days now – and so after hearing about someone else’s good experiences, we decided to get some fertilized eggs from Eggs 2 U. We got a dozen eggs – part Dominique part Silver Laced Wyandotte. Getting Shelly transferred from the nest boxes where all of the girls lay in the coop to the make-shift “nursery” was an experience for John! But suffice it to say that Shelly and eggs have taken up residence in Pepper’s kennel.

She paced and squawked and paced some more, but she eventually settled down and got to business.

Today she was as happy as a clam to be setting on her eggs.

The funny thing being that she’s always been partial to one of the dummy eggs we’ve kept in the nest boxes in the coop. Last evening we put it in with the fertilized eggs to see if it would entice her to settle down. Don’t know if it did or not – but today – as you can see from the picture – she’s scooted it away from the REAL eggs and is only concerning herself with them!

Our chicks are 9 weeks old today – and are looking less and less like babies – more and more like big girls! I’m still blown away by the fact that the big girls and the not-so-baby-ish babies get along so well. It’s such a relief!

I chose some – well, I guess sort of different – breeds for this batch of chicks. We’re intrigued by the heritage and rare breeds – and so that did have a lot of influence on what we chose.

I’m not sure if my favorites are the Delawares or the Blue Andalusians. They’re completely opposite build. The Delawares are HUGE. The Blues are lanky. We have two roosters for sure – one is a Blue; the other is one of the Buff Minorcas. (There is one other that *might* be a roo – but we’re still watching and waiting.)

We have three different colors of Ameraucana – white, a black with reddish/brownish highlights, and a really golden with brown highlights. They’re all so cute with their puffy little cheeks!

The Fam…

 

 This week we’ve been allowed to have our Jessica home!  She left a week and a half ago to work at a Christian camp about an hour East of here.  She normally wouldn’t be allowed the week off like this, but the camp’s census was down and she was allowed the week off.  (Yay!  I’ve missed her!)  She and William are both working at our church’s version of VBS – called KidFest.  My niece and nephew – Karina and Elijah – are here for the week so that they may attend KidFest, as well.  It’s been great fun for them, too, because my cousin Bob’s children (who are close in age to Karina and Elijah) are attending KidFest, as well.  When they are dismissed at noon, everyone has been congregating at our house for lunch and play time.  These kids sure have been sleeping well!

Jonathan left during the early morning hours Monday for Mexico – where he will go and visit his Mom for the next about six weeks.  It’s so wierd not having him here.  We all miss him!

John is *sort of* getting over the horrible cough/cold/flu or whatever the heck it is that he’s had.  Poor guy – he’s just been having the worst time with this thing.  I’ve threatened actually taking him to the doctor – something he doesn’t much believe in – if he doesn’t get better – soon!

For the most part, we’re all just really glad school is out and the summer is thinking seriously about doing it’s thing.

 What we’re really looking forward to, though…

SLEEPING IN!

I love it when school is out for the summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is way too long – but suffice it all to say that I love this time of year. And here’s one of the big reasons why! J

Spring Cleaning!

Today John mucked out the coop. We do the deep litter method of chicken keeping. That means that – typically – once or twice a year it will be mucked out and started all over again with fresh pine shavings. Throughout the course of the year additional fresh pine shavings are added to the top, when things need “freshened up” so to speak.

Aside from finding a WHOLE BUNCH of chicken poo, John also found 10 – yes, I said TEN – eggs – all of varying age. Elijah, my inquisitive nephew, decided to squeeze one of the eggs to see what would happen! Yeah – rotten egg is not such a pleasant experience when you end up wearing it.

See that white egg there behind John?

This Welsummer was pretty put out with John as he worked. She’d come in – squak at him – supervise his work for a while, leave for a while, then come back and repeat!

BB – along with all of the other girls – was trying to figure out what the heck we were doing in her coop!

You see – we do have a plan! (Of course!) John reattached the door that was taken off last fall – so that we can divide the coop once again. The big girls will sleep on the side that the nest boxes are on…

and the chicks that we’ll be getting this spring will hang out on the other side of the coop!
We are looking at adding chicks from the following breeds this year:
Cuckoo Maran
Ameracauna
Sussex
Minorca
Delaware
Barnevelder
Andalusian

I don’t know which of these we’ll actually be able to get our hands on – but I’ve started the process of seeking them out.

Tonight, the big girls were a little confused about all that was going on tonight when they were going to bed at first – but eventually settled down for the night just as they always do.

On a sad note. Angel, our California White with the prolapsed vent, has not responded to therapy. Even worse, her prolapsed vent seems to have gone necrotic – I believe she’s been pecking HERSELF. We had her in isolation – away from the other girls – so that they would not harm her – but apparently that wasn’t good enough. So we’ve decided to cull her from the flock. It seems the only humane thing to do.

What a Day!

This morning, as I was making William’s breakfast I happened to catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye – and lo and behold! What did I see? An escape artist!
Every morning, for the last several mornings, one of the California White’s has been managing to get out of the chicken yard and have at it without competition with the cat’s food. I can understand the motivation – but honestly, it can be a bit of a pain in the butt. Well, and then there’s the fact that solo chicken running around the yard seems – well – more vulnerable.

So – I made oatmeal for the girls, and the minute I took it in to them – escapee wanted back in. Go figure! Yeah, I wasn’t surprised, either.

So guess what! We had a GORGEOUS day today. It got up to nearly 60 degrees! Woo Hoo! SPRING WILL COME AGAIN! HALLELUJAH!

This is what Spring should look like:

And this…
and this…

and of course, this…
By the time the early afternoon rolled around, I decided it was time to let the girls out. Boy oh boy, where they happy to be out and about!

Caleb, hanging with the girls.
Pepper, running with her ball on a rope. She loves that toy!

And here’s Angel. Looks fine – but well, seemed a little more skittish than normal today.
I’d been keeping an eye on the California Whites because for the last three mornings there have been some VERY large white eggs in the nest boxes – and they’ve had quite a bit of blood on them. Hmmm… I decided I had to get to the bottom of this!
As it happened, I noticed that Angel had a BLACK butt. Yes, my chicken pictured above – like she looked like someone had held her over an open flame and singed her fanny. So I determined that I needed to catch her and get a closer look.
Yeah. Right. Not so much.
Thankfully, not much time went by and Jessica arrived home from school. Have I mentioned that my daughter is chicken wrangle extraordinaire? If not – let me just say it here and now: the girl has a gift!
So Jess and I set out to corner and catch the not so interested in being handled AT ALL chicken. Amusing.
So – we finally did it! We caught Angel and I did a little exam. Once I got a closer look it seemed as if her butt were just CAKED – like seriously – with poo, mud, dust, and some blood. Yuck. I realized that this was going to take a concerted effort, so Jess and I worked as a team. She held Angel, I found a large bucket and filled it with nice warm water, and then we set to… yep, bathing the chicken.
It took about 20 minutes, but once I had her butt all cleaned up – it didn’t take long for us to ascertain that something was more than just passingly not okay.
Warning: the pictures below are graphic! Like gross and ickey. Okay?


This, unfortunately, is a prolapsed vent. Darn it!

Poor Angel!

Anyway, eventually got her inito a second bath to make certain she was VERY clean (don’t want any infection to set in!), I went ahead and attempted to gently push the vent back into it’s appointed place! It stayed for about 10 minues, but then re-prolapsed. Darn it. I did get the Preparation H applied – and I’m hoping it helps her!

So – armed with excellent advice from older/wiser cihcken keepers, we’re keeping Angel separated from the rest of the flock, we have her in a location where she can’t hear the rest of life going on around her. It should be restful for her.

And we’ve also draped the crate she’s in with blankets – to help keep her warm.

I think we’ve done all we can for her just now.

I’ll keep you updated on Angel’s progress.

My chickens are hilarious!

They think no one is looking… that no one knows they’re stealing cat food. Oh, but we know! So do the cats! Caleb (who could be a stunt double for Garfield ANY day) is particularly unamused. But – the truth of the matter is this: the cats are afraid of the chickens – so the chickens eat the cats food! Here’s sweet Henrietta. Poor baby! This morning I went out to let the girls out of the coop and give them a little treat. Everyone raced out of the coop and I opened the big door, and there’s Henrietta – perched up on the roost – pretty high up, to be honest. I talked to her for a minute, then got out of her way – it looked like she was getting ready to hop or fly down. And off I went… I had a doctor’s appointment this morning – a long one!

When I got home at noon I went out to let the girls out of the chicken yard so that they could free range. They went giddily running into the yard and I did a quick head count… “Where’s my Henrietta?” I asked Millie. She squawked at me and then ran off to find bugs. So, I thought – “I should check the coop.”

What should I find? Poor Henrietta! Stuck up on the roost – right where I’d left her – HOURS earlier! So I lifted her down and put her out into the yard.

She pretty much spent the entire day very quietly. Yesterday, honestly, she was far more active – and loud. Today she pretty much hung out close to the coop. Her closed eye does open just a teensy bit now – hooray! And her bald spots are sporting little bits of new feather growth.

Did I remember to announce to the world that Crayon is laying now? Here she is with Rooth. Crayon’s eggs are a slightly pink tinged very pale tan color. And they’re pretty darn big! Like 2.25 ounces. Wow! Some day, I suppose, we’ll name the Welsumers. I think that would have to be precipitated by our being able to tell them apart… So – since we’re not there – here’s one of the five Welsumers! LOL!
Ducky is a riot – she actually poses for pictures. She’s so cute!
Here’s another of the Welsumers… Isn’t her coloring lovely?

And here is super goofy Angel. Angel is the California White with blue eyes. At least I think they’re blue. She also has the distinction of being one VERY curious chicken! When I put the camera down to her eye level she comes charging closer – trying to figure out just what exactly that thing is!
Hence, I get some truly hilarious pictures of her!

Today is one of those days when being out in the yard with the girls was just the right thing to do. Especially after hearing that I need another surgery – one that will require me to put NO weight on my left foot for at least a month. Sigh. Thanks to the girls, though, I was able to end the day with more than one laugh!

I can’t believe it’s January!

December flew past in a bit of a white blur… At one point in time we actually had two feet of snow on the ground… Looking back and remembering how slow some of those days went by – with no ability to get out and about – there really was no true sense of cabin fever. We enjoyed having the chance to do some things slowly – to be honest. But here – at January 5th (how did THAT happen?!) – with the kids back in school today for the first time in weeks and weeks – it feels like it was just a blur.

I decided quite definitively this morning that I would not allow the girls to free range today – there’s a big rain storm moving in – they’re saying we may get up to an inch of rain this afternoon and evening. But as I went out to let them into the run I was greeted by their sunny little faces on the back porch!

“How did you get out?” I asked them. They squacked in return.

I eventually figured out the nest box door had not closed completely the day prior – apparently – and the girls had found a way of escape!

So they’re free ranging today. They love it so – it’s hard to deny them the freedom! (Well, except for when it requires me chasing them back home from the neighbor’s yard down the street!)

Isn’t BB getting pretty? She’s our Cuckoo Maran – I think I’d like to add a couple of more of her breed to the flock… We’re getting ready to put together an order of chicks. Lots of thinking to do on that!

Ducky – honestly – is the sweetest little chicken. She’s sweet natured and lays the coolest eggs. And she’s very pretty!

I just love Ducky’s stripes!

This might be Angel… there are a couple of the California Whites that I have a hard time telling apart. But this one – and Shelly – both have the super floppy comb and are kind of comical looking.
Pepper was a little jealous that I was taking pictures of the chickens, so she had to haver her picture taken as well. She’s getting so whiney lately! Lord! It’s about to drive us nuts!
Here’s Millie – official leader of the pack – telling me all of her woes and concerns about the goings on in the flock. She is SO vocal! Maybe that’s where Pepper is learning the whiney thing!

And here’s our newest arrival – Crayon! She’s adjusted so nicely to life in the coop with the girls. I feel pretty sure she’s younger than the others… I know so little about this breed. I’ve done some reading – but I come away feeling like I still don’t quite get it. I have noticed in the past few days that her little comb is redder than it’s been thus far. Maybe she’s just coming into lay. We’ll see!
There is just something so right about looking over the garden plot and seeing the girls hanging out and scratching. I honestly couldn’t imagine our lives without the chickens in them now. It’s kind of fun how the neighbors (well, most of them anyway) are just as thrilled with them as well.

I should also report on Shelly – our broody girl. She continues to spend the majority of her time on the nest. We did end up moving her back into the coop with the rest of the girls. It was the right thing to do. She’s such a grump! She will peck at anyone who attempts to take a peek under her to see if she’s hijacked anyone else’s eggs to sit on. We did our best to try and find fertilized eggs for her to sit on – but honestly, we’re just not ready for that yet. Plus the weather is so cold… maybe if she goes broody again in the Spring – we’ll see. In the meantime, we humor her.

My, it’s pretty!

This is the view out our front window this morning… Yeah, we got a bit more snow!I got up – put on my long johns, pulled on my jeans, found a nice warm sweater, pulled on my warm socks, boots, coat, scarf, hat – and set out… The snow came up to my knees is some places! I couldn’t even find the stepping stones!

And yes – getting the gates open was a bit of a chore! Not that lugging warm water out there to the girls isn’t!

Here’s the view past the coop out to the yard… isn’t it pretty? That’s my egg basket hanging on the fence post while I take care of other business.

The willow that the chicken coop is nestled under is beautiful with the ice and snow on it!

Oh! And we’ve had some really great visitors to the bird feeders the past few days! I think this is a Wood Pigeon – if the lady at the Audobon Society was correct in her identification.
It’s really a pretty big bird – but so graceful.

Speaking of birds… Rooth is determined to check out the snow every opportunity she gets! Problem is – she really doesn’t like it when her toes get cold! She flies places, finds herself kinda of stuck, and then waits – sometimes patiently, rarely quietly – until one of us comes and rescues her and takes her back to the warmth of the coop!

We have what seems to be a whole flock of robins that are hanging out – a lot! – in our crab apple tree. They come to the feeders for seed now and then, too. They must REALLY be hungry!

My Mom received a gift of a lovely little shrub from my friend Charissa (who used to work for my Mom years ago) for her birthday one year. Mom was adamant that we take it with us when we moved her out of the house we all grew up in – we transplanted the beautiful little shrub into two planters – and they have thrived.
Here’s a close-up of the snow and ice on it. It is lovely – but oh, you should see it in summer when it’s in bloom!


I should report that Shelly continues to sit on her eggs (and no! I’m not brave enough to reach under and take them away from her!) and be committed to future Mommy-hood. I’m still searching high and low for fertilized eggs. I really hope we can find some!

We’ve got a broody girl!

If you’re not familiar with chicken type stuff, you may not know what broodiness is…

Here’s a decent explanation: http://www.animalloversweb.com/article_chicken_broody.html

In short, what it means is that a chicken has decided she wants to be a mommy! Many modern breeds of chickens have had that tendancy actually bred out of them. Most chicks are hatched after being incubated in a mechanical incubator – not under a Mommy Chicken! (Although our Welsumers were hatched under a Mom – and had decidedly different behavior patterns as baby chicks compared to their incubated peers!)

Typically, broodiness comes on in the spring of a chick’s 2nd year of life. So imagine our surprise to find that Shelly is broody! She’s only 8 months old, and it’s as wintery as wintery comes! (We’ve got about a foot of snow on the ground! The wind chill is below freezing!)

The first couple of days I thought it was just a coincidence that every time I went to collect eggs that she was on a nest – I figured she was just taking her time laying. But it soon became obvious that she was more than just taking her time. She actually started to hoard eggs! Then she started to fight back if you went to collect the eggs she was hoarding!

The problem, of course, with Shelly’s broodiness being that we have no rooster – so obviously, we have no fertilized eggs – which means – no babies possible! Bummer!

To be honest, William has been talking about wanting to start an egg business in the Spring. He really wants some Americauna’s to round out the flock so that we’ve got some really colorful eggs to offer. We’ve debated buying chicks in the fall, or hoping for a broody hen to be able to try and hatch some eggs. We just didn’t know to think that we’d have a girl go broody this soon!

So… tonight – after checking on the girls as they were getting tucked in for the night, we realized that right in the nest box – next to the door that is certainly not weather tight – poor Shelly was covered with a dusting of snow. (There are 50 mph winds tonight – I guess it makes sense that some would get blown in!) So we decided we had to get her moved.

John and I rigged up a temporary home for Shelly in the pantry and moved her in. We’ll see what the plan will evolve to be. If we can get our hands on some fertilized Americauna eggs, then we may well be trying to hatch some chicks way sooner than anticipated!