Tag Archives: mothering other breeds

Three new chicks

Foxy has managed to hatch 3 of 4 chicks.  She somehow broke all her first eggs, and I gave her a second batch, so she has been setting longer than usual.

She’s used her confinement productively to start regrowing her moulted feathers.One. Two. Three! They’re full size eggs and chicks, looks like two Ameracauna crosses and a Chanticleer.Seems like the danger zone.

Foxy is notably the least good-looking of all the Silkie hens, always grubby and making no effort at all.  Just a slovenly chicken.  It’s funny how different they are.  Most times setting hens will try to shit away from their eggs, so they aren’t sitting in it for days on it.  Makes sense, right?  At least they direct it all in one pile not right under them, and at best they get up and go outside the box to relieve themselves.  Not this one.  Nope.

But she was determinedly broody, so I let her work, even though I had to muck her out in a way I usually don’t.

Next door, Daisy is a determined digger.  She must have legs of steel.  She goes all day, preferring the greenhouse  where she can dig deep holes to the outdoor grass.  She kicks dirt and straw against the fence with a thump, thump.  Then she fills in the last hole digging a new one next to it, all the while clucking enthusiastically, like what could be better that this!  The chicks are always spattered with dirt.  I assume they’ll inherit quite the work ethic.  At least two weeks old now,  these Silkie babies are not substantially larger than the day-olds next door, although they are clearly more developed, with the tail “spray”, wing tip feathers, and longer legs.

More warm days

Almost bedtime. Philippe PetitPuffcheeks demonstrating the hot weather “airplane stance” to perfection.  Ailerons out for cooling breezes.It’s possible I have an olive-sided flycatcher visiting (need positive ID).  It’s a species at risk in NS, and it seemed to be shopping for snacks off the side of our house, possibly wasps.  It was making repeat visits and swooping at the corner of the house.

Remember that “wild” rabbit?  It did not quite allow me to get a picture, but it was taking a dirt bath, writhing around like a chicken, in the sand pile outside our door last evening.  Very undignified.

Meet the broodies

I’ve got three little broody Silkie hens, installed in the covered wagons in the greenhouse.  Amazingly, they are all from the new set of chickens.  Which is great, that means that they have learned how to chicken enough to go broody.  Impressive.

All of them are sitting on full sized eggs that I gave them.  Four each – I’m hoping for 100% germination, and the hens are petite.  In the past I’ve always given a Silkie 5-6 big eggs, but they never all seem to hatch.

These girls are all excellent sitters.  They sit very still, and they don’t let their eggs leak out.  This little lady is patient enough to have endured the orphans spending a few nights with her in her kennel.This one is vicious.  She’s so small, but she’s not afraid to peck.  She´ll just hammer away at my hand like a woodpecker when I reach in for anything, like to change her hay.  Food refills are tolerated. She’s always moving her eggs around or turning circles on them, arranging her nest to her satisfaction, but she doesn’t let any of them get away. The first two went broody at the same time, and are due very soon.  This one went broody most recently, and is occupying a cardboard box in a chickery, waiting for a vacancy in a broody kennel suite.  She hangs out all day with her beak over her water dish, so I know she’s staying hydrated in the heat.

Auntie Apples- the end of the house chicken era

The little crippled chick was feeling much better today.  She started the day with some demanding chirps, so I tucked her in with HW, which always makes chicks happy.  After a cozy nap, she got restless and I put her back in her box.  I desperately needed more sleep.  We had a big driving day and it’s not good waking up feeling nauseously sleep deprived.

But she wasn’t having the box.  Cheep!  Cheep!  CHEEP!  CHEEP!  CHEEPCHEEPCHEEPCHEEPCHEEPCHEEP!  Chicks are loud.  Arrgh.  I shuffled downstairs, wrapped her in my t-shirt, and tried to go back to sleep with her tucked in against me.  But she was over resting, and feeling rather active.  I rested yesterday! Wriggling, squirming, clambering, and tiny little talons were interrupting my sleep.

Frustrated, I took her back down, and set her in the front of Apples’ box.  Maybe Apples can chicksit.  Ok, I’m glad you’re feeling so much better, but I really need you to shut up!  Apples flinched away, staring sideon, like a fencer en gard.  What is that!?    The chick turned its head, and Apples leapt out the back of her box squawking, like a lady jumping on a chair because of a mouse.  She climbed onto my hand  and I lowered her down to her newspaper, eye level with the chick in her box.  (Are you scared of that little chick?) I left them staring at each other and returned to passing out for a couple more hours.

When I woke up, both of them were hanging out in the mud room on the mat, cleaning their feathers together.  They had been roaming all over the house together, the way Apples almost never does on her own.   She was obviously showing off, now she had someone to show things too.  Here’s where I clean my beak on the mat.  This is the boot tray, it’s nicely sheltered under this shelf.  There might be crumbs under the cutting board.  It was adorable for about a minute.  Poop everywhere.

The chick seems like a slightly rude or presumptuous unexpected guest, making itself at home in her box, demanding to be snuggled, but they seemed immediately attached. She can’t get around very far or fast, and Apples doesn’t, so they are perfectly matched.  The chick is hopping around on one leg, holding up the broken one, but seems to have no shortage of energy nor to be in pain anymore.  When the one leg gets tired it flops down and has an active rest- feather cleaning, or eating, if resting near the bowl.  Her leg is blue and I want to unwrap to check it for circulation but think it’s more important to be immobilized long enough to knit- leave the cast on.

I walled them up in the traditional box/newspaper area, but it was clear, they were explorers now, and a tea towel would pose little barrier.  Chick on hay in a box, Silkie hen in foregroundMovin’ out!

I set them up in a chickery outside on the short clover.  View from above of chick, hen, and a box of hay on clover Right next to Cream Puff the Fierce, for role modeling.

floor space under windows and plants
The end of an era. No more house chicken box

This is going to solve everything.  The injured chick has a support staff, and Apples has a companion, and they will transition to outdoor community life together.  Apples should start laying eggs soon or go broody, but for now, she’s an adopted Auntie!

chick under Silkie hen Apples in a cardboard box
How I found them at bedtime.  Happy chick.

Circus chickens

What’s happening here?  I know it might be hard to tell.  That would be the notoriously mom-surfing chick, the yellow one, sitting on her mom.  Not only that, mom is perching on the swing.  With other chickens.  The swing is swingy.  I rarely see them use it at all.Obviously, she is far too large for mom-sitting at the best of times, but like one of those huge dogs that still thinks it’s a lap sized puppy, she doesn’t realize she’s outgrown it.  And while perching on a swing might not be the best of times.  Mom put up with it for awhile, too, but dumped her off when she’d had enough.  Next, it will be chicken pyramids.


Almost bedtime.  The mama hens got a box today, so that I can move them around soon.  They got very excited.  Did you know your mom was hatched in a box?  They like boxes. 

Too cute for chick school

Perchick is very watchful.  She mostly trusts me around her chicks, though.  She has chicks poking out. Cream Puff does not trust me, and wow, a full size hen peck is more meaningful than a Silkie peck.  No chicks poking out here.The one “old chick” looks much like a tiny, brown bald eagle.  Like a yellow chick wearing a brown cape. And this brood, well, they’re not grown up enough to be above a good wingpit warming.

18 chicks:  I’m going to need a lot of names.  Now open for suggestions.

Spring chicks

The chicks are all alive, even the little half size yellow chick, but there’s been no late hatchings.  That’s a pretty poor hatch rate – 12 live chicks out of 23 eggs under two hens.  The 13th was unlucky.   But that is a dozen bright new little lives, which is wonderful.  Maybe not all the eggs were fertile, or the late frosts we got made it too cold for them.Chick going under mama hen

I’m coming in there

The other chicks are still in the chickery.  Usually they start to break out, which lets me know it’s time for them to be at large, but so far, they are all staying inside, although they could fly right out.Silkie hen with chicks outdoorsThe little black “runt” of this clutch is catching up with the others.

And the oldest chicks, well: They decided to dust bathe at the bottom of the ramp, in the smallest dust bowl ever.

I’m not getting up

These two blip in and out of Silkieland at will, as do some of the other Silkies, since they can slip under the fence if they want.

For these chicks, the coop is the safe house, so they sprint up the ramp if there’s any strange noises or shadows or surprises.  It’s funny.

2018 chicks so far: 18

 

Water off a chick’s back

Butterfly party by the GH door.  There’s a bit of mud there, and it drew a butterfly crowd (why?) Mama hen and her chick duo slip in and out of Silkieland, but stick close by to it.  They seem comfortable over there, rather than the far side of the greenhouse.  All the chickens could come and go from Silkieland, it’s not a secure facility, but most stay.  They’re a little too crowded for my taste but they show every sign of contentment, so – good enough for now.  When I make the next one the space will be doubled.The little chicks are very precocious, handling the ramp from day 1, making their own decisions.  They aren’t very needy, or whiny.  They still stand on Mom once in a while.They all got caught out in the rain, though.  “Caught” – being out in the rain was optional.  Mom looks like a wet schnauzer, and the chicks look dipped, but they are unperturbed.The other hens all jog off when the rain starts, and hide under a tent.  The last guinea spends all his time with the hens now that he’s alone.  I’m disappointed to mysteriously lose those guineas.  I had a nice, peaceful flock, and they roosted in the greenhouse every night.  wth?  Now have to start over.  I’m thinking of getting keets and hoping this guy can bring them up.  The males are  active parents when the pair is intact; can they do it alone?

Piglets and chicks.

We got the pigs!  Three little piglets.  They are very pink, but they are supposed to be sired by a full black Berkshire.  It seems they take after their mother.

We’ve finally sorted out our pig transport, after trying dog crates and the back of the carThat extra chickery I made came in, secured with a pallet, and covered with a piece of canvas (becoming as useful and ubiquitous around here as baling twine and wire), so the piglets don’t get a sunburn or heatstroke.

Hello in there, pigs.

Our first piglets came in with sunburn and possibly heatstroke, but recovered.  Although, after wrestling with them, sometimes you wish they had heatstroke.

We carried them from truck to pigland over the shoulder.  “Easy”.  HW gave me the small pig, and she was a crazy squealer, who screamed the whole trip, and absolutely pummeled my lower back stomping with her sharp little hooves.  Wow.  That hurt a lot.

HW had it worse though.  He got peed on.  Both of our pigs pooped en route, and then HW says “Oh no!   Warm and wet – I think I’m getting peed on!”  So I was better off with the stomping pig.

Then HW moved the third pig and immediately had them all run right through the fence, making us completely 0 for 4 on piglet retention.  This time, the pigs were small enough to fit through the bottom squares of the electric fence, and they did.  He got them back in though, and they fell to rooting like they were born to do it.

In the middle of the night, discussing the piglets pouring through the fence, I said “You know, the right thing to do is to take the other electric fence, with the smaller holes on the bottom, and wrap that around outside the fence already there, and do it tonight while they’re asleep. ” And he started getting out of bed!  So we did that together at midnight, and the pigs are thoroughly trapped.

They weren’t asleep, but they were moving slow, watching us from the shadows.  And they are SO happy!  Face deep in the dirt, day one.

This morning, four new chicks!

The telltale shell!

All of them a bit damp, brown and black with black legs, and bright white egg teeth on their black beaks- SO cute.  There are two from Cleopatra (copper maran Xs), and two from Cheeks or Puffcheeks (Ameracauna Xs).  Proud mama!

The two “old” chicks have integrated into gen. pop.  They integrated themselves, as they do.

Just before running out for pigs and doing a henyard check, I found one chick outside of the chickery.  After fruitlessly chasing her around the box a few times, I tipped it up so she could slip back under a corner.  She was looking.  It almost worked.  Then the other chick darted out, and then it was on.  Those two started to run away from home together, mama flipped out, so I just let her out.

She’s got a suitor

She was set upon by the roosters, and ran into the flock of hens, and the babies crouched in the grass (it only takes a couple of blades for them to disappear), but after the dust settled, they flew (flew like sparrows!) back to her, and that was that.  Now they are part of the flock.  They slept in the box last night, but this morning Mom was coaching them on how to use the coop ramp (although they were having none of it).

No way Mom! It’s morning. We don’t want to learn about going to bed!
Not listening!