Browsed by
Tag: chickens

Fluff became a hen today.

Fluff became a hen today.

At about 11 months or so, Fluffaluffagus finally laid an egg.

It is a very odd-looking little egg. Here it is, in all its bullet-shaped glory:

And it’s so tiny that it barely registers on the egg scale:

Poor maligned Henzilla

Poor maligned Henzilla

Today, I noticed that Henzilla seemed, well, fluffier than normal. She’s spent most of her confinement looking like a pancake with a head.

I pulled her up, and with a sinking heart saw another broken egg shell. But then I looked a little harder, and there it was. Yep, a wee baby chickiepoo.

Looked a little harder–and there are two.

So she’s a proud mama, and has proved us all wrong. She’s not a cannibal or a killer.

Henzilla the killa

Henzilla the killa

Doesn’t she look all sweet and maternal as she incubates her eggs?

Not so much.

Argh.

The really sad thing is that there were only four that were developing nicely, and this was one of those four. I have bad bad feelings about this.

If nothing hatches and she stays broody, I will buy some chicks and sneak them under her in the dead of night. Apparently, this approach sometimes tricks them into thinking they’ve hatched their eggs.

Of course, she’ll probably kill those too.

Another day, another set of eggs

Another day, another set of eggs

You know, people are really generous. Here are the new fertilized eggs, which were given to me after posting a Craig’s List ad:


The rooster is a mille fleur d’uccle and the hens are d’uccle, RIR, ameracauna/easter egger, buff orpington, cinnamon queen, and blue marans.

(Speaking of the marans, just LOOK at the color of the eggs. I’m not getting anything that dark out of my two.)

Another three weeks. Sigh.

Chicken TV

Chicken TV

A couple of months ago, Steve had the bright idea of building a smaller coop and putting it up against the dining room window so we could watching chicken TV during dinner. We got really gung-ho about the concept for an evening; he sketched out plans while I scoured Craig’s List for more Fluffaluffagi (i.e., silkies, which he for some reason that I can’t quite fathom, loves). The next morning, we looked at each other and started laughing.

“I need a job,” he explained ruefully.

“I don’t have that excuse,” I said, even more ruefully.

When Henzilla went broody, he built a chicken tractor in a day. I was going to isolate her, as all the experts advise. But I was so gung-ho to have her hatch out some eggs, and I didn’t want to risk her broodiness being broken that I never moved her. And now that she’s rejected those eggs and was still trying to hatch out the plastic eggs, we figured it was time to try isolating her. So we moved the tractor (which in terms of weight is more like a combine) to the side of the house. I plucked her from the coop and settled her in there. She squawked furiously for about an hour–and now she’s re-incubating the plastic eggs.

It’s time to get more fertile eggs. Oh yes–and did I mention chicken TV? This is the view from our dining room:

Putting names to beaks

Putting names to beaks

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted chick pix, hasn’t it? Without further ado:

This is Stubbs. She’s been molting for ages, but has beautiful new plumage. I’ve found out that she’s a blue-laced red wyandotte, only she has two copies of the blue gene, so she’s actually white (splash).

My rose-comb Rhode Island Red. She doesn’t really have a name yet.

A production red I bought a couple of months ago. Her name is Ketchup (her sister was Mustard).

One of the three buttercups. The first buttercup I got is Mine (she has the biggest floppiest comb); the other one not pictured is Pointy because she lays these enormous pointy eggs; this one is Molty because she’s been molting for eons.

Deadline, the barred rock. Also an amazing layer.

Michelle Obama. I had an Autralorp who looked just like her, but she was an eggeater, so I got rid of her. This one is a black marans and Steve just continued calling her MO, which is the name the Australorp came with.

Attila the Hen. Steve says she looks manly.

Shpeck (bacon in Romanian, sp?), the Speckled Sussex. These pictures pretty much sum up her personality, so it’s no surprise that she’s my absolute favorite chicken (despite the fact that she laid about 5 eggs and then quit entirely for the winter).


I am not a huge silkie fan; I was going to get rid of her, but Steve fell in love with this ridiculous excuse of a hen. He also named her Fluffaluffagus.

Henzilla (who’s been isolated to make or break the broodiness)


Barnie, who is quite possibly the worst specimen of a Barnevelder that has ever lived. She’s still going through a juvenile molt, so we’ll see if she gets completely double-laced.

Henzilla the cannibal

Henzilla the cannibal

Early this morning, there were still two eggs under Henzilla. An hour later, there was one egg under Henzilla and the remnants of the shell. An hour after that, there were more shell remnants and Henzilla was incubating the plastic eggs in a different nesting box.

I’m going to give Henzilla the benefit of the doubt and assume that the growing eggs were quitters. And if she’s still broody, I’m going to move her into the new chicken tractor that Steve built (and that we’re going to put between our garage and Nicki’s) and give her some more eggs to hatch.

I’m so disappointed–the eggs were only two days away.

Disaster!

Disaster!

When I let the chickens out this morning, there were three smashed eggs on the floor and another in the coop. One was hollowed out and obviously eaten; the others were cracked enough that whatever may have been in them was dead.

I candled for the last time last night; of the six she had left, two were clear and four appeared to be growing. Certainly, two of the eggs felt heftier than one and when I peeled back the membrane a little on one (which I really debated doing because of being freaked out), there was a baby chick curled up inside.

The question is what happened. Henzilla was up off the nest when I pulled open the door to the coop. Michelle Obama and the rose-comb RIR were standing there. Did Michelle Obama get a little witchy? (I doubt it was the RIR–she’s one of the few that are laying right now and she’s in and out of the nesting box almost every day. She lays her egg in the other corner and calls it good.) Or did Henzilla push them out herself?

Whatever the case, I made sure the remaining two eggs were secure under her before shutting up the coop. One felt suspiciously lighter than the other. The broken eggs I tossed into the brush down the hill.

Henzilla’s due date

Henzilla’s due date

It’s Sunday. I can’t believe how quickly the past two and a half weeks have gone. Henzilla is happily incubating her eggs, while I sneak them out from under her in the dead of night to candle them. There are four that are growing and three that are duds. Amazingly enough, I found one of the duds pushed out of the nesting box into the dirt below. Guess she knows.

Every day or so, Henzilla gets up, relieves herself, gobbles down food and water, and picks on all the other birds. (She’s always had this tendency, hence the name, but it’s worse than ever. I wonder if she’s establishing her dominance so that all the other birds will leave her chickiepoos alone.) She then scurries back to her nest, fluffs all her feathers out and settles back on the eggs.

Now that Henzilla is occupied for most of the day, her half-sister has taken over picking on everyone. Up until now, I’ve been calling her The Big Gray One–but now she has her very own moniker: Attila. Attila the Hen.

Full circle

Full circle

We got back from spending the holidays with Steve’s family in Rockford Friday night, and of course, one of the first things I did was to check on the chickens. (It was late, so couldn’t pick up Harry from Carrie and Jimmy’s til the following morning.) Henzilla was sleeping in one of the nesting boxes, which I thought was a little strange. The next morning, she was still there, fluffed up and sort of dazed looking. She clucked at me. When I lifted her, she was lying on the three fake eggs the chickens like to roll under themselves when they’re laying. She ruffled her feathers and glared at me before settling herself down on them again.

I have a broody hen, I thought to myself. She just started laying about a month ago, and she’s already broody. “She’s been broody for about three days,” Carrie confirmed when I got Harry. What to do with a broody hen? Why, put fertilized eggs under her of course! Posted an ad on backyardchickens.com, got several responses … including one from a guy who breeds Barnevelders.

Which is totally fitting because this is the breed that started this whole chicken adventure. If you recall, I spent a fortune on hatching eggs and got a single bird. Now, perhaps I’ll have some more–and if the parent birds are any indication, I’ll get chickens that actually have that gorgeous double-lacing instead of one that appears more barred than laced. (And no, Barnie hasn’t started laying yet either.)

So here’s to round two with Barnevelders! It’s a happy new year thus far …

Chickens bedamned!

Chickens bedamned!

We’re getting goats!

(Not really on the bedamned part; I love my chickiepoos, and I’m getting as many as 5 eggs a day these rainy, cold days.)

Captain Beefcake was probably delicious

Captain Beefcake was probably delicious

Captain Beefcake’s nocturnal crowing was bothering one neighbor. I had found a lovely home for him, complete with five acres and a harem of 10 hens with whom to have his wicked way. Then, my flock was infected with mycoplasma gallisepticum. Not a huge deal in and of itself; MG is endemic and not a risk to humans. But once a bird has had it, it remains a carrier for life. And in all good conscience, I couldn’t give someone with a healthy flock an infected chicken. So I found another person who takes unwanted chickens and slaughters them for food. She picked him up yesterday and put him in the pot last night.

May he rest in peace.

A Post for Lauren

A Post for Lauren

who told me that I really needed to update the blog. So, in no particular order, here’s what’s going on.

1. I love my accountant. The tax season is once again upon those of us who routinely file for an extension. Taxes aren’t fun; my accountant is. She’s also the best darn accountant on the planet as far as I’m concerned. For those of you who freelance and are looking for someone really good–and very affordable–contact me. I want to share the tax love.

2. Learn from my chicken mistakes. Do not buy auction birds. Do not add birds to your flock without quarantining them. And if you do suspect that your birds have Mycoplasma Gallisepticum, do not feel that you should be responsible and take one to a vet in Seattle that specializes in exotic pets unless you want a bill for $230 dollars, enough medication for a single bird when three are showing symptoms, and a vet you can far too easily picture in a basement somewhere playing dungeons and dragons buck naked except for a strategically wrapped snake. No, be irresponsible and go to your local farm supply where you can get tetracycline for a measly five bucks and treat the entire flock.

3. I am a sailing widow. Steve’s sailing around Vancouver Island. He’s been gone for two weeks, will be back in, oh, another two or so. I miss him. His cell phone doesn’t work, so he calls when they dock into a port. I don’t think we’ve ever gone for more than three days without talking before this.

4. First bellydance performance tomorrow night. AHHHHHH

5. Two week trip to California was good. Hung out with Millie, built Mom a chicken coop. She’s getting 8 eggs a day now. I’m bitter.

I think that’s about it.

Captain Beefcake is a rake.

Captain Beefcake is a rake.

I was wondering if CB is fertile, despite his tender years. So this afternoon–after I went back to the chicken auction and picked up a pretty 4 month old Auracana cross for $5 (yes, I need intervention)–I cracked open the buttercup egg she oh-so-obligingly deposited in her “secret” nest while I was gone.

It was fertile.

(For those of you who are desperately curious about what a fertilized egg looks like, here you go.)

And later this afternoon, I went to check up on the new chickiepoo, and one of the Welsummers was bokbokbokking in the coop, so I hung around. She laid an egg. (Saved from the stewpot!) Just for giggles, I cracked that one open too.

It was fertile, too.

So obviously, CB is living up to his name, and with enthusiasm at that. I just hope he’s leaving his sisters alone. First, that’s incest. Second, it would be statutory rape.

Two eggs today!

Two eggs today!

Behold! Two eggs today! The buttercup’s egg was in her hidden nest; the brown one was in the coop. Those plastic eggs must be working. I have no idea who this is from. The barred rock? A welsummer? But two eggs!

Two eggs

Captain Beefcake gets his groove on

Captain Beefcake gets his groove on

The early bird catches the hen, and boy, Captain Beefcake is on the PROWL.
Captain Beefcake

At 13 weeks, he’s already started (cough, cough) with the hens. Well, not ALL the hens. Mainly my black Australorp, who I bought a couple of weeks ago. Her name is Michelle Obama; her sister’s name was Oprah. “Because they are all black ladies,” explained the woman I bought her from. I don’t know how Michelle Obama would feel about having a chicken named after her, but if you have a chicken with your name, this would be the one to have. She’s a love and will eat berries right out of your hand.
Michelle Obama, the chicken

The violence of chicken love is a little shocking. He grabs the back of Michelle’s neck and smushes her to the ground. Then he has his wicked way. It looks painful; on the other hand, Captain Beefcake also doesn’t have a lot of staying power. It lasts about three seconds.

Three seconds is also about the time it takes the buttercup and the welsummers to put him in his place when he goes after them. He starts doing his little drag wing thing and hop. They affix beady little eyes on him. He tries to get close, at which point they aim a sharp peck at him, and he goes running.

And no one can get close to my new speckled sussex. It’s amazing how different hand-raised and farm-raised chickens are. Captain Beefcake sidled up to her one day and she sprinted across the lawn in sheer fright. To be fair, she does that with everyone.
Mrs. Spotty

On another note, he’s now the only rooster left. Yes, that other blue birchen marans was a rooster; he now has a home on a farm in Monroe, where he is going to have a harem of frizzles.

Captain Beefcake greets the morning

Captain Beefcake greets the morning

Steve elbowed me. “Did you hear that?”

“Mpphhh,” I said, snuggling deeper under the covers and returning to my dreams in which a giant chicken was chasing the mass murderer H.H. Holmes, on whom we had watched (part of) a movie on the night before.

“It was your rooster.”

“No it wasn’t,” I said groggily.

And then, piercing the early morning stillness, came another crow.

“It must be another rooster,” I amended.

But this morning, after I let them out of the coop, and after they went hurtling up the small rise wings aflap (which always gives me a lift), my rooster lifted his beak to the sky and let out a bellow.

Well good morning Captain Beefcake. We salute you too.