Archive for the ‘biddies’ Category

Note to Self: Don’t Be Stupid

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Remember I told you bears took out our bird feeders about 9 years ago? Well, they surely did. And Bernie and I agreed that bird feeders are not a good idea out here.

But we had an especially brutal winter this year, so I decided since it had been a while since we’d had any bear issues, it was safe to put out our bird feeders once again.

I should have known better.

Sunday morning Bernie took the pups out to potty about 6AM. And when he came back inside he informed me a bear was interested in my bird feeders, too.

 photo bear1.jpg

Apparently, he was especially interested in the fruit and nut mixture.

 photo bear2.jpg

And especially liked the suet that was hanging from these mangled hooks – one of which we’ve yet to find.

 photo bear3.jpg

It appears he decided to go over this chicken wire and flatten my poor Hosta and a few other plants to begin with.

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And then we noticed this.

 photo bear5.jpg

Those would be the chicken feeder and scratch scoop I keep in the cans in the chicken run.

And then we saw this.

 photo bear6.jpg


And that’s not actually the worst part.

After assessing the bear damage, we went back to check on the goats. The baby goats are locked in their stall at night, but Mirrie is free to be inside the goat barn or roam.

She usually greets me in her paddock every morning,

But not this morning.

I called for her and there wasn’t a peep out of her, or even the baby goats, who usually scream when they hear my voice.

It was dead silent.

We found Mirrie inside the goat barn, huddled in a corner, trembling from nose to tail.

Having recently lost Georgia, we were very concerned.

I was convinced she had a fever. So we called our vet to come out and check on her.

He was here in short order. She was still trembling. But she had no fever. And he found absolutely NOTHING wrong with her.

We suspect Mirrie saw the bear. We have no idea if or how they interacted, but there is almost no doubt her symptoms were bear related.

It took her a full 24 hours to start eating, drinking, and acting normally again.

And this is a sweet sight for me right now.

 photo goats1.jpg

So is this.

 photo goats2.jpg

The babies were locked up tight, but they were still very unsettled Sunday morning.

We have bears here. I know this. I’ve posted pictures of them in this very blog – while they were in this very yard. I had hoped with all the yard activity and bird feeders so close to the house, that it wouldn’t be a bear issue.

But it was.

Lesson learned.

Take it from me.

If you have bears in your area, don’t keep bird feeders out when the bears are likely to roam around. And tuck in tightly any other type of animal feed you have, and anything else that might attract bears.

I’ll put my bird feeders out during the winter months, and be sure to take them in before the bears start stirring.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Please do yourself a favor, and learn this one from me.

In spite of all the stress this bear brought to us, good things are happening around here…….

It wouldn’t truly be spring here without baby chicks, right? And we’ve got seven of them right now!

This mama hatched out 3 babies yesterday.

 photo chicks1.jpg

And this mama hatched out 4 babies yesterday.

 photo chicks2.jpg

I have another hen on three eggs due to hatch in two weeks.

And I have a coop full of other broodies who are too mean for me to let hatch out chicks.

It’s spring.

Critters are doing what critters do.

And I’m dealing with what critters do, and I’m loving it for the most part.

If I can just remember not to be stupid.

Our Latest Surprise

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Remember the baby chick I wrote about a couple of days ago – the one that hatched all alone in a nest in the woods, and the Phoenix hen adopted? She’s doing really well.

baby chicks

Here she is next to one of the Phoenix mama’s original chicks.

baby chicks

Still so tiny. But see the little chocolate colored chick right next to mama in that picture? Well, that little chick was today’s surprise. I was sitting in my office working with my window open and I kept hearing a baby chirping very loudly. I figured one of the new chicks got separated from one of the mamas. Imagine my surprise when I went into the run to find a baby chick that was obviously only a few hours old. She could hardly stand up without falling over. And she was so cold she was shivering. Yet *another* egg had hatched out from that nest in the woods. And that mama Hamburg is so busy with her other five, she will not be held back by a new baby.

We put the baby under a heat lamp for a bit, and when she warmed up I held her for quite a while. Eventually I saw mama Hamburg laying in the run with her babies under her, so I sneaked out there and slipped the new chick under her too and hoped for the best.

A while later I went outside to check on her, but that mama Hamburg and her five babies were no where to be seen. That new baby chick? She had apparently been adopted by the Phoenix mama.

baby chicks

I removed all remaining eggs from that nest. I hated to do it, but babies hatching from it at this point are clearly at a high risk of not making it. I am astounded that two have hatched with no one on the nest except at night. Mama Hamburg is not going to care for any more chicks, and that sweet mama Phoenix has her wings full.

Thirteen baby chicks and four teenagers running around the yard cheeping warms my heart. But knowing half of these are probably cockerels does not. I do not plan to let any more broodies set on eggs this year.

Please pray I can be strong.

Update to Broody in the Woods

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Oh dear heavens. The mama that came up today with five chicks she hatched in the woods? Well, she’s settling into the run with her babies, so I decided to head up to her nest in the woods and get rid of all the eggs that she didn’t hatch so there isn’t a couple dozen eggs rotting in one place to attract predictors.

Imagine my surprise when I peered inside that nest and found a newly hatched baby! She was still wet and she was breathing. I scooped her up in my cupped hands and warmed her. I brought her in the house and Bernie grabbed a box and lined the bottom. Then he set up a heat lamp. I put the baby chick in the box and she cheeped and cheeped. Every time I put my hand over her, she quieted down. I just couldn’t leave her. I scooped her up and went outside.

I saw her mama setting in the run with her five chicks underneath. Perfect! I gently slid the baby under her and she quickly jumped up squawking. Dangit!

I picked the baby up again and noticed my broody Phoenix that hatched out two babies last week. She was heading into the coop with her two chicks. I gave them a few minutes and then quietly went into the coop. I sat on the floor several minutes until she settled down and her babies scooted underneath her. I gently lifted her side and slid this new baby under her. She puffed up and began cooing. *phew*

I have no idea if this baby will make it. She hatched several hours after the mama had left the nest. I never would have believed that could happen – I suspect the heat of the day and the bright sun shining directly on the nest kept the egg warm enough to hatch.

My Phoenix hens love being mamas. I’ve found them trying to sleep on the roost with eight week old “babies” under them! Usually the mamas get tired of the babies and move on – but with my Phoenix’s the babies usually leave the mamas first.

This baby seems strong, and I feel certain that if any mama hen can pull a baby through such a rough start, this Phoenix will do it. I sure pray she makes it.

These chickens will definitely be the death of me.

Well, Well, Well. Look Who Decided to Come Home.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Broody Hamburg

I had a heck of a time getting a picture – she tried to hide them under a bench in the run – but if you look closely you may see all five of the babies she dragged home today. I’m not complaining. It could have been much worse. I expected her to hatch out a dozen of those eggs.

The other Hamburg mama is doing great with her four.

Broody Hamburg

Today is the first time since March that I do not have broodies setting on eggs. I think we all can use this little break.

These Chickens Will Be The Death Of Me

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Last year we ended up with 18 extra roosters from all the broody hatches we had. We sent 17 to freezer camp, and Charlotte adopted a Phoenix cockerel. While it was nice having chicken in the freezer and they tasted delicious, these guys were very small and hardly worth the effort. This year I promised Bernie to limit the number of chicks I allowed the broodies to hatch out.

I was doing really well there for a good long while. Within a matter of a few short weeks, I had eight broody hens. I gave the first babies to hatch to a neighbor when the chicks were a couple of days old. Score! Then Charlotte agreed to take two of the broody hens and all the babies they hatched. Double score! From the remaining broodies, we ended up with only four new peeps in the yard.

During all this excitement and broodiness, I noticed I was missing one hen when I tucked them in at night. After a week or so, I figured she was either setting on a nest in the woods or was gone. A few days later, I came up short one more when I tucked them in at night. I figured it was this broody and I pretty much gave up on the first one that went missing – but I did not lose all hope.

This afternoon in was in the goat paddock playing with them and Bernie was sitting at the picnic table in the backyard watching us. I began hearing some faint cheeping. A few minutes later it was noticeably louder.

I hollered over to Bernie, “Did the mamas leave those chicks back here again?” A couple of the mama hens that I let hatch out chicks have started leaving their babies and getting on with life – when the babies are not hot on their heals as they walk away. And when the mamas do manage to escape, those chicks scream bloody murder.

“Um, I don’t think so. These babies are very, very tiny.”

By the time he finished his sentence I had made it out of the goat paddock and was running toward the cheeping I heard.

And there she was. The first hen that came up missing – with four little babies bumbling along behind her.

I filled a feeder and waterer and put it down for them, but mama would immediately lead them away if I got anywhere close.

new baby chicks

You’ll have to look very closely, but there are two chicks in this picture:

new baby chicks

And there are three in this one:

new baby chicks

She has a total of four babies. I was really hoping to catch her and the babies and get them in a brooder, but I had no luck. She did finally lay down for a while with the babies under her.

new baby chicks

But she kept a close eye on me the entire time. I am really praying she heads to the coop with the babies tonight. It’s quite a journey for such tiny little chicks, but mama hens expect their babies to hit the ground running, so it’s possible she will lead them to the safety of the coop. I sure hope so. I have no idea where her nest is – if I can find it I will go out at dark and move them all to a brooder.

I don’t like having hens brooding outside the coop, but I accepted that there would be risks involved in allowing my chickens to free range. The consequences of keeping them penned are just more than I am willing to put up with – for my sanity and the sake of my chickens. Even so, I worry every minute that my chickens are roaming in the yard and woods, and I lose sleep over these broodies that have nests in the woods.

I love my chickens. I really do. But I know these chickens will be the death of me.

I’m certain I’ll go with a smile on my face.

Spring has Sprung

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

I realize there are a few things out of place in the milking/storage area of the goat barn, but if you look closely you may see one thing that positively does not belong here……


Shhhhhh. She doesn’t think we see her.


I let a broody hen hatch out three chicks and keep two of them:



I gave one to another broody.


A few days ago, yet another broody hatched out three chicks. Today I removed the front of the brooder and the mama brought her babies out into the coop for the first time.


We have no shortage of broodies here this year.

The Irises my mother gave me last year are now in full bloom.


And we should be eating strawberries soon.



Spring has definitely sprung.

Diversifying the Flock

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Remember my chicken fried week? And how shocked I was that one of the twelve eggs my neighbor gave me hatched after only three days of being under one of my hens? That poor little baby was very weak when it hatched, and it didn’t make it through the night. Of the 11 that were left, one cracked and rotted and I had just about given up on the other 10.

Well, two days ago, one of those eggs actually hatched out a beautiful little peep! Last night four more hatched out. I’m tickled to death. The peeps are different breeds, colors, and fluffiness than my others. I think they are just adorable.

These chicks are mutts – and my neighbor has no clue what breeds he has. But I *think* there is some Orpington in there. Any thoughts? (Julie, my dear Chicken Crazy Cousin – I’d love to hear what you think!)

baby chicks

baby chicks

baby chicks

Sorry about the blurry picture of the little black one. It was dark in the brooder and I had a hard time finding her to focus on her. I wanted to include this picture though, just so you can see all of them and give me any thoughts on breeds.

Baby Chicks

This little peep is acting very lethargic. I’ve seen her walk and heaven knows her little peeper works (she’s loud), but she lays around a lot and doesn’t go to mama when mama is teaching the others to eat and drink. I’m a little concerned about her. I hope she makes it. I’ve considered bringing her into the house to care for her, but I’m resisting right now. I’ll watch her for the next day or so and see how she does. I’d really prefer to let nature take it’s course – but I’m not 100% sure I’m going to be able to do that. We’ll see…..

After these five hatched, I removed the mama and babies put them in a brooder. I put another broody hen on the remaining five eggs. I’m hoping those hatch out as well.

These sure are some cute little peeps. I know all peeps are cute, but just look at those fluffy little butts! Makes me want to just kiss those little beaks right off of them.

Chicken Fried Week

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Thanks to all who weighed in on helping name this little girl:


Jocelyn from Physical Possum suggested Earlene of Dork, and that’s what I’ve decided to name her. Earlene isn’t a bad name, but it was Jocelyn’s comment that won me over:

I tried reading this, and then my head exploded.

But if I’m only slightly reading this right:
“For example, the Duke of Norfolk is also the Earl of Arundel and the Lord Maltravers. His eldest son is therefore styled Earl of Arundel. Lord Arundel’s eldest son (should he sire one during his father’s lifetime) will be styled Lord Maltravers. However, only the Duke of Norfolk is actually a peer; his son Lord Arundel and his hypothetical grandson Lord Maltravers remain commoners.”

Then I vote for Duke’s daughter’s name to be “Earlene of Dork”

I am still uncertain how Jocelyn made the leap from the Duke-of-the-Earl-of-the-Lord-of-the-son-of-the-peer-of-the-grandson to Earlene of Dork, but the fact that she did made me laugh. So, Earlene of Dork it is! And if you need a chuckle, stop by and visit Jocelyn.

Eggs are hatching, and more hens are going broody. There are five new peeps in the coop right now and two more broodies. My neighbor gave me 12 eggs from his chickens to put under my broodies. I set them Wednesday night. Maybe you can imagine my utter SHOCK when I checked broodies Saturday and found a baby chick peeping in one of the nests! THREE DAYS after I put the eggs in there. Unfortunately, the chick was very weak, and didn’t make it through the night.

I had a chat with the neighbor and he was quite pleased that he managed to surprise me so much. As it turns out, he took the eggs from under one of his broodies to give me. And he has no idea if the eggs are all the same age. Apparently they are NOT. None of the others has even pipped yet. *sigh* I explained to him that there are 11 eggs left now and if others begin hatching the mama hens are only going to set on the remaining eggs for a day or two longer. They will abandon unhatched eggs after a couple of days of the first hatches because they need to get the babies out to eat and drink and learn how to be chickens. Of the remaining 11, I have no clue how many more, if any, will hatch. If they do stagger in hatch dates, I have a couple of broodies I can hopefully stick the unhatched eggs under.

Thanks for all the kind words of concern for Duke and his bumblefoot. Unfortunately, his foot does not seem to be healing. I continue to dress it each day, and on Sunday I began Pen-G antibiotic injections. Bernie is at the feed store as I type this – looking for terramycin powder for me. I’ve read that some have had success mixing it with an antibiotic ointment and packing the foot with it. I hate to put Duke through yet another cutting, but I’m not comfortable that I’ve gotten all I need to get out of that foot. We’ll try it one more time and pack it with terramycin powder. He takes his injections and foot dressings like a real trooper, although I can tell he is beginning to tire of the daily regiment I put him through. I am tiring of it as well. But we’ve got to get past this infection and I am hopeful the Pen-G and terramycin powder will kick in and do that.

As you can see, it’s been a chicken fried week here on the homestead. You know how anal I am with these chickens. You can imagine just what a tail spin the neighbors’ eggs and Duke’s foot have put me in. But it honestly pleases me that my most stressful days now concern chickens, rather than a two hour commute and action packed day at the office.

And I like chicken fried stuff.

Bee Free,

I Raised You Better Than That

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

My introduction to raising chickens began with a trip to the post office to pick up a little box packed with 27 two day old chicks. I’d never owned a chicken before and as I opened that box and saw 27 iddy biddy little faces staring back at me, I was overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility knowing that each and every one of them would be dependent on me for their survival. I took that responsibility very seriously. Some of you would say I took it TOO seriously, but that’s not the point of this post.

I fretted, worried, and fussed over those babies obsessively – and well beyond babyhood. And, ok, I STILL do that today, but that’s not the point of this post either.

I’m getting to the point. I promise.

OK here’s the point. I think. After watching my broodies with these six hatches this year, it occurs to me that mama hens don’t offer just a whole lot of babying to their biddies. Those babies are expected to hit the ground running – literally. They get quick, sharp pecks when they get out of line and they get left behind if they don’t keep up. I am sometimes appalled by all this.

Two days ago one of the broody moms took her chicks into the woods and one of her babies was busy scratching and pecking in the run and missed joining the procession as mama marched the others out of the run. When the baby realized she had missed out, she began screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs. Mama began her dust bath and looked back at her chick as if to say “Well, figure out how to get your little fuzzy butt out here”. I just couldn’t hold my tongue.

“YOU were NOT raised that way! I would have NEVER left you behind like that and I would have NEVER let you cry like that. Where did you learn that type of behavior? Honestly! I raised you better than that!” But even before I finished my scolding, mama hen was rolling her eyes and settling down deeper in the dirt.

Yesterday the hatch before last was exactly 2.5 weeks old. They are still babies, for heavens sake! But as I went into the coop to tuck everyone in last night, I saw this:

Baby Chicks

No more piling into the nest to sleep at night. No more cuddling with mama and basking in her warmth. I almost grabbed every one of those babies and let them sleep with me in the bed. But after waking up with a baby goat next to him, Bernie has kinda laid down the law about who sleeps in our bed at night and, although I find him unreasonable on this subject, I figured I better not push it.

By the way, that’s Pico on the roost below the babies. Isn’t he turning into such a handsome boy? He’s a little horn dog, but he’s still darn good looking. The hen’s aren’t impressed with him though. They deny his advances as much as possible and beat the holy living tar out of him on a regular basis. Although I think a couple of them are coming around to his charm.

While I don’t always agree with their methods, these mama hens appear to be doing a great job raising these babies. I’ve offered advice and tips to them, but it falls on deaf ears. Hard headed little snots. I just don’t know where they get that from.

I hate to end this on a sad note, but earlier this week a Golden Penciled Hamburg came up missing. Bernie and I searched every inch of the yard, surrounding woods, and building on this place and could not find her. I find myself looking to see her rejoin the flock each day, but so far there has been absolutely no sign of her. It’s possible she wandered out of the fenced in yard and became a snack for a hungry animal, although these Hamburgs are extremely loud and we heard no sounds of distress the day she disappeared. I suspect she likely suffered the fate of the other three Hamburgs I’ve lost, but laid down to die somewhere we couldn’t find her.

The Golden Penciled Hamburg is a beautiful breed and they’ve added a fun dynamic to this flock, but I have no desire to add anymore. Losing four has been heartbreaking and I am fairly certain their deaths have been from genetic causes. I have three left. I hope they are around for a while.

Bee Free,

Hamburg Heaven and Indian Pipes

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Just as my other hatches, this last hatch happened at day 20. Yesterday, all four of the eggs the broodies were setting on hatched out. The broody Hamburg has concerned me all along with regard to exactly what her mothering instinct would be. Hamburgs are notoriously NOT a broody breed, and she wasn’t the best broody I’ve had. When I took her off her nest each day, she would often stay outside for about an hour. When she went back to nest, she would get on the wrong one. I made her set on fake eggs and let the Phoenix broody hatch out the four eggs. I just didn’t trust that Hamburg.

Well, after the eggs started hatching, I put two of them under the Hamburg and she seemed to be doing great with the new babies last night. This morning, however, I found one of her babies in the far corner, and the Hamburg kept pecking the baby when it got close. I took that baby and gave it to the Phoenix, who was more than happy to have three to tend to. So the Hamburg has one baby – and I will say she is a ferociously protective mother of that little baby. Every time I try to lift her a little to look at her baby she screeches and pecks the snot out of my hand. The Phoenix broodies are protective too, but they don’t react as vicious towards me.

Hamburg with chick

She is truly in heaven with that little baby. And the Phoenix is doing wonderfully with her three. The nine little 2 and 1/2 week old babies are learning to free range with their mamas and loving every second of it. And it’s getting difficult to tell the difference between the older, 4ish month old chicks and the adult chickens. They grow so fast.

It’s been raining steadily all day, but that didn’t stop Diesel and Dolly from demanding to go on their daily mail run. I put on my rain gear and we took off for the mailbox. On the way home, Diesel and Dolly decided they wanted to go off road and walk through the woods to the house. As soon as we got a few feet from the road into the woods, I began seeing the most beautiful plant – everywhere. I thought it was a fungus of some sort as it was growing out of fallen, rotting pines and on the forest floor. And it was white. A beautiful, white fungus looking flower thingy. These flowers were growing in clumps and those clumps seemed endless. They decorated the woods beautifully on such a rainy, dank day.

I didn’t have my camera with me because it was so wet and rainy, so I picked one and brought it to the house. Look at this pretty little thing:

Indian Pipe Flower

(Forgive the background – I held it next to the window so I wouldn’t have to use a flash and inadvertently got The Big Top in the picture.)

Isn’t that pretty? Can you just imagine seeing the forest floor covered in those snow white beauties? As it turns out, that’s an Indian Pipe. And it is not a fungus. It’s a flower. This is how the flower part of it looks:

Indian Pipe Flower

Indian Pipes are really fascinating little things. They are plants that produce no chlorophyll, which is why they are white. Although they are not a fungus, they do have a very important relationship with fungus. And apparently bumble bees love them. If you are interested in reading more about Indian Pipes, I think this website offers the most information in an understandable and succinct fashion.

Oh! Yesterday was Bernie’s birthday. I asked him how it feels to be a year older and he replied “I’m not a year older. I’m just another day older.” Well, according to my math that’s A LOT of days!

Happy Birthday, Honey. I love you.

Bee Free,