Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chickens, Moulting and Motherhood [ A Ralph Post]

Heads everywhere! As you can see from the chicks, she had eggs from a little bit of everyone. When a hen goes broody, we just grab eggs and stick them under her. They may even be duck or turkey eggs. But we can't mix them. Chickens are 21 days. Turkeys are 28 days. We have a turkey nesting now, with turkey eggs. She seems to be doing good. Even with cold weather coming on. In six to eight weeks, it is gobbler season for the turkeys. We haven't told them yet.
There are heads all over. The left side has a white one with a spec of a black beyond it. Gold on the right hand side. And lots of legs under the back end. There was a fair breeze making everything feel colder. It is not real easy to see, but they had eaten so much that they had a large "lump" on their breast. They were full. Well fed. The way of life. as you can see the hens are moulting. It was a surprise the two went broody so late in the year.

 We just did 8 roosters. They looked good. They were fat from bugs and grass/weeds. The fat was plentiful, but not overly done. Just good shape and storage for winter and hard times. Just as God intended. It was like the yolks from their eggs - a bright yellow - not like store bought eggs and chickens and their pale colors.

The chickens came around for scraps. The hens go crazy for testicles. We save the heart, livers, and gizzards. I give them the lungs, testicles, guts, heads, and trimmings. Chickens are cannibalistic and will eat another chicken alive. So this was great from their point of view.

Fiona saw one hen with a heart. The hen was enjoying this treat. Fiona checked. Somehow that hen had snuck in and stole a heart out of the bowl. We never saw her do it.

Both Mothers (along with their chicks) were present for their share of the bounty. They were teaching them young. They would cluck cluck and the chicks would come running for an especially good morsel. The chicks did a lot of hunting/gathering on their own. They lost several tidbits to adult hens, but the Mothers would run the other hens off most of the time.

The roosters did some eating, but they just mostly called the hens over for something good. Roosters don't seem to do much eating, but they seem to be efficient at processing what they do eat.

Roosters don't have much to do with chicks. The exception is the Buckeye roosters. We have seen them be protective of the chicks and we have seen them do a hen type cluck to call chicks to food.

The roosters have a pecking order, but so do the hens. Social order is enforced. A broody or Mother hen is an exception. Don't mess with her, regardless of social position. Everyone runs from that Guinea, except the Mother hen. Now, it is the Guinea that runs. We had a hawk killing chicks a couple of months ago. That hawk learned to avoid the Mother. She went after the hawk and ran it off. She went several feet into the air to get to the hawk.

It was amazing to watch those chicks being chicks. And blood lust is a chicken trait!!! They went after the blood from the roosters. If you have a scratch or scab, they will peck at it while you are holding them. I know - experience!

It was a difficult deed, but it needed to be done. We had too many roosters and they were terrifying the hens. It is more manageable now, for the hens. Later on, we will have to do some more roosters. Some of the chicks will be roosters. But for now, they are enjoying being chicks and we are enjoying their antics. 
We try to give them as good of a life as we can. They have full roam of the farm. They live pretty much as their ancestors did. They will be in the barn. They will be in the yard. They will be in the fields. They will be on the fences. They get in the trailer and the pickup. And when we come home from being out, they and the turkeys will come up and greet us.

We made a big mistake. We had some leftover french fries when we were out one time. We called them over and fed them the fries. They would eat from our fingers/hands. They would jump high into the air to grab a morsel from our fingers. Well, the mistake was made. Now, they always come over expecting a treat. And we go out of our way to save them something when we are out. Well, these pictures show you our future nuggets/chicken pot pies. Enjoy!
Part of the last hatch. 22 chicks between two hens.  The oddity is the two white ones. What genetics gave us white when all our chickens are Black, Gold or Brown?
Meet Henry, he replaces "Attack" one of our original Rooster's. He is an Australorpe X Buckeye and when we evaluated him he feels good. He is heavy for his age and has a wide, flat back with a deep heart girth. Fiona noted that we have no crooked toes on any of the farm chicks. We wonder if the crooked toes is to do with hatchery chicks?

 Here is "The Donald", he is a cross of Australorpe and Buff Orpington. He replaces "Gentleman Jim" who had become "Jerk" and who was attacking Fiona on a way to regular basis. This young rooster is the biggest Rooster we have had but "Shoeless Joe" keeps him in line.

 Mixed poultry grazing the cover crop.
 Ducks in the green's.

Fiona says that I should mention that with the onset of winter, the grass and weeds are dying back. We planted cover crops on all four gardens. These will last most of the winter before they winter kill. The ducks, guinea, turkeys, and chickens go out into the cover crops to feed. They are still getting their greens, and fertilizing the gardens for us at the same time. They are trimming the cover crop back, but there is plenty for them to eat. We are willing to share.

Outside my office window is the East garden/house garden. It is green with cover crop. Almost any time of day, there will be one or two or more chickens/ducks/turkeys/guinea in the garden. They don't stay long. But you can see they are eating. They will rotate out and later some others will come in. Out the other side of the house is the kitchen/dining room windows and the herb garden and west garden. From that window, we can see the herb garden and beyond that, the west garden and their cover crops and their transient flocks. To the south is the barn. It blocks the house view of the south garden. The poultry rotate all over the place. They visit all the gardens during the course of a day. Their travels and diet are varied. And determined by them, themselves. We have "Peaches and Cream", "Flopsy", "Loopy-loo", "Henny-penny", etc. that are distinctive. As we move around the farm, we will see a particular hen or rooster here, there, and yonder. And in all the gardens and fields and buildings. "Flopsy" has a special thing for my workshop. She wants to go bug hunting any time I open the door. Spiders, crickets, etc. beware. Like I said, they go everywhere. Especially if we are there. They do like to be around us.

As an aside: (A change of subject) I have found two Linux programs to be nice/helpful. Both are free. I like the price.

First - ClipGrab. It is a You Tube search/downloader. I use it to download You Tube clips to my computer for future viewing/archiving. Oft times I have found something I want to see, but don't have time right now. When I come back later, it is gone. Removed. Now, if I am smart enough to download it, they can go ahead and remove it. I have my copy and can watch it as many times as I want.

Another example: I am watching a clip, but there are several clips to the right I am interested in. As soon as you select one, you lose all the others. Not me! I pause the video I am watching. I then right clip on a video I am interested in, select "copy link location", go to clipgrab, paste the link location into download, and save it to my "You Tube Videos" directory on my computer. I now have my copy on my computer. I don't have remorse on lost videos (if I remember to download it). I can watch it later. Same for the video I am watching.

- Calibre. I like to read e-books. Calibre will download e-books, newspapers, magazines, PDF's, etc. from all over the world. For English, there are 443 entries. Plus, there are 2 Argentina English, 9 Australia English, 1 Bulgaria English, 30 Canada English, 5 China English, 23 India English, 42 UK English, etc. There are about 29 other countries with English downloads. Not all are free. The Wall Street Journal has two entries. One is paid, the other is free (excerpts - headlines with the first paragraph or two). If you want Croatian reading, they have 9 entries. Arabic has 4 entries. Basque has 1 entry. German has 99 entries. Hebrew has 6. Japanese has 20. Irish has 1 (not English - Irish). Marathi has 1. Polish has 182. Spanish has 69. But, there are Argentina, Bolivia,and 11 other Spanish (including Cuba - 2). Tagalog has 1. Turkish has 39. Unknown has 9 (including Klipme, Korben, wallabag, Zerocalcare, etc.). Don't ask me! And many other major and minor countries. You can set up automatic downloads (if your computer will be on). It will convert e-book formats for you. EPUB, Modi, AZW3. It can download books, periodicals, etc. from numerous sources.
Thats about it for now.


  1. i love your poultry.
    i will ask daughter to read all the computer things you have found. sound very useful. thanks.

  2. Henry & Donald are sooo handsome! So are those babies, I can't wait till we have our first broody hen!!

    1. Yes there is a joy about hens with chicks...

  3. Hen raised chicks are so much better. That is the way I am going - once I find a good rooster.

    1. I sure wish we were closer....there are some of the youngest that will be lovely

  4. We have one hen with chicks right now. Later in the year than usual for that. You folks have built a going concern out there.

    1. 😊 we are trying. A lot to do yet. I hope you realize if you ever come to our part of Kentucky you have a place to stay.

  5. Crooked toes can be a incubation isue with hatchery chicks. Not enough humidity,if I recall correctly.

    I enjoyed the picture of the mama hen and her brood! A positive note on late chicks are that the pullets will lay earlier in the Spring.

    1. Thank you for the information about the feet. The first hatch in June is just starting to lay as the mature hens mount. Spring will be fun with more pullet eggs.