Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Six weeks into the molt

Today, marks six weeks since my sweet Coco started to molt.  She spent the first three weeks of her molt nearly naked.  And while those feathers came in so quickly, she still has a long ways to go.

She's fully covered and has a nice layer of down to keep her warm.  But she's still off her game.  So I picked her up tonight, which she so dislikes.  I just wanted to be sure I wasn't missing something obviously wrong with her.  And she's fine.  She's just covered in pin feathers.  It's like she's got a second wave of feathers coming in all over.

So I gave her some meal worms to show her how much I love her.  And she appreciated the gesture.  But she still watched me with a very cautious eye for the rest of the evening.  Just to be sure I didn't get close enough to touch her again.

I will say, of all the breed chickens I've had, a freshly molted Jersey Giant is the softest thing in the whole wide world.  I really wish she liked more attention than she does because it's so tough keeping my hands off of her.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coco 3 weeks into her molt

Today is 3 weeks to the day that Coco started to molt.

As you can see by the photos below, she's once again fully covered and no longer has any bare skin showing.  Even her bottom has fluffy feathers covering her.

Those feathers still have a long way to grow out.  And you can can see the pin feathers on her head and back of her neck that she's not able to nibble on to open up.  But I'm SOOOOO happy that she's covered and no longer shivering.  Poor thing.  What a rough three weeks.

I did catch her covered in dust yesterday and I think that was her first dust bath in about 3- 4 weeks.  Which had to have felt so good.

And I LOVE the beautiful sheen on those new glossy black feathers.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Update on The Molt

Yesterday marked the two week mark since Coco started to molt.  In three days, she dropped nearly every feather on her body.  It's just brutal to watch a nearly naked chicken stager around the yard.  She was miserable and it showed.  She stopped talking and foraging.  And when she refused to eat treats out of my hands, I knew she felt just awful.

I set up a heat lamp in her run when I caught her shivering.  I put it on a timer to come on first thing in the morning and go off around 10am.  By that time, the sun has been up on their run for a while and the temperature is usually up above 65.  I also have it come on again in the evenings to keep her warm until she goes to bed. 

Coco was going to bed a good half hour before the other hens.  Which further told me she was cold and didn't feel well.  And in the mornings, she got up nearly an hour after the other hens.  I think she would have stayed in the coop even longer.  But she knew when she heard my voice, that meant I had come out with warm mash so she'd usually pop right out.

But this morning, I heard her out in the run talking long before I got outside.  All good signs that she's come out the backside of this year's ugly molt.

I figure she needs another two weeks before she's all covered and gorgeous once again.  But I'll take what she's got today because it's supposed to be cold and raining for the next two days.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I so dislike molting season

I really dislike molting season.  Mostly because of the way Coco molts.  Coco does the "Ugly Molt" meaning she sheds so many feathers, you can see bare skin covered in rows and rows of pin feathers. And she looks MISERABLE!!!  I mean, who wouldn't.  This year has been her worst molt yet.

She started molting on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.  The coop and run were covered with her beautiful black feathers.  By Saturday, she looked like the two photos below, bare back and sides.

Thursday, a week after she started to molt, she lost nearly every feather on her.  She's got a few new long wing feathers which she's using to try and keep her sides covered.

She also had a pin feather pulled out.  I don't know if she did it or if one of the other hens did it.  I have caught them pecking at her.  Probably out of curiosity to see what those pin feather things all over her are.  Anyway, that wound looks like it really smarts. I've been trying to put Vet RX and Neosporin on it but she wants nothing to do with me so I have to sneak out to the coop at night to treat her.

I did catch her shivering a few times so I've put a heat lamp out in the run for her.  She doesn't want to stand under it.  But if I put treats under it, she has to stand under it to eat which warms up her just a touch. 

I've closed up every window on the coop to try and keep it as warm as possible in there at night.  And it's surprisingly warm in there.  I'm sure the Buff Orpingtons don't appreciate it but I'm hoping it's temporary.

Below is what my beautiful Coco will look like in just a few short weeks.  I can't fast forward fast enough to get her at least covered in feathers.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happy Birthday Coco

My sweet Coco Bean, the last of my original flock, is 4 years old.  And what better way to celebrate a milestone than with a cricket themed party with your best friends.  Well, unless you are the cricket.

Here's Coco with my three Buff Orpington's (Penny, Peaches and Pickles) enjoying their cricket party.  Here's to another 4 years with you Coco.  You make me laugh every day.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Goodbye sweet Penny - Goodbye sweet Poppy

I just can't seem to get a break.  I lost two more hens this summer.  It's so devastating.

Selfie with my sweet Penny.  Penny loved to sit in my lap and talk.

We lost sweet Penny, one of my baby peeps, about a month ago.  I went out at bright and early one morning, I knew the hens had only been up for about 10 minutes, and she was dead in the run.  The only thing I can think of is that one of the others jumped on her and snapped her neck.

The peeps were a tight pack of four and did EVERYTHING together.  If Coco got near or if anything spooked them, they all tried to jump on each other.  She was still warm and soft and I was simply devastated.  

The last photo I have of the four peeps.  I believe Penny is in the upper left of the photo.
And then last week, we lost my sweet blue Poppy Loo.  I wasn't quite sure what was wrong but she was clearly not right.  Turns out, she was egg bound.

Last photo of Poppy and Coco together.
The saddest part about losing Poppy is watching Coco mourn.  Poppy and Coco made for quite the odd couple.  But they were tight.  They did everything together.  The funniest thing was watching the two side by side on the roost at night.  Coco tipping the scales at nearly 9lbs was just a beast next to Poppy who was just a raisin over 3lbs.

Coco has bellowed for Poppy all week.  She even started crowing like a rooster.  Coco seems to be getting better.  But she lost her best buddy.  And while she's got the three peeps out there with her, they are tight bunch and breaking one off to pair up with Coco is going to be a tough sell.

The last photo of Poppy at the vet's office.  Those sad eyes simply begged me to do something to make her pain go away.

Up until we lost Poppy, the peeps were sleeping in their own coop and refused to roost.  I thought it was odd that they were 17 weeks old and still sleeping in a big pile.  But I figured if that was what made them comfortable, then what harm was it causing.

So after we lost Poppy, I started putting the peeps in the big coop with Coco.  They were quite frightened at first.  But it's been nearly a week now and things are beginning to settle down.  Coco hasn't crowed in two days.  And the peeps are letting her get closer to them and even hang out with them while they preen.  And Coco has been very good and not pecked or spooked them.

I think she understands that Poppy is not coming back and these three are all she has so she'd better make nice.

Hopefully, one of my sweet peeps will go broody this fall or next spring and will raise more babies for me.  I'd love to have a flock of eight.  And honestly, I'd just love for a few of my hens to live to be old ladies.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Project Flock Integration has Commenced - Code Name: Peepers

The babies are almost 6 weeks old and I felt it was time to fully integrate them with Coco and Poppy.

I've had the Peeps out in the garden free ranging with the big girls since they they were two weeks old.  And that was going great.  I evicted them from the garage two and a half weeks ago to the big girls run, but separated by fence panels, so they couldn't get at each other.  But they were getting frustrated by being penned up and clearly want more real estate to roam.

Coco is very chill.  She welcomed the Peeps almost from the beginning.  Poppy is a bit more high strung and I was more worried about how she would react.  But I couldn't have been more pleased.

I started the day by letting everyone out into the big garden while I cleaned both coops, scrubbed all the waterers, filled the feeders and turned over some of the soil in their run.  I also moved some logs around to make things seem different and interesting to everyone to hopefully keep them distracted.

As soon as I put everyone into the run, they all set about having a big dust bath.

Coco and Poppy taking a big dust bath together.  They must have been in there for nearly an hour.

The babies found their own corner to have a nice dust bath.

Here's a wider shot of the run.  I did leave up a few fence panels just to give the babies something to hide behind in case Coco or Poppy decided to chase or stalk them.  But I really didn't see any of that going on today.

I put out every waterer and feeder I have to give everyone a place to eat and drink with out having to be near someone that might want to peck at them.

I found it interesting how Coco and Poppy spent much of the day hanging in the area that was sectioned off for the Peeps. And the Peeps spent their time exploring the big girls side of the run. 

We checked up on them often to make sure everyone was doing okay.  The Peeps love getting tummy tickles.

Peaches loved napping in the sun up on a cinder block.  I don't know what's going on with her feathers but her bustle feathers are growing in straight up in the air.  We've started calling her Peach Fuzz.

The Peeps do EVERYTHING together.  They move around the run like one giant chicken.  I guess it's true what they say, safety in numbers.

Coco and Poppy INSIST on eating from the Peeps feeder no matter how many times I tell them, "It's the same feed silly hens!"
All in all I'd say today was a huge success.  I'm not going to relax just yet.  It's almost bedtime and I'll go make sure everyone goes to sleep in the right coop.  And tomorrow is yet another day.  But if all goes as well as today did, I should be able to start to relax a bit.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Peeps are 4 weeks old

The Peeps just need to grow a tad larger so they don't fit through the fencing you see behind Penny.  Then we can move them out into the run with the big hens and know they will be safely separated from the adults. 
Guess what?
Poppy and Coco sharing some chopped spinach for a snack.
My garden is beginning to take off.  I'm growing a variety of radishes this year and the hens love the radish tops.
And finally, then hens have stopped eating my roses.
I love their cute little tails.
Pearl was tired from playing in the garden.  She hopped up on hubby's ankle and  wandered up to his elbow where she decided it was a nice place to take a rest.  Hubby tried to 
And all four together.  They grow up SOOOOOO quickly!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Peeps

If the feed store would have had 5 Buff Orpington's, I would have bought 5 BO's.  I feel like I'm missing one when I look at photos like this.

They are 12 days old today and growing up SOOOOO fast.  I'm always amazed.  Won't be but a few more weeks before I can turn them lose in the garden to mingle with Coco and Poppy.  I write that with my fingers crossed that integration goes more smoothly this time around than the last.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Change in the Pecking Order

I haven't been good about blogging lately.  Life just gets in the way life sometimes.

I know I blogged about Honey not being well.  I'm still not quite sure what was wrong with her, but her crop wouldn't empty.  I worked closely with my vet to try and help her.  But after having it flushed out twice and crop surgery to clear it, she was still having issues.  I just could not bring myself to say goodbye to her.  I REALLY wanted her to raise babies for me again.  But last weekend she made it clear that she was suffering.  And I couldn't bear to let her suffer.  So we had her put down. 

Losing Honey was more difficult than losing all my other birds combined.  She was the sweetest bird in the whole wide world.  I loved the way she would run right up to me and let me scoop her up and set her into my lap.  She would tell me all about her day.  buk buk buk.  buk buk buk buk buk.  buk buk buk.  She was as soft as could be.  And I loved all those warm cozy feathers.  Rest in peace my sweet Honey Bear.

Rest in peace my sweet Honey Bear.  I hope heaven is full of blueberries and meal worms.

And knowing in my gut that Honey's days were numbered, I picked up four day old Buff Orpington chicks last Friday.  We've named them Pickles, Peaches, Penny and Pearl.  Penny and Pearl kind of deviate from the Spice Girls theme.  But I love the name Penny for a hen.

Peanut and Popcorn were close contenders.  And honestly, sometimes I wonder why I even bother naming my chickens.  Because once they grow up and their personalities come out, we come up with about a dozen nicknames that fit each hen so much better than their given name.

I started calling them my Easter Chicks and it's almost like they know they are my Easter Peeps.

I was bummed about having to raise babies myself.  I worry about them being warm enough ALL THE TIME.  So I picked up an EcoGlow brooder and WOW!!!  I've never had such happy and content chicks.  And I sleep better knowing that there's no danger of fire.

I can't tell them apart yet but there is one who loves to make eye contact with me and appears to be their leader.  So we'll name her Pickles.  Once they get big enough, I have leg bands so I can tell them apart.  But for now, they are just the Peeps.