Tag Archive for chickens

Overcoming Fear

I have to be honest, there was a time I was scared to death of birds. I never knew this fear existed until a lovebird my then boyfriend (now hubster) adopted had lit out of her cage and was dive bombing me in our bedroom. I freaked. I ran out of the room bawling my eyes out, shaking, and calling him to come home. Of course he couldn’t come home, he was at work. Of course I knew no one who knew birds well enough to come to my rescue. Of course I was on my own. On my own I can deal with, but this sudden new fear of birds? That was something I couldn’t deal with.

Fast forward twelve years and now I’m the one in charge of chasing chickens, pinning down pissy roosters, tending to torn combs, popping feather pimples, and binding busted beaks. I keep track of who is laying, who is holding out, and who is hiding the eggs. I pick up, hug, kiss, and love on chickens every day. I never thought that I would be able to overcome that fear of avian animals until we decided to start our homestead. Every now and then it just hits me how far I have come and I can’t help but be amazed at myself.

Carrot

I have to apologize for the lack of updates regarding the first hatch of this season. When I set the eggs back in February, I could have never imagined the ride I was in for with this first hatch. First off, the area that we had set the incubator (our kitchen pantry) was apparently too cold on a couple nights as the incubator gave off a low temp warning a couple mornings in a row. Secondly, the humidity in our house was crazy low – around 30% – which, while normal for winter in Maine, made it tricky to keep the humidity high enough at the end of the hatch.

However, even with those two interesting issues, we had six of the seven eggs make it to hatch day. (One egg was a “quitter” mid way through.) As the eggs started hatching, Little Mister and I kept checking to see the progress of the chicks. The second one to pip was having trouble zipping.

Carrot - Prehatch

The membrane wasn’t coming apart correctly. The chick was mispositioned in the egg, making very slow progress. When this egg became the last one to finish zipping, I began to worry as to whether or not I should step in and help out.It’s always an interesting battle as a homesteader, knowing when to help an animal in distress out and when to let nature take its course. I decided on a deadline, and if the chick wasn’t out, then I would help interfere. The choice was made for me when the second to the last chick out, who was still drying off in the incubator, accidentally knocked off the shell of the struggling chick.

With the choice taken from him/her, Carrot, as my son named the orange colored chick, entered our world. Right off, I could tell something was wrong.

This photo was taken on day two after Carrot hatched.

This photo was taken on day two after Carrot hatched.

 

Carrot was born with part of his yolk sac unabsorbed. There is very little you can do for a chick in this state aside from provide time, love, and nourishment. As we were waiting for his roommate to dry off, said roommate stepped on Carrot’s yolk sac, causing a small leak. That increased the chance of infection. The roommate was banished down the basement brooder with slightly damp shoulders so that Carrot wouldn’t face a second rupture.

Carrot ended up spending an additional two days in the incubator, lovingly renamed the NICU during these time. I took Carrot out every few hours to check that the yolk sac was diminishing, give water with electrolytes, and allow some snuggles. I was worried at first that I would have to cull Carrot. I am amazed that the little foof is still around and strong. The yolk sac is almost gone, leaving a crusty over-sized belly button that might eventually fall off. The only visible damage from Carrot’s ordeal are two wings that seem smaller than average. Carrot will be a special bird, for sure. If Carrot is a she, we’ll find room for her in our flock. If a he, I know some folks who adore special needs birds.

For now, Carrot will have a bonded mate with his/her hatch buddy, who has been named Sable. They’ve been sharing the same brooder box for a few days now and are inseparable.

Carrot and Sable

Hatch #1

This past Sunday, the 14th, seven eggs went into the incubator. I candled them yesterday, on day three, and all seven have veins! I am beyond excited! While this development may not be constant and we may lose some throughout the incubating period, it’s exciting to know our boys are doing their duty. Here’s to the nail biting wait of the next candling session on day ten. 

Decisions

I’ve written previously that Amp would be going to slaughter, but now I’m hesitating.

Amp’s been much better around us, as of late. We’ve gone out of our way to handle him, making sure that he understands that we’re the ones in charge. He even let me pick him up while he was eating, bring him in to put bag balm on his comb, and then bring him back to the coop with no ruffling, grumping, and attempted pecking. Amp’s still a bit rough with the ladies, one in particular that I may need to put a saddle on today with how cold it is. The battles between he and Gucy have lessened and he hasn’t swatted at us once.

I’m nervous to see what Spring will bring, once the hormones hit and such, but for the most part, I think he may be receiving a stay of execution.

Rooster

image-300x225 This past season Hubster and I decided that if either of the two roosters we’ve raised decided to start acting overly testosterone driven that they would go to freezer camp before having the chance to attack us.

Well, it looks like we’ll be down to one rooster soon. Amp, as gorgeous as he is and as great of a job as he does, he’s starting in with some nasty habits: chasing girls that won’t let him mount them, forcing some girls away from the feed, following us and grumbling when we let them out, and placing himself between us and the girls. His stink-eye and habits just won’t do.

Now, there will be those reading this that will ask, “Why don’t you just rehome him?” Roosters are not known to be broken of Nast habits once they manifest. Come spring, Amps attitude will be much worse as she hits a natural testosterone high. Rehoming him would only make him someone else’s problem. As far as homesteading is concerned, butchering Amp makes more sense as he isn’t a problem for someone else and we recoupe part of the cost of raising him through providing food for our family. He’s an 8.5lb bird that, if he dresses out to 5lbs, will give us about six meals.

As sad as it will to see him go, it’s necessary. Amp is frightening the girls to the point that we’re losing more eggs than what we should be this time of year. He’s keeping some of the girls from the food to the point that a couple of them are growing very lean. Amp is handsome, but looks don’t make up for being an asshole. Since the butcher isn’t doing up another batch of birds until January, he has until then, unless things get really iffy, at which point we’ll do him in ourselves.