Matilda & Her Chicks Update
I have lots to write about, but also trying to use these unseasonably warm days to finish preparing for winter. Saturday, I cleaned coops in 40 degree weather, even a little sunshine. Yes, the last one I cleaned after dark. But I just turned on their light & used my trusty headlamp to go back & forth when dumping the bin-fulls of litter in the chicken's yard. Only have the roosters' coop left, but so glad to get that done on a beautiful warm day for December! While I was at it, did a little rearranging of some of the young stock. The "big group", aka, the PA/DC coops are still on grower feed, even though there are more pullets laying, plus the adults which are molting. One hen "Pansy" looks like a porcupine right now. But, that's a good thing, I suppose because I that means she'll return to laying faster. I "read somewhere" that good layers molt faster, and they had a detailed explanation. Who knows if that's really true, but at least with a few hens that I knew were good layers, they did seem to go through a hard, fast molt.
On the brighter side, Matilda the hen hatched a 2nd chick, and while the other eggs didn't make it through that one day she "forgot" which nest she was sitting on, I'm blessed that two chicks hatched.
She was ready to go this morning, so while she ate, I held the chicks in my coat pocket with my hand over them. As soon as I got my regular "critter chores" done, I quickly set up chick feeders in the "dog house on wheels" that Daisy had raised her chicks in last fall. They seemed to adjust & Matilda was happy to chow down food and water, clucking to encourage the chicks to do the same. It's way too early to tell who's male/female, but my guess would be the 1st chick to hatch is a rooster and the 2nd is a pullet. Why? The 1st one (w/ feathered shanks) is very "outgoing", adventuresome & quick to respond; also very vocal if cold. The 2nd chick is more laid back, seems more "tender", a little smaller & hardly makes a peep. Only time will tell if I guess right.
After bringing down 6 more bags of leaves to the entrance of the chicken yard, I could hear faint "distressed peeping" sounds, so hurried to investigate. Matilda was trying to dust bathe & the chicks were cold & obviously very confused as to what was going on. The 2nd chick looked as if "she'd" been kicked around a time or two. So, I quickly scooped them up, and decided to take them inside to warm up. Into the shed to retrieve the head lamp that I'd just "packed away" for the season, and put some grass bedding pellets in a small plastic tote to keep the chicks in temporarily. Once I plugged in the 100 watt light, I put them under it, and the fell into a heap. But, it was amazing how they revived and then started "calling for mom" - I had music on, which helped with the noise, but McDoogle was "on the alert" due to all the peeping. I kept them inside for over an hour, to make sure they'd warmed up sufficiently before returning them, but this time I set up the light inside the "dog house coop", as Matilda is still learning the ropes of being a mother. Just like her mother, Lydia, once the chicks hatch she went "spastic" as I call it, and frantically chowed down food, drank water, stretched every muscle, flapped her wings, and set out to get a long-awaited dust bath. All recollection that she had chicks to care for temporarily left her "brain", because she was having a little "R&R" after sitting on those eggs for so long. By the time I returned with the chicks, she was frantically trying to "escape" out of the dog house, probably convinced that her chicks were still in that nesting box. It took a few minutes, but then the "light bulb turned back on" and she realized, Oh, my chicks are right here. Oh, here's the food kids. I'm sure you're hungry. I now I am. Hence, she went right back to eating & clucking. Chick #1 heeded her call & ate little tidbits, while chick #2 rested under the light.
By evening when I closed up all the coops for the night, Matilda and her chicks were all snuggled together, on the opposite side of the heat lamp, but at least they were happy & adjusted.
Hopefully, their tough Catskill Homesteader traits will shine forth & they'll thrive despite being raised during the winter. I know that last year's chicks that were the hatched October 8th, being the latest I'd ever hatched any with broody hens had a hard time, but they also had the stress of moving to deal with. But, the survivors from that batch ended up being both pullets - "Snowdrop" and "Crocus".
But, since this was just going to be a "quick update" , I think I better stop writing now before you get bored with my stories!
Oh, sorry, no photos today, they're still on the camera.
But, I did create a Facebook Page, to hopefully get more traffic and readers. I don't want to get involved with all the Facebook "drama" that comes with a personal page, etc. Just another way to connect with fellow people who love animals, nature, hobby farms, chickens, turkeys, etc.
So here's Paradise in Disguise Hobby Farm's "Official" Facebook Page: