Flashback to Two Years Ago: Daisy's Last Brood of Chicks

As I was looking back over my blog post archives, I thought this one worth highlighting again, after making a few updates and edits.
My oldest hen is "Daisy", who is a white Easter Egger who I bought from a hatchery in April 2011. She holds a special place in my heart, even though her egg laying days are over. Why? She was my first hen to go broody in 2012, and hatched 3 chicks, one of which became "Michael Jessie", who is also still living with the flock and sired chicks during the summer of 2016. Both Daisy and Michael Jessie are very inspirational in starting my interest in hatching chicks, and mark the starting point of what became the Catskill Homesteader Chickens.

Olive & Daisy's chicks - Hatched between Oct 9 - 12th, 2014

The last hatch of 2014 was definitely "survival of the fittest", even though I don't believe in evolution. But, it is true that without human intervention, in the wild, usually it's only the strongest, healthiest and hardiest that survive to adulthood and to reproduce. That is part of my goals in breeding my own animals, is to let "nature take its course" as much as possible and carefully select the best individuals that will also produce strong, healthy, hardy offspring. I realize that often the things we as humans go through, although sometimes difficult, will make us a stronger, better person if we allow ourselves to be changed. 

2014 was a big year for us, as we moved from the log home we'd lived in for 11 years. From September until November  1st, we were super busy getting things ready to move and setting up things at the new place. So, I never did an official "count" (I think there was 12 - 14) nor did I wingband them soon after hatching like I'd been doing. Even though Daisy & Olive had incubated the eggs in nesting boxes, they eventually ended up all together, as one "big, happy family", or so I thought.
 After a few days, it became obvious these two hens would not "co-raise" the chicks, so I let Daisy keep the chicks & relieved Olive of her duty. 

Then, on October 24th, all the chickens and ducks moved onto the new property, including Daisy & the chicks, who were now 3 weeks old. Their new home was a dog house converted mini "coop", bolted onto a lawn tractor cart - so I call it the "dog house on wheels". It was dark, as I didn't have electricity yet for a light, and no heat except for Daisy.  

 They seemed to be adjusting ok, and
they grew despite what I'd call "ideal conditions".
It was getting cold at night, and only at certain times
of the day did they have the benefit of sunshine shining directly inside their little coop.
From all previous experience, I should have know
I was asking for trouble. 
Several of the chicks failed to thrive.

 It started to crowded, but the "dog house on wheels" was so high off the ground, it would have been impossible for these chicks to return to the coop at night. Finally, I decided to let them out with all the hens. Daisy did a great job protecting them and showing them the ropes of the "big world". The other hens knew to keep their distance, and only would peck them at the feeder when Daisy wasn't close by. By the second day of letting them out, Daisy decided it was time to move her chicks to the PA coop. They slept in a corner, all huddled together, and would come flying out in the morning.

But, then one night it got down to 18 degrees or so. Daisy must have flown up on roost & figured her chicks would follow.  

She was wrong, as I found 2 chicks frozen in the morning. :( It's always sad to see that, even though it's "part of life" when raising animals, especially chicks this late in the year and given the other factors.  
 Now, I only had two "survivors" left.
One was white with a muff & single comb, who I originally thought was a male, but didn't have a pink comb at 8wks old. The other was a black/brown/blonde EEx who I thought was female early on, due to coloring. 
Those two little survivors thrived and soon began to fly up onto the roost (probably 2.5-3ft off the ground) to sleep under Daisy at night. They'd cheep and crawl under her to get warm - so cute! 
Meanwhile, Daisy was took the opportunity to molt, so she'll look all fresh and clean for spring 2015!

Daisy had done her job, and though she didn't have as high of a success rate as she's had during the spring and summer, I believed she'd raised some tough little girls who won't be afraid of the snow, cold or any other harsh conditions.

These two chicks grew up to be both hens, and earned names because of their unique "chick-hood".



And as I finish writing & editing this post, 2 years after I originally posted it, I'm happy to say that both of these hens are alive and well. I'm sure they've been mothers of some chicks, and have proved themselves to be true Catskill Homesteader Chickens.