Breaking News! Sorta!

Sofia and Baby 13, sleeping in the big coop!

So this news would have been more “breaking” had I posted about it two nights ago as originally planned.  But, as so often happens with me, I took the pictures, had the best intentions, but never actually followed through.  So, here we are 2 days later.  On Tuesday, I suddenly just needed to get Sofia and 13 moved into the big coop.  I was tired of Sofia’s broodiness and the baby’s unwillingness to come out in the grass without mama.  Something had to give.  So, I shooed them both out of the baby coop, closed and locked the door behind them, herded them into the big coop, and slammed the door behind them before they could dash back out.  Then all we could do was wait.

Last time I tried this, the baby stood at the end of the run, staring longingly at her baby coop, while Sofia ignored her and went inside with everyone else.  I went out to dinner that night, which got cut short by and sos text from Bri – come home soon!  baby is hurt!  On my drive home, he told me that Sofia was sleeping inside with the rest of the flock, while he found the baby out in the run on a perch, trying to sleep, with a bloody head.  Since then, I have understandably been hesitant to try again.

But like I said… on Tuesday, I just needed it to happen.  I’m not sure why.  And so, that evening as the sun was setting, I went to check on the situation.  Sofia had predictably settled herself in a nest on a large pile of eggs (argh), the other girls were settled in for the night on the sleeping perches, and the boys were still on the floor, walking around, pecking at the feed, and going in and out the doors.  And 13… 13 was just inside one of the doors, near the feed.  This was a total success.  Never before had she actually gone inside the big coop.  She had always stayed out in the run.  I took it as a good sign and left them alone.  A couple of hours later, when it was totally dark, I went to check again, and what I found was the above picture.  SUCCESS!!!!  The baby was uninjured and sleeping with mom on the perch bar in front of the nests.  This was fantastic in many ways – one, Sofia was not sleeping in a nest, which may mean she’s moving out of the broody phase, and two she hadn’t abandoned her duties as a mother and was sleeping with the baby so she wouldn’t be alone.

After I took that picture with a flashlight on them, I realized that I could use my flash.  Duh.

The next morning, she was still alive and unharmed, though I did see her get henpecked a couple of times.  This is ok as long as they don’t draw blood.  The pecking order will sort itself out in time.  Last night was the second night, and I am ashamed to say I didn’t check on them in the dark last night, nor have I been out there yet this morning, but the first day and night had to be the hardest, so hopefully all is well.

Pea Monsters

adult pea weevil, hiding in young pea leaves

Not that it needed any confirming, since I was already very confident that pea weevils were the layers of the eggs all over my pea pods, but the day before yesterday I finally found the adults.  Any doubters out there – doubt no more.  Since I took away the vast majority of their homes (pea leaves, apparently), food (pea flowers and pollen), and egg-laying sites, they had nowhere to hide.  I had cut down the vines the evening before and that morning I found that I had missed a few stragglers… and these vines were, literally, crawling with the adult pea weevils… small, gray beetles that look like someone threw splatters of white paint on them.  They were busily using the vines as highways, crawling up and down along each one to the flowers and peas.  I found several females (apparently they are the pollen-eaters) lodged head-first in fresh blossoms, gorging on pollen.  I didn’t have my camera at the time, and told myself I would go get it and come back out, but of course, I didn’t.  When I was out in the dark, taking pictures of mama and baby in the big coop, I remembered the little monsters and went out, mostly in vain, to get a few shots.

The little gray thing that is sticking out of the clump of new leaves in the middle of the bigger leaf is the sleeping weevil.  If I can remember, I will try to grab some daylight shots today before I banish the remaining vines and thus their life source.

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One thought on “Breaking News! Sorta!

  1. Thank you for the update about Thirteen. I come to your site mostly for the chickens since you got yours two weeks before I. (My first batch in Feb 09 – I should add).

    Next time, I hope you leave the chicks in with the moms and flock.

    I’m on my 2nd time with broodies who are co-raising 4 chicks in with the flock of 28 – 2 of which are the light brown leghorns that were momma raised last fall.

    May & June I had 2 broodies that I put 4 eggs each under. The good mommy buff orpington hatched out 3 – the bad mommy barred rock hatched out 3. One was a very tiny and weak silkie/cochin mix that she stepped on the night it was born. Dead in the morning (I should have culled that night). The next morning, she left the nest to take her chicks out to scratch and the other silkie/cochin couldn’t get over the 3″ lip and froze.

    So I took her remaining chick away and gave it to the good mommy. Good mommy accepted after I stuck it under her wing with her other 3. Locked the bad mommy out of the coop for the day – though she spent the rest of the day trying to get in the coop.

    To my surprise the next morning, both hens were in the same nest box (huge double sized box on a pallet I use for broodies). They have been co-parenting ever since – 4 weeks.

    The chicks get right in with the whole flock eating scratch, starter crumbles, grass and bugs. The roosters will show them where the good stuff is right along with the two mom’s.

    I must admit, I was worried more this time with so many in the flock vs last fall when I only had the 8 nice hens. But, so happy I desided to just let nature take its course with the thought that chickens have been raising young in flocks forever.

    I have one more broody buff orpington sitting on 4 eggs since June 20.

    If anyone else goes broody this summer, I plan to buy some black copper and splash maran eggs from someone local on craisglist.

    It is such a joy to watch the broodies raise those little ones. I love it.

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