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My Chickens Part 4

Last Updated: 4/23/19

Pondet Broods Again
Additional Small Updates
Pondet Broods a Third Time
The End for Pondet
Phoenix Never Rose
Too Soon Petunia
Mr. Speckles Too
The End

Pondet Broods Again

Chickie on 5/18/07. To see more photos, go to this page.

On 4/27/07, Pondet, decided to go broody. She was sitting on just a single egg since I collected the eggs daily to prevent her going broody (did not work obviously). She last hatched two chicks in 2005. The survivor, Speckles, was the presumed father of her baby so Pondet was trying to hatch her baby which was simultaneously her grandbaby. The baby was due to hatch on 5/18/07. Here is a photo of her brooding on 4/29/07: Pondet brooding her one egg.

On 5/17/07, I cheeped near Pondet who was acting like something was happening. I thought I heard a cheep back. I thought Chickie was piping. It was not until I got home on 5/18/07 that I first saw Chickie. I took photos of course which you can see here. Chickie was mostly yellow so she would mostly be white as an adult like most Delaware's. Chickie is 75% Delaware and 25% Araucana. The next morning, Pondet wanted Chickie to jump out of the nest box but she did not know how even though I had put some ramps in. I finally late in the morning picked up Chickie and put her on the ground barely avoiding Pondet's wrath. Chickie was very reserved, small, and not at all boisterous. I was hoping that meant Chickie is female (update later: Yep, she is!). Pondet tried to beat up some bread, grapes, and mealworms into smaller pieces for Chickie but, as of 5/19/07, I had not seen Chickie actually eat anything. I put up a barrier of chicken wire to keep the other chickens away from Pondet and Chickie. It was not a great barrier but it should suffice for the month or so before Chickie was probably going to be safe. I was so worried that a snake would get Chickie like it did Sprouty two years ago. Chickie was darling and did not have any obvious problems despite the inbreeding. My father went out and got some chick starter (minus the antibiotics). Chickie's first night after leaving the nest was spent under Pondet in the open, in mild rain showers! I set up a plastic storage tub on its side with fresh hay so they could nest in there since Chickie could not or would not climb the ramp to the nest box in which she hatched. They so far had not used the ground level nest either. I was worried about exposure. Pondet would not let me move Chickie. She was very protective.

Update 5/28/07. So far, so good! Chickie now had her first real feathers on the wing tips which were white with a little gray like Pondet. I made three videos of Chickie and Pondet which you can see on the bird videos page.

Update 6/17/07: Chickie was now a month old and healthy. I was afraid Chickie showed signs of being male. Chickie had a lot of dark color unlike Pondet and was very lanky (long legs and neck). I hoped I was wrong, and Chickie is female. Speckles flew into their area once as did Poulet. No harm came of it aside from Speckles having his way with his mother. I have not put them together all the time because I am worried that Chickie might get under the fence where Sugar is and get stuck or hurt. Chickie had a lot of feathers now and could flap fly a few feet.

When I went to check on the chickens the night of 6/24/07, Pondet and Chickie were up on the outside roost! It was six feet in the air! The nest box roof is about 2.5 feet off the ground and nearby so they hopped up onto there first and then flew to the roost. I had not even seen Chickie ever on the nest box or fly more than a few feet horizontal to the ground so this was a surprise. I said, "How did you get up there Chickie?" She cocked her head as if to ask, "Where are the mealworms?" I had been letting Speckles in with his mother and sibling/offspring for short periods of time when I was filling up their bowls. Speckles chased his screaming mother until he could rape her. Chickie at the same time went to the other side and ran in circles screaming too so it was too stressful for her still. I was going to wait a few weeks to combine the two "flocks" (if you can call two chickens a flock) even though Pondet and Chickie were now roosting in the open and got soaked in a thunderstorm their first night there.

On 6/29/07, I found Pondet and Chickie on the outside roost again. Again, there were thunderstorms which they both weathered just fine. I decided to start the flock integration on 6/30/07. I removed the door between the two runs. Speckles co-mingled with his mother and daughter/sister. They seemed to get along okay. Sugar was in his caged-in area, and the girls had not gone under there yet (which I worried about). Poulet would not come down off the roost. Her nails were overgrown so I cut them. She made a lot of noise and upset the other chickens. When I put her down, she ate a lot of food like she was starving which she must have been because I never saw her on the ground (around that time)! She went right back up to the roost inside the house. She needed light and exercise! Of course, so did Sugar but I did not have the ability to build something better for him. Later in the day, Pondet and Chickie took a dust bath in the house. Pondet kicked dirt all over her daughter. Did I say daughter? Well, it seems that Chickie now has some decididly female traits. She is small, female-shaped, small comb, and the tail feathers have stopped starting to stick out. So, my mother now sweared she was female. I was thinking that maybe she was! I will add more updates later.

When I went to check on the chickens on the night of 7/1/07, Poulet, Speckles, and Pondet were all up in the roost in the house. Sugar was in his area. Chickie was on the ground crying (the equivalent for chickens anyway). So, I put her up next to her mamma. I watched for a few minutes. Poulet starting pecking ferociously at Pondet and Chickie. Speckles tried to protect his mother/lover and daughter/sister but Poulet was persistent. Chickie flew down. Eventually, Pondet flew to the other side of the house. Finally, she and Speckles flew down. When I checked a few hours later, Pondet and Chickie were roosting on the outside roost. If this keeps up, I may have to quarantine Poulet in with Sugar so she can stop being so mean to the other girls. Poulet spends almost her entire life up on that roost and really needs to get down.

The night of 7/2/07, I put Poulet in with Sugar. I put Chickie on the roost. This time, Speckles, Pondet, and Chickie were able to roost inside in peace. In the morning, Poulet escaped when I took the bowls out by going under the fence. I would see what happened that night.

Luckily, that night Poulet slept at the other end of the beam roost. They seemed to get along okay now. The problem by 7/5/07 was that Pondet did not want to come off the roost during the day because of Speckles (who wanted to mount her). So, Speckles was now baby sitting Chickie! Speckles was giving food to Chickie and spending time with her while Poulet and Pondet hid up inside the house! Chickie was so sweet and cute beyond words.

Chickie had her final integration test. I found her in with Sugar on 7/5/07. He did not harm her. I coaxed her out with mealworms. Later that night, she was in there again and would not come out so I went to get mealworms. When I got back, she was in the window sill. The next morning, when I came back with their bowls, she was in with Sugar again. She came out to eat. Poulet and Pondet were still cowering up on the roost because of the roosters while baby Chickie was spending time with two huge roosters.

On 7/6/07, at night, when I checked on them, Chickie was roosting below, alone so I put her next to her mother, Pondet. Pondet immediately pecked at Chickie a lot, and Chickie cried. Pondet would not stop so I moved Chickie next to Speckles who protected her. I guess Pondet thought that tiny little Chickie was all grown up but she was still so small! It is sad when the mother hen turns on the babies; it usually does not happen so soon (7 weeks).

The next day, 7/7/07, Pondet and Poulet came off the roost after a few hours. Pondet attacked Chickie by standing on her and pecking viciously. Chickie hid in the nest box. I took photos on the photo page of Chickie in there. Later, she went in with Sugar who was nice to her. He handed her foods like mealworms that I put in. She was so small and could easily go under the fence when she wanted. I think she preferred being with her grandfather instead of her now nasty mother.

Update 8/18/07: Sometime about a week ago, Chickie lost her "cheep." She now made noises closer to those her mother made. She seemed very small for her age. Her mother still attacked her if they were near to each other so Chickie usually hid in the separation cage with her grandfather Sugar. Pretty soon, she would be old enough for more incest in the chicken house. I wish the boys would just leave the hens alone!

By 9/20/07, nothing has really changed. Chickie was a little bigger but she was still the pariah. She went under the fence to join Sugar or up on the new high roost to get away from her mother who attacked her whenever she could. Unlike her mother's side of the family where hens have big combs, she got her grandfather's side of the family's trait of small combs. She has almost no comb like her great-aunt Spicey (who died a while back).

On 2/16/08, Chickie laid her first egg. It was green like her great aunt Spice's egg but a little bit larger. My mother ate it and said it was the best egg ever. Things in the chicken house remained the same. Sugar was in his enclosure. Pondet and Poulet mostly stayed up on the roost. Chickie and Speckles (her father, half-brother, and lover; talk about inbreeding!) walked around the main areas which the other girls were missing out on (of their own volition).

On 5/24/08, Pondet went broody. My mother flipped out about how we cannot have more chickens (which I knew, like it was my fault she wanted to be a mother again!). So, using a board, I stole her eggs. She squalked (how in the world do you spell that?) and puffed up. I picked her up having a fit and put her to bed. She had gone broody on one of her eggs (fathered by her son) and one of Poulet's eggs (the only hen not related to the roosters by blood). I feel like I destroyed her life (certainly those of her babies).

A month or so later, Chickie also went broody (just for the day). In early August, Pondet went broody on six of her own eggs that were in the caged area with Sugar so I had not yet removed them. Boy did she have a fit when I took those. The morning of 8/3/08, I entered the chicken house to find Sugar hanging upside down. His spur was hooked on the fence dividing him from the other chickens (for all the good it does since they all seem to come and go under the fence). I unhooked him. He had been hanging all night. At first, he could not walk. I thought his leg was broken. He limped for a few days but then seemed fine so I guess the injury was temporary and healed. For a few days there, I thought he was a goner. Now that he was older and badgered by his son, Speckles, he no longer seemed as aggressive with me. Speckles was nice to me but he was constantly force mating the three girls including his mother Pondet and daughter/half sister Chickie. They screamed in agony and wildly tried to get away but my mother insists it is not rape.

Additional Small Updates

There has not been much to report lately. On 11/27/08, I soaked Poulet's feet in some warm water with Epsom salts to work off a ton of poop, dirt, and feathers stuck to her feet. I also trimmed her nails. She had trouble walking and even standing. I hoped that helped her but I feared she would not be around much longer. The other chickens seemed the same as always.

Poulet continued to amaze me. She often could not stand or fell over but then she would be out running around with the other chickens. She actually laid a few eggs in April of 2009. Pondet went broody on 4/24/09 on a single egg (her egg). I picked her up and put her inside to be safe from the fox. She was really upset. My parents insisted I prevent her from having more babies; there would be a greater than 50% chance of getting another rooster. Chickie was almost two years old and had never gone broody so she must not have gotten that gene. That is a good thing I guess as the father of any chick she had would be her own father and simultaneous half brother or grandfather (although Speckles would not allow Sugar to mate as Speckles was dominant).

On 6/16/09, I noticed that Chickie's left eye was badly infected! I did not know how I missed it before. The closest vet that sees chickens is about 45 minutes away, and I was not sure if or when I might be able to get her there so I gave her a dose that night and the next morning of some gel eye antibiotics that my cat, Gino, had gotten a few months earlier. Her eye seemed to get better. We ended up taking her to that vet on 6/17/09 at 6:15 pm (they did not see us until an hour later though). The vet said what I gave her was fine except for the steroid in it because birds do not tolerate steroids well. She stained her eye with fluorescein and did not find any scratches on the cornea. She gave us liquid 3% ofloxacin antibiotic eye drops and also some Meloxicam (Metacam, an oral pain medication to use just for a few days). I was supposed to give her the eye drops four times a day for a week! It was all I can manage (working full time) to wrestle her twice a day while Sugar tried to throttle me. While at the vet, Chickie was an angel, never complained or put up a fight. At home, it was all screaming and flapping when I had to get her. She would recover.

On 7/16/09, around 4 PM, I found Sugar had died. He was alive and fine that morning at 6:45 AM or so. There was no blood or obvious injuries. His neck was not broken. So, I assume that he died of a heart attack associated with old age. When I took him out, the chickens made a loud raucous for half an hour.

Pondet Broods a Third Time

When Pondet went broody for about the fourth time of the year on 7/26/09, my mother said it was okay if I let her hatch her egg but, if it turned out to be a boy, I would have to "pay the consequences." This would be Pondet's third hatch. Her son Speckles (along with Sprouty who was eaten by a snake as a chick) was her first in 2005, and daughter Chickie was her second in 2007. I was going to believe this baby would be a girl so I have named her Petunia even though she was not yet born. There was a possibility that one of Chickie's eggs was under Pondet as well but I had not seen under there yet. Chickie's baby would have a father who was also her/his grandfather and uncle which is a bit too much inbreeding! Pondet's baby would have a father who is also his/her half brother (as Chickie has).

Ut, oh! Pondet was off the nest mid-day on 8/1/09 (Saturday so I was home). She had two eggs of her own and three of Chickie's! That was five potential babies. Two of the Chickie eggs were very dirty and probably old ones that I did not see in the straw so hopefully those will not hatch. The newer Chickie egg may have been deposited during the week so it may not hatch either if abandoned early to take the others off the nest. I did not want Chickie's doubly-inbred babies to be incubated but did not have the heart to kill them now that they were growing. Some chicks may fall victim to predators, chickens, accident, weather, etc. so time will tell what we get.

Well, my mother saw Pondet off the nest on 8/5/09 and called me at work screaming. She demanded that I remove most of the eggs. I refused. She said she was going to kill all of them but she did let two remain. I told her to remove the green eggs (Chickie's) over the brown eggs (Pondet's) so I guess I am complicit in the murder of three of my innocent grandchicks who were 50% formed and ready for life.

On 8/15/09, Pondet started acting like something was happening but I did not see or hear baby Petunia until I came home from work on 8/17/09. I found the other baby in the nest box that my mother named Daisy. The baby had piped and was fully formed inside the broken egg. It appeared to have died either by being squished or suffocated by its mother. I was sad for him/her but tried to focus on Petunia. The last two times that Pondet had babies, I kept them separate from the flock for fear they would be harmed. This time, the chickens were all together. Speckles was a good father. Poulet and Chickie had not bothered the baby and did not even seem interested in her. I would call Petunia a girl because that was what she had to be. It would take months to know Petunia's sex for sure [Luckily, she would turn out to be a girl.] Petunia was very boisterous and loved to eat bread and mealworms the most. I could tell that my grandchick was very smart.

I put up photos on the chicken photo page. Petunia almost died at least twice from being stepped on. Both times, I heard her crying and found her laying on her side unable to get up. I picked her up and eventually she was able to walk. It is dangerous being so small. Even if she were just with her mother, she would be in danger. I think it was her mother who stepped on her both times. The second time, she was seemingly violently pecking at her baby but I think she was trying to prod her to get up. I was so afraid I lost her.

As of 8/29/09, Petunia was doing well! I was surprised it had gone so well for her. It had not gone as well for 8-year-old Poulet who had been near death for months now. Not only did Speckles bite her head and squish her while mounting her at his leisure but Pondet had decided to mount her (dominance, not sexual) and peck her head violently for long periods of time. Perhaps Pondet thought Poulet was a danger to Petunia which was ridiculous. Poulet was screaming and bleeding a lot. And yet, at night, Pondet cuddled with Poulet with both of them brooding Petunia even. Poulet could not walk easily; her feet were turned under, arthritis perhaps. Despite my parents disagreeing, I could not take Poulet's suffering anymore and brought her inside. I put her in a large dog kennel. I got her to eat a few mealworms but she otherwise would not eat or drink. I put Neosporin on her bloody head. Chickens can be so caring with each other and then turn and be utterly violent. I did not think Poulet was even happy to be away from her tormentors but at least she could now die in peace.

Update 9/5/09: Petunia was doing really well. She still seemed very small but felt heavier. Poulet was still inside and now eating enough to sustain herself. She could not do much. She tried to move using her "arms" (wing tips) but it was very hard for her. She did enjoy her mealworms though. Petunia could put down more than a dozen at once!

Update 10/10/09: Petunia was doing well. She was fully feathered but a bit small for her age. Petunia showed no male characteristics at this age because she is a girl. On this day for the first time, I found Pondet on the high roost clucking to Petunia who was cheeping on the ground. She still could not get up there so I lifted her up. I just hoped she did not fall off during the night! I hoped she could stay warm enough up there. Pondet's previous two chicks (Speckles and Chickie) were both roosting earlier than Petunia.

Update 10/28/09: Petunia still spent the night under her mother on the ground but she could fly up to even the highest roosts if she wanted to do so.

My father took care of Poulet in the dog cage for two weeks at the end of 2009 because I was in the hospital for a week and had major surgery and could not get up. My father had a tough time taking care of Poulet. To do so required lifting her out, then removing the newspapers which were on top of Piddle Pads (sold for puppies, to absorb the liquid waste), replacing those, replacing her, and then cleaning and refilling her water and food bowl.

Petunia laid her first egg on 2/11/10. It was laid at six months of age almost exactly, strange how that is always the case! It was large and green. The colored eggs are dominant so her egg is green even though she is only a quarter Araucana. Petunia is almost identical to her mother Pondet. Chickie has also put on mass. The only way I can tell the three girls apart is by the size and shape of their combs and wattles. Because Chickie has a short krinkly comb like Spicey (Araucana like Sugar) had while Petunia's is large like her mother's, I think that maybe Chickie's father was Sugar after all and not her brother Speckles. If that is the case, then Chickie was not inbred. Sugar has taking a "liking" to his daughter/half sister Petunia! The roosters just never learn.

After almost six months indoors (since 8/29/09), most of that time completely lame, Poulet died on 2/18/10. She was alive when I came home at 5:10 PM but gone by 5:30 PM. Until the last few days, Poulet used her wings to move about and really savored her nightly mealworms. It was a lot of work taking care of her indoors but it was not all bad. She was a fighter.

Update 5/20/10: All four chickens are doing well. Pondet has developed some bumble foot and is having more trouble getting around so she is getting older but is still functional. She is also laying eggs less often and only once tried to brood one this year so far. Chickie and Petunia are very healthy and usually each lay an egg a day. Speckles is in his prime, gorgeous and such a sweetheart. It's actually easier to hug him than even touch one of the girls.

Update: 3/11/11. The chickens are doing well. A green egg appears in the box usually daily. I do not know if it is just Petunia laying or if Chickie lays sometimes or if they alternate. Pondet laid a brown egg on 3/10/11 and one the next day but that is now very rare. Speckles is the sweetest and most gorgeous, healthy rooster in the world if I do say so myself.

Update 3/15/12. The chickens are fine. Pondet is slowing down but still grabs Chickie by the head and beats her up. Chickie spends most of her time up high. I do not know why Pondet dislikes her second child but not her first or third. Pondet laid a brown egg on 3/13/12. I think Chickie is laying too. Petunia has been laying for months.

The End for Pondet

The morning of 4/13/13, Pondet was lame. She could waddle but she could no longer walk. I could not get her to eat any food or drink water. She would not even take a mealworm. I also wondered if she was partially blind. She was nine years old, and I thought she was dying. Two days later though, and she was still alert and moving around a little bit. Speckles has been having problems this year too. His feet bother him. He flicks them with every step like something is stuck on them. All I can see is mild bumblefoot but I expect arthritis. His tail feathers also never grew in correctly, and his daughters have been picking on that area. As long as Speckles, Chickie, and Petunia do not harm Pondet, I would leave her in with them for the rest of her time. Petunia is laying an egg a day. Rarely, a second egg shows up from Chickie.

As of 4/29/13, Pondet was still alive. She was eating and moving around some. She used her wings to sometimes travel 10 feet in a day. The other chickens were not bothering her. She did not seem to be dying; she was just lame. Poulet lived for six months lame inside. Pondet was eating; I moved her to the bowls twice a day.

Pondet was dead in the morning on 5/8/13. She had seemed less interested in food the last few days. Pondet was the only broody hen that I have ever had. She was the mother of my three remaining chickens, Speckles, Chickie, and Petunia. She has quite the legacy. She lived an incredible nine years.

After Pondet was gone, Chickie's behavior changed over the next week. She had always slept high in the ceiling, alone. Now, she is down with Speckles and Petunia. Pondet had always pecked Chickie whenever they were near each other. Now, Chickie pecks Petunia whenever she comes near! The hierarchy changes quickly. Then, a week or so later, Chickie went broody on air?! She sits in the corner (no eggs) and fluffs up and makes the same noises and gestures that her mother would make when she was broody. They get a zombie look in their eyes and make clucking noises unique to brooding. She only gets up to eat. Speckles sleeps next to her. Chickie attacks Petunia just like if Chickie were a broody hen. Chickie has stopped laying eggs and just sits on her invisible eggs. I had read that broodiness is a recessive trait. Chickie's father was Sugar, an Arucana, which is a non-broody breed. Chickie has never before shown broody behavior, and she is now six years old!

As Speckles has become more lame, his daughters have started to pick on him, normally the base of his tail. The week of 8/19/13, it got so bad that when I moved him to the indoor pen for the night time, Petunia started pecking at his neck, and he started to scream in pain. I began keeping him in the enclosed area during the day and putting him in the plastic dog house in the run at night. The girls spent the day in the run and the night in the enclosed area. He immediately perked up having access to food and water without harassment. So, I put them together on 8/24/13, and he was displaying (wanting to mate). The girls were not bothering him at that time but, later in the day, I came to find a pile of feathers and him in the dog house. On 8/25/13, I pieced together pieces of vinyl-coated dog fencing (from plant cages) using cable ties to create a room in the enclosed area. I used a plastic lighting grate as the door to his enclosure. Speckles now spends all his time in there safe from the girls. The area is 3' x 6' x 5' high. I have to clean and fill an extra set of food and water bowls for him. He has no access to direct sunlight but is safe from all weather. The girls now can have weather shelter in the same house with him on the other side of the fence.

Chickie is back to roosting up top. Petunia suddenly will not eat mealworms at night but will if it is still daylight.

On 1/3/14, I went to feed the chickens. I removed the bowls and was getting ready to go inside with them when I heard a squeak, and Petunia looked like she was having a seizure. In just a moment, I realized that she was in fact attacking a hapless deer mouse. I got the mouse away from her. It ran to Speckles' side of the cage and tried to get under the wood and leave but could not fit. Then, Speckles' attacked. It ran back and Petunia attacked. I grabbed it by the tail and tossed it out the door in to half a foot of snow. The mouse hated that and ran in to the chicken run where both Speckles and Petunia ran and attacked. At that point, I did not think I could save the mouse and left. When I brought the chickens' food back, the poor mouse was dead in their grit and oyster shell bowl. They did not bother to eat him, just kill him. Poor mousey. ;-(

Phoenix Never Rose

Chickie became broody again on 6/19/14. This time, I let her try. I did not see her off the nest until 6/28/14 when she came to eat. There were two eggs in there. In the afternoon, one was broken next to her, empty. So, I did not get to see if there was an embryo in there or not. I collected eggs on 6/18/14 so most likely one egg was from Chickie and one egg was from Petunia. If from Petunia, the baby would be doubly inbred which is why I was against them having babies. But, on the internet, it says breeders will breed direct relatives to each other up to eight generations before they worry about genetic problems. Remember that Petunia, Chickie, and Speckles are 5, 7, and 9 years old respectively! All are old for chickens, and the "experts" say hens lay little after a year old and are totally worthless as egg layers after a few years. Tell that to my brother who has gotten about four dozen eggs this spring from Petunia and Chickie! It is probably unheard of for a 7-year-old hen to not only lay but then become broody especially when she only did once before just the previous year. If she manages to hatch a baby, I will name him/her Phoenix, risen from the near death of my chicken family.

So, the due date of 7/10/14 came and went with no baby as did the next few days after that. On 7/12/14, I saw Chickie off the nest for only the second time. There was one intact egg in the box and one just outside of it. Had Petunia just laid that egg, did someone roll it out of the nest, or what? Was Chickie's egg infertile? Had the embryo died? Or, maybe since I only saw Chickie off the nest 9 days after she started incubating, the egg she was on was not laid on 6/19/14 but possibly as late as 6/28/14 by Petunia who could have run in there and dropped while Chickie was off the nest. If that is the case, the baby would not hatch until as late as 7/19/14, yet another week away. If Chickie's egg (possibly laid by Petunia) is in fact infertile or deceased, would she sit on this presumably new egg (might have come from the nest) that I added to the nest today? Then, it could be three more weeks until there is a baby. She has been sitting for 23 days now. She seems just as interested to keep doing it but another 3 weeks is a lot for her to endure. I feed her in the nest so she is getting enough to eat. It is more of a mental torture as incubating hens are in a kind of stupor. So, I left her alone and will let you know if anything ever happens.

So, when I went to give Chickie food in the box on 7/16/14 in the morning, she came out. There was only one egg in there. Where did the other one go? If one of the chickens accidently or purposely broke the egg, there would have been pieces of shell around but there was nothing! Could a snake have taken it? So, now I do not know if the remaining egg is the newer one or the older one. If the newer one, then it has 17 days to go. If it is the older one than it would have to hatch within three days, or it is way overdue (meaning dead).

Chickie began spending more and more time off her single egg on 7/19/14 after 37 days of sitting, to the point where, if there is an embyro in there (meaning it was the egg I added 7/12/14), it was killed by neglect. Chickie still incubated the egg but not all day. Also, the egg was often not even under her when she got up. I wonder if there was no baby because she was not sitting on the egg correctly. I do no have the heart to open the egg to see what is inside. Chickie spent the night in the house (not the egg) on 7/21/14. The next morning, I put the two eggs (now another one was there) outside of the pen. When I got home that night, I candled the eggs. The fresh one was clear. The other one was only clear at the air cell but the rest was not solid black. It let enough light through that I am pretty sure that the embryo died around 7 to 14 days of incubation. It was probably the egg added on 7/12/14. Chickie had just had enough and was not patient enough.

The morning of 9/11/14, I went out to feed the chickens. Speckles came running at me and very hyper. I saw what looked like feathers and poop in his beak so I held him and pulled the stuff out of his mouth. Well, it was a toad! The toad fell to the ground, and he went for it again. I grabbed the toad and put him outside of the pen. Speckles could never have swallowed an animal this big. I worried that he may have ingested some toad poison but he never got sick. Three days later, I found a dead toad in my pond that was the same size. Strange indeed.

Too Soon Petunia

In mid-December 2014, I noticed that Petunia was acting out of the ordinary. She was having a late molt, too late. This, in my experience, is not that unusual. My female turkey, Bonnie, died in October when she was only four years old and molted and then stood out in a cold rain. But, it had been unusually warm so Petunia was warm enough. While molting, Petunia didnít want to eat mealworms, the favorite food of all the chickens. From the past, I knew this would subside, and it did. But, it was only for a day or so that she ate some mealworms. Even though her feathers were coming in, and it had not been too cold, something else was wrong. I found her standing in the plastic dog house (their nest box) all droopy on New Yearís Eve. She did not want to go to bed in the main chicken house. The next day, she seemed a little better but then went in to the house again. I went to try to move her and felt her crop. This is where the food is ground up with small rocks before being digested. It was swollen and distended. She had sour crop. This is when food gets stopped up in there and then yeast grows. It is hard to treat and often fatal. I could tell that she was in bad shape. I reasoned that a 1.5 hour drive to the vet that sees chickens would result in hundreds of dollars in bills but would not save her life and would torture her needlessly. Plus, they were not open on New Yearís Day, and I had work the next day. I have a feel for things, and I knew it was too late for her. I found her dead the morning of 1/3/15. She was five years old, too soon Petunia, way too soon. Petunia is survived by her older sister, Chickie, age seven, and by her father/half-brother, Speckles, age nine.

By 1/11/15, Speckles is having more trouble walking and standing. He falls over constantly, and has his wings down and out. He will not live much longer. Chickie spends most of her time on the roost. She has got to be totally bored.

Mr. Speckles Too

No matter how his body failed him with trouble walking and so on, Specky was always sound of mind and wanting to eat. By January 2015, he was 9.5 years old and could not really walk. He could move a little and then fall down. Despite that, it was not until the morning of 1/15/15 that he did not want his breakfast. Although I expected it, it was still a shock to find him dead after work that night. Specky was the sweetest of the four roosters that I have had and, dare I say, sweetest of all the chickens, even the hens. Only Chickie remains. She does not seem lonely but I do not intend to get more chickens, at least not while my life is a big question mark. In the future, I may try a different species, perhaps heritage turkeys, fancy pheasants, or a pair of peafowl. The era of the chickens is coming to an end. Chickie is in great health and may live another two years though. Any suggestions on how to relieve her boredom and loneliness?

The End

Chickie was all by herself. She decided to go broody around 4/23/15 but, unless you believe in a term I forget, nothing will hatch. Speckles died more than three months earlier, and even before that, he was lame for months so Chickie probably had not mated for almost a year. The term is for where certain egg-laying species are able to lay genetic duplicates of themselves without fertilization. I know that certain reptiles can do that and perhaps wild turkeys but find no evidence for it occuring in chickens. Hens can generally store sperm from a mating for 3 to 4 weeks but beyond that would be a miracle.

So, when Chickie came off the nest the morning of 5/24/15, I took the egg from the box. She had been sitting on it for more than four weeks. Get this, when I went to give her her evening mealworms, she was still sitting in the nest, and there was nothing even in there! I missed having a chicken because, when she was sitting on her phantom baby, it was like she did not even exist. I know how you feel Chickie but you need to move on.

In September, Chickie molted, and it was going normally. Then, she stopped eating much, also common for molting. But, then she started to sulk and hang her head. I knew this was more than a molt, especially since she did not lose that many feathers. Chickie worsened, and she was gone the morning of 9/30/15. She was 8 years and 4 months old.

After 14.5 years, I have no chickens. A part of me is gone.

Continue to Part 5 of my chickens' stories.

Go back to my chickens' page.

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