It was a horrible, awful winter! Between historic snow accumulation and historic sub zero temperatures, the winter was hard on me, and it was hard on my chickens and geese. My husband was healing from a neck/shoulder injury for a good part of the winter, so guess who did most of the snow shoveling? I’ve never been so happy for spring to arrive!
There were a couple of unfortunate events concerning my birds this winter. About 4 weeks ago, I went out and found that my prize Jersey Giant rooster (pictured above) had keeled over dead … just like that. He was fine one minute, and the next he was dead. At only about 8 months of age, he was growing very fast and was already about 15 pounds. I’ve speculated that maybe his heart gave out. I had spent quite a bit of money to purchase him, along with two hens, from Maria Hall back in October. She breeds some outstanding birds, and my three chickens were not exactly cheap. My purpose in buying the birds was to establish my own flock, and I wanted to start out with high quality birds for breeding.
With my rooster gone, and no broody hens to sit on eggs, I rushed the freshest eggs that I had on hand to a friend who agreed to incubate them for me. My hope was that we might be able to hatch out at least one rooster, so I wouldn’t have to shuck out another $150 to get a replacement. Three weeks later, we got lucky, and 10 eggs hatched out. Here’s one of the little guys within 24 hours of hatching out.
And here’s a shot that I took today, the end of week 1. If you look closely you can see the first little feathers at the very tips of the wings. Before you start over-romanticizing how cute and fuzzy he is, I’ll have you know he pooped on my hand twice while I was trying to take his picture!
The other unfortunate event, which happened on Valentine’s Day, involved my gander. I don’t know how it happened, but I went out one day and found him just sitting with a deep laceration across the top of his head. I was sure he was a goner, but a great local vet patched him up and he survived. Unfortunately, he’s now blind in one eye, but he’s adapted very well, and it doesn’t seem to be causing him a problem. And, he felt good enough to father children. His mate is sitting on 6 eggs which are due to hatch in exactly 2 weeks.
She’s so pretty I’ve just got to give you one more picture. I’d say newly hatched chicks and goslings on the way is a pretty good way to greet the new spring, wouldn’t you?