We had our first frost yesterday morning, just three days out from winter! And another one this morning. It has been a very pleasant Autumn. But I am glad to see frost and the beautiful sunny days that follow, for frost brings on proper dormancy for the fruit trees and reduction or death of some of the annoying bugs that have been hanging around both the plants and the chickens.
The first frost prompted me to pick all the capsicums before they went to mush, as the plants were already showing signs of damage. The Little Fulla helped me to harvest them all and now the fridge vege drawer is busting with capsicums to be chopped and frozen. It has been very handy having capsicums still growing so late into autumn.
We also have the pitter-patter of tiny chicken feet. Frodo has hatched eight gorgeous little bundles of fluff!
The first chick arrived on Sunday night. I had a bit of a scare the day before hatch day when I found some mites on Frodo. I haven’t had trouble with mites on a broody before and I was scrambling to remember and google what treatments were safe to use around eggs and chicks. They were a body mite, northern fowl mite, I assume. This is the first time I’ve had a noticeable problem with them. They were actually a lot easier to deal with than I realised – sulfur powder was very effective at killing them. Thank goodness! I had cleaned and sanitised the big cage, all ready to move Frodo and eggs/chicks if necessary, but after the mites died so swiftly, and seeing they weren’t red mites, I just changed out her nestbox once most of the chicks had hatched, and left them in the small coop. I am keeping a close eye on Frodo and chicks and will sprinkle sulfur when necessary. I’m so relieved, as I understand mites can be lethal for chicks. There’s always a risk with treating a broody and chicks with anything I guess, but the risk of losing the odd chick or unhatched egg pales in comparison to the risk of losing Frodo or potentially all the chicks. As usual, Frodo has been a staunch mother.
All was not well, however, for after seven chicks had hatched, we were left with three eggs. One pipped on Tuesday afternoon, which I discovered when Frodo had gotten off the nest to poop and stretch. I got her back on the eggs, but by night time this chick still hadn’t come out, although I could hear it peeping in there. I moistened the membrane and pulled off a small amount of shell around its beak, then left it under Frodo, hoping for the best overnight. I wasn’t going to mess with it any more than that. If it couldn’t fight to get out, it wouldn’t be able to fight to survive those first few days. In the morning, I found that little Slowmo had hatched! However, Slowmo was way behind the others and as Frodo was getting up and down, feeding the older chicks and showing them how to peck around, I took wet, cold, helpless little Slowmo inside to keep him warm and get him dried out.
Slowmo is now back with the others, but under close supervision, and complete with a leg tie for mild spraddle-leg. I still don’t know whether Slowmo will be ok or not. In comparison to Orphan Annie last time, Annie was late but she was a fighter. She was peeping away before long and trying to escape. Slowmo is late and slow. I hope he or she will come right and be able to move around like the others, but I don’t know. I hope I’m not going to have to make a tough call.
The other two eggs were dud, with nothing growing inside. These were the two Josephine ones that I wasn’t sure about at candling time. For the record, Slowmo is a Josephine chick too. All of Juliette’s five eggs hatched well, and there are two Josephine chicks that hatched well. There’s something to be said about Josephine, who is currently in chicken hospital as well…