There is excitement in the air at Russell Homestead – we have four new puppies! Jolly had her puppies on January 25, 2016. We know there are many people out there eager for some pictures, so we’ll start with some litter shots. These litter shots were taken on Thursday when the puppies were 4 days old - notice they still have their tails.
Here are a few pictures in their whelping box so you can see where they spend their first few weeks of life. In the last photo in this set, Jolly is keeping an eye on me while photograph the puppies. She allows my husband and I to handle the puppies at this age, but much prefers if no else comes near them. She's a very good Mama.
All the puppies are black, as we expected. They all have snippets of white here and there (more on that under their individual introductions below). We always tell our new puppy families that the small white patches will likely disappear into the longer adult coat or appear as a few white hairs, unless they are like Tux in our last litter who had a large white patch. However, they do sometimes keep their small white patches, as can be seen in Hannah, one of Jolly’s 2014 puppies. You can see a photo of her on our puppy photos update page.
Now, for individual introductions in birth order. Also, now is a good time to note that we allow each of children to pick a puppy, name it, and claim it as “theirs” for 8 weeks.
First, we have Blaze. Blaze is CJ’s puppy. CJ (4 years old) chose this name after the horse, Blaze, in the Billy & Blaze series books. It fits the puppy well because he has a white blaze down his chest and he was the “trailblazer” of the litter as the firstborn.
Next, we have Dolly. AJ (5 years old) declared right away that this time he wants a girl puppy (last time they all had boys). This sweet little puppy is almost all black with just a few white hairs on her chest. AJ chose the name Dolly because she is a girl and girls like dolls. After choosing the name, he was delighted to realize that Dolly also rhymes with Jolly.
Then we have Pete. In each of our litters, we choose one name from the Bible. We recognize God as the giver of life, and we desire to honor Him in raising our puppies. So, our Bible name this time is Pete after Peter in the Bible. Pete is nearly all black with a small white dot on his chest.
The last puppy to be born was Bess. Bess is JJ’s puppy. At two years old, naming a puppy is next to impossible. We suggested many names, and he picked names of puppies we had before. Finally, we settled on Bess as an easy name for JJ to say. Bess has a thin white stripe on her chest and her back two toes have just a little bit of white.
While there is much joy over Pete, Dolly, Bess, & Blaze, there’s also some sadness as there was a fifth puppy named Gracy that did not survive. Gracy (a combination of the words “grace” and “mercy”) was a cute female puppy with two white toes. She appeared healthy and vigorous at birth, but we soon realized that Gracy could not nurse due to a severe cleft palate. We did what we could to keep her comfortable and nourished, but she passed away due to the severity of her cleft palate. We are sad, but grateful that Gracy did not have to suffer.
We took the puppies to the vet today for their tail dock and dew claw removal, a visit we are all glad to have behind us. The puppies spend their days right now eating and sleeping. Their eyes and ears are closed. Jolly takes complete care of them at this stage. We keep the bedding clean in the whelping box and weigh the puppies several times a day.
To those on our waiting list, you should have received an email from us. We are not accepting deposits at this time, but we will be contacting you personally to discuss the deposit process. As always, just email us with any questions you have or pictures you wish to see.
Let me introduce you to Rusty – our gorgeous Rhode Island Red rooster.
We’ve had our share of roosters around here – from quite feisty to very docile. Our feistiest rooster was a large Barred Rock rooster who would watch for me to come out the back door and then come after me. He was supposed to be in his pen at all times, but if he got out, the rest of my day was spent indoors or outside with some type of self-defense (One day, I recall, in a rush, I grabbed a toilet plunger; I do hope no neighbors were watching!). On the other end of the spectrum, we had a gorgeous Barred Rock rooster named Chester who was so gentle and easy-going. I could collect eggs without fear of attack. I bragged on my beautiful Chester until we tried to incubate some eggs from him and our hens. Not a one was fertile. So, apparently, some of his gentleness came from a lack of having a job to do.
So, what does this have to do with Rusty? Well, you need to know the background of our other roosters to understand why I so appreciate Rusty. He is the perfect balance in a rooster – feisty enough to be fertile and stand up for his hens, but gentle enough for me to collect eggs without fear of losing flesh. In addition, he is absolutely gorgeous. He is almost two years old, and he is just the perfect rooster for our little flock. His one strike against him is that he did once, for no apparent reason, flog JJ. JJ, although knocked to the ground, was not injured, but he has a fear of Rusty (and all brown chickens, for that matter) that still endures. Outside of that incident, Rusty has been easy-going with people.
So, now you will understand why I was concerned the other day when I couldn’t find him. It happened when I was doing the daily chore of feeding and watering the chickens. I glanced into the pen and noticed he wasn’t strutting around as usual. Hmm, he must be in the coop; that’s odd for him. I looked in the coop-no Rusty. I remembered that one hen was out; perhaps he was with her. She was wandering around solo. Now, if Rusty is out, being the good protector rooster that he is, he is ALWAYS with his hens. Since he wasn’t with her, I knew he wasn’t out of the pen. Where could he be? As a mom of boys, I knew the first line of investigation. The conversation went something like this.
Me: “Boys, have you seen Rusty?”
Boys: “No.” “Nope.” “We haven’t.”
Me: “Did you see him yesterday?”
Boys: “Um, no, but he was under the coop.”
Me: “Under the coop? What do you mean?”
Boys: “Well, he was under the coop, and we were trying to get him out with sticks.”
In my mind: Oh boy, there’s a story coming here.
Me: “Get him out with sticks? What do you mean?”
AJ took over the conversation and explained. “The other day after church when we had people over for lunch, we (meaning them and the children who were guests) were chasing the chickens. Rusty went under the coop and wouldn’t come out. So, we were trying to get him out with sticks.”
Well, this deserved an under-the-coop inspection. Sure enough, there huddled under our coop (which sits up just slightly off the ground on some 4 inch by 4 inch pieces of lumber) was Rusty. As I mentally counted the days since the get together AJ mentioned, I realized poor Rusty had been under the coop 6 days! He appeared to be fine, but he wasn’t about to come to me. I was a bit leery about grabbing him because he has very long spurs. Our coop is big enough that he could easy avoid me from any side I tried to grab him on. So, I put on winter gloves and long sleeves, armed the boys with sticks, and told them to gently push him with sticks to me. Somehow, it worked, and I grabbed him and pulled him out. He fluffed up his feathers and strutted on his merry way – no worse for the wear!
A conversation with the boys ensued about how to have better handled the incident. In their defense, our hens run under the coop and back out frequently. They assumed Rusty would do the same. I’m still not sure why he didn’t (perhaps that doesn’t say much for his intelligence), but he wasn’t harmed, so I still have my prized rooster! I’m still not sure how in the world I didn’t notice he was missing for 6 days. We feed, water, and collect eggs daily. My only excuse is that I feed, water, and collect eggs in the coop, but not the pen, which is where Rusty typically is. Part of me thinks he had to go under himself only the day before we found him, but AJ’s explanation makes more sense.
The moral of the story – remember that life with boys and roosters is full of surprises!
Here's how I kicked off my New Year in Mom-Style...
(First a bit of background - The kiddos went to bed around 11PM on New Year's Eve. We saw midnight, but quickly fell asleep. My husband told CJ that he would take him hunting for the first time on New Year's Day. So, CJ went to bed with MUCH anticipation.)
Soft footsteps pull me from my sleep, and then, "Daddy...Daddy....is it time to go hunting yet?"
"No, CJ, back to bed." A minute passes. Footsteps again.
"Daddy...Daddy," and I honestly don't remember what question he had the second time. Or the third time. Or the fourth time. But he was tucked back into bed with instructions to stay there until he was woken up.
Morning came, and CJ hunted with his Daddy, and their day was successful in that a boy spent the day with Dad in God's creation.
So, my New Year began in a classic mom-of-little-ones way - having my slumber interrupted! I'm usually not in the best of humor when awakened at night, but I did have to smile inwardly at the uniqueness of my children this time. (AJ, who inherited more of my genes, slept until 10:00AM on New Year's day.) Only my little CJ, who had gotten a mere 5.5 hours of sleep, would be up and rarin' to go on his own. The verses from Psalm 139 came to my mind...
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." Psalm 139:14-15
So, moms, out there, among your New Year's resolutions about time management, scrapbooking, exercise, and healthy eating, let's resolve to love and appreciate the unique personalities God has blessed our families with in 2016!
Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
Independent Field Representative