After a long break from BYC, I am back. I lost a few birds last year from various reasons and I decided to take a break to focus on the birds I had left. Well, over the summer, I lost all but three of my birds due to a parasite. I was, and still am, heartbroken. My chickens were my pets more than anything and I loved them so much. I lost my beloved Tot, a salmon faverolle, who had sooo much personality and never failed to make me laugh. I lost Pepper, the prettiest easter egger I have ever seen. I lost Aspen, a sweet old Rhode Island Red who was dumped in my yard in the middle of a snow storm last year because she no longer laid eggs. I lost Tater, a girl who tended to be pretty skittish until you brought the food out. I lost Elsa, a gorgeous white marans who never seemed to be afraid. I miss my girls with all my heart but I am so thankful to be left with the three that I managed to nurse back to health - Daisy, Dixie, and Betty Lou, the last three of my original 8. About a month ago, I decided it was time to expand my flock again so that there were more birds in the coop to keep it warm this winter. I brought home 8 new birds from the same place I got my original 8. 5 of the new birds are young (two were 14 weeks and three were 18 weeks) and 3 of the new birds are adults - 2 hens and a rooster (who is the full blood brother of my first rooster, Daryl). I love my new birds so much! They have been a blessing and it is so fun watching them figure out the pecking order and run around. I missed having babies. One of the hens, Vaida, is the mother of the three older babies, Gracie, Meredith, and Ellie. The two younger babies are from a different hatch and they are named Ember and Rocky. The rooster has been named Kota and the last hen is Violet. All of the babies are barn yard mixes. Violet, a splash marans, is a little slow mentally as she suffered an injury to the head when she was younger. She is blind in one eye and is just a bit different than the rest of the chickens. I picked her out specifically because one of my old chickens, Vivica, suffered a very similar injury. She was scalped by the other chickens when she was first introduced into the flock and I nursed her back to health. She never fully recovered mentally and was always slower than the rest. Eventually, that became a problem as she did not run from predators and my dog killed her. I was heartbroken. The difference between Violet and Vivi is that Violet is a bit braver and will peck another chicken if she wants something they have. Vivi would have never done that. Violet runs to me for protection as well and reminds me so much of my Vivi. Pictured below are Gracie (white) and Ember (black). Gracie definitely has splash in her as she is already developing some blue spots. I believe Ember to have some black marans in her. Ellie can be seen in the back, barely. I think she has cuckoo in her. Gracie and Ellie were raised by Vaida (a golden cuckoo) but it is not known for sure if they are biologically hers. Here are two of my three remaining original girls, Dixie & Daisy. I love them to death and am so thankful they are still here with me. This is Ember, Kota, and Vaida. Kota is the full blood brother of my first rooster, Daryl. Pictures of him can be seen on my profile. Vaida is a golden cuckoo and she raised the three older babies. This is Violet, Gracie, and Meredith. Here are some pictures of my favorite of the entire flock, Rocky. When I picked him out, I thought pullet because of the small comb but when I brought him home I noticed some cockerel characteristics. First, he is one of the younger babies but is larger than my original girls (a white marans, a splash marans, and a blue andalusian). His legs are very thick and the first day he was here, he did the little mating dance thing that roosters do. I havent seen him do it since. He is super friendly. He comes right up to me and lets me pick him up and pet him with no struggle. He is the sweetest little thing. I know if he is a rooster, I will eventually have to choose between him and Kota to prevent fighting and over-mating but I love them both so much. I know already though if I have to choose, Rocky is staying. What do you think?