Too cute for chick school

Perchick is very watchful.  She mostly trusts me around her chicks, though.  She has chicks poking out. Cream Puff does not trust me, and wow, a full size hen peck is more meaningful than a Silkie peck.  No chicks poking out here.The one “old chick” looks much like a tiny, brown bald eagle.  Like a yellow chick wearing a brown cape. And this brood, well, they’re not grown up enough to be above a good wingpit warming.

18 chicks:  I’m going to need a lot of names.  Now open for suggestions.

Furtive forest piglets

Three little pigs.  They are not tame at all.  They are wild animals, free and independent.  They observe from a distance.It’s quite nice to not be leaned on and snouted every time you go in their fence, but it will also be nice to play with them and scratch them, someday. They are curious.  They approach, sniffing.   But then one snorts and they all stampede off!  Run away!

Spring chicks

The chicks are all alive, even the little half size yellow chick, but there’s been no late hatchings.  That’s a pretty poor hatch rate – 12 live chicks out of 23 eggs under two hens.  The 13th was unlucky.   But that is a dozen bright new little lives, which is wonderful.  Maybe not all the eggs were fertile, or the late frosts we got made it too cold for them.Chick going under mama hen

I’m coming in there

The other chicks are still in the chickery.  Usually they start to break out, which lets me know it’s time for them to be at large, but so far, they are all staying inside, although they could fly right out.Silkie hen with chicks outdoorsThe little black “runt” of this clutch is catching up with the others.

And the oldest chicks, well: They decided to dust bathe at the bottom of the ramp, in the smallest dust bowl ever.

I’m not getting up

These two blip in and out of Silkieland at will, as do some of the other Silkies, since they can slip under the fence if they want.

For these chicks, the coop is the safe house, so they sprint up the ramp if there’s any strange noises or shadows or surprises.  It’s funny.

2018 chicks so far: 18

 

Piles of chicks!

In the wall tent, Cream Puff has chicks!  Five of them!

Three little tuxedos and two yellows (there was another dead).  She’s still covering four eggs.

And then, in the other broodery, what’s this?Perchick has chicks.  Sisters to the day, going broody, and hatching.  Fine mothers.  These two just went to the top of my valued chickens “list” (there’s no list).  She has seven, in three colours.  She likes to keep a close eye on me. The newest hatched is like Hey, I’m still damp, I just want to be under someone!She’s still covering her remaining eggs too.  That youngest chick is the one most at risk.  It’s not ready for eating, and toddling around. It’s just trying to get a  nap.

I got faked out.  I was checking on them all, frequently, and surprise, an eggshell!  That means another chick, and…..and then the smell hit me.

She broke a rotten egg, one she’d been keeping nice and hot for three weeks.  Gross! Can’t have that in the nest.

But there was also a wet chick.  Wet as just hatched, although I think it had gotten the worst of the overturned water dish.  It didn’t dry out fluffy though.  It dried out looking wet.  I hope it’s looking better tomorrow.  If it can make it through the first few days….All seven.  They look like bear cubs with beaks.A mama hen umbrella.

Yay!  They were both successful.

Garden chicken

I have accidentally domesticated a chicken.  Well, she’s a very unusually wired, different chicken, to start with, and since I am a softie, she is now a pet chicken, and I carry her around between work sites.

Apples my companion chicken and I have been making garden rounds.  I’m hammering all the remaining warm weather seeds in now that I really believe the frost is over (June 10!).  My hands are sore and I got the backs of my hands painfully sunburned.  That’s a new one.

In the greenhouse, five rows of six are in.  The basil is very slow this year and not ready yet.  The cucumbers are downright sluggish, stalled out for nearly a month since transplant, in this weather.Apples finds a new spot each time.  This time she tucked in against the wall by the cukes for a good writhing.  She’s not exactly outgoing, but she’s not as paranoid as she used to be.

In the second garden (greenhouse adjunct), I suspect she’s not above teasing the roosters, prancing along the fence.

I was planting corn, and the hens outside the fence went nuts.  Excuse me, you forgot to let us in, you are clearly providing a snack!  And why’s she in there?!  The preferentially treated Apples showed actual enthusiasm, chasing the corns before I covered them with dirt, getting a few in her.

In the first garden, she just toddles off, finds some shade.Disappearing into the rhubarb.

snakes in the greenhouse

I’ve got a bunch of snakes in the GH.  Three, anyway.Can you see all three?  They like the corner with the figs.They’re cool.  Relaxed.  But they watch very intently.  Track me around.  I think snakes are very cute.  This one is coiled up in a coconut husk in the fig tree pot that, amazingly enough, I put in there in case a snake would enjoy it.  Wow!  It was just round, and reminded me of a snake basket, but I was still very surprised to see it utilized for exactly that.A vacated snake skin.  Somewhere, there’s a snake looking very fresh. Snakes visiting.

It’s take your pet chicken to the garden day

First I carried my companion chicken (Apples) to the first garden for a while, but not too long, on account of the bugs.  She strode right off across the garden and found a shady spot to scratch in the path.  I wa sexpecting slightly more reaction, since I’ve never carried her so far from home, but she’s just relaxed about everything.

Then I carried her back, we did some potting up, then finished the day at the second garden, where I was transplanting lettuces.  It was perfect, giving her a little socialization, without stress.  She was on one side of the fence, and the roosters were making fools of themselves on the other.  Everybody had to come around and take a look at the new girl.  We’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Water off a chick’s back

Butterfly party by the GH door.  There’s a bit of mud there, and it drew a butterfly crowd (why?) Mama hen and her chick duo slip in and out of Silkieland, but stick close by to it.  They seem comfortable over there, rather than the far side of the greenhouse.  All the chickens could come and go from Silkieland, it’s not a secure facility, but most stay.  They’re a little too crowded for my taste but they show every sign of contentment, so – good enough for now.  When I make the next one the space will be doubled.The little chicks are very precocious, handling the ramp from day 1, making their own decisions.  They aren’t very needy, or whiny.  They still stand on Mom once in a while.They all got caught out in the rain, though.  “Caught” – being out in the rain was optional.  Mom looks like a wet schnauzer, and the chicks look dipped, but they are unperturbed.The other hens all jog off when the rain starts, and hide under a tent.  The last guinea spends all his time with the hens now that he’s alone.  I’m disappointed to mysteriously lose those guineas.  I had a nice, peaceful flock, and they roosted in the greenhouse every night.  wth?  Now have to start over.  I’m thinking of getting keets and hoping this guy can bring them up.  The males are  active parents when the pair is intact; can they do it alone?

Three little pigs

As usual, the new piglets are super shy.  She threw me over her shoulder, and I won’t forget.  I peed on him, hee hee.They snort and dash away to the farthest part of their yard when you even get close.  This is kind of a nice stage, when you can stay clean going in to feed them. In a month or two they’ll be nosing my pant legs and jostling me at the trough.

They’ve been working, though.  They were here for minutes before they had their faces in the dirt, and dug up an impressive swath of it in their first hour.They’re a tiny bit more reluctant to run away when they’re in their house, and man, do they love hay.  They act like they’ve never seen dirt or hay (I’m sure they have), and they burrow right under it, sleep away the afternoons.   They’re so pink. I don’t see any black Berkshire in there at all, except in the personality.

Do we have to get up and run away?

Move-in day for the bees

Time for the new bees to go from their nuc boxes (temporary housing), to their forever homes.Sheltered from the rain with a hive lid.

These bees were also midnight bees.  They came from a agreat distance, and with the aid of caffeine and chatting on the phone, I did very well on the drive back, until I was 10km from home and the black dogs struck.  At midnight there was no one else on the road so I crept, 40kph the last few klicks.  My theory was if I fall asleep and go in the ditch, I’ll go in slow.  So tired. 

I got home and fell fast asleep in the driver’s seat the moment I shifted into park, sleeping next to the boxes of bees belted into the passenger seat until dawn.  It was really neat, a different, dreamless but not completely unaware sleep, with the light humming of the bees next to me.  Not often one sleeps next to bees, I suppose.

I was annoyed by the ping of rain in the morning, that forced me to move, to put the bees in place on their prepared stands, and cover them for the day’s downpour.

The following day came move-in day.

The four frames in the nuc box get placed into a super, alternating with brood-ready comb frames, and a frame heavy with honey on each side, for insulation.

These bees had built some significant burr comb on the bottom of the frame, so much it wouldn’t go in the super, and I had to slice that off.  While I was doing that, always a delicate job, I did the unthinkable:  I dropped a frame.

I’ve never done that before.  Immediately I heard Klaus’s voice in my head saying to stay prepared (in the event of a sudden sting), and never drop a frame.

I didn’t drop it from very high, it slid before it fell, but with a frame, however it lands is going to be bee side down.

Right away my feet were stuck where they were.  I picked up the frame and there was a pool of bees rumbling around on the ground, all around my feet.  Not to mention suddenly three times more airborne as a moment ago.

I finished with the other frames, then crouched and started scooping bees into my hand with the bee brush, and dropping them in the super.  I got most of them this way, and the rest were forming a group and on the march.  Here they are starting up the leg of the hive.  So smart!

I picked up the straggling individuals until I could move my feet; the group seemed to have it handled.  Amazingly, I did not get stung.  More amazingly, not one bee was killed!  Not one bee body from the drop.  Inside the empty box, the remaining bees are doing the same thing, grouping up, here on the wrong end of the box.  The fallen bees have finished their journey in.  20 minutes later all the bees had found their way inside. The other hive went much better.  Phew!  Nerve wracking, but no casualties.  Moving day never goes all well as you expect.

Happy about living naturally