Predator pressure

The gang’s all here.You put these here for us, right?  We needed a grooming station.

The gang’s not really all there.  A few of them are trapped in the greenhouse with the Silkie moms and their chicks today, because I was worried.  Things are going to change.  I have to get the birds under cover for their own safety, asap, and it’s going to be hard.

Yesterday I got out of my car to a bald eagle hovering overhead.  We looked at each other, I told him to leave, and he tipped and banked towards the greenhouse.

I went over there.  All the birds were hunkered, still and  silent, under the nearest shelter they could find.  They watched me.  I watched the death raptor, circling low over us, beaky head taking everything in.  The eagle and I stared each other down, me standing in the middle of hen land, with a big stick that would be next to useless (a javelin?), daring him to try it.   He conceded and left, but I have  a feeling he’ll check back later.  I have to get everyone moved in, and they’re not going to be thrilled about it.

 

Winter is knocking

The feeder’s been loaded for two hours, and four chickadees are here, scrapping for primacy.It’s another frozen day, so while it seems a little early,  I’m starting to feed them.  It’s nice to see the chickadees again.  They keep to themselves all summer, but clearly, they keep an eye on me.The Family has a new spot to lounge.  I’ve been clearing buckthorn, and they love it.  They want to hang out in this alder, fine.Time for a relaxed groom.

The water was frozen in Silkieland.  This is what happened when I broke it. We were thirsty! She’s got a corn cob!  And a jean jacket.

First snow!

First snow in October!  Real snow too, big swirling flakes that are sticking around for a little while.  The Caped Crusader doesn’t wait for me to distribute the food.These are the four middle chicks, having a snow day in the greenhouse.  Snow is pretty much rain, only quiet. The co-mamas and the  7 Silkies.  Adorable.  They’re so tiny.  I’m in dread of stepping on one, since they’re so small and brown and hard to see.   Luckily Marshmallow is fierce.  She runs off any of the other chicks and hens, so I know these little ones are getting enough to eat.

There’s a cuckoo.  Apples’ chick is large than the few days lead she has on the others, and is probably a Silkie cross.

Middle Chicks and greenhouse chicks

The four middle chicks are kinda loners.  A little little chicken gang.On the left is a Silkie cross.  She’s experiencing the unfortunate phenomenon of her friends all growing up faster than she is.  Her growth has stalled.Caped crusader on the right.  The four of them are very attached to each other, and haven’t become latched on to either flock of grown chickens.  Their preference so far is to be in the greenhouse with all the babies, but I often put them outside, where they just pal around with each other. They’ve found a great place to simultaneously shelter and lounge.Meanwhile, inside the greenhouse: Oh, they love a good haybale.  The little dominoes are so cute.  They’re turning into Barred rocks, apparently.I’m here too! Happy Thanksgiving!  Turkey impression!

Mass escape

We’ve had a lot of rain in a week and a bit.  The ground is soft and muddy everywhere, and that makes the electric fence easy to knock over.

The pigs escaped after their supper yesterday, an hour before dark.  I thought I heard them snorting around in the woods by the house, and I assumed that they would be bedding down and we’d see them in the morning.  Boy was I wrong.

They had wandered nearly a kilometer away, and there was a grand nighttime pig drive, our neighbour herding them down the road towards us in a side by side, Hugh rattling a bucket of feed that they ignored, and me sprinting back and forth to keep them on the road.

They were so tired and cranky, all they wanted to do was lie down, so the hardest part was the final bit through the brushy orchard and field, where they were separating, circling back, and flopping down anywhere they could.  What a miserable rodeo.  Then we had another torrential downpour overnight.

This morning we moved their house onto dry land (they root, it rains, it becomes a mud hole, I move them) and moved their territory. After breakfast and a cursory exploration of this week’s ground to churn up (pleased oinking), they went in their house to make a nest (more pleased oinking), and passed out They’re going to sleep real well after that big adventure.  We are planning to take one of the three out tomorrow.What a night.  You can’t even.

Second frost

Had a proper frost; ice crust on the water buckets.  This is the right time for frost though, not September 24th! Overnight, one of the Five has become the spitting image of Philippe Petit.  A petit Philippe.I don’t want to believe he’s 100% a rooster yet, but he’s looking awfully leggy.  So many roosters!The young roosters are refining their crows now.  They don’t have to go hide in order to practice.  They’re sounding pretty good.  Silkieland and the Colonel on patrol.  Who’s that big chicken in there?  Ketchup.  She comes and goes, but she definitely thinks she’s a Silkie.  All the other Silkie-raised chickens have found their social place among their own kind, but not Ketchup.  She’s so gentle though, she fits right in.She likes the swing.

Cleopatra has decided she lays her daily egg in the Silkie coop.  She has to fly in and out, which seems like a lot of work, but apparently that’s the spot.  Chickens are funny.

Co-mamas

Brown Bonnet and Marsha (Marshmallow) are cute.  They hang out together, their chicks spilling over into each other.Brown Bonnet is very maternal and relaxed, and all seven of the little Silkie chicks will sometimes be with her. Marsha’s a bit nervous.  At night sometimes they share a box, and they readily share patches of food without competition.  Our kids are the same age (and size), we should be friends. This little one is already developing an extravagant hairdo.

pasture pigs

The wild birds are well fed.  They’ve been cleaning out my crop of sunflowers. From full to this, all in four days.  I grew them for them, but I hoped to ration them out a little better, and for my chickens to get some.

Makes me want to grow a field of them, but then the ravens will come and really clean them out.The pigs are moved again, now in the “pasture”, which is much easier to move the fence through.  Of course, they are hiding.It was a hot and  humid day (just before it got cold and very rainy), so they were in their brushy bit, covered with mud.

Poultry powder room

It was  a warm and humid day. Almost the whole family was piled in the dirt bath by the house, making chicken angels.  The family is growing. Except for Speckles, who’s having a party of one in a private dust bowl out by the pigs.  Yeah, and you’re interrupting it right now.Got snacks?!  Oops, I roused them.  The pitter patter of chicken feet behind me on the path is quite a stampede these days.  I didn’t even have a  bucket.

Happy about living naturally