All posts by Selka

I'm a Canadian woman living in an off-grid tiny house on a small organic orchard farm in Nova Scotia, always aspiring to a "better"- more conscious, ecological, and organic- life. I blog to keep my family and friends up to date; to share things I've learned and discovered with difficulty so that hopefully, it will help others who internet research to proceed with less difficulty; to maintain a practice of writing; and to create an illustrated journal of the arc of my life. I try to post every second day. I write about my garden, my travels, Iceland, my chickens, dog, bees and other pets, books I read, and stuff that I build and make. My husband is passionate about bicycling and he sometimes pipes up with stories about bikes and bicycling. Sometimes I swear. You can follow on Facebook too, but all I ever do there is put up my blog posts.

Auntie Apples- the end of the house chicken era

The little crippled chick was feeling much better today.  She started the day with some demanding chirps, so I tucked her in with HW, which always makes chicks happy.  After a cozy nap, she got restless and I put her back in her box.  I desperately needed more sleep.  We had a big driving day and it’s not good waking up feeling nauseously sleep deprived.

But she wasn’t having the box.  Cheep!  Cheep!  CHEEP!  CHEEP!  CHEEPCHEEPCHEEPCHEEPCHEEPCHEEP!  Chicks are loud.  Arrgh.  I shuffled downstairs, wrapped her in my t-shirt, and tried to go back to sleep with her tucked in against me.  But she was over resting, and feeling rather active.  I rested yesterday! Wriggling, squirming, clambering, and tiny little talons were interrupting my sleep.

Frustrated, I took her back down, and set her in the front of Apples’ box.  Maybe Apples can chicksit.  Ok, I’m glad you’re feeling so much better, but I really need you to shut up!  Apples flinched away, staring sideon, like a fencer en gard.  What is that!?    The chick turned its head, and Apples leapt out the back of her box squawking, like a lady jumping on a chair because of a mouse.  She climbed onto my hand  and I lowered her down to her newspaper, eye level with the chick in her box.  (Are you scared of that little chick?) I left them staring at each other and returned to passing out for a couple more hours.

When I woke up, both of them were hanging out in the mud room on the mat, cleaning their feathers together.  They had been roaming all over the house together, the way Apples almost never does on her own.   She was obviously showing off, now she had someone to show things too.  Here’s where I clean my beak on the mat.  This is the boot tray, it’s nicely sheltered under this shelf.  There might be crumbs under the cutting board.  It was adorable for about a minute.  Poop everywhere.

The chick seems like a slightly rude or presumptuous unexpected guest, making itself at home in her box, demanding to be snuggled, but they seemed immediately attached. She can’t get around very far or fast, and Apples doesn’t, so they are perfectly matched.  The chick is hopping around on one leg, holding up the broken one, but seems to have no shortage of energy nor to be in pain anymore.  When the one leg gets tired it flops down and has an active rest- feather cleaning, or eating, if resting near the bowl.  Her leg is blue and I want to unwrap to check it for circulation but think it’s more important to be immobilized long enough to knit- leave the cast on.

I walled them up in the traditional box/newspaper area, but it was clear, they were explorers now, and a tea towel would pose little barrier.  Chick on hay in a box, Silkie hen in foregroundMovin’ out!

I set them up in a chickery outside on the short clover.  View from above of chick, hen, and a box of hay on clover Right next to Cream Puff the Fierce, for role modeling.

floor space under windows and plants
The end of an era. No more house chicken box

This is going to solve everything.  The injured chick has a support staff, and Apples has a companion, and they will transition to outdoor community life together.  Apples should start laying eggs soon or go broody, but for now, she’s an adopted Auntie!

chick under Silkie hen Apples in a cardboard box
How I found them at bedtime.  Happy chick.

Drama in the high winds and an injury

HW brought in a chick in the morning with a lower body injury.  It didn’t have the use of its left leg, although I couldn’t figure out exactly what was wrong.  I wrapped it up while HW held it (a little chicken cast), and then it stretched out and fell asleep. Even with its head hanging off.Later on discolouration and swelling let me know it was a broken foot/ankle, and I put a proper splint on it.  Hopefully in a tiny soft boned chick it will fully heal, even if I don’t have it lined up exactly right.

The chick mostly sleeps, rolled to the side with the injured leg up.  It must be in so much pain, but by afternoon it was perky and up on one leg.   It adjusted very rapidly, eating.  I gave it aspirin.    A couple of times a day it cheeps demandingly.  And loud!  I’m just a baby!  I need attention!

I can’t fathom how it hurt itself so bad, just in a cardboard box overnight.  Never had such a thing happen before.Its siblings are at large in the world. The wind blew the plywood lid off of Cream Puff’s chickery.  Cream Puff is turning out to be far from a cream puff.  She was always high strung, but with chicks, she’s a monster. She rises up into the air like a bat, attacking, if you reach in (feeding her is fraught), and when irritated (always), she puffs up like a puffer fish, fans out her tail like a turkey, flares her neck, and walks around like a thug.

She was outside her chickery  doing her turkey impression and the chicks were inside, shrieking.  Catching her was out of the question, so I got the bird catching net.  After a failed attempt with that, she was in high gear, extremely agitated and rushing around, as the chicks got louder.

Finally I scooped up all the chicks, popped them into the greenhouse, and left the door open.  She went right in.  She had about two hours of daylight left to wreak havoc, I figured that would be ok, since she went straight into the tomatoes, and they are too big to kill.  The pepper plants already took a savaging in the morning, when HW accidentally let them in while tending the wounded (they’ll survive, but they got pruned).    She’s still blimped up, but she had a good time scratching and dust bathing.This is how you do it kids. They ended up in a corner for sleep, and I put them back in a chickery at night.

Circus chickens

What’s happening here?  I know it might be hard to tell.  That would be the notoriously mom-surfing chick, the yellow one, sitting on her mom.  Not only that, mom is perching on the swing.  With other chickens.  The swing is swingy.  I rarely see them use it at all.Obviously, she is far too large for mom-sitting at the best of times, but like one of those huge dogs that still thinks it’s a lap sized puppy, she doesn’t realize she’s outgrown it.  And while perching on a swing might not be the best of times.  Mom put up with it for awhile, too, but dumped her off when she’d had enough.  Next, it will be chicken pyramids.


Almost bedtime.  The mama hens got a box today, so that I can move them around soon.  They got very excited.  Did you know your mom was hatched in a box?  They like boxes. 

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.