Category Archives: Family + Friends + Animals

Viva les chipmunks!

After the last rain, I found a chipmunk floating dead in a water bucket, unable to swim any longer.  I was sick about it all day.

There is plenty of tragedy out here.  Not life eats life, which we call “that’s life”, but preventable death or pain, especially due to human (my) activity.  Animal death for the sake of human convenience, because a sophisticated and specialized animal hasn’t evolved fast enough to cope with human experiments like plastics and cars, that’s tragic, and it’s a tragic drama of global scale.  Everywhere we look there is destruction of animals deliberately, accidentally, and indirectly.

But here, this week, it was a dead chipmunk.  Here, luckily, there is much more life and joy than death and sadness (a ratio that must be necessary to preserve hope). I try, really hard, to mitigate the negative impact of our presence here.  No cats.  Special measures. Some species are enjoying my food provision and protection in exchange for our intrusion and pressure on them and others.

I’m sure I’m not at all big-picture balancing my use of a vehicle, consumption of plastics and dubiously sourced food, or air travel.  Not even close!  Just the small picture:  I steal habitat, I create habitat.  I introduce chickens, I introduce a food source.  Etc.

There’d been a near miss before;  I found one last year struggling and instinctively scooped it out before thinking that it could bite me (it didn’t, it was too tired).  But this one was lost, even though I tried compressions.

She was lactating, too, so I got to imagine a carefully made cozy nest of mouse-sized chipmunklings slowly dying of starvation nearby.  That’s this time of year- every dead bird, turtle, or squirrel on the highway means the loss of their offspring too.

So I was sick about it.  Then this morning, on my way to feed the birds, I saw light brown movement in a brush pile.  Furry bodies were oozing to the top.  Little bitty brown eyed chipmunks!!

There were three!  Curious and fearless, apparently emerging for the first time, probably hungry.  Adorable!  They made it!  They were old enough to survive!  They are so cute.  Half sized, a little slower moving.

So naturally, I fed them.  It took about 20 seconds for them to discover a dish at the base of their brush pile.  They took turns.  They’re going to be ok.

Cream Puff the Fierce and the chicks

Cream Puff was a misnomer.  Well, the Puff part was accurate, she spends most of her time puffed up in a rage these days, with her tail flared out.  But the cream is all gone.  She used to be jumpy, anxious, shy, the first to run shrieking out of the coop when you lift the lid.  Now, she moves like a tank, grumbling.  Ok, I’ll move, but I think you should move first.  She was the one initially completely freaked out by her own broodiness.

Now there are two parties that get admission to the greenhouse in the evening: the one guinea (I just love him. I need to get him some guinea girlfriends), and Cream Puff etc.  I open the door and she growls all the way in the door, all the etc hopping in behind her, and then she goes straight to her tomato corner for bed.

In the morning I have to shoo them out.Hen with 4 chicks following through tomato plants

Hen with one chick following
Oops, one got left behind, Mom came back to collect
Out the door, now
Hen and chicks jumping over door step
Turkey Mom
Black chick on door threshold following hen
This one’s always late
Hen sitting on chicks with two eating
Not everyone is warm enough to come out and eat

I can’t get too attached.  I think I’m going to let this brood go to a new home, and Cream Puff will go with them until they don’t need her any more.  I have more chicks on the way – two little Silkie broodies in the covered wagons, both being good as gold on their eggs.

Cream Puff the Fierce isn’t the friendliest ambassador, but maybe better than her sister, Perchick the Heat-seeking Beak.

Freebirds

The crippled chick is doing very well.  She’s using her foot but not bearing weight on it, and it very active, but still rests a lot.Very active.  I don’t know how she got out, but I think she went over the top.  Apples feels like perching today.

Cream Puff released herself today.  A little early, but the chicks are managing just fine.

I don’t even know how she got out;  there was a chicken wire lid on her, but all of a sudden, she was prowling around in her turkey pose, outside the chickery.  We don’t call her Cream Puff the Fierce for nothing; I didn’t even try to catch her, I just let her chicks out.She’s really attached to her turkey shape.  She spends most of her time puffed up, with her neck ruffled and tail spread.  It was impeding her ability to give scratching lessons.  She’d deflate to scratch, puff up again.  She’s funny.  She’s got a real chip on her shoulder. She can’t even rest without puffing. This is my favorite little chick, with a white dot on top of her head.

Bee waterer

The bees have decided where they want to drink.  The purple chicken waterer.  Now it’s a bee waterer, because the chickens won’t use it anymore.  They know better.  They know what bees do.

This happened last year too.  The bees co-opted a waterer.  I prefer them to use the top of the blue barrels; that’s nice and safe, and closer, but they do what they want.

What I’m excited about is fixing the bee drowning problem.  They manage to drown themselves even in that little waterer.  The answer is corks!bee waterer with corksLots of bee life rafts.

 

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