Category Archives: Family + Friends + Animals

Chicken jackets

Now that the weather is cooling off, it’s time to put jackets on my chickens.  No!   That’s a joke.  A few of my hens need jackets because they’re molting or have their feathers damaged from mating.

Chicken aprons (so called because they look like an apron when they’re flat), or saddles (for the rooster to ride) are for protecting their backs while their feathers grow back.

Cheeks has bare raw patches on her shoulders from mating, but what can you do?  She doesn’t have to always  be with that rooster.I made a version with shoulder protectors.  So far so good.  There are much more elegant versions online, but I was going for an express solution. You didn’t care about how they would look?

The one that seems most comfortable in her jacket is this little Silkie.  I made a small one, and it fits her perfect.  She only needs it for her shoulders. For the most part they act like they’re barely aware of it. Least comfortable is Cleopatra. She’s aware of it.  First, she was hiding in the coop, then trying to fix her feathers.  What have you done to me? 

I was mistaken, she doesn’t need shoulder pads, so I will recycle the black fleece jacket, and she should be much happier in that.  I wanted to make her a black one anyway. I have a few more without shoulder pads to put on other birds tomorrow.

Young Roos

Oscar and Orlando are buds.

The young roosters are growing up, and they are big!   They’re going to be big boys.  They’ve come almost into their full rooster shape, but still have awkward bits sticking out. Not so cute anymore, although the hens might think so.

Pepper, front left, is a Silkie Barred Rock cross, and that turns out to be an unfortunate combination.  Very funny looking, with strangely green legs.  And he’s a rooster.  He might have to season a pot, before he seasons the gene pool:(The young birds are getting comfortable around the house.  The next generation of house chickens.  Very comfortable.A pile of roosters, and a Puffcheeks, on the porch. They still sound pretty terrible when they practice crowing, and they’re still embarrassed about it.  One of them was hiding under the house, practicing.

Nope, still sounds like a controlled sneeze, buddy.

We lounge hard

Chickens do an awful lot of lounging.  They lounge under trees, in the sun, lots of time on the paths, and in dust baths.  Their favorite seems to be dappled shade.

Big group lounge under a secondary pine tree.Early post-breakfast perching is common.Big dust bath near the house. Barred & Brahma lounging.The birds have this odd tendency to sort themselves out by colours, like laundry.  The darks.The lights/colours.

There’s some big boys emerging out of the tweens.

It’s adorable how much they cuddle.  They lean on each other, pile up, stretch out their legs, and when they’re young, they crawl under each other’s necks like going under a mama.

New hen boxes

The hens with chicks got an apartment reno.  It was time to retire those battered old boxes.  So I set up a new condo system, each with a little bed of hay.  But will they use them?All the other chickens came and inspected of course. Well, I left the most popular box, double occupancy in a pinch.Oh!  A promising amount of attention.Look Mom, we found a new place!They approved.  2/3 were occupied, and it was much nicer to transport these boxes with closed lids.

Chocolate and the white chocolates started out in a new box, but ended up in the old box.One of Foxy’s chicks (the biggest set) is cute, with the little neck beard,and dark brown cape.  I’m pretty sure he’s a little rooster, with those big thick legs. He looks like a small turkey.

Epic pig move

The pigs got another big move yesterday.  And they’re acting like they did all the work.  The space they have with the two strands of fence is vast (not literally, but it seems pretty vast, and it’s plenty big enough for them to get totally concealed).  I walk around looking for them and it’s like Wild Safari.  Can you see them?  Is that something moving over there?Well, there’s a spot where pigs have been.I’m not moving.  Maybe my eyelid. One lazy pig.Spot the pig?  The other two are in there.

The five aren’t afraid of bees

The famous five in fact, love to rummage around around the hives, and jump up on them.That is the back of the hive, but they rummage equally well in the front.   They go underneath.  I’ve seen one jump up on the bee door closure stick.Meeting behind Pansy building!  (My hives are plumb; the camera is tipped)

I’ve thought one would get stung, and that would be over, but no.  It’s always just little tribe.  They have the place to themselves.

Overcrowding

I went out at bedtime to close everyone up, which means picking up the cardboard boxes that the wild chicks and the moms they’re still attached to have retired into, and carrying them into the safe box in the greenhouse for the night.  There’s a lineup of three boxes.

One was empty.

Oh, great.  Foxy and her set have found someplace to sleep outside.  I put the other two boxes away, did a quick low crawl to look around the base of the brush piles where they like to rest (wow, they’ve got a proper labyrinth in there), and went for a flashlight and headlamp to mount a search.  On the way back, I thought I’d better double check the box contents to make sure I knew exactly who I was looking for.

Foxy and Feisty and their seven chicks between them were all jammed into one box!  The smallest box.  That box does seem to be preferred.  I could just imagine the growling. Yeah, well I want this box too.  I called dibs.  I’m not leaving.  Fine!  I’m not leaving either.

As long as they’re happy.   In their 140 square inches of real estate.  Mental note:  they will not be happy in the morning – must not delay letting them out.

They weren’t:  Nine birds in a 10x 14 box , what were they thinking?Ursa has a mom-hopper.  Ursa’s got attitude. First the yellow one.Then the black ones – corner warming.

An experiment in chick freedom

Ursa Minor was protesting the confines of the chickery, so I tried something.  I let all the moms and chicks loose.  This is not rain day, these are the tiny chicks in their first few days of life, that are typically in chickeries in the greenhouse (warm and dry), before they go out to chickeries on grass for a few days, before they run wild with their moms (a staged transition to free-range).So I propped up the chickeries so they could leave, but still get back in their familiar box.  Clever stayed in for hours. Ursa shot out and within a minute, was demonstrating hole digging in the tomatoes. Hers are the smallest chicks too.  The others have an edge by a couple days or at least some hours.  But she’s a real go-getter.No time to lose!  I’ve done this before.  Can’t waste a minute with early chickhood education!Thinking about it. Domino’s thinking harder about it.     Oh!  Big moves!  This is the cost of chickens on the loose.  The danger to low hanging fruit.  It’s negligible.I think I see a tomato right now.

Pig bribery

I’ve got some rowdy pigs.  Specifically, the female.  She’s a bit of a loner, happy to be apart from the boys some of the time, and she doesn’t respect the fence.  She knows how to get under it, rooting under a post (the bottom strand isn’t electrified), and then tossing it up, where it will flop down on her back and she can charge underneath, getting only a modest shock on her thick back.  I haven’t seen her do this all the way through, but I’ve seen her start into the process very deliberately .   I’ve had it.  I’m out of here (I thwarted her) This all started with a mass escape incident, and watching that happen, I knew they’d be ruined on the fence.  I am counting myself very lucky that it only ruined her on the fence.

Using an electric fence on pigs is a delicate agreement.  They agree they will act like they fear the fence, and you agree to believe it will keep them in, when both of you (I think) knows that if they really want, they can go through it.  If this pretence breaks down, then the pigs are “what fence?”, and you can never relax again.  But the electric fence enables them to have a completely different life than they would if you had to build “pig tight” to keep them in, so it’s a good deal for them.  They get a big sward to root and play and run in, and resemble real pigs.

But now, I have a problem pig, and every so often, she goes on walkabout.  She doesn’t go far.  She just goes and knocks over all the chicken waters and licks their trays clean (the chickens alert me to the invasion).  Then I have to pretend to be friendly Aren’t you clever, let’s get a treat (and she runs after me all pleased with herself), when I feel like beating her with a rope.  She’s pretty good about going back in.  See, the good boys who stayed inside the fence are getting a treat, don’t you wish you were in here now?

Hence, bribery.  I’ve taken to surprise feeds of a bucket of apples and garden scraps, to minimize monotonous downtime that could raise exploratory ideas.  Of course, religious punctuality with regular feed time is essential to prevent mutiny.I appear off-schedule (they are surprised, and come rocketing in!)They try to body block to keep choice to themselves. The apples go first, even sour green apples.  Crunch crunch.Four days so far, no escapes.