Category Archives: Chickens

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.

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.

Chick party in the greenhouse

Rain day!

It did not start well.  The forecast, usually accurate to the hour, was predicting rain starting at 9pm tonight.  At 6am, pat. pat pat. patpatpatpatpat! 

I leapt up.  I needed to give the pigs access to their house.  Yesterday I’d moved their house (thank god!), but I hadn’t cut out the path to reroute the electric fence around it.  Really crappy work that I planned to do today before the rain (plenty of time!), as I was so tired and sore yesterday.  Instead, in the dark before dawn, in the rain, while the pigs watched me impatiently, grunting.  Hey.  It’s raining.  ME:  You’re waterproof, you tyrants.

I got the brush cut out, and the fence patched around it, and they grunted right in.  They just prefer to be in their house in the rain.   I checked the forecast.  It had changed, imagine that.  Yes, it is indeed raining right now.  And it’s now predicted to rain all day.  That means the pigs will spend all day in their house.

Amazingly, I enticed Galahad to go back into the greenhouse.  I figured he’d prefer that, but didn’t think it would work.  I’ve never asked him to go back into the greenhouse during the day.   And I released all the moms and their chicks inside the greenhouse! That’s Foxy, Fiesty, and  Chocolate at large, plus Ursa, Clever and (unnamed) in their chickeries.The chicks wouldn’t have any problems in the rain, but it would be hard on the hens, as soon as the chicks try to use Mom for an umbrella.  Silkies aren’t even water resistant.They were over the moon!  This was the most exciting thing ever, apparently.  Galahad etc weren’t too demonstrative, but content to be inside.  We live here, what’s the big deal?  The chicks and moms acted like they just got heli-dropped into Disneyland.  The cheeping!  The clucking!  The scampering! Oh the places you’ll scratch!  Oh the things you’ll peck!An hour later and they were still centralized on just the first fraction of the greenhouse.

It turned out to be a grey day more than a rain day, and I let Galahad out again for most of the day.  It started coming down again early evening.   The chicks were all late going to bed:)  Best day ever!

cool days, cool Moms

It’s chilly in the mornings.  The chicks are around with their shoulders shrugged up.  The leghorn twins went back in the box.  The cardboard is warmer on the tiny naked feet.

You know what’s really warm on the feet?  Mom. Until she starts walking away – whoa!

Ursa Minor surprised me with chicks this morning.  She had that I’ve got chicks, ya know face.  And then there was all the peeping.Oh!  there’s a little leg, and it’s attached to some black feathers!  Yay, another black one.  Oh, there’s a a whole little butt, already dry and fluffy.

Ursa’s so chill.  She’s all confident.  This is my second brood, you know.  I’m kind of a pro at this. (She is).And there’s a whole chick popped out.  I didn’t disturb them much in the cold morning, but in the afternoon she was trying to start their education in the dark cave of the broodery, so – into the chickery with them.  There are two black ones, and two “spider” marked – that’s how Brown Silkies look when they hatch.  But… I can’t remember if she was on Silkie eggs or full size?  Those chicks look pretty big.  So they might be crosses.  Who knows!  It’s all exciting.

Cream Puff slid into the greenhouse with Galahad last night, and I was chasing her around with a rake, which G was surprisingly unconcerned about.    She knew she wasn’t supposed to be in there, and Galahad knew  that he was.  It didn’t take her long to figure out that she should stick right next to him to not fear the rake, which she did, like glue.  Smart move.  I chased them both out, and she ran squawking back to her boyfriend, while Galahad made a lap of the hen tent and glided back in before she’d hardly turned the corner.   Very smooth.  The keets mostly ignored all of this.

Tonight I comprehended another maneuver of his.  I’ve seen it before and thought he was just being fussy: I come to open the door to admit the keet family to the GH (Galahad periscoping, doesn’t miss anything).  I step back.  G runs up, jumps onto the doorstep looking into the GH.  Keets gather.  I lean or step forward, ready to shut the door behind them as soon as they all…. but no!  He doesn’t  jump in.  Nope. He pops back out, makes a wide meandering lap, though rather fast and urgently, like he’s frustrated, pauses somewhere (today it was under the hen tent), then rushes out and deliberately charges into the GH.  I have been frustrated with this extra phase of bedtime procedures.  Just go to bed!  It’s the same greenhouse it was last night, just go in!

That’s not it though.

I figured it out tonight.  He’s collecting all the keets!  They don’t flow everywhere together like a school of fish, like they used to, these days as they mature and get more independent.  Some are lingering at the grub box, the feed dishes, the water fount.  First he confirms the door is open, and then he does his lap to get their attention.  They snap to and fall in.  Then he pauses for muster – all present?  Then they storm the castle.

He’s the best guinea mom I’ve ever had.  He does everything almost completely silently.  Amazing.  And I hardly see them all day, but they know when mealtime and bedtime is.

Oh, and I shifted the coop drama dynamic in Silkieland.  For two nights, I picked up the two little bitches that want to play bouncer at the top of the ramp, and I held them.  All the other birds went gratefully and peacefully to bed, while I just stood there, holding two hens.  I even walked around and did stuff with one hand, holding them.  They were pretty ok with it (it’s warm; birds usually like being held, they just don’t like the transition- being grabbed).  Then, dead last, I dropped them into the doorway, and shut the gate.  Only problem was the rooster, who was very reluctant to get aboard the ark because he knew these two weren’t in yet.  His job, and therefore identity, is to be last in, first out.  Tonight I had visitors distract me from interfering, and yet, something had shifted over there!  It was quiet and quick, and there were no sentries atop the ramp!  We’ll see if the lesson sticks.  You be good or I’ll hold you!