Category Archives: Chickens

Out on the range.

The birds are all out free-ranging again.  They’re so excited!! Mostly out. They are free to come and go, for the last week or two since the snow has been going.

They are so happy!  All the young ones (1-2 yrs) and the guineas spend all day out, pouring out of the greenhouse when I open the doors, popping back in when they get cold or thirsty, then back out for another shift of foraging.

Inside, the older chickens are less adventurous and content to have the dust baths to themselves.  I can’t wait to move out the Silkies, but it will be cold for another week or so.

Friends

These two were out and about alone, one cold day, without a rooster escort, and were all jumpy and guilty, like they knew they were on the lam.

The birds outside are partly PARTY! Excitement and adventure!   And partly attacking their days like they have a job, and they’re showing up to it late.  Serious.  So much to do!There’s something really good over there! They’re vigorously scritching around in the woods everywhere.  Now that they have the space, I can see the little cliques that have formed around each rooster.  Three good ones.

miracle on banana box st.

Cheeks has been doing very well.  She still lives in the house, as she has for months, continuing to be low maintenance (except for a predilection for beak-sweeping her food); and self regulating, staying in her banana box or on her Rubbermaid (her proscribed territory) and moving between the two on her own.

She has been doing better than ever, although the swelling on the top of her foot continues to grow.  It’s a bubble that looks about to drain every day.  For weeks.

I soak her afflicted foot every day, and sometimes get a little drainage, but in spite of this impediment (literally), she’s in good spirits, relatively active, interested, and talkative.

Exceedingly talkative.  The last few days, she’s become a talking machine, standing up on her box, going on and on.  BrrBRbrbrBRbrBRR, sometimes in a complaining tone, but mostly just a gossipy/lecturing tone.  We’re like, What has gotten into you?  You’ve got things to say!

And then:

What have you got in there?

OMG, is that an egg?!  You laid an egg!

Yep, that’s an egg.

You’d have thought she’d levitated, I was so excited about this egg.

It’s a perfect, pale blue egg.  Unfortunately not fertile, because she hasn’t been on a date for a long time.  I’d love to hatch some of her offspring.

But what it really means is that she’s healthy!  She’s healthy and comfortable enough to resume egg laying, in spite of her foot she can barely use.

Healthy enough that she felt like contributing to the household:)

*She laid another the next day, and the talking decreases dramatically

Escape escapades

Little Nosey, being herself. I’m teasing her with a litter grabber. She’s like Why. Why are you pointing a robot arm at me?

The guineas had a big adventure, escaping in the morning. Good day for it. They came yelling down the trail, went grazing in the woods, but around lunchtime they were wanting back in. It’s cold. We would like to be back with the food.

They found this challenging.
I propped the fence open, away from the corner of the greenhouse. One of them got stuck unable to comprehend going around the end of the fence. The white one appears to be on the way in, but no!
She managed to be looking the wrong way when the other one figured it out, and so dithered around Where’d everybody go? Oh look, there’s a door!

Shortly after the guineas ran back in, a flock of chickens escaped somehow. I arrived later with lunch, and a visiting dog (because, all the chickens are put away, dogs are cool), and ten chickens and a rooster are sauntering around on the edge of the woods. What the!

I tried to get them back in. The dog didn’t help. They fled into the woods and reconvened around the rooster.

Thus they got to stay out until nearly bedtime, when they were all waiting by the door. On the bright side one rooster earned his keep. The leghorn rooster was out with them, and they were all glued to him; he was herding and leading them. It’s good to know who a quality rooster is.

He probably talked them all out the gap in the fence in the first place, but he was taking good care.

Jacket chicken visit

It was a COLD morning, and husband noticed this little hen shivering up on a perch, so he grabbed her (Get your hands off me! Put me down, you big brute!) and stuck her in his coat (Oh. OH. Ok. This is good.)

Then he took her for a walk. When they went outside in the cold cold air she sucked her head all the way inside the jacket like a turtle.

They came and visited the house chicken, and she and Cheeks had a remarkable conversation, a back and forth with a whole series of sounds that you don’t hear every day out of a chicken. We were both just quieted, listening. What are they saying?!

– You’re alive! We had no idea. Benny’s been worried sick.
– Let me tell you, the snacks in this place are unbelievable. They just do weird things to my feet sometimes.
– I’m in a jacket right now, I can imagine.
– How is everything in the greenhouse? You must tell Wilma that the right side of the perch is mine.  If she thinks otherwise she’s got another peck coming.

When returned to the greenhouse, the traveling hen resisted being extracted from the coat, burrowing in and struggling to stay. No, no, don’t make me get out!

I’m back

I survived my mini-collapse, and have been digging my routines back out for the past few days.  I hope it was worth it.   I’m all sugar free now (again), so I hope that transition was worth a week’s lost productivity.

All is well.  Cheeks persists, and is gunning for permanent house chicken status, like a pet parrot;  the ten untimely chicks are all well and growing their feathers; all the birds are fine but getting cranky about the GH confinement, and my hives are all still alive.

The Story of Sidewinder and Sidekick retold on Steem today.

 

New dimension

There was a death in the family yesterday.  One of the red layer hens died in the coop.

They do that.  They go in the coop (not the nest box), hunch up, pull in their feet and their heads, close their eyes, and go to “sleep”- really a pre-death trance.  Their combs go pale, and they depart slowly.

The whole transition seems very peaceful, and like death happens by degrees.  You can look at them in the last hours, and they aren’t dead yet, but they aren’t all there either.  They’re mostly dead (couldn’t resist).

Usually I find them stretched out, one leg extended, and head stuck out, like their last act is one last stretch.

Yesterday HW alerted me there was a “chicken emergency” in Bravo coop, and it was a chicken on her way out.  She’s old.  I got generic red layers on three occasions, when others were getting rid of them (this is a chicken rest home), so I can’t be sure what set she’s from, but she’s somewhere upwards of 6 years old.  She was already sprawled, and she onlybriefly opened her eye when I pet her.  We left her to finish her departure at peace in her home.

What was new, though, is that in the morning, other chickens were holding a wake.  Five of them skipping breakfast to stand around her in the coop.  I’ve never seen that before, but it’s possible I just missed the time of the ceremony.  Cheeks flipped out once over a dead hen.  Ravens are known to hold wakes or funerals – I’ve seen it.  But not…chickens.

 

Operation Cheeks

Cheeks is well.  She needed her afflicted foot addressed, and redressed.

mid-unwrap

HW likes to hold her up sitting on her tail, and that it makes her look like a little person.  She is surprisingly very ok with this.  Whatever you do, don’t put these pictures on the internet! From this upright position, she is very involved in the whole operation.  Quiet and still, but watching it all up close.

I had to flush her wound and try to squeeze out any pus.  You can see her toe is healed, but the infection settled in the palm of her foot, and there’s still swelling.  Extraction went well.Show us your new foot glove!

chicken cuddling

man holding young white chicken
See the feet grabbing on him – “I would like to register my dissent about being picked up.  This is ruining my cred.”

While I’ve been gone over the holidays, my husband has been grabbing chickens.

He spends quite a bit of time holding Cheeks the house chicken, who seems determined to remain designated house chicken indefinitely, I’m no trouble.  No trouble at all!, but also grabbing “wild chickens” in the greenhouse, to cuddle them against their will.

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