Category Archives: Chickens

Cheeps at the door

I hear them coming around, the cheeps.  They never stop chatting at this age.

I’m glad that the moms are starting to gravitate to the house and beehives –  the safe zones instead of the adventure safaris.  This is where you’ll spend your time when you grow up, kids.  Mooching.

The two of them are too adorable to me.  Inseparable, yin and yang chickens, not very alike other than that they (were) both loners.    The chicks float in one crowd with loose ties to their own mama except for bedtime and warming time.  Ghost, since she has two, has started perching at night with a chick perching on either side, poking out from a wing.  They seem smug about it.  Velvet ,with three, has to stay on the floor to hug them at night.

The chicks are at that miniature stage where they have all their feathers and all the chicken moves, but they are still just tiny little handfuls.  They have frowns all the time.  Dinosaur growth spurt dead ahead.  All the chicks seem to be baby Cheeks, although that was not planned this time.   There’s a Ghost sighting out the front window!

Velvet must be very nearby.  There she is!

Pincushion chickens

Hurricane’s over.  The three are back to trying to sleep in the tree.  SO stubborn.

It’s cooling off at nights, so it’s good time for the hens to grow their feathers back.  It’s such a relief when they start to refeather, because they go naked for what seems like terribly long, and it looks so uncomfortable I worry, and then one day, they come out in little spikes all over that unroll into feathers.

There was a Silkie, I forget her name- she was a ragged half naked mess from the time she got here.  She never had her feathers sorted out.   Over a year.   She raised two sets of babies and I thought that’s just who she was, that she was going to look like a worn-out dish rag forever.  Then one day, poof, feathers inbound!  And now I can’t pick her out of the lineup.  She looks completely normal.

There’s a Brahma re-feathering, Velvet is no longer naked, phew!, and this is Sidewinder.  She hasn’t been the cringy slinker that she was in the winter- her behaviour has been more confident.  Maybe it was the friendship.  She’s a Grandma now – the Sidekick grew up to be Ghost.  She’s so old and has been defeathered since last summer!  I always find reasons to imagine they won’t ever grow back, then they look renewed out of nowhere.Perchick remains looking painfully cold and naked.  It’s almost sweater weather if she doesn’t pincushion out soon.

Velvet and Ghost

The co-mamas.

These are the first hens to successfully hatch babies in the large coop.  Right through the heat wave, they sat on eggs, and I brought them water.  They would even switch eggs, so it makes sense that they’re one family now.  They only spent two days in the chickeries, maybe three, before release and integration.  Nosey visitorThey still had unhatched eggs, one each (they did not hatch late, they gave up on them), so the hatched chicks had a nice slow transition).Ghost scooted her egg out of the box to belly up to the food.  When they’re ready to get up off the nest, they’re ready though, and Velvet tore her whole chickery apart, every inch of the ground scratched up, letting me know she was ready.Velvet has three and Ghost two, but all five look like Cheeks’ bio-offspring, an accident since I gave them a mix of eggs.  Five of nine total hatched.   I can’t tell the five apart, but the hens can- look out!  They all roll together most of the time, though, so the chicks intermingle constantly.

It’s a really cute thing they’ve got.  Mom friends- Our kids are the same age!  They’re black and white, and they were both total loners prior to brooding.  I feared for Velvet’s life because she would just leave.    The little orange feet!  I can see where you are!They started visiting the house!  That was cool.  A noisy cheeping procession.  I heard them coming.  This is where we scrounge for snacks, and under the house it’s dusty and cool… There they are, traveling on together.  They like the bee area.   Perching practice on the jungle gym (laundry rack).  It doesn’t sway like a branch.  They’re up to the second rail now.

We have different cultural ideas about how we should look after a bath.

We had rain!  (Blessed rain!)  Dust baths are closed, mud baths now available.  I was pretty surprised to find this little enthusiast digging in. Really digging in.

Naturally, onlookers.Because when you’ve planned to go to the spa, you go to the spa.What?  Some people pay good money for this.The Colonel included for dirtiness comparison.  Yes, the Colonel is still the big boss, my v first rooster from my v first collection of chickens.  What?  I just got out of the bath!Helloooo, boys!

Next door, the retirees were getting into it too, with much more reserve.  It’s nice to see the Brahmas doing something fun.  They’re always so serious and often seem to be just existing.  This got some more facial expressions out of them though.  They’re like cats in catnip.  They get the zoned face, and they scratch, like, Can’t help. Myself.  Must scratch in this. And then they roll around, and do some What are you looking at?

Yay for rain.  A rain storm, even.  The chicks even got put in the greenhouse with their moms- huge day!  Huge!  I got my rain barrels almost all filled again too, in one day’s rain – that’s a relief!

Early morning perching practice

The fuzznuggets have started perching.  They all keep the same schedule; I’m so used to seeing moms raise their chicks now.  First, there’s very close to home chickergarten, where scratching is strongly emphasized – Mom shows them vigorous scratching in loose material, clearly for practice.  Good fling.  Look at how well Daisy is kicking.

Second comes explorer time, where the moms take their chicks off, to some distance, for I don’t know what, world acclimation and exposure to strange and unusual things.  That is the type of caterpillar that tastes disgusting, but go ahead and try it.  We also do not eat slugs.    This stage gives me palpitations because they go off in the woods and I fear for them.  This is the stage they’re in.

Next comes morning perching.  I don’t know why it tends to be first thing after breakfast, and the chicks tend to do it on their own without demonstration.  They move higher and higher in the tree and on their rack as they age.  It started today.

Eventually they move into being more clubby with the other chicks their age and needing Mom less, then they break up with Mom, or she quits.

These are Velvet and Ghost‘s chicks (Sidewinder is still around, too). I gave Velvet several eggs, and then Ghost seemed just as determined, so I split the eggs with her.  They were a mixed batch, so it’s really wild that the chicks ALL seem to be more Cheekslings.

Whoa, WHOA! This balancing thing is hard!
I’m grooming too!

Notice the other one gone for a post-perch warming in Mom’s fluff.

 

The evening perch

It’s time for a good evening perch.Like mama, like chick.  They are getting quite good at the starter branch, and can walk up and down along it, and keep their balance when their chick siblings shake it by jumping on and off.This little chick, all independent, doesn’t need a warming – my money is that he’s a rooster.  She’s looking for aerial threats.    Oh!  Perching again. One of the “old” chicks.  Her cheeks are showing.  This is the little Silkie cuckoo that got raised with the big birds, and now she’s not having being put in with the Silkies.  Her sister wants to know if she’s in this picture too. There they are.Oh, hello! Little orange feet:)

An extra puffy tail

The little (lone) Silkie chick has just had one extra puffy tail sprout out today, along with a tiny head crest and tiny feet feathers on those little black legs.  Looks especially good with evening back-lighting.  It’s funny what a transformative difference a day makes – chicks grow so fast.  Feathers just pop out here and there, and they go through some pretty funny stages.

This poor little chick is now only one third the size of its nestmates, which are bigger than some of the other chicks get before their Moms move on.  Mom is very patient.You know you’re too big to get sat on when…

This is the body attached to this head.  Hey, my neck is warm.  It’s stretched right out, and still trying to get some baby chick cuddles, meanwhile it’s almost as bulky as Mom.  Like a dog who thinks it’s still a puppy.  I can totally fit on your lap, I’ve done it 100x…hmmm.  Not working like it used to. 

This is the box princess and clan.  She now goes in the coop (well, I’ve moved the box inside the coop, and they still use it- and that’s its own story),  but they still settle down together pre-bedtime outside the coop.

I thought now that the little  keets had been introduced into society, they would belong and stick around, and that they would start sleeping with the others (in the greenhouse).  No.  Mom makes herself really scarce, staying on the weedy sidelines during the day and disappearing at night, so I get to worry.  Galahad comes whisking into the greenhouse late and in a hurry now.  I know he knows where they’re spending the night, but I can’t find them.