Category Archives: Chickens

How is Cheeks?

Cheeks is great!

Her brief supervised outings and chaperoned dates quickly turned into twice a day solo forays that got longer and longer.  At first she would come in wiped out, eat (or skip eating), drop into her banana box and sleep for hours.  You could see her building strength though, and she could stay out longer and longer before wanting to come in.

She was more of a solo chicken at first, as the other chickens still lived in the greenhouse and gravitated towards their food dishes over there, while she stayed very near the house. Jumping up on the sawhorse was kind of impressive for one good leg.

Then Cheeks started to make the walk over to the greenhouse!  She chose a rooster (Chris is the lucky guy). 

And then…she started to stay outside mostly all morning, and all afternoon.  Back in to drop an egg, or eat, and then, she would announce she was ready to go back outside by yelling.  In the morning as soon as she saw the other chickens through the window, cue earsplitting yellllling! with a prelude of whining.

That would earn her a prompt toss out the door for the morning (at 42 sec).

When she was in, she made it plain room temperature was too hot for her now too, by doing airplane impressions.  She’d acclimated to the cooler outdoors.I’m hot.  Should I start yelling or am I making myself clear?

All in all, she progressively spent less and less time as a coddled house chicken, and started her transition back to normal chicken.  I’m so proud!

Chicken play date

Cheeks has been having chaperoned outings.  I carry her out with me and set her down near where I’m working, in the field or the garden, and she moseys around, scratching and eating.

She loves it.  What I expected, was that after a couple of hours, she’d be tired, and willing and ready to be scooped up and carried home for a drink.  I’ve handled her daily for months.  She’s as tame as a chicken could possibly be.No.  Oh, no no no.  No!  Not yet!   Try to grab her and she hits the gas.  Can’t catch me! I’m a wild animal!  She can lead me on a proper merry chase, even with her lame foot.  When you do catch her though, she’s totally fine with being picked up.  The thrill is in the chase.I only look placid.

Today she got a supervised date. (A very brief date).  Speed date, even.  The rooster saw her from a distance, and barreled towards her, and saved his dancing for the afterglow.

She’s been looking forward to a date, based on how loud she shouts through the window when the roosters come to the yard.  And she didn’t make him chase.  Now all her gorgeous eggs won’t go to waste, and I’ll get some little Cheekslings.She also got some time with Perchick, which was adorable.  They spent nearly an hour together.  Perchick and Cheeks are the same age, possibly nestmates,and they behaved exactly like they recognized each other and fell in step like old times.   

I went to the library and came home with a chicken

I went to the library bus and while I was in the parking lot, the manager of the liquor store popped outside and waved me down, asking me to come in the store before I left.  What in the world, I wondered, could I be required in the liquor store for?  Who knows, though, really.  It’s a small town.

Well.  It turned out to be about a chicken.  There was a hen that had appeared some days ago and was living in the snow bank and brambles behind the liquor store.  They were feeding and watering her, and she was spending nights 10′ up in a tree.  (This was 3 weeks ago, when there was lots of snow and -15C nights).

Would I bring this chicken to a good home?  First, we had to catch her.  She was nervous and quick, and with the help of passersby herding, blocking, and diving in the snow after her, I caught her, and immediately stuffed her and her cold feet into my coat and zipped her in. (Chickens always love the coat treatment.  Dark and warm – they calm right down(.

Yay, the chicken was rescued, and I was bringing a new girl home.  I had one more stop to make.

I stopped in at the assisted living home, going inside with the chicken hidden in my coat, and just as I was turning to leave, the amusing novelty of being out in public with a concealed carry chicken got the best of me and I turned back, “Hey, you should see what I’ve got in my coat, haha!”  I unzipped enough for her head to pop out, and they squealed, and gasped, “Oh, would you mind showing some of the residents?!”

Thus began a room to room progress of coat chicken show and tell, most of the sick and elderly residents petting her and grinning with delight.  She was a gracious celebrity, quiet, mild, tolerant, poking her head out and “holding hands”.She’s drifting south in my jacket.  Notice  her little foot out gripping my hand.

After a much bigger day than most chickens have before noon, we got home.  I put her in a chickery for isolation and acclimation.Immediately all the old chickens crowded around to inspect.

I put her in the coop at night, then back in the chickery for the day, then a few part days loose.  She had a hard time at first so I’d put her back in her box for a break and a meal.  It’s hard to find one’s place in a big flock.  She’s small, a bantam something, the same size as a few teens, Very quick, high-stepping, nervy.

She’s integrated now!  She rolls with clique #1, the pufflings and the top rooster – a surprise.  She still hops into the open chickery, often in the morning, nostalgic-like.  I used to stay in here. 

 

 

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.