New procedure for the chicken coop: I’ve stopped mucking it out, and I’ve added a thick layer of fresh grass clippings. Now I’m going to just add grass and leaves and whatever and let the henhouse floor build up.
The birds seem to love it. It’s soft and much cleaner and attractive; they look bright and colourful springing around on their new emerald green floor, and they like lying down on it too. It gives them more to scratch around in. They pick out single blades of grass and eat them whole like a strand of spaghetti.
The smallest bird got out of the box today while I was there to witness it. I’m glad, because its neurotic running back and forth against the wall and frantic cheeping was a little sad. He/she was just so sure he was missing something. When he finally launched himself to the wall and over, hoo boy, what a party. Hilarious- zipping around, screeching, SO excited. So now they can all come and go from the box. Even though he’s a fraction of the size of all the others, he has no problem keeping up.
I made them a daytime play area, caging it with wire fence. It looks like I was going for a stint on Canada’s Worst Handyman, but that’s because I hate wire fencing with such a fiery passion. After those days last month fencing and battling with so many scraps of tangled fence to clean out the “wire shed”, it is officially my least favorite building material, handily surpassing black death/Acoustiseal. I did the bare minimum of draping and wrapping and patching so that it may look like a disaster, but it does the job. It’s only meant to protect them from birds of prey at this point, so that they can get a taste of being outside. I can open their hatch in the morning while I work outside, and I shut them in safe at night. I’m counting on no coyote or bear attacks in broad daylight. Hopefully by the time they tire of their porch, they will be big and tough enough to become more free ranging.
It took hours for one to make the step out, and it was because he was pushed. Cautious beasts. But they were all out by the end of the day, I think. I saw different groupings of them on the outside, and they seem to like sitting in the grass.
I also finally got fed up with not having windows, and on the way to make some I hung my door, the old front door of a store.
They’re in their awkward, ugly stage; plenty of feathers yet not quite enough. They look raggedy, a little half-plucked.
Two of them have hardly grown in two weeks, and the biggest two have tripled in size, now looking like full grown chickens, one with hilariously extravagant feathered feet. I still can’t tell which are the roosters, and there still doesn’t appear to be excessive aggression.
The black one that was the No. 3 gangster before I left is now one of the three smallest, having not changed at all in size. He(?) feels plump and vital though. They’re funny to hold, all pissed off but helpless at being held upside down. So undignified! Continue reading Raptor stage→
The two big ones are tall enough now to look over the edge of the box without craning their necks. They spend most of their time outside the box now anyways, and they are joined now by the next largest bird, the black one. This is the one I crushed, who was dragging a leg around for three days, but he has made an apparently full recovery and is growing at a great rate. So they are a little clique of three, the out-of-the-boxers, and they tour around together, always near each other, pecking at the wood on the walls and slowly inspecting the perimeter of the coop.
They flap back into the box to warm up under the lamp once in a while.
They can fly short distances now, which one proved when I cornered him to pick him up. They are sprouting feathers everywhere, that stick out at humorous angles and look glued on, but after a day or two seem to settle into their right place. Now the Jersey Giants look quite well feathered out, like small but real birds, with their funny feathered feet. Continue reading Growth spurt→
Looks like the chick I injured is going to make it. I’m very happy, and my guilt is diminished a little. He/she limps, but the limp is improving. And there’s been no more death, so I hope that I can keep all these alive now, protected from predators and illness and untoward events until they can take care of themselves.
They’re not out of the woods, though. I went in this morning and one was lying on its side in the “death’s door” posture. But he had some fight in him, so I held him to the food trough, since the only meds I’ve got are in the food, and they need to keep getting it in them. I just cupped him in place, and he ate. And ate and ate and ate, then he stood by himself, fell asleep standing, and was bouncing among the others by the time I had their box cleaned. Continue reading Picking up cute chicks→
Today was terrible. I found something that described the symptoms of coccidosis roughly as “birds become listless, lose interest in food, then expire”. So they were sick, and I thought they were ok because I hadn’t seen any blood in their shit, the symptom I knew to look for. The last two probably didn’t need to die. Hell, only one or two “should” have died; I’m sure that they arrived sick, and the medicated feed wasn’t enough, wasn’t in time. Not at a week old. Very frustrating to realize.
Then, as I was carefully cleaning out their pen (urgent and essential when coccidosis appears), I tipped over a board and crushed two of them. One of them was fine, one was hurt. My favourite one, too, the most beautiful. I felt so terrible. He/she’s seems to have an appetite and energy still, but the pathetic limping around breaks my heart. You can’t tell how badly it hurts, when it’s a bird, so I don’t know if he/she’s got a broken leg, but it’s so painful to cause harm to another creature, even accidentally. Now he runs and hides behind the water fount when I come in the coop, and I feel awful. I hope he makes it, but maybe it’s worse to make him live in pain. I don’t know. I hope it’s a bird sprain, and he can bounce back because they’re growing so strongly. Continue reading Chick disaster→
They’re so funny. You can see them growing in a matter of hours. Their personalities are emerging. I’m not inclined to name them until I know who gets to stay or until their names reveal themselves, but there’s a bossy one, a teensy one, a zippy one, and one of them looks just like an Amazonian spider from the top; I love the markings. One when I pick it up struggles, peep peep peep, but when you stroke his/her head he/she goes to sleep, almost involuntarily. Zzzz, then wakes up, “hey!”, struggles again. Funny.
So easy to zero in on and forget time, just watching them be chicks. They sleep like horses, standing up. They just stop in the middle of going somewhere, the eyes blink and slowly close, then the head gets heavy and folds down with the beak tucking between the feet or else coming to rest on the ground. The falling asleep side by side face down in the food trough is especially cute. Then they wake up and keep going, or else another bird bowls into them or into a group of sleepers. You can pick one up while it’s resting, wide awake and scrapping, then set it back down in the same place and it’ll sleep again without taking a step. When they really get into sleeping, the legs rock and fold until they come to “nest position” on the floor, but that’s more for night time. The big two don’t sleep on their feet, they fold their legs the moment they have the intention of napping, with the effect of plowing with their momentum. Flop! And they crash into the resting clutch of birds that gave them the idea and wake them up.
I was in there looking at the big chicks towering like ostriches over the little puffballs, and their wings are well feathered out. No sooner had I thought, I bet they’re strong enough to jump out of the box, than one flapped strenuously and leaped onto the edge of the board. He/she immediately lowered into “roost position”, rocked queasily a couple times, whoa, and after a few seconds, tipped gracelessly back into the box. As soon as he/she gained the edge of the box, the three strongest small chicks shot their necks up and hopped like kids, trying to do the same thing. So funny. Continue reading LOLchicks!→
They just bounce around, like superballs inside of a pompom. Boing boing boing, peck peck peck, bouncing over everything, just zooming around. The two towering birds that look like real birds, almost like doves, and totally different from the puffballs on legs, are the Jersey Giants, I’m pretty sure. Its so weird to see them all just one week old but these two birds four times the size of the smaller breeds. the little ones walk right under them, and between their legs.
Very difficult to take pictures of.
Poor little things endured a long drive to get here, and we lost three before getting them home. They were really cute, all the varied anxious cheeping in the box, falling silent as they all promptly went to sleep. Then they woke up on the curvy lake road, clearly protesting the seasick motion of the truck. Already they have distinct, lovely different vocalizations. And they took all of twenty seconds to behave completely at home in their new space, finding the food and water and napping. Continue reading OMG, chicks! They’re so cute!→