Category Archives: Family + Friends + Animals

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!

When all the snow melts and you’re the wrong colour

I feel conspicuous.

Low profile, low profile
I’ll just make a run for it

The weasel has on his snow white suit and is caught out in the melt. The house chicken was the first to spot him through the window.   Laser focused.  High alert!

He’s very prominent, dashing around, but is as perky and bouncy as ever. It’s hard to keep a weasel down. He was bounding between piles of sticks, under the house, into the woodshed.

Weasels are super cute, until they have the blood of your chickens dripping from their fangs. I haven’t had any chicken deaths due to weasel for four years, because all the chickens get secured in their coops at night. We are co-existing with this known weasel, and possibly another (or maybe the same one) by the greenhouse for almost a year now, and I am grateful for his rodent-reducing services.

Spring break for the bees

It’s just SO weird to put on a bee suit in January. However, it was a warm day, so my bees came out to poop, and I was able to feed them.

By warm I mean that in 24 hours the temp shot up from -10°C to the opposite, plus 10°C, wiping out all the snow, and exposing all the gross wet wood and dirt (now the mercury is rapidly falling again). It’s the February melt look; it can hardly look worse. Everything is hideous.But such warmth meant that the bees were very excited, and all three hives came airborne in big numbers! It’s good for bees to get warmed up a few times in the winter, enough for them to be able to fly, so they can leave their house and poop outside. Yes, bees poop, and they’re housebroken, so they hold it until they can get outside rather than foul their house. It’s not good for them to hold it too long. I was planning to seize the warm day to feed them, but seeing the bees pouring out, bearding on the fronts of the boxes and making a cloud around each box, I figured I had to suit up. They were mild, not testy at all, and seemed excited to shake their wings out, get their buzz on.
 Small hive first- this is my swarm hive of 2018 (my first! eep!)

They have 2″ of styrofoam around three sides, and tarpaper, to promote sun-warming on the face of their box. For the first time, this year I wrapped their hives such that I could still get the outer lids off and replace their jars of syrup in the eke/lounge. I’m so happy with this; I have already been in twice, and the big hives have emptied their jars each time. It’s nice to see if they’re surviving, and feeding them will increase those odds.The cafe (top section) is filled with straw to absorb condensation. It’s doing its job- it’s wet and mouldy around the edges. Hopefully I can replace it once this winter too, because, mould spores. The empty jar lifts out and the full one goes in.
There is a ball of bees in there!
Because of the knot of bees, complaining *Hey, where’d our jar go?!* I have to set the jar back in *verrrrrry* slowly and carefully, so they can get out of the way. I don’t want to crush anyone or trap a leg.
Now dissuading bees to vacate the danger zone to re-lid.
Also verrrry slowly…
Hoo! No bees squished.

Again, January!!! Bees filling the air like it’s August. Crawling all over me, pooping everywhere. Little yellow dots speckling everything – my suit, the roofs, the ground.
Some poops are bigger than others. That’s one pictured low center.
Lastly, the largest hive, wintering in a three super stack.
I worked from a ladder in the summer when this was a skyscraping bee tower.I’m so glad all hives seem well.

There’s a big PS to this.

I wrote this yesterday (originally posted Jan 26 on Steempeak) and had trouble with the uploads, cursing my browser as my bedtime passed and the rain started and the wind picked up and picked up some more, and up, and up…

The wind got a little scary, rattling the house (overnight it ripped two pieces of roofing off the woodshed), and I abandoned blogging and ran out, afraid that a hive would blow over. The two bigger hives are ratchet strapped to the ground, but still. A gust of wind broke an alder off right on top of me, and the big hive shook. I put a few more clicks on the ratchets, and then I noticed the bees.

There were dozens of living bees on the ground in front of each hive, and all around – there are little twig-like plants about 8″ high all over – there were bees in singles or pairs clinging to the top of dozens of these, like life rafts. They didn’t look very alive, motionless with water beaded on their fur, but they were. Also little groups of five or so with their heads together (like a star anise) were clumped together on the flat wood “footings”. They’d been caught out. As it cooled in the afternoon, they’d been stuck outside on the ground, and climbed up as high as they could, and were clinging on in the wind and pelting rain to the tips of the twigs and each other.

The little twigs didn’t break by hand so it was easiest to get scissors and cut them off, and then use the stick it was gripping to poke the frozen bee back into its door and they dragged themselves inside. They were slow to let go, and could hardly walk or hold onto my fingers, but one at a time, I moved dozens of bees back into safety by flashlight, out in my bathrobe in the pelting rain. A few found my legs, clinging to me for warmth. This counts as an exciting night for me, but I did not get stung.

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.

More at https://steempeak.com/@selka

I’m back!

I was sneaky; I was posting chicken pictures while I was away. But I’m back home and everyone is fine, including the 10 little unseasonal chicks. They’re bigger than they were.

Ursa has four.

Also, I’ve started producing new content at my new location: https://steempeak.com/@selka. You might recognize some of the initial stories:)

So far the platform is so easy to use that it’s like finally getting a drink when you’re thirsty. I’m so ready to say goodbye to WordPress. When I make the switch, the web link happyharvest.ca will just point over there, instead of here, so that little will be affected. I’ll have to confirm that email subscribers aren’t affected either.

For a bit I’ll post on both, until it’s time to switch. I’ll be keeping you posted (harhar).

I will keep this site alive always, so that all of the stuff stays here, but I’m going to stop paying for it, so ads will come back on, etc.

Chicken in a sink!