Tag Archives: behaviour

Friends

It’s so interesting and touching to see chickens form alliances and bonds.   Sometimes it makes sense when birds hang out together (birds of a feather), sometimes I forced the issue, but most of the time it’s organic, and often odd.I would never have called this one.  Sidewinder and Apples’ chick.This is so unlikely.  Sidewinder is a VERY low chicken.  I can say with certainty that she’s the lowest.  She’s kind of a mess, with a butchered beak, therefore wicked underbite-not good for self-defense or settling arguments, bad feet, and she doesn’t do herself any favours because she’s always cringing subserviently  around, so badly that she approaches things sideways (hence, Sidewinder).  She’s kind of a sad subject, but she’s awfully hardy, outliving some of her peers.  I’ve always liked her because she’s sweet, and tried to help her, but there’s not much one can do for a case of self-esteem that dire.  She’s in a jacket because to go with her other problems, she just molted.   But now, she’s got a friend, or a pet, or a Little Sister.  I don’t know what’s at the root of their relationship, but they are an inseparable pair.  That little chick is an independent minded one.  It left its Silkie momma behind early, and not only did it move out of Silkieland, choosing not to sleep in their coop anymore, but it moved into a big coop on its own (well, maybe Stepmom helped with that).  I’ve got birds nearly grown that won’t go in a coop on their own at night (if their mommas don’t teach them young, it’s a real struggle).

Sidewinder’s a different bird now too.  I’ve never seen her head up so high, and she also moved coops.  She’s got someone to look after now.  Purpose!  Adorable!!

Sun day

The sun came out and dried up all the rain.  Not all – there was a lot of rain.  And more wind.  This morning, the pig house was upside down.  No pigs.  That’s never happened before (the pig house flipped, certainly not absent pigs).  I can picture them bolting out of there as their house lifted off of them.

Pigs are easygoing, pleasant, optimistic creatures though, so they had no worries about settling back in after breakfast.I had a good time in the greenhouse, cleaning up, untying strings.  It seems like such a short time ago we were tying up the strings for all the vining plants to climb- cukes, melons, tomatoes.  It’s nice to spend time with my birds when they’re at ease, not just in the food frenzy I get to see twice daily. They spend their down time lounging, and investigating, and investigating new places to lounge. They flop down anywhere.  Chickens cashed out everywhere.The guineas really like it under that coop.

What chickens really enjoy is industry – somebody else’s.  I was tearing down the cucumber vines in this corner.  Moved a few things, paused to sort out my ipod, turned around, and…the whole crowd is in there “going over” my work. Hmm, we’ll just have a look, shall we?

Meet Nosey

Nosey is a different little chicken.She runs up to me instead of getting out of my way, routinely stands on my boots and pulls my laces, and is generally underfoot.  If I’m bent over the edge of the Silkie yard, or a coop, she’s standing at my elbow.  I was cleaning Bravo coop and she was perched right next to my head, not giving me room to swing hay in and out, so I was like, ok, fine, you want to be in the middle of everything?, and I put her on my shoulder.  She was quite happy with that and it made it easier for me to work, until she pecked me in the corner of the eye!

Then things went out of focus.  It was a solid peck (she did not pull her pecks), but no permanent damage to my eye.  Except later I walked the same eye into the spout of a watering can, so maybe my peripheral vision was temporarily compromised.

This also Nosey.I want that tomato.  I wants it! Ok, it’s sort of like a swing. I just have to leean out…Last moment before an undignified flapping plummet to the floor.  I love that the other chickens find this Tarzan act in no way noteworthy.

Second frost

Had a proper frost; ice crust on the water buckets.  This is the right time for frost though, not September 24th! Overnight, one of the Five has become the spitting image of Philippe Petit.  A petit Philippe.I don’t want to believe he’s 100% a rooster yet, but he’s looking awfully leggy.  So many roosters!The young roosters are refining their crows now.  They don’t have to go hide in order to practice.  They’re sounding pretty good.  Silkieland and the Colonel on patrol.  Who’s that big chicken in there?  Ketchup.  She comes and goes, but she definitely thinks she’s a Silkie.  All the other Silkie-raised chickens have found their social place among their own kind, but not Ketchup.  She’s so gentle though, she fits right in.She likes the swing.

Cleopatra has decided she lays her daily egg in the Silkie coop.  She has to fly in and out, which seems like a lot of work, but apparently that’s the spot.  Chickens are funny.

cool days, cool Moms

It’s chilly in the mornings.  The chicks are around with their shoulders shrugged up.  The leghorn twins went back in the box.  The cardboard is warmer on the tiny naked feet.

You know what’s really warm on the feet?  Mom. Until she starts walking away – whoa!

Ursa Minor surprised me with chicks this morning.  She had that I’ve got chicks, ya know face.  And then there was all the peeping.Oh!  there’s a little leg, and it’s attached to some black feathers!  Yay, another black one.  Oh, there’s a a whole little butt, already dry and fluffy.

Ursa’s so chill.  She’s all confident.  This is my second brood, you know.  I’m kind of a pro at this. (She is).And there’s a whole chick popped out.  I didn’t disturb them much in the cold morning, but in the afternoon she was trying to start their education in the dark cave of the broodery, so – into the chickery with them.  There are two black ones, and two “spider” marked – that’s how Brown Silkies look when they hatch.  But… I can’t remember if she was on Silkie eggs or full size?  Those chicks look pretty big.  So they might be crosses.  Who knows!  It’s all exciting.

Cream Puff slid into the greenhouse with Galahad last night, and I was chasing her around with a rake, which G was surprisingly unconcerned about.    She knew she wasn’t supposed to be in there, and Galahad knew  that he was.  It didn’t take her long to figure out that she should stick right next to him to not fear the rake, which she did, like glue.  Smart move.  I chased them both out, and she ran squawking back to her boyfriend, while Galahad made a lap of the hen tent and glided back in before she’d hardly turned the corner.   Very smooth.  The keets mostly ignored all of this.

Tonight I comprehended another maneuver of his.  I’ve seen it before and thought he was just being fussy: I come to open the door to admit the keet family to the GH (Galahad periscoping, doesn’t miss anything).  I step back.  G runs up, jumps onto the doorstep looking into the GH.  Keets gather.  I lean or step forward, ready to shut the door behind them as soon as they all…. but no!  He doesn’t  jump in.  Nope. He pops back out, makes a wide meandering lap, though rather fast and urgently, like he’s frustrated, pauses somewhere (today it was under the hen tent), then rushes out and deliberately charges into the GH.  I have been frustrated with this extra phase of bedtime procedures.  Just go to bed!  It’s the same greenhouse it was last night, just go in!

That’s not it though.

I figured it out tonight.  He’s collecting all the keets!  They don’t flow everywhere together like a school of fish, like they used to, these days as they mature and get more independent.  Some are lingering at the grub box, the feed dishes, the water fount.  First he confirms the door is open, and then he does his lap to get their attention.  They snap to and fall in.  Then he pauses for muster – all present?  Then they storm the castle.

He’s the best guinea mom I’ve ever had.  He does everything almost completely silently.  Amazing.  And I hardly see them all day, but they know when mealtime and bedtime is.

Oh, and I shifted the coop drama dynamic in Silkieland.  For two nights, I picked up the two little bitches that want to play bouncer at the top of the ramp, and I held them.  All the other birds went gratefully and peacefully to bed, while I just stood there, holding two hens.  I even walked around and did stuff with one hand, holding them.  They were pretty ok with it (it’s warm; birds usually like being held, they just don’t like the transition- being grabbed).  Then, dead last, I dropped them into the doorway, and shut the gate.  Only problem was the rooster, who was very reluctant to get aboard the ark because he knew these two weren’t in yet.  His job, and therefore identity, is to be last in, first out.  Tonight I had visitors distract me from interfering, and yet, something had shifted over there!  It was quiet and quick, and there were no sentries atop the ramp!  We’ll see if the lesson sticks.  You be good or I’ll hold you!

 

 

Foxy and Feisty

Feisty’s a very pretty chicken.  We had a good photo shoot before dusk:If you catch them at the right angle, which isn’t hard to do,  Silkie hens look like they have no eyes at all.

Foxy is irritable.  Her chicks are at that stage where they ignore her until they need her, don’t pay attention, and want to stay up too late. I’ve still no idea how many days/weeks it takes for them to hit these chicken stages of development, like pants, reluctance to go to bed, independence, rooster hero worship, exploration/getting in trouble, and modeling on older chicks, but I recognize the stages in every set of chicks.  They all go through them.

So Foxy is at the grumpy harassed mother stage.  The hens have corresponding stages of development – different degrees of patience and concern and energy.  It evolves from Take me! I will die before you get them! to Enh, I don’t even know them.  Mmm, no, don’t think I’ve ever seen them before.  And it’s mutual.  Although chickens can remain bonded with their “friends” or siblings for life, the attachment to their mother seems to completely vanish in time, which is interesting.

I’ve left one chickery out and propped open as Foxy is conservative and likes to return to the chickery as home base.  She’s in it, squalling for her chicks to come the F to bed.  They’re ignoring her, scrambling in the brush pile.   We’re wild adventure chicks!  They keep up a steady stream of consciousness peeping.  The world is just so interesting.

Eventually she went marching out after them.  If you kids don’t come to bed RIGHT NOW…

Back to Feisty:

I’m asleep… no I’m not!  I’m asleeeep… (that looks so cozy)I’m awake!

It was just a pre-bedtime nap.  She shook them all out and went for a last foraging walk before conveniently ending up in a box tonight.  Found a food dish!

 

The before bedtime lounge

Before it’s bedtime, 7-8pm ish, it’s the hour for serious lounging.  The various chicken cliques are scattered around, and more likely to be settled down on the ground than perching above ground.  They just sink down in the grass/weeds (or wherever they are) and have a little lull, maybe even a proper nap.

Two of Ursa’s new chicks came supplied with the most amazing permanent eyeliner.  It’s too bad I used up the name Cleopatra already (although it was entirely appropriate), because these two have totally Egyptian eyes.Mom’s already gone to bed.


I chickened out some pine trees.  I’d given up on getting anything intentional done, so I just did whatever, and now the chickens are getting some new tree forts.  Tomorrow’s going to be good.

The various sized chicks use the main pine tree so much, as club house central.  Now they can branch out.

The process is easy – scythe underneath, prune out all the little inner branches, and throw in some hay. They like visibility, and easy access. I did three trees.  The Family came lurking around, watching what I was doing.BeforeAfter

I’m going to let them distribute the mulch themselves.