It’s a dirt bath lineup. They’re lovin’ it. They get really satisfying results from their pint sized scratching practice in the fine mulch of the greenhouse. The dirt flies!She’s panting because she’s hot, so within a few minutes, they were back out on grass. The heat wave wasted no time arriving.
We got the rain overnight, and early, and then the sun came out again, and wow, it’s already hot, and muggy, and the bugs are terrible!! The mosquitoes are awful, lying in wait in big clouds, and the noseeums are eating me alive, right now. The night isn’t cool enough to tone them down; they’ll be lurking at the door at 6am. I think it’s the end of the cool, bugless mornings, at least for a bit.
I just might resort to wearing my beekeeping suit as leisure/work wear. Check back shortly. I always think it’s so cool and comfortable, when I’m in it. I’ll need another one. One for the bees, one for work coveralls. Oh no, I’m not working with the bees today; I just live in this.
Cream Puff was a misnomer. Well, the Puff part was accurate, she spends most of her time puffed up in a rage these days, with her tail flared out. But the cream is all gone. She used to be jumpy, anxious, shy, the first to run shrieking out of the coop when you lift the lid. Now, she moves like a tank, grumbling. Ok, I’ll move, but I think you should move first. She was the one initially completely freaked out by her own broodiness.
Now there are two parties that get admission to the greenhouse in the evening: the one guinea (I just love him. I need to get him some guinea girlfriends), and Cream Puff etc. I open the door and she growls all the way in the door, all the etc hopping in behind her, and then she goes straight to her tomato corner for bed.
In the morning I have to shoo them out.
I can’t get too attached. I think I’m going to let this brood go to a new home, and Cream Puff will go with them until they don’t need her any more. I have more chicks on the way – two little Silkie broodies in the covered wagons, both being good as gold on their eggs.
Cream Puff the Fierce isn’t the friendliest ambassador, but maybe better than her sister, Perchick the Heat-seeking Beak.
Perchick is very watchful. She mostly trusts me around her chicks, though. She has chicks poking out. Cream Puff does not trust me, and wow, a full size hen peck is more meaningful than a Silkie peck. No chicks poking out here.The one “old chick” looks much like a tiny, brown bald eagle. Like a yellow chick wearing a brown cape. And this brood, well, they’re not grown up enough to be above a good wingpit warming.
18 chicks: I’m going to need a lot of names. Now open for suggestions.
It was one of those days, where I get up for the hens, but am not ready to commit to being awake, so I bargain with myself, Well, I’ll just wear my sweat pants to do the chickens. It’s like, bringing the comfort of bed with you.
Then the next thing, I stop for “lunch”, and turns out it’s 5pm, and I’m still wearing my sweat pants. And of course I’m full of ticks, because I haven’t been dressed appropriately. All day.Those are good days, though.
I see this is how I come to be found wearing pajamas and rubber boots so often too – the early morning “I’m not really getting up this early, I’m just going to do the chickens and then I’ll make tea” rationalization. What really happens is HW catches me in the middle of the day and I get a “wrath of god” bossy lecture: “Little Nibbler, operating power tools in your pajamas is NOT appropriate! Go get some work pants on, and some real shoes!” And I can’t really argue with him, at all. “But I’m just-I only have four more cuts! -Ok fine“.
First thing- chicks on grass! First day outside for the cheeps. Mom is beside herself to be on grass. She’s not waiting for the box to be opened. She was out of her mind excited, cropping grass as fast as she could between clucks. I haven’t had a salad in weeks! The little brown one thinks it’s cold on the feet. She jumped back in.They’ve got her surrounded. I don’t know if chicks are as interesting to them as birth is to people, or just that they haven’t seen her for awhile. They all have to stare.
I cleaned a bunch of junk out of the greenhouse and put in the irrigation, working “with” my sidekick pet chicken Apples. I’m working.
She still “lives in the house“, but I take her with me outside pretty frequently. She rides along on my wrist like a falcon, her wings slightly out like she might have to throw them open for balance. But she doesn’t seem ready to jump off when we walk through chicken land.
She’s a different little bird. Just watches the others, while they watch her. What the…?Is that chicken riding the human? She moves around the greenhouse pretty comfortably, getting some food variety and real dust baths.
All assembled, and as an added bonus, it actually works. The lines charged, and it seems to drip evenly. I wasn’t sure if the passive pressure from the stock tank that catches the water off the GH would be enough. An experiment.
It’s not. Half the tank emptied, but it took all day to happen. The tank fills much faster than that in a good rain, so the drip will never keep up. I was expecting as much. I need a little submersible pump to push water. That’s ok; I needed one anyway to move water from where I catch it off our roof to the greenhouse where it needs to end up, the part I’ve been doing manually for years. So done with that. First I need to measure the head, and I haven’t managed that yet.
Then near the end of a full day I go to just do a couple repairs on the old coops that keep going and going, and discover … four broody hens! Now I have to make broody accommodations in a hurry! One express broody kennel. I can make them in less than an hour now.
One hen will go to a friend, one goes in this broody kennel, and the other two – are full size!!
This is new! I’ve never had a layer hen go broody before. That’s what the Silkies do. This is a new world! I don’t know why I didn’t expect it – Chanticleers are heritage birds; it’s reasonable. Perchick and Cream Puff, full sisters, broody the same day, different coops. Perchick is serene, but Cream Puff is all fluffed out, and looks both surprised and irritable, which seems about right.
What to do with them? A broody kennel is not big enough for them.
I evicted the rooster that was baching it, staying alone in the “temporarily” converted chickery-to-coop, and moved Cream Puff in. I elevated him to the big coop, making his wildest dreams come true. He’s been trying to figure out how to get in there for days, and every night after making a hundred circles around the ramp gives up and goes to bed in the wall tent.
I put Cream Puff in the “temporary” coop at dusk. It’s the perfect size. I tried to carefully gather her and move her, with her eggs. Yeah right. Big flapping drama, chase scenes. I should have waited another hour. She’s such a nervous nelly, always jumpy, of course it would go badly. I should have waited until pitch dark.
I locked her in with her eggs and hoped. I could watch her through the gap in the canvas, pacing around, trying to escape. I’m in a box! I must get out! Must. Get out. Oh, eggs!….eggs….I’m in a box! Must get out!
It’s like a switch flipping in her brain. From agenda, to egg trance. Must get out! Oh, there’s some eggs….eggggggs…..Must get out! Egggggs….. Luckily, she settled on the eggs finally. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. I hope all the action didn’t break her up.
The Silkies moved effortlessly, of course.
Perchick must wait until tomorrow for me to build her an eggery. She’s hoarding all the eggs in B coop.
Philippe Petit is getting his sisters in on the act.
Night before last I saw the bird forms on the rail in the dark, crushed up to the wall of the GH at the opposite end of the branch from the other guineas, and I thought two of the guineas were friends off with the other guineas, but in the light of morning, it turned out Philippe had spent the night roosting, with Perchick.
Not a surprise. Perchick has been perching as high as she can get since she was a tiny chick. These Heritage chickens remember that they’re birds.
But last night, it was Cream Puff! And today, she was watching me approach through the plastic, so I went to the far door to get pictures before she flew down.Then she got on his branch and started walking along. Throwing her wings out for balance periodically like we would our arms. whoa-Whoa! Ok… She’s on her way back now. She’s starting to mess with PP’s balance. Hey. You’re messing up my relax, here.
Whoa, this guy has grown up! I didn’t recognize him for a beat. When I left he was a teenager.These two think well of themselves. No self-esteem issues here.
The Brahmas persist in using the roof of the chickery as a hangout spot, and they’ve had some friends join them. (Snow White and the dwarves were reinstalled in protective confinement in my absence- they sleep in the covered wagon now inside the chickery)Another rooster doing his best guinea impression. Very few chickens are interested in perching so high (6′).The inseparables, Yin and Yang, who seems like only yesterday got their pants, but now look like complete chickens, only miniature. They’re almost always right side by side. And they like to sit up on a hay bale.
Everyone is growing up in the greenhouse. The Chanticleer (and young Silkie) roosters are coming into their oats, so they’re always showing each other their neck ruffs, sorting out their hierarchy.
The Colonel is in retirement, especially since the rooster formerly known as an Oreo has become huge and dominant. He may not be invited to stay. I was hoping being aggressive was a stage he would grow through, as he seemed to be cooling enough a bit, but not enough. We can’t keep any jerks around, if they endanger the health of the flock at large.
The guinea keet (keet in a bowl) is ungrateful and aloof and has forgotten all about being saved, and is also about to transition from brown stripes to black polkadots, which is always a sort of magical transformation. Why are they brown from hatching to mid-size? Camouflage? Does the arrival of their black feathers mean they are adult in the ways that matter while still not fully developed?
When the sun shines, even if it’s minus tens outside, it’s very comfortable in the GH, and the birds lounge around sunning, like it’s summer. They like to lean on the hay bales, so there are lots of hay bale nooks for them.
Guinea update: they did all survive the night, and again skipped dinner (thus not giving me the opportunity to attempt to trap them again) and went to roost where they did night before last, which they also survived. So I’m just moving the GH as fast as I can to put them in it.
It will still take awhile. I’m interested to see whether it will take longer to take it down and then put it up again than it did for me to put it up in the first place. If it were a house, then it’s always faster to just build a new one. I’m thinking the GH could be faster to move than it was to build new, but we shall see. I’m also weaker and less healthy than I was the first time.
I was in there half the day ripping it out, which meant a party of epic magnitude for the young chickens that live in there, the kegger that will not be forgot.
They were always underfoot, interested in the volume of green mass I was dropping to the ground, and the climbing and rummaging and scratching was such as had never been seen before. So good the room was mostly silent, with all the chicks individually occupied throughout. They know every inch of the GH, it is their whole world, so change must be very interesting to them.
Come dusk, I was still working, so I got to see the goings in. I’ve been stuffing the chicks in the coop every night, and although there’s plenty of room, they squabble all night. What the?
So I tried something new. I tacked up cardboard, dividing the coop into apartment A and B, and I put a hen in each one. One (mud head) is legitimately broody, I can’t tell if the other one is for real, but she’s acting as if.
As it got dark, the Chanticleer chicks went to bed first, and they all came along one at a time, long-necking and then hopping up in with Mom.
Or two at a time.
This one chose wrong. And tentatively settled in.
And then, RRTROWWR! She came bursting out, having been forcibly ejected by the resident hen. So she‘s been the nighttime rabblerouser; she doesn’t like the chicks of another colour.
The Chanticleers eventually all loaded in, to the right apartment.It’s very cozy in there. I don’t know how they do it.
That left the Silkies out, who much later started to think about bed, and went trouping around, looking like they might consider the possibility that they might sleep somewhere other than a pile in the corner.
I spent some time trying to marshal them towards the coop, and grabbed a couple and tossed them into Apt A, but they kept missing it, and going around it, then going under it, and a few hopped in on their own, yay! Definite progress.
But I could’ve almost sworn I saw a white one dart into Apt B, which is already suffering overcrowding. I groped around but couldn’t find her, until I took a picture.Aha! Lower right, the couchsurfer.
I have some confidence that they will all go to bed tomorrow, or definitely the next night. Unless the hens decide to switch apartments.
Maybe it has something to do with these little scamps.
It’s also a mystery why they enjoy pepper leaves so much. They must be sweet. The hot pepper plants don’t get defoliated (the eggplant leaves are ragged too). Doesn’t bother me. They leave the peppers alone, and the plants will be out soon anyway.
There are 12 chicks in the GH, with two Silkie moms. They have they’re hands (beaks?) full.
They’re at this point where the Silkie chicks (coming into fluffy tails), are the same size as the Chanticleer babies, who are eventually going to be huge.