Tag Archives: chickens

Chicken sitting, and an accidental week off.

I had no intentions of taking a week+ off blogging, but I had a real week from hell.  A book deadline, two books released, other time-sensitive obligations, and a side serving of serious stress which led to far too many nights working past midnight, so I’m just coming up for air now and seeing what else really needs to be done.

The bees got reduced on time, they’re happy.  The chickens, though, are under siege.  A predator grabbed a chick.  A chick!!!  How dare they!?  Right out of the inner chicken zone.  “Luckily” it was one of Velvet’s, so they both have two left – each still has a sibling.  Only chicks are so sad.   All the birds were so upset by this nearly all of them decided to sleep somewhere else, which is a story for another day.

So I changed my habits.  I have to do a substantial amount of work daily on my computer, and this cat/fox/mink isn’t bold enough to attack while I’m outside with them, so now I bring my internet with me and work outside in the afternoon:

sitting on chicken coop with laptop
My new office.

It’s cold, the wind blows my papers around, my fingers freeze, but it works.  No casualties since I started playing sentinel.  The smallest coop is a perfect size on the perimeter of Chickenland.

It is a wonder Nosey hasn’t hopped up there with me yet.   What’s really nice is being furniture in the midst of the chicken society, and watching them operate once they forget about me.  Serene, relaxed scratching, grooming, resting, and a constant murmur of communication.  It’s very quiet.  They have a nice casual circuit of exploration.  Looking for new bugs, I suppose.  Even the Brahmas drift by together.

Usually I’m the disturbance they’re responding to, squawking, running to, running away, announcing, but it’s a very slow pace of life in chicken world when I’m not doing anything noteworthy.

Except for the chicks.  They still zoom around.

chicken drill bit

The Silkies have picked a spot to dig a hole, and are digging the hole with their bodies, removing the dirt in their feathers and shaking it out elsewhere.  Slow and steady.

They take turns, and now they have the hole twice as deep as this, so that they are fully below ground level. Odd little birds.Sidewinder unwinding in the pool. I haven’t bought them a bag of pro-mix outside of the greenhouse before because in the greenhouse, they are doing the work of distributing it for me to amend the soil I will grow in, but hey.  They need a bath in the summer too, what’s one bag of mix?   They enjoy it so much. 

Pincushion chickens

Hurricane’s over.  The three are back to trying to sleep in the tree.  SO stubborn.

It’s cooling off at nights, so it’s good time for the hens to grow their feathers back.  It’s such a relief when they start to refeather, because they go naked for what seems like terribly long, and it looks so uncomfortable I worry, and then one day, they come out in little spikes all over that unroll into feathers.

There was a Silkie, I forget her name- she was a ragged half naked mess from the time she got here.  She never had her feathers sorted out.   Over a year.   She raised two sets of babies and I thought that’s just who she was, that she was going to look like a worn-out dish rag forever.  Then one day, poof, feathers inbound!  And now I can’t pick her out of the lineup.  She looks completely normal.

There’s a Brahma re-feathering, Velvet is no longer naked, phew!, and this is Sidewinder.  She hasn’t been the cringy slinker that she was in the winter- her behaviour has been more confident.  Maybe it was the friendship.  She’s a Grandma now – the Sidekick grew up to be Ghost.  She’s so old and has been defeathered since last summer!  I always find reasons to imagine they won’t ever grow back, then they look renewed out of nowhere.Perchick remains looking painfully cold and naked.  It’s almost sweater weather if she doesn’t pincushion out soon.

The evening perch

It’s time for a good evening perch.Like mama, like chick.  They are getting quite good at the starter branch, and can walk up and down along it, and keep their balance when their chick siblings shake it by jumping on and off.This little chick, all independent, doesn’t need a warming – my money is that he’s a rooster.  She’s looking for aerial threats.    Oh!  Perching again. One of the “old” chicks.  Her cheeks are showing.  This is the little Silkie cuckoo that got raised with the big birds, and now she’s not having being put in with the Silkies.  Her sister wants to know if she’s in this picture too. There they are.Oh, hello! Little orange feet:)

Floods

Today was a torrential downpour in the morning.  When it rains I run around like a mad person trying to catch or use it all.  I filled several barrels today.  I’m expecting a long stretch of rainlessness this summer, and that every rain we get may be the last for a long time, although it keeps coming and coming.

All the birds rushed under cover when

it came thundering down, except the little Silkie mama with three chicks.  She never goes under any more cover than the pine tree, and I know when it rains I have to go find her.

She has two cheeklings and a cuckoo chick of her own.  I set her on two of Cheeks’ eggs, once only one hatched from the first batch (they need little friends).  She added an egg of her own, and they all hatched.  So there’s one little black-legged Silkie chick, half the size of her siblings, always lagging behind, seeming tired, but getting along.

I find her out in the downpour just after it starts and she’s already soaked.  I pick her up, trying to scoop all the chicks at once but I fail to catch the littlest.  I plop the soggy captives inside the greenhouse and then I get a merry chase from the tiny Silkie chick, who alternately flees cheeping, and hides in the weeds.  I pop him in too.

When I come back to the greenhouse to shift water (from outside stock tank to inside), she’s sitting right where I left her, inside the door, in a drip, in a fast forming puddle.  But she’s keeping those chicks warm!  I had to move her again (this time I picked them all up at once, little legs dangling out), relocating her to high ground and a pile of straw.  She seemed appreciative, but she stayed there a LONG time.

It was thunderous in the GH.

The rain was coming down so hard and fast that it was filling the tank faster than I could bucket it out. 

The moment it subsided though, the hens were out and about.

It’s a wet feet day, so they’re up on the sawhorses under the deck.

Rain risk vs worm reward

The pig house (pig-less this year) is repurposed as a chicken rain shelter, and they LOVE it.  When it’s pelting down, almost the whole flock crowds in there, and the guineas come running in too.

The hens rock the rain pretty hard, but when it gets too heavy they jog for shelter.  Rain makes the worms come up, but they don’t like to get too wet either.  It’s a chicken risk/reward analysis.

Adding the laundry rack was one of my finer brain waves.  It increases capacity and fits snugly in the peak. Won’t tip over.  They use the shelter on sunny days as well.  Some of them just get on a rung after breakfast and spend half the day.   They like to have a nice safe perch for bird-watching.

That laundry rack has seen a lot of functions.  I remember buying it around 15 years ago.  It spent many years merely drying clothes.  Then it was a keet ladder, and now luxury perching, and I imagine it will last quite a while longer.

Or you can have a midday one legged, head-under wing nap under a coop. It’s a rain day!