Tag Archives: chickens

All you need in a heat wave is a pine tree

Because of the crazy (now four) days of heat, I’ve been releasing all the birds, so that they can manage their own needs, and won’t ever possibly be trapped without water.  The Silkies move no more than 4 feet, piling up under the pine tree they’re under anyway.

Some of them are panting, and some hold their feet wide and wings out flat like airplanes for a draft under their wings, but they’ve been just fine.  There’s a stiff breeze, and under the pine tree, it’s quite cool.  All they need is for the drinks to keep coming.  I come around checking on them, worried, and they just look at me.  What?  We don’t need anything.  Unless you’ve got snacks?

I check on the broodies, but they’re never panting.  It’s quite temperate by the door of the GH when there’s some wind.  It’s me that is ready for this heat to be over.  But no, two more days of this.  An overnight low of room temperature.  Sheesh.It turns out that Apples and Sprout (Sprout has made a total recovery from the broken leg– not even the bump remains) prefer the other chickery, as do the first chicks.  Conveniently, Perchick etc are out of there in seconds in the morning.

These are the first chicks of the year, and their mother on the box(airplane-winged). (I always, always, need more name suggestions – so many important chickens remain unnamed.  Maybe I can auction naming rights, like newly discovered stars ).  I’m kidding.

There’s one rooster that gets stuck in Apples’ chickery, not ever dipping his head low enough to see the way out, or jumping over.  He’s a bit dim.I suppose we should expect this of Perchick.There are other pine trees too, several of them used as bird oases.  Perchick’s chicks disappear in the jungle of weeds.  That must be very cool, like us in an evergreen canopy.Her chicks are so bold and self-assured.  Adorable.

 

Bunch’a house sitters

The chickens like to stand around all afternoon on top of their houses.  All of the houses are fair game.And a bale sitter.  I love this hen.  The little silver adventurer.  She’s the best.  She needs a name. Cream Puff.

They are just, just about to get evicted from the greenhouse.  And those old dusty poopy houses will get a good rinsing in the next rain.  And then the birds can’t sit around all afternoon indoors.  They’ll have to play outside.  Right now they wander around outside for a few hours, and then, like they’re slacking off work, they wander back into the GH and flop around.  Off duty. Time to scratch, ladies, it’s spring!

Ever have one of those days?

Cream Puff is just giving up on life.

Really, it’s just a bright sunny day, so it got tropical in the greenhouse.It was the first time I put the screen door on.  The birds will be outside very soon.

Some of the birds were relaxing in the shade of the coops or behind hay bales. Others were making hay while the sun shines. The girl’s fort was mixed between shade and sun basking.Chickenland is a very relaxed place on a sunny afternoon.  Everyone is restful, chill, quiet, in a sort of dreamy zone.  Moving slow, and ready to sink down into a doze at any moment.

And then there’s Cream Puff, who either got so relaxed she just tipped over, or is tinkering with her rubber chicken impression.  I about died laughing.

Cowcheeks

Cheeks is eating hay.   Consuming it, like a cow.    I got some new hay bales and she’s up on one, picking it apart and eating the hay.  Like spaghetti. You got a problem with me eating hay?!  I didn’t think so.

Cheeks has turned out to be a bit bossy, and quite a loner.  She doesn’t have a little hen clique; not that I’m sure how important that is to chicken mental health. I was hoping that she would make friends with Puffcheeks, one of her kind and a distant relation.  But not so far.  Puffcheeks has been sticking to the Barred Rocks she knows.

It appears that Phillippe Petit came out on top, as he is still playing guardian to the new girls.  Particularly pompously, I might add.  He’s very important now.  It’s good to see him food clucking and surveying his domain, though.  I like him and want him to turn out well.

Perching hour

Perching hour is the peaceful time in the afternoon, when the birds are in siesta.  Giving those feathers a good going over, generally finding a high place to perch, on all available surfaces,or a nice handle to grip. Trying out the different perching options around the room. Finding their crew, or clique,  or dropping into sleep among friends. It’s a sweet time,  all the chickens napping, and you can see the groups of friends that have formed – across breeds and not always who you’d expect; the roosters wandering around making halfhearted passes at the hens and getting ignored.

Bad chicken pick up lines

Jack, the former Oreo, is not popular with the ladies.  I was hopeful he’d be the next boss rooster, but he’s not turning out well.  First he mounted the hens backwards (cue hen eye-rolling).  Once he figured  out his directions, the hens indulged him for a while.  I hoped the daily rampage around the greenhouse first thing in the morning was a hormonal phase he’d grow out of.

Well, that’s over.  Most of the hens have cut him off.  I think this is hilarious.  Since it’s all done with body language, it’s strongly reminiscent of the pick-up scene in a bar.

The Brahmas are having none of him.  They meet his aggression with a solid un-intimidated square off.    Think again, punk!!!

Think you’re hot stuff?  I got a neck ruff too.  I can take you.  Peck me again, I dare ya!

They’re a tough audience.  How you doin!? 

I knew you when you were an egg.  Keep it moving.

Then he usually tries some conciliatory dancing. Dancing before mating is a desirable behaviour of roosters.  It signals to the hen his intentions and gives them time to decide, and respond.  It’s not a very impressive performance, objectively.  It entails fanning one wing, sort of dragging it and doing a quick pattering sidestep around or toward the intended.

Hey baby, I just think you’re hot, ya know, we got off on the wrong foot there, can we start over? 

And boy do they respond:

Too little too late, buckaroo.  Take your sweet moves elsewhere, you’re getting the laser glare!

(These are actually different hens, which makes it even funnier).  Now cowed, he’s going for the meek approach, the sidestep.  Hey Sugar.  You know I used to be really something. I was even twice voted Cock of the Walk, eh, eh?

Do I look impressed?  This is my impressed face.

Hey, if you’re not busy later, I thought maybe you and me could….

Talk to the beak.

….ok, ok, I get the picture, I’ll just…go get some corn.

The Brahmas just stare him down, hold their ground, flare ruffs or peck back, if it comes to that.  He never wins a glare down.

With the smaller, springier and quicker layer hens, I don’t get to capture the action, but it’s no less funny.  They jump in the air at him, stretch their necks tall and flash neck ruffs like lizards, and the rage just shoots from their eyes.  How DARE you!

Sometimes he’ll use his weight and sneak attack a layer hen, jumping on her while she’s busy eating, and then (hell hath no fury), she’ll bounce up and peck him, and squawk! and then chase HIM around the room shrieking in a froth of indignation.  Hilarious!  Like He just grabbed my butt!  Did you see that!?  The nerve!  And don’t show your comb here again, creep!

They also get increasingly irritated, like women who start with a polite no thanks, and it quickly escalates to F off and die, a-hole!  when the guy can’t take a hint and keeps following them around, grabbing.  The rooster’s lurking around Maybe now she’ll be in the mood, I’ll surprise her on the other side of this hay bale… and the hen is all You again?  Not if you were the last rooster in the coop, jerk!

Unwanted mating rarely goes unretaliated.  Either the hen delivers furious payback, or the deputy (Silkie roo) will come in, flying dropkick style, to hit the offending rooster, and knock him off, and then he does the chasing.

The Colonel and the Deputy are still the wingmen for the entire layer hen flock, although the Colonel only mates his own.  The deputy mounts the red hens, which is a bit weird, considering the size differential.  The Brahmas recognize no male authority, and the other young hens are still deciding and/or developing their self-esteem.  Sometimes they refuse applicants, sometimes not.

At this time of year?

I have two broody hens.  Why.  Why now?  Anyway, a broody hen is about the stubbornest thing there is, so all I can do is give them eggs, see what they can do.  Maybe they change their minds when it gets colder.

The chickery is a duplex again, with the Oreo’s mom (white) and one of the Heathers,   each with a box, sharing the “yard” and snack bar. I covered the chickery with canvas, I was thinking to reduce light and distraction, and especially reduce the chance of birds falling in, because all the birds like to perch on the edge of the chickery.  They switch boxes multiple times a day.  They come out to eat, or poop, and then the other hen comes out, and the first one back gets on the first eggs she sees.  This used to provoke very loud outrage, but now they’ve both learned to just go find the other box, and so far they are pretty responsible.  Snow White’s a proven mama, she raised the Oreos (now gigantic and disrepectful).