I started letting the chickens out into the wide world when I got back, because they have to learn sometime. I’d open the main door and just leave it open and wait. For hours they only poked their heads out, until one of the roosters got jostled and fell out, with much squawking. Over the first few days, they slowly ventured a few feet away from the coop.
That was fraught with anxiety for me. At first I only did it while I was around, all scared of all the threats they would encounter, with no street smarts at all! But they seem to be ok. I’ve seen them practically interacting with the ravens, whom they are about the same size as now, the bear has rolled through, as have the neighbor’s dogs, and there have been no losses.
At first, every morning when I opened their hatch the roosters would tumble out and stand there wide legged, blinking, and shake their necks out.
Now when I let them out in the morning they pop out the hatch like corks, Continue reading Learning to range
Rearranged the henhouse interior and made some big high perches for them. They all (except for the smallest one, who’s gonna get called Teensy, and remains hilariously all legs, like a plover) look like real chickens now, plush with feathers and their final colours. They’ve been roosting together like hens on the edge of the boards and more surprisingly, flopped out on the grass, so perhaps they’ll move up a level now.
I wish they liked me more; they flee enthusiastically every time I rattle the door, but then, I tell myself they’re extra twitchy because of the bear. Twice, a bear has gone in the coop (opened the door) and stolen a bag of food. No chicks killed. Twice. Twice is a bit embarrassing, and the second theft was in the middle of the afternoon. I was very surprised at that.
Needless to say, reinforcements to the door did not aesthetically improve the chicken coop. Continue reading Jungle gym for chickens
New procedure for the chicken coop: I’ve stopped mucking it out, and I’ve added a thick layer of fresh grass clippings. Now I’m going to just add grass and leaves and whatever and let the henhouse floor build up.
The birds seem to love it. It’s soft and much cleaner and attractive; they look bright and colourful springing around on their new emerald green floor, and they like lying down on it too. It gives them more to scratch around in. They pick out single blades of grass and eat them whole like a strand of spaghetti.
They’re not cute anymore.
They’re in their awkward, ugly stage; plenty of feathers yet not quite enough. They look raggedy, a little half-plucked.
Two of them have hardly grown in two weeks, and the biggest two have tripled in size, now looking like full grown chickens, one with hilariously extravagant feathered feet. I still can’t tell which are the roosters, and there still doesn’t appear to be excessive aggression.
The black one that was the No. 3 gangster before I left is now one of the three smallest, having not changed at all in size. He(?) feels plump and vital though. They’re funny to hold, all pissed off but helpless at being held upside down. So undignified! Continue reading Raptor stage
The two big ones are tall enough now to look over the edge of the box without craning their necks. They spend most of their time outside the box now anyways, and they are joined now by the next largest bird, the black one. This is the one I crushed, who was dragging a leg around for three days, but he has made an apparently full recovery and is growing at a great rate. So they are a little clique of three, the out-of-the-boxers, and they tour around together, always near each other, pecking at the wood on the walls and slowly inspecting the perimeter of the coop.
They flap back into the box to warm up under the lamp once in a while.
They can fly short distances now, which one proved when I cornered him to pick him up. They are sprouting feathers everywhere, that stick out at humorous angles and look glued on, but after a day or two seem to settle into their right place. Now the Jersey Giants look quite well feathered out, like small but real birds, with their funny feathered feet. Continue reading Growth spurt
Looks like the chick I injured is going to make it. I’m very happy, and my guilt is diminished a little. He/she limps, but the limp is improving. And there’s been no more death, so I hope that I can keep all these alive now, protected from predators and illness and untoward events until they can take care of themselves.
They’re not out of the woods, though. I went in this morning and one was lying on its side in the “death’s door” posture. But he had some fight in him, so I held him to the food trough, since the only meds I’ve got are in the food, and they need to keep getting it in them. I just cupped him in place, and he ate. And ate and ate and ate, then he stood by himself, fell asleep standing, and was bouncing among the others by the time I had their box cleaned. Continue reading Picking up cute chicks
Today was terrible. I found something that described the symptoms of coccidosis roughly as “birds become listless, lose interest in food, then expire”. So they were sick, and I thought they were ok because I hadn’t seen any blood in their shit, the symptom I knew to look for. The last two probably didn’t need to die. Hell, only one or two “should” have died; I’m sure that they arrived sick, and the medicated feed wasn’t enough, wasn’t in time. Not at a week old. Very frustrating to realize.
Then, as I was carefully cleaning out their pen (urgent and essential when coccidosis appears), I tipped over a board and crushed two of them. One of them was fine, one was hurt. My favourite one, too, the most beautiful. I felt so terrible. He/she’s seems to have an appetite and energy still, but the pathetic limping around breaks my heart. You can’t tell how badly it hurts, when it’s a bird, so I don’t know if he/she’s got a broken leg, but it’s so painful to cause harm to another creature, even accidentally. Now he runs and hides behind the water fount when I come in the coop, and I feel awful. I hope he makes it, but maybe it’s worse to make him live in pain. I don’t know. I hope it’s a bird sprain, and he can bounce back because they’re growing so strongly. Continue reading Chick disaster
They’re so funny. You can see them growing in a matter of hours. Their personalities are emerging. I’m not inclined to name them until I know who gets to stay or until their names reveal themselves, but there’s a bossy one, a teensy one, a zippy one, and one of them looks just like an Amazonian spider from the top; I love the markings. One when I pick it up struggles, peep peep peep, but when you stroke his/her head he/she goes to sleep, almost involuntarily. Zzzz, then wakes up, “hey!”, struggles again. Funny.
So easy to zero in on and forget time, just watching them be chicks. They sleep like horses, standing up. They just stop in the middle of going somewhere, the eyes blink and slowly close, then the head gets heavy and folds down with the beak tucking between the feet or else coming to rest on the ground. The falling asleep side by side face down in the food trough is especially cute. Then they wake up and keep going, or else another bird bowls into them or into a group of sleepers. You can pick one up while it’s resting, wide awake and scrapping, then set it back down in the same place and it’ll sleep again without taking a step. When they really get into sleeping, the legs rock and fold until they come to “nest position” on the floor, but that’s more for night time. The big two don’t sleep on their feet, they fold their legs the moment they have the intention of napping, with the effect of plowing with their momentum. Flop! And they crash into the resting clutch of birds that gave them the idea and wake them up.
I was in there looking at the big chicks towering like ostriches over the little puffballs, and their wings are well feathered out. No sooner had I thought, I bet they’re strong enough to jump out of the box, than one flapped strenuously and leaped onto the edge of the board. He/she immediately lowered into “roost position”, rocked queasily a couple times, whoa, and after a few seconds, tipped gracelessly back into the box. As soon as he/she gained the edge of the box, the three strongest small chicks shot their necks up and hopped like kids, trying to do the same thing. So funny.
Continue reading LOLchicks!
They just bounce around, like superballs inside of a pompom. Boing boing boing, peck peck peck, bouncing over everything, just zooming around. The two towering birds that look like real birds, almost like doves, and totally different from the puffballs on legs, are the Jersey Giants, I’m pretty sure. Its so weird to see them all just one week old but these two birds four times the size of the smaller breeds. the little ones walk right under them, and between their legs.
Very difficult to take pictures of.
Poor little things endured a long drive to get here, and we lost three before getting them home. They were really cute, all the varied anxious cheeping in the box, falling silent as they all promptly went to sleep. Then they woke up on the curvy lake road, clearly protesting the seasick motion of the truck. Already they have distinct, lovely different vocalizations. And they took all of twenty seconds to behave completely at home in their new space, finding the food and water and napping. Continue reading OMG, chicks! They’re so cute!