Tag Archives: chicks

They grow up so fast

I’ve lost track of all the sets of chicks.  There are around five that are almost indistinguishable from grownup chickens, the “big chicks”.Overnight, they are  all legs and big bodies.  If I don’t look twice, they look full grown.   These have all graduated to living in the “big coop”, although I’m still plucking at least one out of the tree every night.  No, not the coop!  They aren’t nice to me in there!Hello, I’m a Cheeks junior!  The “middle chicks” are still distinct – they are the five that Ghost and Velvet are raising.  They are perching pros, but still attached to their mamas, who have a nice bond with each other.   Once they ditch their moms, they’re easier to lose track of.

Then there are the “little chicks”.  They had a good week living in the greenhouse undisturbed, but naturally, they grew discontented with the daily manual transfer to and from in a box, and one morning, there was an escape.

You can’t put the chickens back in the box, so at that point, they were out in the crowd.  What is adorable, is that she led them through the fence into Silkie land, where she stays with them in the taller brush.  She remembers where she lived.Although the Silkies and big chickens generally don’t mix, the fence is permeable.  When the “big chicks” were tiny, they learned how to go under it in one spot there’s a three inch gap.  They remembered, even as they got bigger, and still go to the spot, poke their heads under, and slither through.  So they come and go, very nosy, have to see everything for themselves.  I think this Silkie mom is using the same spot.  Sometimes she seems to get stuck inside.   These little ones just started perching practice too!

The latest chicks

I had a whole passel of Silkies go broody this summer.  Some of them give up, two more go broody.  The usual, in other words.  I’m not letting them reproduce this year- I have so many Silkies.  I did give them five of Cheeks’ eggs between them though.

Drama central!  If any of them stood up to adjust themselves, another one would rob an egg.  Every morning most of them would go out for breakfast, and then there would be lamentations when they came back and their eggs had been swiped by another hen.

With all this egg roulette, it’s a wonder any hatched- they were a little too well attended.  By luck of the draw or else quiet persistence, this one brown lady had the eggs on hatch day.  Two hatched, and one died, and then another hatched late.  Phew!  I’m awfully glad there’s two, because chicks do so much better when they have siblings.
Mama is SO relaxed, and just because it’s so easy to do, I’ve popped them into the greenhouse.  At night I collect them in their cardboard box and lock them into a coop, and in the morning I slide them out, peeping out of their mom’s fluff at me, and I carry the box into the GH, where they spend the day without any conflict, competition, or threats.This is the summer of Cheeklings. Last summer was a raft of Puffcheeks’ offspring, and now all those Pufflings are grownups, sitting on sawhorses and laying eggs.  This year, when Cheeks recovered and started laying eggs again, I promptly set all of them under hens, to save Cheeks’ legacy.  Now I have lots of them.  Seven?  Of course some will be roos, and some look less like Cheeks than their father, but I should have some Jr. Cheeks hens.

Greenhouse goings-on

Earlier this year in the greenhouse.

Now it’s a little wilder.  Even at this point, though, the guineas were getting lost.  The “aisles” have kind of disappeared.  I went  to open the far doors, and there was a white guinea in the melons.  Chirp chirp.  Her boyfriend came back in for her, bushwhacking towards her to lead her out.

I have a theory that the guineas have kept down the beetles this year.  I don’t have a problem this year, although I saw eggs on the leaves earlier.  I also saw the guineas pecking the leaves on their evening browse.  I think they might have been doing a daily cleanup.

The guineas are adorable.  They gather at the door at night, and when I open the door, they file right in.  This is where we sleep. They go for a browse and then perch on their swing.  If I’m too late, the seventh gives up on me and sleeps somewhere else.

I have late blight, bummer, but still plenty of tomatoes coming.  I canned 17 quarts yesterday.

Also yesterday, I turned the water on in the greenhouse, forgetting that the two new chicks and their Silkie mama are housed in there.  Some of the joints and holes in the tape spray water in jets, so it might have been an exciting moment, when the sprinklers came on.

These lucky chicks are so late in the year, and with a Silkie mom that is not nearly as destructive as a big chicken,  that they get to have the GH all to themselves to grow up in.  I get lazy late  in the year, and they are happy and safe in the jungle.

Cheeps at the door

I hear them coming around, the cheeps.  They never stop chatting at this age.

I’m glad that the moms are starting to gravitate to the house and beehives –  the safe zones instead of the adventure safaris.  This is where you’ll spend your time when you grow up, kids.  Mooching.

The two of them are too adorable to me.  Inseparable, yin and yang chickens, not very alike other than that they (were) both loners.    The chicks float in one crowd with loose ties to their own mama except for bedtime and warming time.  Ghost, since she has two, has started perching at night with a chick perching on either side, poking out from a wing.  They seem smug about it.  Velvet ,with three, has to stay on the floor to hug them at night.

The chicks are at that miniature stage where they have all their feathers and all the chicken moves, but they are still just tiny little handfuls.  They have frowns all the time.  Dinosaur growth spurt dead ahead.  All the chicks seem to be baby Cheeks, although that was not planned this time.   There’s a Ghost sighting out the front window!

Velvet must be very nearby.  There she is!

Velvet and Ghost

The co-mamas.

These are the first hens to successfully hatch babies in the large coop.  Right through the heat wave, they sat on eggs, and I brought them water.  They would even switch eggs, so it makes sense that they’re one family now.  They only spent two days in the chickeries, maybe three, before release and integration.  Nosey visitorThey still had unhatched eggs, one each (they did not hatch late, they gave up on them), so the hatched chicks had a nice slow transition).Ghost scooted her egg out of the box to belly up to the food.  When they’re ready to get up off the nest, they’re ready though, and Velvet tore her whole chickery apart, every inch of the ground scratched up, letting me know she was ready.Velvet has three and Ghost two, but all five look like Cheeks’ bio-offspring, an accident since I gave them a mix of eggs.  Five of nine total hatched.   I can’t tell the five apart, but the hens can- look out!  They all roll together most of the time, though, so the chicks intermingle constantly.

It’s a really cute thing they’ve got.  Mom friends- Our kids are the same age!  They’re black and white, and they were both total loners prior to brooding.  I feared for Velvet’s life because she would just leave.    The little orange feet!  I can see where you are!They started visiting the house!  That was cool.  A noisy cheeping procession.  I heard them coming.  This is where we scrounge for snacks, and under the house it’s dusty and cool… There they are, traveling on together.  They like the bee area.   Perching practice on the jungle gym (laundry rack).  It doesn’t sway like a branch.  They’re up to the second rail now.

Early morning perching practice

The fuzznuggets have started perching.  They all keep the same schedule; I’m so used to seeing moms raise their chicks now.  First, there’s very close to home chickergarten, where scratching is strongly emphasized – Mom shows them vigorous scratching in loose material, clearly for practice.  Good fling.  Look at how well Daisy is kicking.

Second comes explorer time, where the moms take their chicks off, to some distance, for I don’t know what, world acclimation and exposure to strange and unusual things.  That is the type of caterpillar that tastes disgusting, but go ahead and try it.  We also do not eat slugs.    This stage gives me palpitations because they go off in the woods and I fear for them.  This is the stage they’re in.

Next comes morning perching.  I don’t know why it tends to be first thing after breakfast, and the chicks tend to do it on their own without demonstration.  They move higher and higher in the tree and on their rack as they age.  It started today.

Eventually they move into being more clubby with the other chicks their age and needing Mom less, then they break up with Mom, or she quits.

These are Velvet and Ghost‘s chicks (Sidewinder is still around, too). I gave Velvet several eggs, and then Ghost seemed just as determined, so I split the eggs with her.  They were a mixed batch, so it’s really wild that the chicks ALL seem to be more Cheekslings.

Whoa, WHOA! This balancing thing is hard!
I’m grooming too!

Notice the other one gone for a post-perch warming in Mom’s fluff.

 

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:)

Keet care share

The keets have been around more; they even got walked nearly to the house.  I hear their cheeping like tiny bells (they will grow into klaxons).  They already have dart-and freeze-in-the-grass skills, scratching, dozing, and following skills.  Little beings the size and weight of ping pong balls, walking, eating, pooping, thinking.   They’re so cute I can hardly stand it.  They are already surprisingly independent, with a noticeably larger radius of dispersion than two days ago, and the flock moves faster.  They aren’t obsessively dependent on mom at all, more that it’s important to them to stay with the group.I went out today and found a grey bird  sitting on the chicks in the cool morning.  The white (mother) hen came up nuzzling, like she was checking on her kids under the babysitter.  I thought awww, Galahad’s at it again, sitting on the keets.  Then I realized Galahad, who has been shadowing them the last couple days, was sleeping in the sun behind me.  So who the heck is this co-parenting?!

You guys have complicated relationships. 

Guineas are just SO lovely.  They have a different social system than chickens and it seems very evolved.   They accept the keets as tiny new additions that walk with the flock (reminds me of elephants).  The keets will run to any of them, it seems, and any of them might run and get a left-behind cheeping chick.  The males are super involved in keet care.

They’re so special and interesting that I just put up with the bloody noise.  Even that, though, often means something.  Not always, but often, there’s something they’re trying to say.  Like, visitors are on their way, put some clothes on!  They’ll come to the house together and yell at me, looking at me, then five minutes later someone walks up.  Don’t say we didn’t tell you.The white hen spent some adult time lounging away from the keets today, who were all with someone else.  Then all the birds were doing walkabout together with the keets flowing among their feet.  I felt very “approved of” that they let me stand so close to their pile of chicks.  When I walked right through the group was the first time I got a hint of mom flaring, reminding me of how crazy, insane cobra mom the last guinea mother I had was.  This one is zenned right out.

The other white hen was also around today!  Wolfing down food.  So maybe she’s nearing the end of her sit as well.

I’m looking forward to when she stops leaving to hunker down with them at night, and brings them to the greenhouse for bedtime.  I’ll need another laundry rack.

 

 

An extra puffy tail

The little (lone) Silkie chick has just had one extra puffy tail sprout out today, along with a tiny head crest and tiny feet feathers on those little black legs.  Looks especially good with evening back-lighting.  It’s funny what a transformative difference a day makes – chicks grow so fast.  Feathers just pop out here and there, and they go through some pretty funny stages.

This poor little chick is now only one third the size of its nestmates, which are bigger than some of the other chicks get before their Moms move on.  Mom is very patient.You know you’re too big to get sat on when…

This is the body attached to this head.  Hey, my neck is warm.  It’s stretched right out, and still trying to get some baby chick cuddles, meanwhile it’s almost as bulky as Mom.  Like a dog who thinks it’s still a puppy.  I can totally fit on your lap, I’ve done it 100x…hmmm.  Not working like it used to. 

This is the box princess and clan.  She now goes in the coop (well, I’ve moved the box inside the coop, and they still use it- and that’s its own story),  but they still settle down together pre-bedtime outside the coop.

I thought now that the little  keets had been introduced into society, they would belong and stick around, and that they would start sleeping with the others (in the greenhouse).  No.  Mom makes herself really scarce, staying on the weedy sidelines during the day and disappearing at night, so I get to worry.  Galahad comes whisking into the greenhouse late and in a hurry now.  I know he knows where they’re spending the night, but I can’t find them.

box princess

There are three sets of chick/s running around at the moment, that I see have yet to be introduced, my bad…

The other White Chocolate hen, sister to the loaner, has three chicks; the shirt chick was adopted; and this little Silkie hen has three- two Cheeklings and a Silkie chick (got rescued into the greenhouse on rain day).

  This particular hen’s quirk (they all have at least one), is that she does not, ever, want to go to bed in the coop.  Instead, she hunkers down in the grass, in the exact same place, every night.

Normally I train them to go in a box, say, in their chickery days, and then I transfer the box after dark to a lock box.

Not this one.  I have to bring the box to her.  She hunkers down; I set the box near her.Well my word, a box!  Look at that, kids!  How ideal for our purposes!They move right in.  Then I pick up the box and shuttle it into the coop.

The evening box ritual.  Every night.  Well I never!  A box, how nice.Today, because it was raining and the new chips were probably exciting, she settled down under the pine tree – daring!