Tag Archives: chicks

New hen boxes

The hens with chicks got an apartment reno.  It was time to retire those battered old boxes.  So I set up a new condo system, each with a little bed of hay.  But will they use them?All the other chickens came and inspected of course. Well, I left the most popular box, double occupancy in a pinch.Oh!  A promising amount of attention.Look Mom, we found a new place!They approved.  2/3 were occupied, and it was much nicer to transport these boxes with closed lids.

Chocolate and the white chocolates started out in a new box, but ended up in the old box.One of Foxy’s chicks (the biggest set) is cute, with the little neck beard,and dark brown cape.  I’m pretty sure he’s a little rooster, with those big thick legs. He looks like a small turkey.

Overcrowding

I went out at bedtime to close everyone up, which means picking up the cardboard boxes that the wild chicks and the moms they’re still attached to have retired into, and carrying them into the safe box in the greenhouse for the night.  There’s a lineup of three boxes.

One was empty.

Oh, great.  Foxy and her set have found someplace to sleep outside.  I put the other two boxes away, did a quick low crawl to look around the base of the brush piles where they like to rest (wow, they’ve got a proper labyrinth in there), and went for a flashlight and headlamp to mount a search.  On the way back, I thought I’d better double check the box contents to make sure I knew exactly who I was looking for.

Foxy and Feisty and their seven chicks between them were all jammed into one box!  The smallest box.  That box does seem to be preferred.  I could just imagine the growling. Yeah, well I want this box too.  I called dibs.  I’m not leaving.  Fine!  I’m not leaving either.

As long as they’re happy.   In their 140 square inches of real estate.  Mental note:  they will not be happy in the morning – must not delay letting them out.

They weren’t:  Nine birds in a 10x 14 box , what were they thinking?Ursa has a mom-hopper.  Ursa’s got attitude. First the yellow one.Then the black ones – corner warming.

An experiment in chick freedom

Ursa Minor was protesting the confines of the chickery, so I tried something.  I let all the moms and chicks loose.  This is not rain day, these are the tiny chicks in their first few days of life, that are typically in chickeries in the greenhouse (warm and dry), before they go out to chickeries on grass for a few days, before they run wild with their moms (a staged transition to free-range).So I propped up the chickeries so they could leave, but still get back in their familiar box.  Clever stayed in for hours. Ursa shot out and within a minute, was demonstrating hole digging in the tomatoes. Hers are the smallest chicks too.  The others have an edge by a couple days or at least some hours.  But she’s a real go-getter.No time to lose!  I’ve done this before.  Can’t waste a minute with early chickhood education!Thinking about it. Domino’s thinking harder about it.     Oh!  Big moves!  This is the cost of chickens on the loose.  The danger to low hanging fruit.  It’s negligible.I think I see a tomato right now.

Chick party in the greenhouse

Rain day!

It did not start well.  The forecast, usually accurate to the hour, was predicting rain starting at 9pm tonight.  At 6am, pat. pat pat. patpatpatpatpat! 

I leapt up.  I needed to give the pigs access to their house.  Yesterday I’d moved their house (thank god!), but I hadn’t cut out the path to reroute the electric fence around it.  Really crappy work that I planned to do today before the rain (plenty of time!), as I was so tired and sore yesterday.  Instead, in the dark before dawn, in the rain, while the pigs watched me impatiently, grunting.  Hey.  It’s raining.  ME:  You’re waterproof, you tyrants.

I got the brush cut out, and the fence patched around it, and they grunted right in.  They just prefer to be in their house in the rain.   I checked the forecast.  It had changed, imagine that.  Yes, it is indeed raining right now.  And it’s now predicted to rain all day.  That means the pigs will spend all day in their house.

Amazingly, I enticed Galahad to go back into the greenhouse.  I figured he’d prefer that, but didn’t think it would work.  I’ve never asked him to go back into the greenhouse during the day.   And I released all the moms and their chicks inside the greenhouse! That’s Foxy, Fiesty, and  Chocolate at large, plus Ursa, Clever and (unnamed) in their chickeries.The chicks wouldn’t have any problems in the rain, but it would be hard on the hens, as soon as the chicks try to use Mom for an umbrella.  Silkies aren’t even water resistant.They were over the moon!  This was the most exciting thing ever, apparently.  Galahad etc weren’t too demonstrative, but content to be inside.  We live here, what’s the big deal?  The chicks and moms acted like they just got heli-dropped into Disneyland.  The cheeping!  The clucking!  The scampering! Oh the places you’ll scratch!  Oh the things you’ll peck!An hour later and they were still centralized on just the first fraction of the greenhouse.

It turned out to be a grey day more than a rain day, and I let Galahad out again for most of the day.  It started coming down again early evening.   The chicks were all late going to bed:)  Best day ever!

new chicks

Clever’s chicks made it!  (sort of).  I didn’t expect them to because the eggs were poopy, and that can choke off the exchange of air and humidity to the developing chick.  She rolled one egg away from her a week ago, and it was rotten.  I should have known she knew her other two were alive.

However, one died after hatching.  This is quite rare, for a chick to die after hatching under a mom, and after being alive long enough to dry out and fluff up.   The chick death rate when you’ve got mother hens is very low.  No medicated feed necessary – coccidosis and pasted bum are non-issues (very thankfully).  But it happens. Sad.  She only has one chick now, and that’s not fair, because she was an excellent sitter and I’m sure will be a great mom.  It’s a very noisy chick.  A leghorn, I think.  So they came out of the broodery into a greenhouse chickery (cue dirt bath), and Apples went in (!).  She settled right in, sitting on her eggs.

Then I lifted the lid to feed the other two broodies, and got a big surprise!Hm.  She’s got a dirty butt.

Three quiet little chicks!  Two dominoes!  I was hoping for more Copper Marans.  These will be Inky and Velvet duplicates.  And one leghorn cross. So cute.Did you say something about my butt?

Speaking of Copper Marans, Cleopatra, bio-mom of all the black chicks this year, is pulling a new stunt.  She jumps into Silkieland to lay an egg in their coop.  Cuckoo, cuckoo!  Then she acts like she has no idea how to get out again.  Every day.

OMG I can’t get out!
Oh, right.
Perchable moment

That’s Flash just to the left of the stick on the coop- a rare capture.  S/He’s a little brown keet (a “pearl”), but his first one or two flight feathers are white, so when she extends her wings, or hasn’t folded them back in completely, you see the flash of white.  It’s distinctive.   You can see the white line in this picture.

those feather askew blues

One of Foxy’s (the oldest of the small chicks) chicks has a feather issue today.  This sometimes happens, more often to the Silkies though.  Can you spot it? What?It has little outrigger feathers growing sticking straight out from its shoulders.It’s so funny.  It’s like only two feathers are committed to flying.   They’ll be gone in a couple days.Guineas doing their guinea thing.  They’re growing so fast.Galahad has a feather stuck on his face.  A keet is about to notice and pluck it off for him.  It’s the most beautiful time of year.  Cool enough to want a sweater in the morning, no bugs, beautiful light, endless sunny days.  This is the best time to work (there sure is enough of that).Feisty’s chicks have discovered perching (look next to the trunk for the third pair of legs). Feisty’s not into it, but of course, these chicks are biologically from clan Perchick or Puffcheeks, so they can’t be stopped from climbing trees.  She’s such a good mom, but then, the fiercely protective hens usually are.

Chick freedom day

Feisty and her chicks liberated themselves today.  They usually let me know when they’re ready for the big world by starting to leak out.  Thing is, Foxy’s chicks are days older, and they weren’t the ones to start getting out.Once Feisty was out and about though, Foxy got excited.One has such beautiful wings. Who, me?

I helped them out by lifting up the side of the chickery, and they started leaking out.  One.  Two. Threeand four. No, I’m back in.All out.  First day totally at large is a big day.  They drew some onlookers too.

Oiseaux Tableaux

The Famous  Five.  These didn’t grow up together (different Silkie moms), but they have found each other.  They clearly share genes.  These are the smallest of the free chicks (they grow up so fast!), and they’re very adventurous.There once was  a time when chickens perching  in low branches was a novelty.  Now it’s de rigeur.  The tweens.  At least one of these culprits is starting to practice his crowing.  Little Pepper is still in this mix despite getting quickly outgrown (Silkie/Barred cross) by the big Chanticleers.Inky, Velvet, and Speckles, utilizing my recent brush pile.  And Cleopatra begat Inky and Velvet; Speckles is a Silkie cross – possibly with Puffcheeks? On the ground level of Silkieland, Daisy the digger and her chicks just moved up to the  big house.  The chicks can leak out in various ways.  The run is not a secure facility, just intended to give the hens some peace from the roosters, who spend the day on the outside of the fence, and are allowed back in at night.  The hens preen and take dust baths and lie around in the sun, or the shade, and the roos bob around looking and not touching, and it drives them wild!The chicks are better at getting out than back in.  Daisy is watching over them, but the roosters are into chicks too.  The Colonel especially likes when there’s new chicks to show off his old tricks.  Even when chickens are good, they don’t come close to guineas in the co-parenting department though.  You’ll see a rooster sharing food and skills, but not sheltering chicks.   This guy’s a rock star:Galahad hosting perching practice on the rim of Silkieland. Uhoh.  Somebody jumped into a vacant chickery and isn’t clever enough to get out!

All they needed was a keet ladder

Last night when Galahad and the keets went to bed in the greenhouse, there was a lot of noise, and G was running laps around the greenhouse like he wanted out.   He settled down, but I felt he was distressed, and maybe frustrated with sleeping on the ground.

Tonight after bedtime, I thought the greenhouse was remarkably quiet.  I peeked…and just about died!   In case it’s unclear what you’re seeing, that is one keet perched on Galahad’s back, yes, and all the keets lined up on the (swinging) perching rail, at 6′ in the greenhouse.  They are all very content.This is how they got up there.  I gave them a laundry rack last night (I’ve offered it before as perching media).  I thought it would be a starter perch, and they could probably hop hop hop up and maybe get on their final destination, the rail (in a day or two).  They wasted no time about it!

Hens and their chicks

Daisy’s chicks have the greatest outfits right now.  Worthy of Björk.   Silver is still specialCotton’s chicks are little screamers.  Always yelling, no apparent reason.   They’re moved up to the big Silkie house with the grownup hens.Making the rounds of the dish, literally.

Feisty’s chicks are the newest.Foxy’s four:And Galahad’s chicks! Monopolizing a feed dish.