It’s hot, and there are chickens littered around, tipped over. They’re faking me out, because they can look very dead, unless they hold their heads up. Gah! Oh, phew. She’s politely retracted her leg from the path. You shall not…oh, yeah, you can pass.
It was a warm and humid day. Almost the whole family was piled in the dirt bath by the house, making chicken angels. The family is growing. Except for Speckles, who’s having a party of one in a private dust bowl out by the pigs. Yeah, and you’re interrupting it right now.Got snacks?! Oops, I roused them. The pitter patter of chicken feet behind me on the path is quite a stampede these days. I didn’t even have a bucket.
Now there are eight. The keet with the lower body injury died in its sleep in the morning, head tucked into a wing. Hopefully it was peaceful. After a quiet night it did a little scruffling in the early morning, but seemed to go back to sleep, and then, didn’t wake up. Guineas die so easily and quickly. The evening before bed is one of the peaceful times in bird land (one of several – they like to lounge), time for a last scratch and snack in the long light. The Brahmas and Barred RocksCleopatra high in the tree, wearing her jacket. She got used to the one with shoulder pads. Inside the greenhouse in the evening, it’s cooling off and the chicks remember they need mom after all, for a bit of a warming. Ursa. Her other three are still playing behind her. The black and white ones are SO cute. She’s got a pair of dominoes too.
Because I want my chickens to be comfortable at all times (Spoiled Rotten Chicken Club, Ch II), when it rains I run out and drape their coops with plastic to make a tent.
This has drawbacks, not the least of which is that it looks like some old plastic bags blew through the field and got snagged. It takes time to put them up and tie off the corners, it’s a dirty job, and it makes it a bear to close the ramps at night and nearly impossible to get the eggs.
The hens appreciate it, though, they run and huddle under there when it starts to pour, so I keep doing it (since last year). And cringing at the visual effect.
Finally, I made the hen rain shelters I dreamed of! They’re very light (flimsy) frames, that are hinged on the top so I can easily fold them up, and probably store leaning on the back of the greenhouse when it’s not raining.
They’re made from fertilizer bag liners (neighbour), the same bags I was using before. The plastic breaks down in time in the UV, but the bags are free and abundant, so it’s not a big deal to re-plastic down the road.
The hens like the clear plastic because they can see shapes approaching through it.
Now at least it looks like I mean for them to be there.
I made three of them. Each coop gets a tent adjunct, and the third is for the guineas. We set it right over top of the broody guinea. Can’t hurt to keep her dry; all the others will happily stay dry if they can. She was angry about the installation! But got right back on her eggs.
We collected our pre-ordered 18-week old layers from the co-op today. A half dozen of them, to refill our stock. Three birds were lost last year to various predators, because I couldn’t get them in the greenhouse fast enough.
They’re cute. Really not much more than teenagers. Very slim, with tiny pink combs. We brought them home in two tupperwares, and fenced off a corner of the GH for them.
HW was all for dumping them out of the bins, but I insisted they be allowed to relax and come out when they were ready. They took their sweet time coming out on their own.
The first one, briefly called “Boldy”, peeking out.
When the chicken man was shoving chickens into the boxes of all the people arriving for their layers, he paused with us and said “There’s a weird chicken here. It’s all white. Otherwise normal. Do you want the weird chicken?”
Of course, I said. I’ll take the weird chicken. So we have one reverse chicken, white, with flecks of brown.
HW instantly dubbed her M.J. (It don’t matter if you’re black or white!) Oh, there’s another one peeking out.
At about this point the old hens, on the other side of the fence, began to take an interest, and the rooster started putting on a big show, strutting and prancing…
Since the tragic loss of the exceptional and beloved pet chicken Friendly last fall (I’m still sad), all the other chickens, indistinguishable in looks and behavior, have been just Chicken. Even Naked, once her proud new plumage got a bit dingy, disappeared into the flock.
Now that the hens have been released, there’s one chicken distinguishing herself.
Typically there are three hens that stick very close to the rooster. His girlfriends. They cuddle with him at night while the other four perch over the nest boxes. When he food clucks, the girlfriends dash up to him (as HW says, “Whatcha got, big Daddy?”), and the other hens barely glance up, rolling their eyes, “It’s probably just a stick again”.