Tag Archives: funny

New Roo in the zoo

The new rooster has arrived!

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The ladies like him.

Actually he spent most of his first day trying to avoid them.  They were following him everywhere, grooming his ruff, and generally crowding him.  The girls couldn’t get enough of him and he just wanted to figure out where he was.

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They were just determined to follow him around.

He is very handsome as described, with his Copper Maran feathered feet.

img_4762He got some peace on the roof of the coop.

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We were checking on him frequently during the first day, not knowing whether there would be a bloodbath (there wasn’t).  Once we both went to the GH and he wasn’t there.  We looked all over, under boxes, in the corners.  He wasn’t even in the coop.  With nowhere left to look,  I lifted the lid on the Silkie coop, saying “Well he can’t be in here!”  He was.  He was in the corner of the coop with one Silkie hen on the other side, probably there to lay an egg.  I guess the hens really got out of control.

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He’s like a member of a royal court, with breeches, buckled shoes, and maybe a rapier.

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I thought I might call him Jacques, since when I was driving him home I couldn’t remember any lullabies but Frére Jacques.  Over and over and over… But I’m not sure it fits.

Things have settled down since the first day.  He started doing his job, announcing food discoveries and doing a bit of dancing.

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He crows a lot.  He’s got a deep voice.  And I’ve seen him mating a leghorn.  But I’ve seen more unconsummated high-speed chases around the greenhouse.

Then the Silkie rooster, one third his size,  automatically responds to the sounds of a screaming, running hen.  He in his white pint-size majesty  comes lumbering over silently, looks at “Jacques”, and Jacques runs off to hide behind something.  Very funny.  I’m real glad that they don’t fight at all, but also hoping that this guy will get a bit less timid over time.

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He likes to be up high.  On the bales, or the coop, or…

I was standing in the middle of the GH, bent over at the waist to knock some persistent ice out of a water fount.  There was some warning flapping behind me, and the new roo flew up and landed on my back.  It was a nice shelf.  The times I’m not carrying a camera!  When I finished laughing, and messing with the fount, I transferred him to my arm, where he contentedly settled down on my elbow as if to stay a while.  He’s a big heavy bird.  Friendly though.

It’s a big playground in the greenhouse now

I can’t believe it but I’m SO happy.  ALL MY BIRDS ARE GETTING ALONG!  The one silver lining to the loss of my big rooster is that I don’t have to segregate my birds.  Two winters I’ve attempted to divide the greenhouse into two territories, Silkieland and Layerland.  I say attempted because there were always breaches no matter what I tried.

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When they were small

img_4449 First there were the guineas, with the GH all to themselves.

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Hey can we come in there?

Then there were the two Silkie moms and their nine chicks between them, who got to stay in the greenhouse mostly because of inclement weather.

img_4604Then I moved in the layer coop, the day after the rooster was killed.  The Silkies had the yard outside for a week of lovely weather, from whence they could see inside through the screen door.

img_4578Next I opened the door dividing the flocks, and waited to see what would happen.  A few red hens popped out, looked around, ate some grass, and went back in.  Hey, the guineas came outside, flew over the fence, and were walking around the other door looking confused.  The Silkies did not drift into the greenhouse.

The next morning, the Silkie rooster came barrelling inside when I opened the layer coop.  The reason:  one of his hens is sleeping in the wrong coop.  He chased her a merry race and taught her a lesson, and then raced back outside, where the other rooster was taking advantage of his absence to get some.  Life’s hectic for Snowball.  He’s got a lot of responsibilities.

They did not integrate on their own until, due to a bad forecast, we lifted the Silkie coop into the GH.  These long-suffering coops (Oh, they’ll last a year) are still enduring, still doing their job.

And then, miracles!  they all just … got along.  The layers drink side by side with the guineas, and the chicks are all up in the middle of everything, as they always have been.  Infants of any species seem to get big tolerance passes.  They can poop anywhere they like and be grabby and no one pecks them.  The guineas are smaller than the layers right now, but they seem to know that’s a temporary state of affairs, and they face off.  Staredowns, with their necks stuck out.  I’m gonna be bigger than you real soon.

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The layers are a bit bossy to the Silkies, but I’ve also seen the rooster run off a rude big hen.  YES.  I’m so glad it’s working!

Often the guineas are up on the haybales, just watching everyone else.

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Or behind it
Or behind it

They still move as an inseparable unit, even if they’re doing different things.  Some will be drinking, or eating, and the others will be curled up resting, but right next to them, and then they will all shuffle along together to the next stop.

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Now there are five.  One guinea disappeared as a very small chick, in the first few days.  Actually vanished – I’ve never found a body, and there were no signs of foul play.  In September, I found one hen dead in the morning, of unknown causes, like she died in her sleep.  All the others came shuffling out of their hay-cave, and one was left, still.  I believe there are now two guinea cocks and three guinea hens, judging by size – the differential is growing.

They look much like turkeys to me now, with bald-ish necks, sparse feathers, and they stick their heads out long.  So funny/cute!  They are “the Africans” or the “little clowns” because they do funny stuff.  They are starting to make their weird sounds, and 5pm is the time to practice, every day.  Can hear them ten acres away, shouting.

I “cleaned it up” some in the GH.  Made some chicken play structures, which they dutifully appreciate.

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All the vegetative debris and dead tomato/squash vines are just entertainment for them.  Places to run around and hide, and lose a pursuing rooster.  They pull down old tomatoes, eat any leftovers,  dig, and dirt bathe.  It’s a big party. The cardboard boxes too.  They always like standing up on things.img_4586

There’s still a truckload of wood chips in there that I pushed aside to plant in, and a great deal of hay, so lots of carbon, and I’ll bring in more if I need to.  It smells good, not like a chicken concentration camp.  My hens will lay all winter in the greenhouse.img_4574 img_4577

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At first the layers weren’t sure.  They weren’t allowed in the GH all summer, now they aren’t allowed out?  They like to slip out the door behind me when I carry something in.  Then five minutes later they’re outside standing on one foot in the frost, looking at me.  This was a bad idea!  All the food’s in there!

Soon I’m going to introduce a new rooster.  He’s a gorgeous young bird, a Copper Maran, big but gentle.  I’ve been telling my hens I’m about to set them up with him. I have a younger man for you to meet! I’m hoping that if he’s introduced to an unfamiliar room where the Silkie rooster already rules the roost, they won’t have a bloodbath fight.  Because the Silkie would lose.  This is why I’ve had to keep the flocks separate before.

I know that the space is too big for one rooster to rule, because the second rooster has started to crow!  The poor, put-upon, brown beta rooster, who’s molting with anxiety, has enough literal space now to figuratively spread his wings.  I hope to give them each a flock and enclosure of their own next year.

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The mother of seven sleeps in here, and lays in here

All the birds love salad.  I thought I was just being lazy, letting a patch of salad greens go to seed, the mizuna growing into beachball sized clouds, and mustard greens into stalks my height and as thick as my wrist that tipped over under their own weight, but I was actually being brilliantly foresightful.  I’m going to do it on purpose next year.  The chickens love a good salad.  I carry in an armload of greens, sprinkle it in a line along the open side of the GH, and all the birds move in, ripping and picking, all mixed up together in inter-avian harmony.  Makes it quiet real quick.

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The Silkies especially think that the thing to do with turnip tops is to pick them up and whack! them on the ground. It’s not the usual chicken lift and drop, it’s very aggressive, like they’re flail threshing. What’s really funny is a chick trying to do it to a foot-long turnip frond.  That’s like a person taking a 30 foot pine tree and whacking it on the ground.  It works about as well for the chick, but they try.

I thought they might be into cold-hardy greens considering what they did to the volunteer kale.

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The incursion of the birds has pushed out the rodent population, as I hoped.  The numbers are now down to one very bold resident squirrel.   I hope he gets pecked.  Chipmunks are gone.

Now that the coops are in the greenhouse the first Silkie with aspirations above her station has told a friend.  Two Silkies are going into the layer hens’ coop to lay eggs!  The one is still sleeping in there. Her chicks are convinced they sleep in the cardboard box still, and every night have to be chucked into their coop.

In the morning, I let the Silkies out first while I do everything, to give them a little advantage, first beak in the trough, before opening the layers.  They know.  They can hear, and they grumble!  The rooster comes and waits at the bottom of the ramp for the Silkie hen to traipse out, then he pounces!  Every morning.  He knows she’s in there.

 

Coop infiltration continued

A couple of days before we moved the Silkie coop into the greenhouse, I got paranoid about the Silkie moms sleeping on the ground, and I popped the two moms and their chicks into the layer hen coop after dark, using the less favored nest boxes.  They seemed happy. The one hen was already laying in there, after all.  Then the third night, oh no.

One hen, the mom of two, had three chicks under her (sleepover!).  The other (less intelligent) six were huddled in the box where their mom had taken to sleeping.  No mom.  I put them all away and start sweeping the greenhouse with a light.  Uhoh.  UhohUhohUhoh.  She’s not there.

Finally it occurs to me to check the coop, and there she is!  She’s lined up on the rail with the big red birds, head down.  In fact, I could hardly see her because they’re all so much bigger.   She’s done with chicks and moving on up with her life.

She’s big for a Silkie hen, but still!  Who does she think she is?  I can’t believe they tolerate her.

One of these is not like the other
One of these is not like the other

Chickens.  They never cease to amuse.

 

Jungle hens

The greenhouse is a jungle.  I don’t know why I didn’t really believe my tomatoes would grow into monster vines taller than me.  They did.  Just like everyone else’s.

The layer hens have been going in there sometimes.  I haven’t shut them out lately, as everything is too big for them to harm now, and they haven’t been terribly interested in it anyway.  Usually they are too busy playing Jungle Fowl in the edge of the forest.

But, there were a few in there the other day when I brought in a couple buckets of grey water to dump.  The vegetation in there  is pretty dense now, and the squash leaves are like patio umbrellas to a chicken.

So, keeping an eye on the chicken I saw scuttle into the tomatoes, I quickly chucked my bucket of water safely away from her, and scored a direct hit on a hen that I hadn’t seen!

Oh, the screaming!

 

Boy did I learn my lesson.

Do NOT move the chicken coop during the day.

ONLY move the chicken coop when the birds are in it.  If they don’t wake up in it, then they don’t know where it is.  Is magic!  No coop!

I went out to close the coop last night.  We moved it midday and the birds were happily milling around and under it all afternoon.

But in the evening, I went out to close them in, and what do I find?

Every single bird standing around in a confused cluster where the coop HAD BEEN.  When I arrived, they were quick to tell me all about it, too.

You’ll never believe it!  Our house is gone!  Is mystery!  Just gone! We found our way back here, like good chickens, even though there was this fence in the way, but there’s no house anymore!  Is disappeared!  We are very confused.

First of all, they had to make an effort to escape to the former location of the coop.  It probably involved climbing up on the coop in order to fly over the fence.  I was kind of impressed that every single bird was out.

Second, the coop is in plain sight, no obstructions (except the fence they crossed on the way out), about fifteen feet away.

I knocked down the fence, crouched down, and tried to slowly herd them towards the coop.  Surely they would go Oh, there it is, and go in.

They ran around me and returned to the vacant spot.  They were starting to slump down into chicken rest, too, getting dopey.

I opened the feed bucket by the coop.  They came running to the sound, but then seemed to forget why they were there and drifted back to the missing coop.  Sleeeepyyyy.  No coop.  Doesn’t matter….

I started scooping up chickens and stuffing them onto the top of their ramp.  Now the chickens got agitated and started scattering and hiding in the brush.  One of the chickens ran back out of the coop to rejoin the flock.  The rooster attacked me for the first time ever; I must have grabbed one of his favorites.  I’m glad he has it in him, but it was a shock (just scratches).

Get H.W.

H.W. is all business about chicken snatching and rapidly got the remaining birds stuffed into the coop.  Oh, here it is!!  Even the rooster; not so tough once you grab him.

Beak count, and…one missing.  Of course.  Now it’s totally dark.  I kept hunting, getting chowed on by mosquitoes.   Eventually I found her, and the chicken catastrophe came to a close.

Lesson learned.