I have a chicken who forgot how to walk. She waddles around, and sets her tail on the ground. It’s very strange looking, and came on quite suddenly.
This chicken took sick a couple weeks ago. Comb went blue and floppy, she stopped eating and hunkered down into the pre-death chicken trance. I was sure she was done for.But she came out of it, as quickly as she went in. Comb red again, although still floppy. Appetite back, hanging out with the other hens, even dust bathing. Just one side effect. She walks really funny, like it’s raining all the time.
I’ve looked it up. She’s an old hen, past laying, so she’s not an internal layer or egg-bound. It’s been over a week, and although it looks so wrong, she seems otherwise fine, not struggling or suffering. Just sitting around.
I was greeted in the morning by news of chicks! HW didn’t know that they were freshly hatched because they were so big, but they hatched overnight.
I knew they were coming, because for the last few days, mama passed up her daily meal and stayed put on her eggs. (This mama was the lady who lunched).
These are baby Chanticleers, future layers. Five hatched of six eggs, wonderful! They are born bigger than the Silkie chicks that are a week old.
I wasn’t sure what to do with these. Already dynamic, a few hours old, I wanted to let them out of the chickery right away but worried that the hens would fight.
I did let them out, lifting the chickery up and over the sunflower that grew up inside of it, and all the chicks scuttled out into squash land. I’ll barely see them anymore.
Later in the day, it seemed that the two tribes had not met; the Silkies on the tomato side and the new babies on the squash side. It’s thick in there. They have plenty to do without encountering each other.
I’ve got another broody hen, so now the eggery is a duplex.
The first broody – the most tolerant little girl who was keeping the orphan guinea warm for a few days (that little keet expired after all) – is due any day, if she was successful. Her attachment to a daily meal may have left her eggs cold for too long.
I haven’t really thought through the extra occupation of the the chickery, but I’ll probably release the first set of chicks into the greenhouse jungle when they come.
The new broody is the biggest of all the silkie hens; she’s easily covering 9 eggs.
The first broody has stuck to her daily break time throughout her term- a new quirk, and the box inside the chickery has worked perfectly. She comes out, eats, poops, and then creeps back into her box, talking to her eggs the whole time, which is adorable. I’m coming back…here I am.
Now they are scampering around outside with the big flock wearing proper wings and tails and surely thinking they are all grown up, but when they were merely days old…
I was working in the greenhouse, the Chickery was in there with me because the chicks were brand new (they have a few chickery days in the greenhouse before going outside), and the Blondies and their mom were rummaging around in it, as they do.
I noticed she seemed to be digging with unusually single-minded determination in one corner.
I looked in on them once and she had dug a hole. I thought, any minute, a chick is going to be able to slip out of there.
Before I turned away, one did.
When she would pause her digging efforts, a chick would dive in to see if there was anything interesting in the hole, and retreat when dirt started flying again.
Once all the chicks were popping in and out like electrons, I decided it was time for them to go outside.
I popped a box over top of Mom (highly offended noises), lifted the chickery off and wrestled it outside while the chicks cheeped in the corner.
Then I grabbed the chicks and introduced them to grass. Then I went back to the grumbling, rattling box, and returned mom to the chicks.
I have one chicken having a hard time. She´s a low chicken – the lowest – I call her Sidewinder because of her habitual cringing deferential walk. She arrived like that. She had a chance at a fresh start – no one knew she was a low chicken before – but she blew it. Creeping and ducking – she got pegged as low from the beginning.
She´s molted, so she was practically naked.
Her wing shoulders were getting all raw too, from the rooster’s attention, but that problem is eliminated along with the rooster. Jacques went in the pot for repeated bad behavior, and it was high time. I couldn´t go out there without a stick and I counted on the protection of the Colonel. He was very good looking, but a good-looking jerk. Now it´s much more peaceful in chicken land, for everyone.
Then I think she had a close call with a raptor (unusual in the spring – perhaps it was a spat with a peer). I think so because there was an alarming feather splotch by the trail, and I had heard a shriek, but then there was no one missing, and Sidewinder turned up with the last few cling-on feathers on her back gone. Totally naked.
But now she has a jean jacket.
I was at my friend’s (Spoiled Rotten Chicken Club, chapter III), and half her flock was running around in jean jackets. It was cool, rainy weather, of course. She´d made a whole rack of them from a pattern on the internet. I couldn´t stop laughing. The ones in jackets looked tough, or swaggery, like they were proud of their duds. And the colouring of some of the Ameracaunas with grey-blue wings in their jackets was uncanny.
It’s like Toad Hall, or (some other UK childrens’ stories where the animals all wear vests and/or cravats) come to life.
She gave me one for my beleaguered naked chicken, and she’s rocking’ it. A little warmth, a little sun protection, and a little peck barrier. It hasn´t seemed to gain her any status though.
The only time to see the wild Oreos up close is evening time in the coop. They are handsome looking now, and not so much filling as cookie these days – they´re turning out raven black, with the blackest glossy legs.
Later on she scraped up all the hay in the coop, and made a lovely, perfectly round nest with high walls. When she flattens out and dozes, you can barely see comb over the sides of her nest.
No idea how many eggs she´s got. Easily 20. Perhaps a chicken egg got in there too. In fact, she could be due any day. I don´t know about guinea terms, but she´s got to be close.
And since there´s only three birds walking about yet, I suspect those three are the boys, and the other hen has found her own nest site somewhere in the woods. May she walk out healthy one day with a trail of chicks.
While I´m delighted that she´s pleased enough with the coop I made them to brood in it, there are some things that I did not consider. Such as, what happens when they hatch?
She hasn´t lifted off that nest for a moment, so I´m thinking as soon as they hatch she´ll be ready for a snack. And then day old guinea chicks will start pouring out of the coop, six feet off the ground? If they do bounce, then, how about when mom goes back to bed? If I lift in the chicks, she´ll come blazing out, the chicks will follow her out…this is a circular vision.
I decided to put a screen door on the coop so I can keep them all in there a couple of days, or something.
Applying the screen door was fine. When I set a dish of food and water inside the door, however, whoooweee!
She is terrifying! She opens her mouth like a cobra, spreads her wings wide and full, so she looks like a flat feather wall, and stares. Then one piercing squawk, and wham! cobra strike. She gave me a good chomp. Same when I refilled the water, after she tugged the dishes in close to the circle around her nest. Then I had to reach in even closer to her. I didn´t risk the food dish.
And then four hens decided to hang out in the woodshed, even though it wasn´t raining.
I think, maybe once, this mom and the Blondies got put to bed in the box. As soon as I put the chickery outside, it started raining, so I turned them loose in the greenhouse, which they love, for the rain days.
But here they are, as dusk falls, all in the box. This is where we sleep.
I wish I could have seen how that went down. OK, kids, time to get in the box! That´s quite a jump.
And then, in the morning, they´re all out of the box and back to work!
To the tomato forest!
They love the tomato forest. So much mulch to kick around.
I turfed them all out into the big world, though, because it was too hot in the greenhouse. Even though they were all hiding under a squash leaf.
They got readmitted late afternoon, and tonight, they´re all back in the box!
I was working in the greenhouse and a hen started making a big commotion BaBWOCK! BaBWOCK!! (etc-)
I looked out just in time to see a red hen (chicken) on the perch of the high rise guinea house, just before she took off. She was most likely shrieking about her imminent long flight, like she was on the high dive board.
I turned back to work, and then it occurred to me – What was she doing up there? Could she be laying eggs in the guinea house?!
I got a step ladder, climbed up to see, and sure enough, she WAS laying in the guinea house. For a few days. Well THAT helps explain the loss in egg production I was troubled by.
But hark. She´s not the only one laying in there! There are lovely pale brown pointy guinea eggs in there too! What a sweet little nest.
Cool. Guinea eggs! She´s not laying in the woods after all.
Nice to know at least the guinea hen knows how to go inside her coop, even if she does sleep outside no matter the weather.
I´ve put the first broody hen of the year to box. She´s been determined to brood for a couple weeks, daily protesting the removal of her clutch. I´ve relented, and put her on three pretty blue eggs (Ameracaunas). I hope she can do it; she´ll be the first of my Silkies to sit on a clutch of alien eggs. If it works, it will be an ugly duckling situation. My last attempt at egg swapping was rejected – they rolled the big eggs out and down the ramp.
She´s not a very good-looking hen; in fact, she´s an unusually ugly little lady, but she´s feisty and single-minded, keeps her eggs tidy (not allowing them to spill out), and has been steadfastly resisting my attempts to break her up, so she might turn out be a great mother.