Tag Archives: layer hens

Broodies and brooderies

First order of business: a broody box for Perchick (smaller than a chickery, but big enough for a big hen mom – wow!  I have broody layer hens!)

While I was making a broodery, I made another chickery, because I’m sure I’m going to need one real soon.

Note helper chicken, Apples, stage left.

Cream Puff is still freakin’ out!  She’s being good, diligently staying on her eggs, but she’s on high alert and looks very concerned, like she thinks she’s losing her mind, and no one told her this could happen.  What’s happening to me?!  I’m feverish!   I have a compulsion to snuggle with eggs.  I can’t Google these symptoms because I don’t have thumbs!

If I crack the door to her box to reach her food she flips out! and makes a wild flapping break for the door.  Then gets back on her eggs a minute later like nothing happened.

It’s nice that it’s easy to peek in at her.  Her guard is never down though.  No matter how quietly I sneak up to peek, she’s looking right at me through the gap.

Perchick made a smooth morning transition to her broodery though.  With the help of a cloaking device.

She seemed to like to be covered.  She pancaked right out while I sorted eggs and stuffed them under her.   I figure the disruption of being moved is nothing compared to being hassled by the other hens trying to lay an egg on top of her.  Puffcheeks is a real squaller.

Traffic jam in the nest box

I set her up in the greenhouse, and am just committed now to that being the last end of a row I get to plant.There’s a kennel vacancy.  The broody Silkie was faking it.  Well, probably not, but for whatever reason she was broken up and frustrated this morning, Why am I in a translucent mailbox?!  so I put her back into gen pop.  She was a new hen, so I’m surprised she even went broody.  I figure those hens are still calming down and learning to chicken, not ready to level up.

Last frost tonight.  Says me!  The forecast says not even, so it may have been overkill for me to run around in the dark for an hour, to cover everything and bring in the seedlings, etc etc, but it smells like winter this evening, and I’m not taking chances.  I am definitely ready for that aspect to be done – the frost shuttling and the frost blanketing of the plants already in.   I was excited for tonight to be the last night of that. So are the guineas.  They do not like the row cover.   Or someone keeping them up when they’re ready for bed.

*It did frost

The little chicks change every day.  The brown one is getting browner!

morning sunbeamThe other is still a mom sitter.

Roos of the woods

Eviction is in progress.  We lifted the coops out of the greenhouse, and I’m “encouraging” the birds to all transition to living outside now. You’d think they’d be all gung-ho to spend all their hours out of doors and get their vitamin D.  But no, they are resistant to being encouraged.  They all find their way back into the hot house by the afternoon.The GH is at its worst these days. It’s (past) time for it to assume its primary function, sheltering growing food, so high time to move all the chicken related detritus out. 

Creative egg laying. There’s no coop anymore!

Outside, the wretched roosters have taken over Charlie coop.  They’ve adjusted pretty readily to outdoor living, but they decided not to stay in their adapted chickery coop.  Charlie coop, the former skycoop, was occupied by one lone (homegrown) rooster, the others having all graduated up.  And then, the wretched roosters decided to move in.  All at once.Out you go, guys. The world awaits.

 

Snoopers

It’s that time of year.  The geese are back, and the robins.  A little in advance of the retreat of snow.The so-called ailing chicken is quite lively, considering her posture problems.  She clambered into the nesting box today, and eats with an appetite.  She just needs delivery.  I have to monitor her meal time, too, because other hens come nosing around.  Whatcha got? Nosy little Perchick is convinced something’s going on there. I hear munching.

Cold mornings, hot afternoons

In the morning their water is frozen, the hens stand around with no necks,or on one foot. It’s a calm time.  After the mating, chasing, scrapping, squabbling, and gobbling, that is.  When they are first released, it’s mayhem.  Later it’s calm.  Time to groom. What is she doing in there? And glean.And doze off.   Sometimes when you look at animals, they look back at you with equally avid curiosity.  Cheeks is good at that.The Colonel has been given access to hen land.  I didn’t think he’d stay in there because the flock he protects is larger than just the Silkies, but he’s very comfortable. The chicks are showing their combs, nearly teens now, and they can use the male role model.  I’m not joking.  Young roosters hero worship the big cocks, and I bet good roo behaviour is learned, just like they learn to wipe their beaks and scratch from their mothers.

The first night I let him in there, too, at night when I usually do the airlift, I opened the fence and he matter of factly escorted the whole troupe (but one) to the coop.  A few chicks who have known nothing but the airlift process, were walking around the ramp, worming underneath it, clearly mystified how they were supposed to make the transition from out to in.  Funny.

Another expiring chicken

I have another chicken kicking the bucket.  A few have died this winter, from the crew of clipped beaks that we got our first year, so they’re all the same age, about 5 years old.  I’m glad, in a way, that they don’t live forever, but on the other hand it’s a little bit weird that they’re dropping like they’ve hit an expiry date.  My favorite hen (ok, one of) is from this batch, so I’m not looking forward to losing her.  She’s sweet.This hen showed lethargy for a couple days and then yesterday did not leave the coop.  In the morning she looked so nearly dead that I thought she’d be gone in minutes, but in the afternoon I got surprised.  She’d improved and was alert enough to look at me and accept some water. So she was only mostly dead.   She also found an egg to steal and sit on.  Very odd.

And she’s hung on overnight too, still with us.  She doesn’t look good, but I’ve been wrong before.  I’m giving her vitamins and water, just in case it’s not her time yet.

Chicken Day out!

Finally, I set up the hen yard fences again, and let all the chickens out in their yard.  It’s been maybe two months they’ve been crammed in the GH, and they are doing pretty well considering.  But I know they get frustrated being confined and in close proximity with the others.  They don’t all like each other.

This “winter” has been so strange.  Cold and then warm, a snow blanket, but only briefly, and then a big warm muddy week… the end of February feels like the end of April.  T-shirt weather.  I feel like I should be working the ground in the garden, and have to check myself- it’s the end of February.  In another year, there could be two feet of snow right now. Really?  We can come out?

Because of the weather weirdness, I could have had the hens freed in the yard two weeks ago, but didn’t, because I never wanted to set up the fence and then leave them.  They’re sure to find all the holes in the fence while I’m gone.  But today I was home all day.Oh, the bliss.  The hens came pouring out,  Leaving the greenhouse a ghost town. Real dirt, a quality scratching experience.  Direct sun!  The relief and joy were palpable.  All of us, including me, let out a big breath.  Peace descended like a light blanket. They were so pleased and relaxed to be outside.  I got to unscrew their chicken doors for regular use now, and they were so thrilled ot be out they didn’t even test the boundaries (except for one guinea, and that seemed to be an accident).

Now all the hens have muddy socks, because there’s a mud hole in front of both doors.

Ever have one of those days?

Cream Puff is just giving up on life.

Really, it’s just a bright sunny day, so it got tropical in the greenhouse.It was the first time I put the screen door on.  The birds will be outside very soon.

Some of the birds were relaxing in the shade of the coops or behind hay bales. Others were making hay while the sun shines. The girl’s fort was mixed between shade and sun basking.Chickenland is a very relaxed place on a sunny afternoon.  Everyone is restful, chill, quiet, in a sort of dreamy zone.  Moving slow, and ready to sink down into a doze at any moment.

And then there’s Cream Puff, who either got so relaxed she just tipped over, or is tinkering with her rubber chicken impression.  I about died laughing.

Sick chicken

There’s a sick chicken (or maybe not sick, just elderly).

A couple of days ago:Comb gone limp and discoloured, and that characteristic no-neck stillness, like a semi-sleep.Or a whole sleep.

This is an old chicken.  There are still older chickens around, because I still have a few with chopped beaks (- what an awful thing), but she’s an elderly lady, as far as hens go.

Today: Comb almost completely flopped and pale, her wings are slumping down instead of held up on her back, and she’s hunched up into herself, dozing in the coop.

Sometimes hens come out of a state like this, perk up and return to business as usual, but most likely she’s approaching her departure.

This is how the hens go around here, except a couple unlucky ones that seem to get got by predators every year.  They enjoy a long retirement, and then they withdraw, drift into this less and less conscious pre-death state, and take themselves to the dark coop for the final sleep. Watching them go, it seems like the transition from life to death is long and smooth, not at all a single moment.

I find them stiff in the coop in the morning, sometimes stretched out, sometimes with their head tucked under their wing.

I think this is the best possible chicken way to go.  It seems natural and restful, but it’s hard to be sure.  They don’t look to me like they’re in pain, but I wish I knew.

*She completed her transition overnight

New girls on the block!

Got some new additions to the Poultry Palace last night.  A few retiring Barred Rocks and one Ameracauna (I’m running a chicken rest home after all).  They went in the coop after dark in the evening and came toddling out this morning, curious and tentative.

The guineas were hilarious, peeking from behind hay bales and furtively scuttling behind to circle the new bird(s) and examine them from all angles.

The big surprise was Philippe Petit, immediately fixing on pretty Puffcheeks (the brown bearded lady on the right), and then clearly deciding that these new girls were his to look after.

Mine.

In the morning, the new girls were all most comfortable in the corner behind the hay bales.

Philippe has never felt so important, and is clearly coming down off his tightrope and roostering up to taking on some responsibility. She looks like she’s about to adjust his feathers for him (the equivalent of brushing some lint off his lapel). Here comes Stew, sniffing around.  Cue the battles.

Now that Jack is gone, the three young Chanticleer (full size) roosters are sorting themselves out, and HW reported Petit and Stew were Thunderdoming it in the afternoon.  Bloody combs all around.  A shock, because Philippe has never engaged another roo, and all of a sudden, he’s in the ring?  He’s taking this seriously.

Also, last night while I was inciting drama anyway by adding hens, I elevated two roosters from the frat house to the big coops, where I want them to integrate and take charge of some hens.  I put Toffee in with the new hens and Brahmas, and Petit in with the Colonel and layers, because that was how I thought they would work out.  They usually turn out to have other ideas.  HW found Toffee back in the boys dorm and Petit posted outside the new girls coop (of course).  He’s committed.  He saw them go in there.