Tag Archives: mother hen

Perchick has quit

She’s done being a mother.  It was very abrupt.

She’s over here, the chicks are over there…well they’re just all over, now.  Often in this pine tree.They are scattered, seemingly not too attached to being with each other, either, let alone Mom. It makes them really hard to count, now, to check on them, now they are roaming solo.

They’re so confident!  So small still, but they think they’re big chickens.  Even in the coop at night, they’re all scattered around, with their own little spot claimed.  They’re really done with Mom, and she’s done with them. It gave me a heart attack at first, I thought she’d been taken, but then she was safely found under a pine tree, bathing, having adult time.Looks good in there!Meetup!  Meetup?  By the door in two!Perchick was  on a long solo date with Philippe today, like a poly wife that’s getting her “husband alone time”.  They were out together in the pig field, oddly far away from the other chickens.

 

Release day for Perchick etc

Slow release…First I propped up the side of the chickery with a rock;  the chicks started leaking out immediately.They could also get out over the top. There she goes – Perchick over the top.

Mom, you’re not going to believe this!
And … everyone’s out.

But wait –

I’m not ready to commit!

a holdout. Chickens as they were meant to be.

What’s all this?

Oh, here comes another hen, investigating. They figured out what food pans are for. And met the guinea. This one’s very independent, often apart.  Probably a rooster. Chick heaven.

Cream Puff the Fierce and the free chicks

Cream Puff was a misnomer.  Well, the Puff part was accurate, she spends most of her time puffed up in a rage these days, with her tail flared out.  But the cream is all gone.  She used to be jumpy, anxious, shy, the first to run shrieking out of the coop when you lift the lid.  Now, she moves like a tank, grumbling.  Ok, I’ll move, but I think you should move first.  She was the one initially completely freaked out by her own broodiness.

Now there are two parties that get admission to the greenhouse in the evening: the one guinea (I just love him. I need to get him some guinea girlfriends), and Cream Puff etc.  I open the door and she growls all the way in the door, all the etc hopping in behind her, and then she goes straight to her tomato corner for bed.

In the morning I have to shoo them out.Hen with 4 chicks following through tomato plants

Hen with one chick following
Oops, one got left behind, Mom came back to collect
Out the door, now
Hen and chicks jumping over door step
Turkey Mom
Black chick on door threshold following hen
This one’s always late
Hen sitting on chicks with two eating
Not everyone is warm enough to come out and eat

I can’t get too attached.  I think I’m going to let this brood go to a new home, and Cream Puff will go with them until they don’t need her any more.  I have more chicks on the way – two little Silkie broodies in the covered wagons, both being good as gold on their eggs.

Cream Puff the Fierce isn’t the friendliest ambassador, but maybe better than her sister, Perchick the Heat-seeking Beak.

Freebirds

The crippled chick is doing very well.  She’s using her foot but not bearing weight on it, and it very active, but still rests a lot.Very active.  I don’t know how she got out, but I think she went over the top.  Apples feels like perching today.

Cream Puff released herself today.  A little early, but the chicks are managing just fine.

I don’t even know how she got out;  there was a chicken wire lid on her, but all of a sudden, she was prowling around in her turkey pose, outside the chickery.  We don’t call her Cream Puff the Fierce for nothing; I didn’t even try to catch her, I just let her chicks out.She’s really attached to her turkey shape.  She spends most of her time puffed up, with her neck ruffled and tail spread.  It was impeding her ability to give scratching lessons.  She’d deflate to scratch, puff up again.  She’s funny.  She’s got a real chip on her shoulder. She can’t even rest without puffing. This is my favorite little chick, with a white dot on top of her head.

Drama in the high winds and an injury

HW brought in a chick in the morning with a lower body injury.  It didn’t have the use of its left leg, although I couldn’t figure out exactly what was wrong.  I wrapped it up while HW held it (a little chicken cast), and then it stretched out and fell asleep. Even with its head hanging off.Later on discolouration and swelling let me know it was a broken foot/ankle, and I put a proper splint on it.  Hopefully in a tiny soft boned chick it will fully heal, even if I don’t have it lined up exactly right.

The chick mostly sleeps, rolled to the side with the injured leg up.  It must be in so much pain, but by afternoon it was perky and up on one leg.   It adjusted very rapidly, eating.  I gave it aspirin.    A couple of times a day it cheeps demandingly.  And loud!  I’m just a baby!  I need attention!

I can’t fathom how it hurt itself so bad, just in a cardboard box overnight.  Never had such a thing happen before.Its siblings are at large in the world. The wind blew the plywood lid off of Cream Puff’s chickery.  Cream Puff is turning out to be far from a cream puff.  She was always high strung, but with chicks, she’s a monster. She rises up into the air like a bat, attacking, if you reach in (feeding her is fraught), and when irritated (always), she puffs up like a puffer fish, fans out her tail like a turkey, flares her neck, and walks around like a thug.

She was outside her chickery  doing her turkey impression and the chicks were inside, shrieking.  Catching her was out of the question, so I got the bird catching net.  After a failed attempt with that, she was in high gear, extremely agitated and rushing around, as the chicks got louder.

Finally I scooped up all the chicks, popped them into the greenhouse, and left the door open.  She went right in.  She had about two hours of daylight left to wreak havoc, I figured that would be ok, since she went straight into the tomatoes, and they are too big to kill.  The pepper plants already took a savaging in the morning, when HW accidentally let them in while tending the wounded (they’ll survive, but they got pruned).    She’s still blimped up, but she had a good time scratching and dust bathing.This is how you do it kids. They ended up in a corner for sleep, and I put them back in a chickery at night.

The Pufftail stage

Three little chicks.  See how they drink. This is the pufftail stage. They’re still in the chickery with Mom (now in the slightly larger chickery), and they’ve graduated from the cardboard box and the nightly flight in to the house.

The other chicks, the two dwarves, have graduated up to the girls only fort.  The sisters are not as accepting of the two dwarves (they soon need better names).  Perhaps they are roosters.  But their mother, Snow White, decisively declared she was done with child care by flying out of the chickery.  I thought it might be a fluke and put her back in.  She let me know it was not an accident, she was moving on to the next phase of her life and chicks weren’t a part of it.

I love it when they tuck head under wing. Real birds.

I tried putting her in the fort too but she just paced the fence.  She had a boyfriend on the outside.   Straight back in the nesting box. In other news, Lucky Stewie is a reformed rooster.  He’s been on his best behaviour.

Summer’s turn

So it begins, with the guineas.

What have we here?  A pile of chicks trying to perch like grownups on the coop, next to mom.

But look closer.  Who’s that IN the greenhouse?  I don’t know how the F they got in there, maybe the gap above the screendoor?, but there were three little guineas on the door header on the wrong side.  Frantic!

I get involved, scare them off the door, thinking they’ll come out the open door after they’re on the ground.  Nyoooo!  Mom is on the ground now too, so they run towards her and out of my sight behind the cucumbers.

Mom can see them running back and forth through the plastic and starts pecking at them.  Naughty!  Get out of there!  Chicks:  We can’t, we can’t! 

The plastic is like the skin of a drum,  and her pecking it is frightening the daylights out of the chicks.  Boom!  Boom!  It’s frightening me too.

HW swings around outside to get Mom to cease and desist, I undo the wiggle wire on that corner, and after rattling the cucumber vines, the chicks come popping out the hole and it’s all over but the storytelling.

The wild Oreos and their fluffy stepmom no longer slip under the fence into Pigland but are content in the partially desertified former Pigland.  They tower over mom now.  One is coming into slate shingle colouring, and the other has developed coppery neck feathers.

The light is shortening, and it’s that glorious time of year when when the chickens feel like going to bed lines up with when I want to go to bed.  Midsummer is awful.  The chickens outlast me every day.  I’ll be so tired I’m struggling to stay awake long enough to close them up, because they’re out there hopping around!  Not a care in the world!  SO not ready for bed.  Today, I’m like, What?  Are you guys seriously all in bed at 8:20!?  I could weep with joy.

Inside the greenhouse Brown Bonnet is proudly bringing up 7 chicks.

These chicks have a different start because instead of chickery time, when they first emerged I lifted her box out of the fence because she was sharing, and trusted mama not to lose any chicks in the jungle.

Funny, the first three days, she barely went two feet from the box.  Now she’s using half of the tomato aisle as the chicks increase in ability.  Soon they will be anywhere, and I’ll think twice about slinging buckets of water.

At night they all go back in the box to sleep, which is adorable.  They are going to be so wild, never getting the daily airlift touching

Someone’s always got to peek out.

Or two someones.

Or three.

What, were you born in a box?

A chicken in a box in the greenhouse? Nothing new there!

That’s where all the chicks and moms get put, at night, when they are put to bed from the chickery.

Thing is, I didn´t put her in there! 

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!

Dispatches from Silkieland

from Oct 17

Look at those feet!

Look at those little wings!img_4515 img_4514

Look at mama looking back.  What’s taking so long?

img_4506This mama has ideas.  At night I put them all in the box for the night.  In the morning she lets herself out to graze.  The chicks know where she is, but all frustrated.

Seven chicks survive.  She hatched an amazing, record setting nine, but two didn’t make it.  It’s almost normal for one chick to die every setting.

Chick death by hanging from the mother’s underfluff is a very real risk, as bizarre as I thought it was the first time.   I saved three chicks from this hatch from hanging.  I found two at once being dragged around by the neck.  What a fate.  Her underfeathers were glued together at the ends, poop no doubt, and chicks had their heads stuck in the loop, probably from burrowing under her.  I saved them, phew!, pulling the feathers apart, and feeling for other knots.     I suppose the solution would be combing their bellies shortly after hatching.  You first.

It’s a bit like 101 Dalmatians around here now.  Chicks everywhere.  In the greenhouse, in the chickeries – I’ve lost track of how many sets there were this summer.  Some hens went broody twice.  There are a lot of chicks scampering around.

img_4461

The last remaining greenhouse setter is good as gold in her broody box, but she loves breakfast.  She eats nearly her whole bowl of food every day, and she goes at it enthusiastically the moment it’s given (as opposed to other broodies, who eat a bowl of food every week or two, and pretend they don’t care about food when you put it in with them).

Outside, it’s cooling off.  The birds come tumbling down the ramp every morning, and then, ugggh!, halt on the ramp to hunch their shoulders and fluff out.  Sometimes they just go back inside. Not ready to greet this day. 

There are two ways to identify roosters.  1) Even very small, they start beefing with the other baby cocks.  They lower their heads and stick their necks out, then stand up really tall on their toes, beak to beak.  If that doesn’t settle it, there’s some chest bumping.   2) Baby cocks hero-worship the rooster.  I’m gonna be just like you someday!  They are first to arrive when he does his food clucks, and they tag along with him, everywhere.

img_4493 img_4492

I came home to Snowball out of the Silkie paddock, who knows how or why, and whaddya know, Wannabe Jr. is out there with him.  Note unflappable (harharhar) white hen looking on.