Tag Archives: Silkies

unseasonal chicks

Who has chicks in winter?  Ursa Minor does.

Ursa’s got four little chicks (living).  Two were already dead.  The future is not bright for chicks hatched at the beginning of winter.  But I’ll do my best to help her.

One piece of cardboard and she’s got a student apartment now.  That’ll be enough space for a few days, as they’ll spend most of their time under her.

I moved her back from the kitchen so the chicks would tumble out so I could get some pictures.

Turns out the chicks were super into some more food.

The other four crazy broody hens (down from six crazies – turns out it IS contagious) are busy playing egg burgle bingo, trying to steal eggs from each other.  We’ll see if any of them also successfully hatch.

New things! New things! – Greenhouse Rearrangement

 I got some more work done in the greenhouse.  Specifically, I untied all the strings crossing the top third, that suspend tomatoes in the summer. 

You can just see the strings in this pic.  So I’m taking them down and crochet looping them  up to decommission them until next year.  The guineas will be able to fly around in the upper third of the GH again.

This festooning makes sense to me.

Then the irrigation came out, and the pool went in, and coops were shifted – oh my!  When HW was yanking out the irrigation tape, he exposed a nestful of a family of shrews or voles that ran scurrying, and the chickens leapt into the air and screamed like little girls!  Which made the whole room erupt, and they talked about it for quite a while.

The Silkies noticed immediately that their dust bath was refilled:)  by immediately I mean seconds.  About ten.

Yep, that’s four Silkies going to town in there.

Cleopatra wants in there SO bad.  So bad that I was able to catch her, the notorious escape artist, and take her jacket off- she’s all regrown.

Ketchup’s elbowing in there

Everyone wants into that dust bath.  So much so that there was an invasion from outside:

Ahhhh, finally got that coat off!

A half dozen chickens that don’t belong hopped into Silkieland to use their fridge-drawer baths (how rude), all the while ignoring that they have a new grand bath of their own:

It’s garnering mild interest
Nosey, of course.

There was so much upheaval – wood chips and hay and coop movement and the addition of baths and overturning of turf, that the roosters were bleating about “New things! New things!” for about 20 minutes straight.  Other than that it was very, very quiet.  All must be investigated.

I’m gonna stand on that.

This little adventure chicken got in on the action when I went to hang some long poles for perches at the opposite end of the GH from where the guineas now roost.  First, I rested it on the coop.

Whitey got aboard.  More impressively, stayed on and rode the pole as I tied up the opposite end at 6’ish, then came to the coop, raised that end and tied that up. 

Whoa – whoa!   (It swings)

  What are you gonna do now, little bird? 

That should keep them entertained for a couple days.

Suet woodpecker

The woodpecker was so absorbed in the new dish at the buffet that he let me get quite close to him/her.  Then, GAH! Didn’t see you there.The suet looks like I’m about to camp-toast some bread.

The new floor chips caused consternation this morning.  I dropped the Silkie ramp and all the hens came pouring out as always, then erkk!  Put the brakes on partway down the ramp, staring down at the chips I’d liberally sprinkled around before opening them.  Traffic stoppage on the Silkieland downramp.  Some of them were just fine with it, but some of them looked like I’d just filled their world with water, and they stuck out their necks, unwilling to jump down.  Funny.  And some of them stayed on the familiar hay, mincing around avoiding the shavings, again like it was water and they didn’t want to get wet.

Mini release

She’s got four!  Two and two.  They’re still ridiculously small, but in spite of being the size of golf balls, they are developmentally old enough to be bold adventurers.  Time to prop open the chickeries so they could creep out and join the chicken greenhouse society.  Here they come!Mom immediately dove into a sprawly dirt bath.   Nothing celebrates freedom like throwing dirt over your head.  Brown Bonnet was a bit more furtive.  The chicks readily popped out, But Brown Bonnet wanted to mostly hide behind a board.  

Apples is an unfit mother

It’s very disappointing.  I wanted her to pass on all her gentle characteristics.  But it seems she’s not interested in passing anything on.

This morning she was up, and there was a tiny chick!  White with some brown, I think a Silkie.  Since she was up, I moved them all to a chickery, but she was noticeably inattentive to her chick, not warming it (and it was a cold morning).  I repeatedly placed her on top of her chick and the remaining eggs in a box, and she’d just squawk.

A few minutes later, she was scritching around in her yard, and the chick was on its back a foot away, looking dead.  It wasn’t, it started peeping when I grabbed it up.  Apples was completely unresponsive to the peeping.

So I tucked the little chick in under Brown Bonnet, who isn’t quite due yet.  Her head is up now.

She immediately started talking to it, purring, and the chick hasn’t been seen since.  Cozy.  I hope it survives that initial trauma.

I cleaned out Apples’ broody kennel, and put her back in it with her two unhatched eggs for a second chance, thinking maybe she’d settle back, but she’s not even setting well now.  She settled, eventually, but not on the eggs.  I’ve shoved them back under her a couple times.  They’re probably goners now too.

Bummer.

The greenhouse is a chick sanctuary now.  Ursa, Clever, Snowball and Feisty are all at large in there with their charges, and Chocolate should be but she’s hidden in the woods.  The young roosters were harassing them, which is really bad and doesn’t bode well for them.   Foxy’s chicks don’t need her any more so she can go back in with the Silkies.  The moms can just live in the greenhouse now, harassment free.  It’s getting cold, and they can’t hurt anything.   Plenty to peck, and the scratching is excellent.  

Overcrowding

I went out at bedtime to close everyone up, which means picking up the cardboard boxes that the wild chicks and the moms they’re still attached to have retired into, and carrying them into the safe box in the greenhouse for the night.  There’s a lineup of three boxes.

One was empty.

Oh, great.  Foxy and her set have found someplace to sleep outside.  I put the other two boxes away, did a quick low crawl to look around the base of the brush piles where they like to rest (wow, they’ve got a proper labyrinth in there), and went for a flashlight and headlamp to mount a search.  On the way back, I thought I’d better double check the box contents to make sure I knew exactly who I was looking for.

Foxy and Feisty and their seven chicks between them were all jammed into one box!  The smallest box.  That box does seem to be preferred.  I could just imagine the growling. Yeah, well I want this box too.  I called dibs.  I’m not leaving.  Fine!  I’m not leaving either.

As long as they’re happy.   In their 140 square inches of real estate.  Mental note:  they will not be happy in the morning – must not delay letting them out.

They weren’t:  Nine birds in a 10x 14 box , what were they thinking?Ursa has a mom-hopper.  Ursa’s got attitude. First the yellow one.Then the black ones – corner warming.

An experiment in chick freedom

Ursa Minor was protesting the confines of the chickery, so I tried something.  I let all the moms and chicks loose.  This is not rain day, these are the tiny chicks in their first few days of life, that are typically in chickeries in the greenhouse (warm and dry), before they go out to chickeries on grass for a few days, before they run wild with their moms (a staged transition to free-range).So I propped up the chickeries so they could leave, but still get back in their familiar box.  Clever stayed in for hours. Ursa shot out and within a minute, was demonstrating hole digging in the tomatoes. Hers are the smallest chicks too.  The others have an edge by a couple days or at least some hours.  But she’s a real go-getter.No time to lose!  I’ve done this before.  Can’t waste a minute with early chickhood education!Thinking about it. Domino’s thinking harder about it.     Oh!  Big moves!  This is the cost of chickens on the loose.  The danger to low hanging fruit.  It’s negligible.I think I see a tomato right now.

Chick party in the greenhouse

Rain day!

It did not start well.  The forecast, usually accurate to the hour, was predicting rain starting at 9pm tonight.  At 6am, pat. pat pat. patpatpatpatpat! 

I leapt up.  I needed to give the pigs access to their house.  Yesterday I’d moved their house (thank god!), but I hadn’t cut out the path to reroute the electric fence around it.  Really crappy work that I planned to do today before the rain (plenty of time!), as I was so tired and sore yesterday.  Instead, in the dark before dawn, in the rain, while the pigs watched me impatiently, grunting.  Hey.  It’s raining.  ME:  You’re waterproof, you tyrants.

I got the brush cut out, and the fence patched around it, and they grunted right in.  They just prefer to be in their house in the rain.   I checked the forecast.  It had changed, imagine that.  Yes, it is indeed raining right now.  And it’s now predicted to rain all day.  That means the pigs will spend all day in their house.

Amazingly, I enticed Galahad to go back into the greenhouse.  I figured he’d prefer that, but didn’t think it would work.  I’ve never asked him to go back into the greenhouse during the day.   And I released all the moms and their chicks inside the greenhouse! That’s Foxy, Fiesty, and  Chocolate at large, plus Ursa, Clever and (unnamed) in their chickeries.The chicks wouldn’t have any problems in the rain, but it would be hard on the hens, as soon as the chicks try to use Mom for an umbrella.  Silkies aren’t even water resistant.They were over the moon!  This was the most exciting thing ever, apparently.  Galahad etc weren’t too demonstrative, but content to be inside.  We live here, what’s the big deal?  The chicks and moms acted like they just got heli-dropped into Disneyland.  The cheeping!  The clucking!  The scampering! Oh the places you’ll scratch!  Oh the things you’ll peck!An hour later and they were still centralized on just the first fraction of the greenhouse.

It turned out to be a grey day more than a rain day, and I let Galahad out again for most of the day.  It started coming down again early evening.   The chicks were all late going to bed:)  Best day ever!

new chicks

Clever’s chicks made it!  (sort of).  I didn’t expect them to because the eggs were poopy, and that can choke off the exchange of air and humidity to the developing chick.  She rolled one egg away from her a week ago, and it was rotten.  I should have known she knew her other two were alive.

However, one died after hatching.  This is quite rare, for a chick to die after hatching under a mom, and after being alive long enough to dry out and fluff up.   The chick death rate when you’ve got mother hens is very low.  No medicated feed necessary – coccidosis and pasted bum are non-issues (very thankfully).  But it happens. Sad.  She only has one chick now, and that’s not fair, because she was an excellent sitter and I’m sure will be a great mom.  It’s a very noisy chick.  A leghorn, I think.  So they came out of the broodery into a greenhouse chickery (cue dirt bath), and Apples went in (!).  She settled right in, sitting on her eggs.

Then I lifted the lid to feed the other two broodies, and got a big surprise!Hm.  She’s got a dirty butt.

Three quiet little chicks!  Two dominoes!  I was hoping for more Copper Marans.  These will be Inky and Velvet duplicates.  And one leghorn cross. So cute.Did you say something about my butt?

Speaking of Copper Marans, Cleopatra, bio-mom of all the black chicks this year, is pulling a new stunt.  She jumps into Silkieland to lay an egg in their coop.  Cuckoo, cuckoo!  Then she acts like she has no idea how to get out again.  Every day.

OMG I can’t get out!

Oh, right.

Perchable moment

That’s Flash just to the left of the stick on the coop- a rare capture.  S/He’s a little brown keet (a “pearl”), but his first one or two flight feathers are white, so when she extends her wings, or hasn’t folded them back in completely, you see the flash of white.  It’s distinctive.   You can see the white line in this picture.

Foxy and Feisty

Feisty’s a very pretty chicken.  We had a good photo shoot before dusk:If you catch them at the right angle, which isn’t hard to do,  Silkie hens look like they have no eyes at all.

Foxy is irritable.  Her chicks are at that stage where they ignore her until they need her, don’t pay attention, and want to stay up too late. I’ve still no idea how many days/weeks it takes for them to hit these chicken stages of development, like pants, reluctance to go to bed, independence, rooster hero worship, exploration/getting in trouble, and modeling on older chicks, but I recognize the stages in every set of chicks.  They all go through them.

So Foxy is at the grumpy harassed mother stage.  The hens have corresponding stages of development – different degrees of patience and concern and energy.  It evolves from Take me! I will die before you get them! to Enh, I don’t even know them.  Mmm, no, don’t think I’ve ever seen them before.  And it’s mutual.  Although chickens can remain bonded with their “friends” or siblings for life, the attachment to their mother seems to completely vanish in time, which is interesting.

I’ve left one chickery out and propped open as Foxy is conservative and likes to return to the chickery as home base.  She’s in it, squalling for her chicks to come the F to bed.  They’re ignoring her, scrambling in the brush pile.   We’re wild adventure chicks!  They keep up a steady stream of consciousness peeping.  The world is just so interesting.

Eventually she went marching out after them.  If you kids don’t come to bed RIGHT NOW…

Back to Feisty:

I’m asleep… no I’m not!  I’m asleeeep… (that looks so cozy)I’m awake!

It was just a pre-bedtime nap.  She shook them all out and went for a last foraging walk before conveniently ending up in a box tonight.  Found a food dish!