Now the snow and ice has socked the birds into the greenhouse, but in the salad days of the shoulder season when they were confined but had a yard, there were adventures.They really loved the pine tree. The Silkies loved the pine tree. And this one loved the pine tree. She was always going a branch higher, or creeping out along the branch.And got really clever about walking along the branch out of the needles of the pine tree, to a viewpoint.I came out and found this, I’m like “What are you doing out there!?”
Oh, am I in trouble? When I made noises and gestures at her she demonstrated her side stepping skills and scuttled back down the branch to the trunk. I was just here all along! She’s going to grow up to be an interesting hen. She’s clever, and not a joiner.
That explained the mystery of how hens were sometimes escaping from their yard, though. They were getting out where the mesh didn’t enclose the tree.
Everyone is growing up in the greenhouse. The Chanticleer (and young Silkie) roosters are coming into their oats, so they’re always showing each other their neck ruffs, sorting out their hierarchy.
The Colonel is in retirement, especially since the rooster formerly known as an Oreo has become huge and dominant. He may not be invited to stay. I was hoping being aggressive was a stage he would grow through, as he seemed to be cooling enough a bit, but not enough. We can’t keep any jerks around, if they endanger the health of the flock at large.
The guinea keet (keet in a bowl) is ungrateful and aloof and has forgotten all about being saved, and is also about to transition from brown stripes to black polkadots, which is always a sort of magical transformation. Why are they brown from hatching to mid-size? Camouflage? Does the arrival of their black feathers mean they are adult in the ways that matter while still not fully developed?
When the sun shines, even if it’s minus tens outside, it’s very comfortable in the GH, and the birds lounge around sunning, like it’s summer. They like to lean on the hay bales, so there are lots of hay bale nooks for them.
Note white chick behind screen door middle lower left. It’s crazy out there right now. I’m safe behind here. We like this side.Or maybe this side. You put these sticks here for us, right? (I didn’t. I set them there and turned away.)Guineas maximizing their perching under the canopy.
The Silkie chicks are in their semi-independent stage (now they have pants). They aren’t always with Mom, but they are always together. The Chanticleer teenagers are now very large, still growing every day, and coming into their gender. White one on the left is the fastest developing roo, and he is refining his crow. So far he sounds like Frankenstein laughing with marbles in his mouth. The guineas on the header. And experimenting with their special sticks (they do roost on their sticks most nights. The Silkie pre-teens sunbathing. The hens are enjoying their designated dust bath. Note the approaching teenager – Oh, I might get in here… getting rebuffed- Snarl! No you won’t! That hen wants it all to herself.She’ll share it with a guinea hen though. It’s so cute when they share. There’s the keet right by the door and plywood, up on the hay bale. Usually all the Brahmas stand on top of the chickery, most of the day.
Haybale sunbathe! On the ground sunbathe…What’s in the bucket?There’s the chicks. Alas, the brown one was lost. Two healthy white chicks. The Oreo hen chilling under the coop.Guineas chilling behind her. There’s fleece jacket, feathering up magnificently. She never goes outside, preferring to stay warm. Her fleece jacket must agree with her. But the black really shows the dirt!
I was brought out mid-morning to check on the birds because the guineas were putting on an almighty hollering.
The cause? The guinea chick was outdoors for the first time, having made that big hop up to go through the chicken door! The guineas were all worked up about it (they’re so familial). This is the outSIDE! This is GRASS! (sort of). The chick is the lone survivor of a few hatched outdoors, so it may remember “outside”, but it seems it was a big guinea moment nonetheless. Right away the chick slipped through the fence. Here the hens are drawing attention to it- It’s over here!, and it’s barely detectable right by that fence post. Mom came running in, and the chick climbed back in just as easily.
The hen yard is already kind of grim, after freezing, being hammered by rain, and scratched up well. The chickens loooooove that pine tree through. They all cluster up under it for most of the day.
This is the Colonel’s flock of girls – it’s a very large flock, and they group under the pine day all day for a long, relaxed grooming meditation, and often a good perch. Usually there are 2-5 hens perching in the tree at any time. I pruned it out for them hoping they’d enjoy it, so it’s very gratifying to have them enjoy it so completely.
I installed a chicken door, in the door, of the GH. Like a dog door, only without a flap. I kinda do have confidence that hens could learn to use a flap, but to stay on the safe side, no flap.
It’s important so that the chickens can come and go without opening the big man door and letting all the heat flow out. Chickens like to be outside, even in the snow (temporarily), but the point of having them in the GH is to keep them warmer than outdoor temperature.
The hens were very interested, right away. They always seem curious when the tools come out. Even though the man door was also open, right away they had to try out the new door.
I have a theory that (the aphorism about killing cats notwithstanding) curiosity is an essential survival trait. All animals seem to have it. Bees have it. Just plain curiosity about novelty. If we all have it, then our species’ ancestors that survived had it, and it must have helped them survive. So in fact, curiosity saved the cat. Certainly the chicken at least.
I’m going to have to put another on the opposite end doors, but I have yet to do the deer netting on the other hen yard.
I have two broody hens. Why. Why now? Anyway, a broody hen is about the stubbornest thing there is, so all I can do is give them eggs, see what they can do. Maybe they change their minds when it gets colder.
The chickery is a duplex again, with the Oreo’s mom (white) and one of the Heathers, each with a box, sharing the “yard” and snack bar. I covered the chickery with canvas, I was thinking to reduce light and distraction, and especially reduce the chance of birds falling in, because all the birds like to perch on the edge of the chickery. They switch boxes multiple times a day. They come out to eat, or poop, and then the other hen comes out, and the first one back gets on the first eggs she sees. This used to provoke very loud outrage, but now they’ve both learned to just go find the other box, and so far they are pretty responsible. Snow White’s a proven mama, she raised the Oreos (now gigantic and disrepectful).
I hung sticks up for the guineas’ roosting pleasure. They’re tied off to the purlins about 7′ up, and they swing a little. The guineas seem to love it, but they are exceedingly coy about being captured on film using it. I can see them through the plastic up on their sticks. I can sneak up and catch the last two still holding on, just before they fly down. But they won’t let me see them all roosted up on it, and they aren’t using their sticks to sleep at night yet. Still sleeping on the header of the door.
The baby guinea has a new talent. It can hop up on the baseboard now and run along it behind the ribs. It’s a chick sized highway.
The baby guineas were running around on the wrong side of the greenhouse plastic again, sounding like car alarms. Mom was beside herself, throwing herself at the wall trying to attack me while I scooped up her chicks. The chicks are funny. Catching them is the hard part, but then I can stuff them in a sleeve, or pocket, or fold, and they instantly go quiet and still. Oh, cozy! Zzzzzzzz.
That means plugging holes around the perimeter just moved up the priority list. They won’t last long once it’s cold, slipping out like that.
I was planning to build a wall, harhar, to separate the guineas from the chickens, because the guineas move so fast, en masse, they zoom through like a guinea train and all the other birds go bursting and squawking into the air. Because there’s so many guineas, that’s a big train.
But I’m rethinking the wall.
Everyone is getting along so well. The guineas are exceptionally quiet, with hardly any yelling sessions. I assume that means they are content.
They’re sleeping on the ground, too. The guinea mom loves this hay bale cave, and then the other guineas pile on top.