I’ve changed the dynamic in the greenhouse these days by moving the little hens out of the teenager house and into the big coop. Every night I reach into the teenager house, gropw around and pull out the four hens and Yin and Yang, put them in the big coop and leave the roosters.
Hopefully they’ll learn to go in the big coop by themselves soon. Then I leave the roosters locked up until last in the morning, after the hens have had priority seating at breakfast. The boys have an entirely different attitude, now that most of the birds are already about their business when they come out. They don’t act so important.Yin and Yang and a young white hen aren’t sure about how to get out of the coop in the morning either.Mushroom run! She’s got a mushroom and just wants to eat it in peace. (The lads are still locked up in the frat house there) A few guineas on their fave hay tower.
Brown Bonnet is outside now, in the Chickery 2.0. She already has an avid suitor. I’ll be your baby daddy!
At night she goes in the box with the brood, and we close the box and carry it into the house, and then back in the morning. The chicks are still so little, I don’t want it to be too much of a strain on her to keep them warm.They’re under her here, but all you can see are a couple little feet sticking out.
There’s a cheeping box in the house! It’s a big box, big enough to have an inner box cave, where the chicks like to hang out in the dark all day.Three little chicks:)
This one is Brownie, HW’s favorite, who was hatched first, with a little help. This is the most vigorous and adventurous chick, but oddly, it’s been getting pasted butt. I’ve never known a hen-raised chick to get pasted butt. I thought the mother hen was proof against it somehow. While I was gone HW was washing chick butts (he really likes this chick), and today I had the pleasure. It’s a lifesaving necessity for pasted butt.
It takes a while to gently soak and wash, and mama freaked out a bit at the absence of her first-hatched. She jumped up on the side of the box, then thought better of the mission and hopped back down in.Lowering Brownie back in.
The two white chicks are alive and well. Recently released from the chickery:Major Fowler has been dying for her incarceration to end, paying tribute and bowing from the wrong side of the mesh.
They reintegrated very well, Snow White immediately bringing her chicks up into the coop, which she seemed very happy to return to. I’m ready to be in my own bed, and warm for a change! Only two days of chick ramp shenanigans before they were following mom in on their own. They’re never sorry to be picked up and tucked in a coat.This one was snatched up for a photo shoot and contented to be pocketed for a warming. They always have surprisingly cold feet. I’ve got wings!!
Well, somebody’s feeling better! I came back in the house to find the bird had escaped form the bowl and was peacefully sitting on the windowsill, HW companionably having a coffee in the rocking chair.I grabbed her with a towel and we pet her for a bit before putting her back in the greenhouse with her family.
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!
Doesn’t she look proud of herself? All fluffed up. Grrrr! She really puffs up when you poke her, but I want to see who’s under her?Who’s under there?There they are! This is how you clean your beak, kids. No one’s looking.
Settling on the brown chick.We don’t need a nap!Well, maybe a nap, it’s cozy in there.
The tell-tale shell! It’s so cool how the chick unzips the egg much like we would take the lid off a hard-boiled egg.
Snow White was all about rolling her eggs out of the nest today. She probably knows something I don’t, but I gave her reject eggs to Heather, in the duplex next door.
There’s the chick! All of them spilling out of the box.
There was another chick as well, partially hatched, but her egg was crushed like it had been stepped on, as if being in an egg isn’t cramped enough. The membrane was drying out, so the chick was in trouble. The membrane that keeps them alive in the egg can kill them when they are hatching, if it dries out. It becomes stiff and adheres to skin and eyes. I’ve seen a couple of chicks die during hatching because they couldn’t break that membrane or worked too slow and the membrane suffocated them. That’s gross and sad. But this chick, I rapidly grabbed it and peeled it, Cheep! Cheep!, and popped it back under the dark hen belly. It was alive but not necessarily well, so I don’t know if it will make it to tomorrow.
Tomorrow I’m looking forward to moving the broodery to a fresh spot and making it all clean for the chicks to grow up in for a week or two. It’s pretty messy from two hens pooping for a full term.
Everyone else is well.After a year naked, Jean Jacket is sprouting a lot of feathers on her wings, which is excellent. She must be enjoying her fleece jacket. Except the black really shows the dirt!
There’s the keet in the corner, up on the keet highway. The keet is very active now, a big hopper and it can fly some too.
I hope it means the guineas are happy to be in the GH, that they don’t spend half the day yelling anymore. They are much quieter.
The hens and guineas pretty much completely ignore each others’ existence. They hop through the door right next to each other, graze, and show no sign of noticing each other. All the chickens notice each other, all the time, though.
It’s colder now, so the layer hens, who still have their coop outside, drift inside, to where it’s warmer, while all the teenagers like to hang outside.
Four little chicks are alive and well. Two guineas and two Silkies. So cute.The two hens who were broody are sort of co-parenting the chicks. The one who seemed to stay broody changed her mind and is now the main Mom (after the other being the main Mom for at least a week). Now they tend to hang out together with the chicks.
Spent the day redoing the emergency windstorm work to rights (baseboard, bolts, adjusting all plastic- no small job), and installing everyone in the greenhouse. Alas, one tiny guinea chick was found dead in the morning, possibly of exposure. It was cold, but still – odd to keel over in the GH, mom right there.
The two broody Silkie hens co-hatched two chicks. What with all the competition and apartment swapping, there is no apparent parentage of the two new chicks. Even the hens don’t seem to be clear. I installed both of them in the chickery with a broody box and new eggs. This is for their comfort, for protection from the amorous roosters (How I have longed for you!), and the teenagers who pile in at night. No one wants teenagers around, even your own.
Broody hens are so funny, they act like it’s Christmas when you give them eggs. Eggs?! You shouldn’t have! Cluck cluck cluck, and they settle right on, like they’re slipping into a warm bath.She’s been sitting on eggs more than a month, and she’s still thrilled about it.
The cohabitation seems to be great for the chicks. One mom seems pretty into mothering, but the chicks can go in the box anytime to second mom for a warming, which they do. I think I’ll have a nap with you now.Especially when Mom A is getting down in the dirt bath. We’ll leave you to it. We’ll be in here.They all pile in the box at night. TOO cute!
Before I took their box away, the teens were playing house in it:
The guinea chicks are so tiny, smaller than the Silkie chicks, perfectly camouflaged, and slippery. After the morning death, I was keeping a close eye and an ear open for their car alarm cheeping, and sure enough, one slipped under the baseboard. There it is outside on the wrong side of the plastic. Mom tried to give me a good thumping through the plastic.
The greenhouse is chaotic and messy. I strew hay bales around for them to distribute, make it less of a mud hole. They love a good hay bale.
It was a stressful day, because it was beautiful outside, and all the teens were determined to get outside in it, and were sneaky and extremely clever about slipping out behind me. I’d herd two back in and three would come shooting out. But there were no attacks, and I got everyone back in the GH eventually.
Late in the day, Mama got out with her chicks! I didn’t see how. The guineas all seemed to be fixing to roost at large, so it was time for another chicknapping.
Then all the other guineas trooped in.
Mama found a real nice spot in the corner of the bales to bed down.She has a very interested observer.
Guinea update: they did all survive the night, and again skipped dinner (thus not giving me the opportunity to attempt to trap them again) and went to roost where they did night before last, which they also survived. So I’m just moving the GH as fast as I can to put them in it.
It will still take awhile. I’m interested to see whether it will take longer to take it down and then put it up again than it did for me to put it up in the first place. If it were a house, then it’s always faster to just build a new one. I’m thinking the GH could be faster to move than it was to build new, but we shall see. I’m also weaker and less healthy than I was the first time.
I was in there half the day ripping it out, which meant a party of epic magnitude for the young chickens that live in there, the kegger that will not be forgot.
They were always underfoot, interested in the volume of green mass I was dropping to the ground, and the climbing and rummaging and scratching was such as had never been seen before. So good the room was mostly silent, with all the chicks individually occupied throughout. They know every inch of the GH, it is their whole world, so change must be very interesting to them.
Come dusk, I was still working, so I got to see the goings in. I’ve been stuffing the chicks in the coop every night, and although there’s plenty of room, they squabble all night. What the?
So I tried something new. I tacked up cardboard, dividing the coop into apartment A and B, and I put a hen in each one. One (mud head) is legitimately broody, I can’t tell if the other one is for real, but she’s acting as if.
As it got dark, the Chanticleer chicks went to bed first, and they all came along one at a time, long-necking and then hopping up in with Mom.
Or two at a time.
This one chose wrong. And tentatively settled in.
And then, RRTROWWR! She came bursting out, having been forcibly ejected by the resident hen. So she‘s been the nighttime rabblerouser; she doesn’t like the chicks of another colour.
The Chanticleers eventually all loaded in, to the right apartment.It’s very cozy in there. I don’t know how they do it.
That left the Silkies out, who much later started to think about bed, and went trouping around, looking like they might consider the possibility that they might sleep somewhere other than a pile in the corner.
I spent some time trying to marshal them towards the coop, and grabbed a couple and tossed them into Apt A, but they kept missing it, and going around it, then going under it, and a few hopped in on their own, yay! Definite progress.
But I could’ve almost sworn I saw a white one dart into Apt B, which is already suffering overcrowding. I groped around but couldn’t find her, until I took a picture.Aha! Lower right, the couchsurfer.
I have some confidence that they will all go to bed tomorrow, or definitely the next night. Unless the hens decide to switch apartments.
Only two guinea chicks running around today. Life is brutal for latecomers.
They’re so funny! Little bitty chicks, the size of ping pong balls, scuttling around on their orange legs right in the middle of the big flock, like they belong there. They’re hard to even find in my pictures.
It’s a big rain day. The rain is thundering down; I caught 300 gallons of water in an hour off two roofs. Everything is puddled and the hens are mostly huddling under their new tents.
Already! Two little guinea chicks showed up at feeding time in the middle of the guinea herd!
Only two? She had about ten eggs in her nest even after the close call with the tractor, but I checked it out, and there were two empty shells, and four intact eggs. Maybe something happened, she rolled out a few eggs or something stole a few.
Then HW came home, discovered the new additions, and said “did you see the three new chicks?”
Three!? Sure enough, there was a latecomer. Easy to tell which one. Just a few hours made the original two old hands at life. The late arrival was shaky and slow and having a hard time navigating uneven terrain and obstacles.
Mama isn’t as crazy as she used to be either. She let me pick one up.
Maybe it has something to do with these little scamps.
It’s also a mystery why they enjoy pepper leaves so much. They must be sweet. The hot pepper plants don’t get defoliated (the eggplant leaves are ragged too). Doesn’t bother me. They leave the peppers alone, and the plants will be out soon anyway.
There are 12 chicks in the GH, with two Silkie moms. They have they’re hands (beaks?) full.
They’re at this point where the Silkie chicks (coming into fluffy tails), are the same size as the Chanticleer babies, who are eventually going to be huge.
The guineas are growing up. There’s fourteen left – two disappeared along the way. They’re still running along usually like one school of fish behind one hen, but sometimes they break into a couple of groups, and even get caught alone. Then there is shrieking, when they look up and realize everyone’s gone. I’m alone!
They’re SO fast, and they can fly quite well. They’re starting to make their transition from brown stripes to black and white dots, but they still have the bright orange feet.
They’re also lost their “chick immunity”, and can and will get pecked for being rude, especially by the layer hens. One of the guinea cocks seemed to be being a real jerk, chasing and attacking the chicks all the time. But I have a theory that that’s a developmental strategy, like play fighting or wrestling, that he’s teaching them the art of escaping attack (try catching one). Especially since the hen is right there letting him do it.
In the morning the group fills the feed platter, literally. They eat, get full quickly, and then depart. I give them a chance and then let the chickens out. Through the day the guineas spend their time quite far afield (or awoods), sauntering through chicken land at times for a snack.
The adult flock escorts the chick flock less. One hen has resumed her partnership with a cock and the two of them travel together independently. The other pair and the bachelor accompany the chicks.
The guineas are at this age where they just get into trouble all day.
They’re falling in the drink, getting stuck in or under stuff, and practicing perching anywhere they can. I get called outside frequently by the panicked shrieks of the mortally assailed, and I find chicks…
How did it get in there? Last year I planted a highbush blueberry and set a cage over it so the chickens didn´t uproot it through their vigourous appreciation of mulch.
I routinely found wailing chicks “trapped” in the chickery until I set it up on its side. Now it´s a perch.They’ve got that guinea vase shape and they´re starting to turn speckled from striped, but they’re still brown.
Then I was brought outside at dusk by some particularly sustained alarm calling.
To find this:
The chicks were getting up on the greenhouse. And they were really nervous about it, making a lot of consternation noises.It started with the grownups. They started inching up onto the greenhouse from the sky coop while mama was sitting with her brood on the perches.
A couple of days ago, they started roosting on the peak.
Not to be outdone, the chicks just decided that’s the place to sleep now.
First they flap up to the arch from the coop Then they scoot up until they gain the peak
A few of them are content to stay on the coop, which I think is smart, but I’m sure they’ll be leveled up in no time.
I have a theory that this started with the weather vane. If that bird can get up there, then so can we.
No, they don’t puncture the plastic. It’s tight at night in the cold. It makes loud rumbling as they all scurry back and forth across it.
What’s funny, is that there’s not much space at the top. It´s kind of a one way street. Yet they insist on going back and forth, and when they pass each other….
If anyone gets more than a few inches from the center, they start to slip, then run in place, flapping, and either they regain the summit or abort, and push off to fly to the ground and then begin the quest again.
Eventually they line up like beads for the night. It looks like an owl buffet to me, but I don’t have any ideas how to stop them.
There´s a tribe of chicks in the greenhouse. One mom has 5 Chanticleer chicks, and the other has seven Silkies.
They never shut up! PeeppeeppeepPEEPpeeppeeppeepPEEPpeep. Wow. I don´t know how the Moms handle it, unless lots of it is inter-chick chatting that they can tune out.
Otherwise, it´s Mom, Mom, Mom! MOM, Hey Mom, Look at this Mom, Hey Mom can I eat this? What about this? What´s this Mom? Look what I found Mom, Look at me Mom, I flapped! See how fast I can run? Watch this, Mom!
All. Day. Long.
The Silkies are a week older than the Chantis, so they´re all the same size (so far). The Silkies are already entering their scruffball transition from fluff to feathers. There’s three white and four brown.
Most of these chicks I’ve never even touched. They´re going to be the wildest bunch yet. They were born in a box with an open door, and Mom’s been totally in charge from day 1. I don´t even see them every day.
But boy do I hear them.
They’re all so happy and safe in there, savaging the low-hanging tomatoes, rearranging my mulch, tasting stuff. It’s a rooster-free zone. One Silkie rooster is wont to stand looking in the screen door, fantasizing.
The pigs are rooting. I give them a nice new grassy area that looks like a green pig paradise for about an hour. They like to customize their environment, which means turning over every inch of sod. Very diligent workers. And fast.
They’ve been getting closer every day, with their little peep peeping. They´re so talkative you can always hear them coming.
They’re very funny, acting like they’re pretty sure they’re not allowed to be here, so far from the coop, and trippign over themselves dashing into the woods when seen. Run away!!!
But the big chickens are here (they hang around the house half the day, peering in the screen door and hoping for handouts). So the Blondies have made their way over.
The house-moochers of the future.
They are also starting to get their cheeks, which is adorable:)
The three orphaned blond Ameracuanas are nearly grown up, now. They look like proper chickens, with very erect half-fan tails, but they´re small! Slim, long legged, and gangly. the right chicken shape, but not filled in. And still peeping like babies (constantly).
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.
The world got a thorough washing yesterday, with spectacular lightning and thundering, and possibly 90mm of rain here.
I filled every vessel I had; the wheelbarrow filled in about 10 seconds it was coming so hard. The paths were all rivers during the worst of it.
All the chickens were hiding under their tents, even the guinea chicks.
In the greenhouse, new mama has a little entourage of chicks in the tomato forest. One had a beakful of tomato, quite proud of itself. I know they are going to taste test all the ripe tomatoes they can reach. Oh well.
Later on, the sun came out. The guinea chicks are growing by the day and getting tamer, slowly. They learned to fly up onto the hen coop, and were practicing that, flying up, jumping off.
There’s the guinea keets this morning, practicing perching on the feet of the guinea sky-coop. They grow by the day.
HW has raised the issue of what happens when all these guineas grow up. Case in point, when they start hollering about something, it’s “How do you think 20 of those are going to sound?”, and “What happens when all those guineas decide to sleep on top of the coop?” and the most difficult: “So, if you had two hens this year and they had 16 babies, then what happens next year when all those hens are grown up, and they have….how many babies are they gonna have?”
Over and over, all I get to see is lots of little guineas vanishing into the brush.This morning, they were under the chicken’s coop before I opened it.
They have little wings of their own now, and they are at least doubled in size from when they hatched. Still with Big Bird orange feet and beaks.
I can’t believe one hen can cover them at night, and I think of her when it pours cats and dogs at night, resolutely making herself into a tent. In the morning, all the chicks are dry.
They still move en masse, attended constantly by all five adults. They get superlative parenting.
They aren’t quite as terrified of us, and I got closer today than ever before. Now they leave when I come around, rather than flee. Not quite as much of a panic. And the adults show their suspicion but are more tolerant.
I even got a chance to count them! and there are definitely 16, so that means that little spinaround chick made it. I’m glad:)
The Blondies have seemingly recovered from the loss of their mom. It was a very sad few days, for everyone, but they’ve come out from hiding in the bush.
It’s still sad, that they’re orphaned. No guardian, no snuggling in the dust bath. They used to cheep all the time, and seem to instinctively know that cheeping is maladaptive when you’re alone in the world. They don’t cheep very much now.
They are miniature chickens, grown up early. They stick together and go all over foraging. They loosely hang with the Silkies, and go in the coop at night, but they are their own clique, and they’re still just little!
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 haven’t even gotten everything into my garden yet, and tomatoes are already forming in the greenhouse. I’ve also canned a round of rhubarb. I think it’s not good when the harvest starts before the planting is done. Better…next…year.
In the meantime, my greenhouse companions, the Blondies, are joyously scritching around in the heavy mulch, until it gets too hot and I kick them outside for the day.
One chick decided to have a dust bath. Very funny – a chick the size of a tennis ball taking a dust bath. Really into it. I’ve not seen a little chick dust bathe before.
They’re getting their wing feathers and little stubby tails.
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!