I’ve never thought about chickens smelling before (I don’t think they have a strong smell if there’s lots of carbon to neutralize the nitrogen of their shit), but the new chickens brought this sick, tangy smell here with them. I don’t understand it.
Hopefully, a bath will clear up the problem.This should be good: chickens’ first bath.
Except, they didn’t use it all afternoon . It looks like no one even walked through it. I’m hoping that they’ll figure it out themselves, because bathing lessons could get awkward.
Maybe they have to see another chicken bathing to understand. That can be arranged. Puffcheeks spends all day in the tub.
The roosters have been amusing themselves with fighting through the fence. There are no winners. Only the fence loses.
It poured cats and dogs last night with a thunderstorm, and I happened to be outside with a light just in time to see a little frog climb up on the rim of a rain bucket and get comfortable. Cute.
The Silkies are dirty today. Yesterday I went through the whole flock and vaselined everyone’s feet (setting off a rash of feather adjustment). Then the Colonel climbed on everyone he could, greasing up their other feathers with his feet, and it was a hot, dust bathing afternoon, so now all the white Silkies are looking very grimy.Brown Bonnet is going broody. She threw a giant fit at being removed from the covered wagon at nighttime last night, and after a kamikaze plunge through the fence, got her way. She is also huge. She’s twice the size of most of the other Silkies, almost as heavy as the Colonel, or a normal layer hen. Every time I lift them in or out of the coop, there’s Brown Bonnet, and a whoa! moment. Big blimp. She’ll be able to cover a lot of eggs.
Inside, Apples the house chicken continues to be no trouble at all, happy to stay in her box or on her sheet-of-newspaper “yard”, even though nothing is actually keeping her from rampaging all over the house. She hasn’t taken that into her head, luckily (she only jumps out a couple times a week, and HW announces “there’s an exploratory chicken down here!”). She’s also growing, maybe twice the size as she first came in. She quickly got over being cuddling or held, protesting at even being pet (which is hard to resist trying because she’s cute and soft, like they all are). Hey! Don’t touch me; I’m a wild animal! I’m a chicken! Have some respect!
It’s nice to have a little life form in the house, even though we are really very much surrounded with many many life forms, we don’t really need them in the house too. But it’s still fun to have company. Today she has an extra thick bed of hay in her box, so she’s riding rather high and has a good view. Yesterday she was all about scratching.
I spoke too soon about her good behaviour. Today was an out-of-the-box day, and I got a helper chicken suddenly flapping over the edge of her box.. She landed in the middle of floor then made her way over to me where I was slinging dirt, repotting to give all the tiny tomato shoots their own cells. I also had some seed packets strewn about, and these interested her. It’s just like having a cat in your business, except it’s a shy chicken.After her big outing to the world four feet away, she ate and ate and then napped for the rest of the afternoon.
HW was watching a movie about a little girl with a pet chicken. She was always carrying her chicken around, hanging out (where did they get this stunt chicken?). Then as she spent more and more of the movie wearing rubber boots with her pajamas, he deadpanned “She’s getting more like you all the time”.“She’s a free range chicken today”
It’s wet, and warm, when it’s not cold, and muddy. Not much to see around here but the dust bath these days, which really, doesn’t get old. You’d be forgiven for thinking I have a kiddie pool full of dead chickens in the greenhouse. Toffee the rooster is doing his own thing on the outside, having a hay bath. They get all goth eyeliner from the dirt in their eyes.
Here we go.They’re over the privacy stage. They don’t even get out for food sometimes. Even the guineas.I can walk the perimeter and shake out my neck. (She’s got pool-edge walking skills)
They get SO dirty.Why? Why is this a thing? They clearly experience great pleasure at it, and I fail to see the appeal.There’s King David having a looksee.Jack appears to still have a little modesty.How many chickens are here? (Three)
What do they say about jacuzzis? Seats X? This tub “seats eight”, so far. I think once they finish off the bale, it could “seat” 14. That’s a lot of happy chickens.
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!
These are my favorite days of fall – not too hot, but not too cold. The bugs are gone and the ticks are long finished. We’ve been warned, by the frost, that winter is coming, but then there are lovely “gift” days of perfect, peaceful weather. It feels like it should be time to rest, peruse, hang out in the hammock and enjoy summer taking her last breaths. But it never is. September and October are always the worst months of the year for me, and I’m panicking and faltering under the crush of things that have to get done, so that everyone and everything will be ok for the winter. I’d like to change that. Possibly if there was only harvest to be done, it might be manageable.
The chickens don’t have that problem. It’s not as hot as it was in the summer, but they are still flopped out in their dust baths and sunny patches all afternoon. HW says “there’s chickens strewn about all along the path.” They aren’t inclined to move, once they get into their dirt bath doze. Sitting chicken‘s posture seems to be improving, by the way. She’s in the pile.
It´s a HOT day. (30C, haha!) No one has much energy, including me. It´s hard to move quickly or remember things.
The hens are rolled on their sides with their wings spread like fans and legs stuck out at anatomically improbable angles.
The Colonel usually doesn´t let down his hair like this.
The pigs just sleep in their wallow when it’s this hot, and they get two deliveries of water poured over their backs. They are very happy with their last move – more buckthorn forest to laze around in.
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.
The mud season might be very short here in Nova Scotia this year. Or else we´re just being served an appetizer of summer in mid April. 20° C and sun sun sun. I got a mild sunburn on my second garden day. The ozone layer ain´t what it used to be.
The chipmunks are back! Where DO chipmunks spend the winter? The birdsong has changed. Sparrows are here rummaging under the feeder, and the birds that wintered over have moved on to the good wild food. Swallows have been seen – the rumours are flying, the first tick bite reports are coming in, and the peepers started up yesterday morning. That means bugs and buds are right behind.
The chickens are all being encouraged out of the greenhouse, although we haven´t lifted their coops out yet, and they are reveling. Making fools of themselves in a group bath.
Unexpectedly, the Silkies are still hanging out with the layers.
Or at least, hanging around nearby, like wannabes watching the cool kids.
As usual, the guineas are furtively skulking around in the bushes. They march around systematically cleaning up (hopefully, vacuuming up ticks). They look like rocks, with their heads down all the time.
The pigs are reveling too. They have dug themselves a nice hole and stretch out with extended hooves, basking in the sun and pig-snoring, but I haven´t been able to catch them at it on camera, they leap up as soon as they hear me, and they have good ears.
At the beginning of the winter when the chickens were first incarcerated in the greenhouse for the season, we prepared some bird baths.
Inspired by my neighbour, who brings warm (room temperature) sand from her house to the hen house (hot bath!), I put a bunch of mud on the woodstove to heat up.
I shoveled the mud out of a couple of popular summer-time hen bathing holes, where, when it wasn’t soaking wet, it was fine dust. The old style metal crisper trays were perfect for heating on the wood stove.
It took days to dehydrate the dirt. It cracked like the desert, made little popping volcano vents, and then we’d break it up and cook it some more. HW stirred it assiduously, raving about how much those lucky birds were going to enjoy these baths, and pronouncing it not yet ready, day after day.
Finally, the bird baths- heavy with warm, finely stirred, premium dirt- went out to the greenhouse. I was looking forward to seeing the birds enjoy them, too, probably in the lazy, sunny, afternoon. I expected to hear excited clucking, to find two hens and the oversized rooster jammed in one bin at once and overflowing the sides, legs sticking out in odd directions….
and I never saw them. Not one single solitary sighting of a chicken getting her dirt bath on.
They were definitely using it. They were using it with vigour. There was a dirt radius around each bin. Feathers in the dirt. Week by week, the level in each bin went down. Every time a chicken bathes, she covers herself thoroughly with dirt, then gets up, walks out, and shakes herself off like a dog, making a Pigpen puff of dust. This slowly erodes the dirt capital.
Months passed. Then last week, I caught a brown hen in the bath! I crept back from the door, went for my camera, and of course, she was finished her ablutions by the time I got back with it. One sighting in months – the odds were poor that I’d ever catch another.
But I did! I didn’t waste time going for my camera but used my damaged phone – a sighting!
This hen was in the playpen for minutes before she dug through the chip layer and started writhing around, spraying dirt all over her chicks, who huddled in the corner. You know how long it’s been since I had a shower?!
First comes the broody hen. Usually I find her staunchly defending her post on at least twenty eggs, spread out like a feather pancake futilely trying to cover them all.
They have no restraint. That’s why she goes in the box. I let her keep seven or eight eggs, and make up a bunk with hay and a glass of water and a dish of food. At times I have three boxes all lined up. In there each hen “sleeps” in her broody trance uninterrupted except for getting her vittles refreshed.
Then they hatch. Immediately, I move the whole family and unhatched eggs into a fresh box. That broody box has all poop and spilled feed and water under the hay, so they need a clean box to start life in. I find it takes two days usually for all the birds to hatch, and the chicks take it easy those first couple days, spending their time dozing under mom, transitioning to life outside the shell.
Then the chicks decide to pop out from underwing, and start hopping around, jumping in the water and stuff. They get another day or two in a more sizable box, with room to run around and spill all the food. Sometimes the hen is still sitting on an egg, but she will very soon give it up and start mothering.
Next they go into the indoor playpen, which is just a big box opened up against the screen door for ventilation, and arranged on the greenhouse floor, which is dirt, of course, and a layer of wood chips. Now the mom will start to teach chicken life skills. Scratching, drinking. The beak sweep, the beak wipe.
She can see the world out there through the screen door.
After a few days in the playpen, then they all go in the chickery.
Whoohoo! Grass! This is a frabjous day.
At night, I have to lift all the chicks and mom into a box and shut them in the greenhouse overnight, for safety. In the morning, I carry a cheeping box back outside and empty it into the chickery.
This hen thinks I’ve slept in too long, and it’s high time that they get let outside.
Eventually, after a week, two, or more, or single parenting, the family will be put into Silkieland with the main flock. I have to say, it’s working great. Waiting until the chicks are older to put them in the coop avoids the daily in and out woes. Their little chicken brains are developed enough after the chickery daycare to learn how to go in and out quite rapidly.