Tag Archives: Silkies

Shoulder chicken

I was sitting on the rocking chair with my laptop on my lap, doing ‘net stuff in the morning.  HW had just left for work.  My chair was right beside Apples’ box (the house chicken).

Suddenly, she leapt up onto my knee with a big flap.  Very startling, and extremely uncharacteristic.  Wow!  Ok, you’re in the mood for a little cuddle?  I made room for her on my lap.

Shocked and delighted, of course I was nowhere near my camera, or phone.  But I did have my laptop on my lap.  I opened Siri and asked her to take a picture of me, and she obliged.  Siri has never come in handy before (“Siri, open Art folder” – “Alright, opening Google Earth”), but this time – clutch.Lap chicken!

I barely got a pic of that before she started climbing me, like a kitten (What the!?), scrabbling up, up, until she summited my shoulder.

Siri, are you getting this?Whereupon, she settled right down like A: she planned to stay awhile, and B: this was totally normal, like we do this every day. WHAT?  THE?

Sure, she’s lived in the house for a while, HW sings and talks to her (pretty often), we occasionally try to pet her (and get growled at for it), and she really came out of her shell when Lily visited.  But day after day, she spends all her time in her box or on her sheet of paper.  We have NOT made any active attempts to change her behaviour or “train” her.  Certainly not to play parrot.

She has never before shown any inclination to reach out to us.Now, she was all cuddles.

Since it seemed like she was staying, I put her on my other shoulder, got a towel in position, and put her back.This made me more comfortable.  I didn’t trust she’d also suddenly got house trained.What are you thinking?  It’s really something to look her in the eye, at about 3 inches, and she’s looking back with that little black eye.

Long neck. Longer neck.

She got real relaxed, dozing, doing a little grooming, leaning on my ear (oh, I’m on your shoulder? So what? Can’t stop grooming) .Then, she got really, really cuddly.  And she’s so soft and warm.  HW had a theory, when I called him later (“You’re not going to believe this…).  Just before he left in the morning, he’d asked me when I was going to put Apples back out in the world.  He figures she heard that, and wanted to put a stop to that line of thinking.You’re not going to let him come between us, are you?

She stayed for a very long time.  Like almost two hours.  Ultimately I got too hungry to sit any longer, and got up and started walking around, with her still there.  She didn’t seem to enjoy surfing,  though, so I set her back down, and she ate, drank, and settled in for a big nap.  She had a really big day.

Did you ever?   A CHICKEN!

Scruffle central

When the new boys got released and wandered out of their corner, they met the roosters who already lived in the greenhouse. Cue the battles You’d be forgiven for thinking that rooster fights are actually high jump contests.

Nice one.
Watch this.

Back to staring for a while… A victor is emerging. They’re both tired.  Panting.

I’ll ballet on you, fiend!
Your frilled-necked lizard impression isn’t fooling me!
I’ll WWE you, interloper!

The interloper is now having second thoughts.

Ding ding ding!  Now for the next match…

Silkie status

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”

Chickens love snow.  They go at it like kids on ice cream.  I always have to throw in some snowballs. Cheeks’ egg laying face. Aw, taking a little wing nap. Chilling in the girl’s fort, hay bale style.

Box chicken no more

Little Boxy got moved out of the house today, back into the flock.  Reluctantly.  She snuggled right in to my coat.

HW immediately commented how he missed having a chicken in the house (to talk to!) when passing by.

She was a pretty perfect house guest, as far as chickens go.  So quiet and passive.

She got right back to her, hanging with the hay bale crowd.  Eat, drink, dust bath, sit on the hay bale.  She’s smaller than her sister, still, but she’s meatier now.

“Winter” “storm”

We’re having a bit of a wind these days.  It’s all we’re getting from the giant storm swirling off shore on the Atlantic.  No rain or snow, just wind. I don’t like wind.  I don’t like getting pushed and slapped around by it.  It’s tiring.

The wind wreaks havoc with my chicken yard fence, so I didn’t let the birds out, deliberately.  But naturally the door blew open while I was in the GH, so they all went pouring out and I had to patch up the fence for a bit.  They don’t like wind either, though.  It blows their feathers the wrong way.  They quickly retreated.House chicken (who needs a name) is still keeping such a low profile that no one has been talking about when she’s going to go back to the flock.  Every day she hops out of her box and hangs out for awhile “in her yard” (on the sheet of newspaper in front of her box).  She eats and naps and does a lot of grooming.  She does less sleeping now and more grooming than when she first got imported.  She’s also turned into a real turd machine, which I suppose is healthy.  Means she’s eating more, maybe growing.  I figured she would let us know when she’s finished living in a box, by getting restless.  But she’s the opposite.  Just incredibly mild and quiet, so we mostly forget she’s even in here.  So different.  I can just imagine any other chicken in a cardboard box for five minutes…

bird fight!

Snow White and Brown Bonnet had a knock down, drag out fight after I integrated Brown Bonnet and the littlest chicks into the girls fort, which I expanded, and put the covered wagon into.  Now the chicks can socialize, and the hens will lay eggs in the covered wagon.A big fight often always happens when hens that left the flock to brood some eggs come back together.  They have things to sort out.  This time, they waited until the afternoon to beef.Hen fights consist of one grabbing one another by the neck with their beak, and holding on for a long time, while each struggles to dominate with their neck strength.  Think thumb wrestling.  It’s almost exactly like thumb wrestling.Watch and learn, kids, watch and learn.  They both froze like this for nearly a minute, like the bell rang, panting and waiting.Then they went for another round.  Young hens are backing away…The fighters are the only two mothers in the room, I don’t know if that has something to do with it.And then it was suddenly over, and they each walked calmly away.   I have no idea who  won that, but I’m sure they do.

The cutest little box chicken ever

I’ve never known a chicken to be so happy to live in a box.  It’s crazy.  She seems perfectly content to nap, eat, groom herself.  Repeat.  She eats breakfast and settles down into the hay for a nap.  Eats lunch, stretches out in the sun and naps.  Eats a snack, sighs, tucks her head under a wing and takes a nap.

I’m glad she’s eating.  It’s her only real job.  And I can feel her putting on weight.  But I do want to see signs of normal chicken behaviour, like escape attempts.  Scritching.  Opinions.  No, she’s just I live in a box now.  So the jury is still out on, Is she ill?  Or Is she just the mildest chicken ever?  She’s growing slow for her age, hence the forced confinement with snack bar, so maybe her mildness is a symptom of hunger?  Not the usual symptom of hunger. The only sure way to get a rise out of her is autofocus.  The green light makes her hit the dark far side of her box in zero time flat.  I’ll be looking through the viewfinder at her, lining up a perfect shot of her being cute, touch autofocus, and *poof*.  Where’d she go?   I failed to get many excellent pictures that way.  The only way I can get closeups is in full sunshine; that drowns out the autofocusing green light. Oh, falling asleep. Going… Gone.  No, I’m awake. See, my eyes are o….o…oh, back to sleep

HW shakes his head soberly and says I’m headed for a certain destiny of being a crazy chicken lady that has chickens in the house wearing diapers (Ok, I don’t think that necessarily correlates to mental instability, just sayin), but he loves her too.  She’s too precious, and it’s fun to have a quiet little poofy pet.  A purse chicken.

The Punks

For people, we want to be cleaner when we get out of a bath than when we went in.  For chickens….it’s pretty much the opposite.

The smallest chicks in the house are cute, and scraggly, with their sparsely feathered necks.They are growing independent of mom, or else she is tiring of them, I’m not sure which comes first.  I think she’s about to leave the chickery, like Snow White did.  You kids don’t need me any more, peace out.   I said so just before HW said he found an egg in the covered wagon, so that confirms that.  She’s done with this batch, on to the next.   The chicks are going to be transferred to the fort any day.  The kids are hangin’ out, in the shade.  Mom is out of sight in the corner flirting with her suitors on the outside.  This is the key sign.  She loses interest in her chicks, and suddenly becomes fascinated with the boys she has had absolutely NO interest in for months (the roosters never lose interest in them).

Hens are interesting.  They are extremely devoted mothers, until they’re not (coincidentally, this happens when the offspring look most like punks).  Then they revert to being single girls, until they’re ready to be moms again, and repeat the cycle.  Over and over.  While they are caring for chicks, they don’t lay eggs, similar to lactating mammals (which makes me curious about what’s going on hormonally for chickens, since they aren’t lactating).

For women, you don’t raise a brood of kids and then go back to being a good-time girl.  Not without amnesia and child protective services.  Let alone do it repeatedly.   Once you’re a mom, you’re never not-a-mom again.

 

Now, to keep the celery alive.

The celery is up.  It’s been showing little greenish threads for a couple of days, but today they stood up and unfolded their first “leaves” (cotyledons).

Naturally, they did not come up evenly distributed in the cells.  They never do.  Onions are showing too.  I love the way onions grow, folded back on themselves, and the fold emerging first.  It’s like, if a person was trying to dig themselves out of the ground they’d reach a hand out first (at least, that’s the impression I get from graveyard movie scenes).  Most plants do that, with their paired cotyledons.

Not onions.  They would stick an elbow out first, as far as possible, and then, like an afterthought, unbend the arm.

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Box chicken is going strong and seeming to adapt happily to pet chicken status.  She eats more every day but is not restless.  She sticks her neck out long and cocks her head to watch us through her screen with one eye, and we do the same (but with two eyes) and baby talk inane crap to her.  Are you eating?  That’s so good!  Are you a hungry chicken?  It’s embarrassing.  And very funny when HW does it in falsetto.    Oh, you’re drinking?  Look at you drinking! You’re just a little chicken!  She’s going to have a lot to tell her friends when she goes back out to the flock.  Updates on the supposed intelligence of the unwinged ones.

Private dirt bath

Yay, the little girls are using their private dust bath, and enthusiastically.  I saw at least three poofy heads in there from the outside, but I didn’t interrupt. This, incredibly, is Yin.  So big already. Another sunny day, and even if it’s cold outside (it wasn’t, very), it’s balmy inside.  The dust pool is keeping everyone out of trouble.  I brought lunch in today and the air was filled with a fine mist like humidity, but it wasn’t mist, it was dust.  Everyone must be thoroughly dusted by now. This one just had her feet vaselined, and she is not ready to forgive and forget that I totally messed up her leg feathers.  

No Boys Allowed

Yin ad Yang and the Sisters are now in protective custody.  They have their own fort in a corner.  Girls Only!Yin and Yang are turning out to both be hens (so Yang is awkwardly named), and I witnessed a rude roo trying to mate them.  I couldn’t believe my eyes! They may be old enough, but they are definitely not big enough, so I’ve put a stop to that, quarantining the whole clique so they can be relaxed and safe.  The Sisters are even too small to be assaulted. They seem pleased.  No more harassment.  They are sitting up on their favorite hay bale exactly as they always did (these four are so sweet.  I want them perfectly relaxed and happy).  Even though they now have all the essential chicken amenities in their fort, including a private bath, they just sit on the hay bale all day.

Snow White and the two dwarves.

Snow White and her two dwarves ave been reincarcerated in the Chickery I all month.After being integrated into chicken society at large, and even going to bed in the coop, HW put them back in the chickery while I was gone because they weren’t doing well.  He deemed them still too small.

They sure aren’t to big to be above cuddling with Mom at night.  They get closed into the covered wagon at night, while Brown Bonnet and her three, weeks younger, still get an airlift into the house on cold nights.I love the pompom tail stage.  Following pants.

Good stepsisters

These little Silkies have a sweet thing going on.  There’s the two young Silkie hens- real beauties, and maybe one has  started laying eggs – but they post up all day on the haybale in the middle of the room, and Yin and Yang, whose mom moved on ages ago to have another clutch, cuddle up with them.  They really cuddle.  They’ve got themselves some sweet stepsisters. Yin and Yang are always trying to burrow under, but they’re way too big for that.  Burrowing doesn’t really go anywhere.  It’s not like they’re cold, either, they’re just cuddling.It’s super cute to watch birds who are mostly free to choose, over time form attachments and “friendships” and decide where and how they spend their days; to see them organize themselves socially.

Dawn in the chicken dome

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.

Bad chicken pick up lines

Jack, the former Oreo, is not popular with the ladies.  I was hopeful he’d be the next boss rooster, but he’s not turning out well.  First he mounted the hens backwards (cue hen eye-rolling).  Once he figured  out his directions, the hens indulged him for a while.  I hoped the daily rampage around the greenhouse first thing in the morning was a hormonal phase he’d grow out of.

Well, that’s over.  Most of the hens have cut him off.  I think this is hilarious.  Since it’s all done with body language, it’s strongly reminiscent of the pick-up scene in a bar.

The Brahmas are having none of him.  They meet his aggression with a solid un-intimidated square off.    Think again, punk!!!

Think you’re hot stuff?  I got a neck ruff too.  I can take you.  Peck me again, I dare ya!

They’re a tough audience.  How you doin!? 

I knew you when you were an egg.  Keep it moving.

Then he usually tries some conciliatory dancing. Dancing before mating is a desirable behaviour of roosters.  It signals to the hen his intentions and gives them time to decide, and respond.  It’s not a very impressive performance, objectively.  It entails fanning one wing, sort of dragging it and doing a quick pattering sidestep around or toward the intended.

Hey baby, I just think you’re hot, ya know, we got off on the wrong foot there, can we start over? 

And boy do they respond:

Too little too late, buckaroo.  Take your sweet moves elsewhere, you’re getting the laser glare!

(These are actually different hens, which makes it even funnier).  Now cowed, he’s going for the meek approach, the sidestep.  Hey Sugar.  You know I used to be really something. I was even twice voted Cock of the Walk, eh, eh?

Do I look impressed?  This is my impressed face.

Hey, if you’re not busy later, I thought maybe you and me could….

Talk to the beak.

….ok, ok, I get the picture, I’ll just…go get some corn.

The Brahmas just stare him down, hold their ground, flare ruffs or peck back, if it comes to that.  He never wins a glare down.

With the smaller, springier and quicker layer hens, I don’t get to capture the action, but it’s no less funny.  They jump in the air at him, stretch their necks tall and flash neck ruffs like lizards, and the rage just shoots from their eyes.  How DARE you!

Sometimes he’ll use his weight and sneak attack a layer hen, jumping on her while she’s busy eating, and then (hell hath no fury), she’ll bounce up and peck him, and squawk! and then chase HIM around the room shrieking in a froth of indignation.  Hilarious!  Like He just grabbed my butt!  Did you see that!?  The nerve!  And don’t show your comb here again, creep!

They also get increasingly irritated, like women who start with a polite no thanks, and it quickly escalates to F off and die, a-hole!  when the guy can’t take a hint and keeps following them around, grabbing.  The rooster’s lurking around Maybe now she’ll be in the mood, I’ll surprise her on the other side of this hay bale… and the hen is all You again?  Not if you were the last rooster in the coop, jerk!

Unwanted mating rarely goes unretaliated.  Either the hen delivers furious payback, or the deputy (Silkie roo) will come in, flying dropkick style, to hit the offending rooster, and knock him off, and then he does the chasing.

The Colonel and the Deputy are still the wingmen for the entire layer hen flock, although the Colonel only mates his own.  The deputy mounts the red hens, which is a bit weird, considering the size differential.  The Brahmas recognize no male authority, and the other young hens are still deciding and/or developing their self-esteem.  Sometimes they refuse applicants, sometimes not.

House chicks!

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:)

Freshly washed

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.

She’s got a chick growing out of her cheek!

Chick warming

I would like a warming and to eat, please

 

Back at home

I’m home!

Whoa, this guy has grown up!  I didn’t recognize him for a beat.  When I left he was a teenager.These two think well of themselves.  No self-esteem issues here.

The Brahmas persist in using the roof of the chickery as a hangout spot, and they’ve had some friends join them. (Snow White and the dwarves were reinstalled in protective confinement in my absence- they sleep in the covered wagon now inside the chickery)Another rooster doing his best guinea impression.  Very few chickens are interested in perching so high (6′).The inseparables, Yin and Yang, who seems like only yesterday got their pants, but now look like complete chickens, only miniature.  They’re almost always right side by side.  And they like to sit up on a hay bale.

Chickens in trees

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.

Fowl life in the Greenhouse

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!

At this time of year?

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).

Poopstruck

In the morning you always have to check on the chicks.  They can get in trouble, get stuck in the coop, whathaveyou. They’re creative.

This morning one guinea chick was gone, no body, no ideas:(  Now the last keet has no little friends to grow up with.  And the white Silkie chick was MIA too.  I went hunting in the small coop, yep, she was in there, in the corner, and I poked her, and she came scampering out.

Covered in shit.

Her mom just looked at her as she ran by.  I don’t know how hens can be so expressive.  They’re masters of body language.  Like, what have you done NOW? and/or That’s gonna get all over my feathers when I have to sit on you!

This chick took a direct hit between the shoulders.  A big, wet poop.  I can’t say I’ve ever had to deal with this before.

It was time for a washing.

I thought I could get some water and a washcloth and wipe her down, but now, it was beyond wiping.  It was all under her wings, down her back, dripping down sides.  Pretty much only her head was clean.  She got a thorough bathing, and because their feathers are yellow when wet, I wasn’t sure she was really clean.

As wet as the day she hatched.

She enjoyed the bathing, by the way, nice, warm water.  So then I thought I’ll let her run back to mom and mom will sit on her until she’s dry and warm again, right?

Run back to mama!

So she runs, shivering, and then mama is reluctant to settle on her.  The little chick is huddling, and standing on tiptoes, trying to push herself up into her fluff, crying, but she wasn’t getting the warming she needed.

Hey, I’m cold! You see what that lady did to me?

Plan B then. I grabbed her up, stuck her in a pocket (it’s so automatic now.  I can stick a chick, or several, in a pouch or pocket, or down my shirt, and they instantly go quiet – dark and warm?  No further questions).  It’s when they have a head out and can see what’s happening they cheep like the sky is falling.

I brought her back to the house, wrapped her in a washcloth, and stuck her under the covers with HW (Huh? What?  I hear a chick…).  He didn’t object to the excuse to stay in bed.

There was some mild, curious cheeping for a bit:  I say, this seems irregular.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you!

Then the  chick conked out for a long nap.  Very long.  Very quiet.

I peeked.

Oh, I’m awake. I’m just not going to say anything to ruin this.

Eventually she wiggled out of the washcloth and went for an exploratory crawl with her little talons (Hey!  Ouch!).  She came out fluffy as anything, and passed the sniff test, so I returned her to mom in the greenhouse, who also smelled her!

HW (skeptical):  How do you know that she smelled her?

Me:  Oh I know a smelling when I see one.  She leaned over, beak an inch away, and then was satisfied and resumed her business.  It was a sniffing.

Never a dull moment.

Livin’ in the greenhouse

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:

A box? Let’s all get in!

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.

Here we have a guinea perching on the chickery, all the teens, Silkies and Chantis, chilling on the hay bales, and the Oreos, now big grown birds, visiting.
From the other direction. One teen perching, and the guineas, Hey, that’s OUR clothesrack.

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.

Now with only two:(
Mom’s stopping for a snack on her way back in

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.

Almost all safe now.

Training coop subdivision

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.

Apartment A
Apartment B (true broody)

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.

Is that Mom in there?

Or two at a time.

Is it A or B?

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.

Let me try this again.  Is it door #2?
Don’t make the same mistake I did.

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.

Fall in the mud

Having a mud bath late afternoon at this time of year?  It’s not that warm. They’re into it, though.And after a good restful mud flop, it’s time to go ruffle up one’s hay bed.And then get food stuck in your forehead hair. The Colonel got into the greenhouse today, laid down the law.  I left the door ajar while I was cleaning coops, and then there was a kerfuffle inside, and then there was a bigger kerfuffle outside, as the Deputy seized the moment and tried to seize the Colonel’s hens while he was otherwise occupied.

Funny, I tried and tried to get the Colonel to go in the greenhouse a month ago and fertilize the GH hens, but he wasn’t having it then.

Back to coop training: Well, that looks exactly like yesterday. The Silkie chicks are all This is what we do, we huddle up in a pile on the floor, and the Chantis are cramming themselves in the broody box.  I’m sure Mom loves that.  She’s still got her mud dreads, I see.

Coop training II

The answer (to how many went in the coop on their own tonight):

One.

Mom.  She probably remembers well living in a wooden box, and is right at home. 

Chick roundup night two went better, the last Silkie chick (different one) left running around found its own way in quite rapidly.

All the Chanticleers were piled in the cardboard broody box with “their” mom, who’s trying to work on the next batch.  They aren’t so sure about this coop business.

 

 

Greenhouse denizens

They grow up so fast!

The jungle chicks are romping and growing up in the greenhouse as the squashes die back and the cukes decline on the vine.  The visibility in there is a lot better these days.

It’s almost hard to tell the adult moms from the chicks, who have taken their final form, but are still miniature versions of it.  (Mom is foreground, the only adult)

Then there’s the other chicks, the Chanticleers, which are a long way off of their final size, and still about the same size as the Silkie chicks.

Apparently, they’re perchers.  They’re always standing up on something.  Funny.

This one has a sidekick on the ground, but he/she’s blurred because turning head

Halfway up the tomato vines.

Ground support is more prominent in this shot, but the whole thing is out of focus!