Tuesday, December 23, 2008

30. Chickens in the Snow!

Winter is here, no doubt about it! We finally got some snow, yahoo! So, we were all watching... would the girls go in the wet, cold stuff?

Poor Cheryl -she had no idea what she was getting in to! This is her on top of the stick shelter I put together. She flew here and didn't move so I had to pick her up and put her back in front of the coop. Some of Dottie's group raced to the dry spot under the deck and never ventured out! Dad and I had to take them one by one back to their roost at nightfall... Silly birds!

Tomorrow I will pick up some cracked corn. Apparently this can entice them out so they will get some fresh air!

Friday, December 12, 2008

29. 17-1=16.

I went out to let the chickens loose from their coop this afternoon.

I called to them, as I usually do, and heard the scampering sounds within as they queued up inside next to the hatch door. After opening it up, I like to stand back and watch them race out -their first breath of outdoor air for the day like the first they have ever had. Do the chickens remember being outside yesterday? Do they remember their past? I used to try and count the ten of them as they raced out, but since we have added more hens and subtracted a rooster, the dynamics have changed and they don't all rush out in a bunch. The three newest ones have been slowly adjusting to their new lives with us. The Partridge Cochin, Patty, is a loner and keeps to herself mostly, but the other two that I call Lucille and Carmen are best buddies. Pulled on a cold day out from the bundle of feathers made up of ten chicks, we took these two home and have only just recently opened up their dog crate mini-coop housed inside the main coop. They have gotten by just fine with the other hens because they have no idea they are at the bottom of the pecking order. Their presence has benefited Patty as well since that role was hers when these two were kept apart and she was the new one. Carmen, who my husband calls "Thing Two" assimilated quickly and explored the outside right from the start. Lucille, or "Thing One" is a shy girl and peeps loudly when Carmen is out of sight.

Today, as I stood in the chilly December air and watched the chickens make their way towards their favorite places, I was pleased to see Patty settling into place amongst the bunch. She was trying to keep up with the crowd on their way to the bird seed. I turned the corner and opened the lock on the latch of the dutch door. I saw Lucille over by the waterer. About to step inside, Carmen lay at the foot of the door. She was quite still. I am not certain, because I didn't witness the events, but I have suspicions that our one remaining rooster, the very docile and lovely Dottie who has tried to make the moves on Patty recently, might have tried to mate with Carmen. She didn't survive whatever happened to her after I left her snugly tucked in against Lucille in their mini-coop last evening. Poor Lucille. She had a very best friend and now does not know how to get along without. As I try to coax her to befriend me by holding out morsels of homemade bread, she makes quiet peeps.
I wonder if she will survive without her buddy.

Carmen aka. Thing 2.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

28. Dog, Dad, Chickens and Snow!

The Vizsla just wants to be part of the gang... Since he is a bird dog, we always have an eye on him -just in case!

This was the first morning of "snow", this past Sunday. Finally the white Cochins blend in a little!

27. Chickens in the Snow!

It was only a light dusting, by my snow standards, but the chickens have never seen -or felt- it before so watching them encounter the new stuff was fun.

Here is Snowball, Latifa, Goldy & Rosie (l to r).

Later, the bunch ventured all the way around the house to look for their daily kitchen scraps. Chickens out the window!

Monday, December 1, 2008

26. Settling Down.

So far so good! Since the removal of the alpha roo and the addition of several new chickens, the pecking order has been in flux, however Dottie has stepped up his rooster responsibilities and the hens have adjusted their cliques accordingly, and things are smoothing slowly out very nicely.

Here is a photo of the Dad helping the White Cochins onto the new roost after we moved things around a bit...
Cheryl, the last-to-be-named Black Star is on the right next to Patty, the Partridge Cochin, on the end. Patty, shunned by her former coop-mates across town, came to us nervously and was equally shunned. But now that the two new little Polish girls have been introduced and are the bottom of the heap, Patty is regarded much better.
Below is a photo of them:
The Golden Laced is on the left and the Buff on the right. Dad and boys have decided to name them, dare I say affectionately, Thing One and Thing Two... Sheesh. I call them Carmen and Lucille, but who listens to me...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

25. A New Hello, x3!

Wow, everything is always a-changing!

Yesterday evening we picked up two Polish crested chicks, just barely fully feathered... Can you resist the cuteness of these two??
Also, while we were at Kimberley's coop, we were shown a poor snubbed Partridge Cochin not allowed to make friends with any of the hens there because of those darn coop dynamics! So we of course took her home also...
At this morning's count, we are up to 16 hens and 1 rooster!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

24. Time to Say Goodbye...

It was lovely getting to know Rooey, but his aggression towards new people and constant crowing -just good rooster behavior for sure -got the better of us.

I found a kindly gentleman from Orange County who has 60 acres (lucky him!). Rooey is now boss to 26 hens and I am sure he is thrilled.

Goodbye Rooey!!!!

On a more thrilling tangent, we have been getting TONS of eggs lately (well, tons for us that is...). Yesterday was an all time high with 6 collected!! The Araucanas are finally laying, so we can proudly say we've raised day-old chicks up to 23 week old laying hens... And yes, it did take that darn long.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

23. Finally!!

I found a great surprise when I went to let the chickens out this afternoon!! One of the hens laid an egg!!I still don't know which one it was.. But me thinks one of the year old new girls: the White Cochins or the Jersey Giants... Either way, YAY!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

22. For Inquiring Minds Only...

I started a new blog for the chicks because, well, they're just not chicks anymore. As chickens, drama is unfolding by the day...

Check out coop drama for all the action!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

21. An Additional 5!!

A co-worker of our teacher Dad had to get rid of five of her year old laying hens, so we took them on! So far the bunch are getting along and Rooey is quite happy to have more hens.

The 3 white ones are Cochins (they have feathered feet!) we named them Snowflake, Snowball and Snowbelle. The 2 black ones are Jersey Giants, named Rita & Rosey.

Here is our Roo:

And the rest of the bunch!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

20. Just as I thought, we have TWO roosters!

Penguin, now mostly called Roo or Rooey, crows at 5:45-6:00am for about a half an hour. What I thought was two different sounds that he made now seem more like another rooster! Listen for yourself and take a guess...

The first sound is rooster #2, and the second is Penguin/Rooey, the black one. They then alternate.
((Sounds added soon!!!))

Based on what the rest of the chickens look like (comb and feathers are not rooish), our guess (confirmed by members of BackyardChickens.com!) is that the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, Garnet (mostly called Dottie)is in fact the second mystery rooster. Yikes!

We will have to choose between them since two roosters in one coop is one rooster too many. :(

Saturday, August 9, 2008

18. Welcome, finally, Black Star hens!

Yesterday morning we made the swap.
The Jersey Giant and the Black Minorca hens have to now fend for themselves among more than 65 mixed birds -ducks, geese, turkeys and chickens of every variety! There truly is a pecking order, and I witnessed the process with my own eyes...
Guinness, the Minorca should be fine since she was the very bottom of the ladder in our bunch and hardly allowed enough space to roost or access treats. Now there are so many smaller bantam birds under her that she is sure to get her share!
Peeps, the Giant, has other chickens just like her kind and is real big, so she should fare well also.

We took home our newest additions, the three Black Star hens, and let them have the coop to themselves after letting the rest of the bunch out for the day to free-range.

The new girls kept to themselves for most of the day and did not roam far...
Truthfully, they are a little war torn and aggressive because of their previous home life. Finding your place among so many birds must have been a daily battle and exhausting!
I hope they acclimate well to our environment and relax a little! We have such a little flock (all things considered) and the one rooster(so far!), Penguin, is most certainly the boss. Hopefully these elements will help to calm them down.
Here is the yet unnamed most golden of the new hens:

As you can see, her tail feathers show wear from her previous life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

17. Gotcha!

Uh oh...... Penguin was caught in the act! Problem is that this video was taken at 9:15am. If we have a crower all day long, the friendly neighbor across town gets crower soup!

Also in chick news, by the end of the week we will have swapped Peeps and Guinness for three long lost Black Star chicks! Two for three is not exactly a fair trade, but we figure that another rooster is likely to show itself and we will trade him then...

Been nice knowing you two!
Bye Peeps! (Jersey Giant hen)

See ya, Guinness! (Black Minorca hen)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

16. Curious and Curiouser...

The mix-up with the black feathered chicks just doesn't end!
What we thought were four Black Star turned into three Cuckoo Marans and one that we hoped was a Black Star, but we are still not sure.

As the chicks have grown, the three we swapped seem different than what McMurray's Hatchery describes as Black Star. Along with our order, three other families combined together into a giant shipment of 50 chicks. At a day old, who knows what any of the little feathered hoppers are?? Remember how small they were? Based on the order placed, the mystery chicks could be Jersey Giants or Black Minorcas.

Now left with chicks we have lovingly named and cared for these past three months, we can't really trade again.

Or so I thought!
Monday morning I woke up at dawn to...you guessed it... crowing. Not loud, and not a full Cock-A-Doodle-Doooo! But the very beginning of a Rooster's crow came from inside our coop. Uh oh.....

Question is: Which is the Roo?
Can you tell?
We all have our guesses, and I dare say the truth might just be in the picture above after all (click it for a larger view).

I have set my alarm for 5:45am. I hope to catch the deceiver in action!

Below is my 5:45am sneaking video capture!

I couldn't see into the coop since it was dark, but I got the sound!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

15. Lily and the Chicks.

Lily meets the chickens in the wilds of the yard...

We think Peeps, the big black one that confronts her, just might be a rooster! We will find out for sure in October when the potential crowing starts (at 4:30am!).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

14. Chicks to Hens.

Are they bigger?

Yes, they are!

The peeps and chirps now have a cluck or two thrown in. The girls are feathered and active, bored with their indoor nighttime and rainy day setting.

As you know, the grass is always greener!
The kiddie pool/cardboard house barely serves as a holding pen.
On nice days they are lucky and get to go outside into the makeshift day coop.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

13. ...and then there were nine.

Some sad news to report...
Due to my lax watch over the chicks as I was busy making their summer quarters, they were left unattended. The bird dog picked up one and it didn't survive the experience.

We said a few solemn words, gave her a respectful burial in a beautiful turquoise box, and planted some ferns at the newly created burial site.

R.I.P. Toaster!
You will be missed!

Friday, June 13, 2008

12. First Day Outside!

It was quite warm this week, so I improvised an old baby crib into a day pen for the chicks.

Although they are more like chickens than chicks now, the littlest ones escaped through the wider slats, so I have to fashion something else soon. Lily, our happy guard-pug, is never far away.

Just about fully feathered (except for little Penguin), they loved being in the sun and chomping at the clover in the lawn (no pesticides!).

The black one is Peeps, with Sister One, Speckle and Buttercup behind him.

Peeps is aptly named, he is REAL loud when handled.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

11. All the chicks are named!

Just about all our chicks are named!
Remember our latest switch-up? Our two new black ones are:

and Peeps.

The pretty Wyandotte is Garnet (although I feel compelled to call her Ginny for some reason).

The two below are "the sisters".
We go back and forth and back again with names for them:
Thelma & Louise, Betty & Wilma, Lucy & Ethel, Hester & Priscilla, Copper & Penny...

What do YOU suggest?????????????

The closer one is curious and investigative and the first one to look up at me for the camera (her picture is the header on this blog).

The one farther away is more timid, preferring to stay back rather than coming out to eat from our hands.

Look for the Poll on the top right to cast your vote!

9. Coop-Cam: Spinach Leaves

The birds have been getting bigger and they now have more feathers than fluff!

Click below to watch a clip from the coop-cam as the chicks play with spinach leaves!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

8. Just a little switching going on....

Turns out little Olive and her two look-alike sisters were not Black Star chicks after all... In fact, Olive herself was most likely a Rooster!

So, we swapped these three with ones that the original purchaser suspected to not be the Cuckoo Marans that he wanted. It was difficult to tell what the fluff balls were at a day old when we tried to sort them out, and while we think we have it straightened out now, only time will tell for sure...

So, now we have three new chicks!

The two Black Stars are above (least that's what we think they are!)

and a Blue Laced Red Wyandotte is below.

So far, none of these new additions to our flock have names, but I am sure they will not stay unknown for long. While I had intended to have 4 Black Stars as they are brown egg layers, our younger son was enamored with this lovely lady and chose her out of the box of black feathered chicks. She will lay brown eggs as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

7. Introducing Speckle & Sparrow

These two I called 'the speckled one' and 'the one that looks like a sparrow' and the names just stuck. So, ta-da, introducing:



Sparrow is very timid and looks worried much of the time in part because of her ringed eyes, like a sparrow. Speckle has a dotted head and is very curious. She was the first to fly out of the kiddie pool box enclosure in the guest room.

6. Another chick is named!

My sister came for a visit and named a Black Star. After deliberation of lots of potential titles, the chickie below is named Olive!

She is interested in life outside the kiddie pool coop and is very investigative. Neat-o!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

5. Toaster takes flight!

Toaster is the first to try her wings.

She draws a crowd - I wonder what new tricks are in store...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

4. Our third chick is named!

The little light colored Araucana on the right is named Buttercup!

Below is a clip from today.
Check out Toaster getting even with a Black Star!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

3. The Battle for Head Hen.

The chicks are about a week old. They are testing out their wings and their wills. Only one will win the battle to be head hen and the challenge for the title has begun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

2. The Naming Begins!

I know, I know...

We have been told not to name the chicks until after they have survived outside (or at least inside for a while longer than just the first few days!) so as not to get attached, but somehow, two of them have names...The all white one is "Toaster".

I believe this is because in my research about backyard chicken raising, I read quite a bit of endearing and amusing stories about relationships had beyond the usual egg-producing-machine affection that these fluff and feather balls provide.

In relaying one such story about a hen, I mixed up her name with toaster. It was some odd item thing that I couldn't remember and I said "it was something crazy, like toaster".

Somehow, our younger son still had this name in mind when he gazed at the fluffy white thing among our bunch... So, Toaster it is (better than the story hen's true name of Mailbox, no?)

Behind Toaster is the darkest black of our Black Star chicks. She is colored a little bit differently in that she does not have a 'star' on the top of her head and her underside is more white than cream. I keep wondering if we will have some mystery tufted rooster instead of a brown egg layer, but only time (and a 4:30am wake up call) will tell.

She is named "Penguin" thanks to a friend of the older son. Who knew? The name just sticks.

1. Meet the Chicks!


I am pleased to share info about our newest additions, the six Aruacana and four Black Star baby chickens that arrived on May 19th, 2008.