Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Pictures

July 29, 2008
The girls are doing well and over their sneezing. Everyone seems to be getting along famously. I haven't figured out yet who the leader is yet, but think it may be Lilliput. This weekend I put down some straw in the run. They were apprehensive of it at first and very slooooooooooly came down the ramp to the run. Once they realized how fantastic it was to play in the straw they haven't stopped! Straw is always flying everywhere! They love digging around in it and finding treasures (you know leftovers or the ocassional bug). In a couple of these pictures they are enjoying leftover pancakes and raisin bran. Yep, ate every bit of it. I wish I could figure out how to put captins under each picture and place the pictures where I want to but can't seem to figure that out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

http://www.goveg.com/ecard/birdsofaFeather/index.asp A cute "film" entitled Birds of a Feather.

Interesting Article

I found this fascinating article about the intelligence and social nature of chickens on goveg.com. I didn't write this but am including it on my blog for others to enjoy. The Hidden Lives of Chickens In This Feature: Social Smarts, Small Birds, Big Personalities People who have spent time with chickens know that they have complex social structures, adept communication skills, and distinct personalities, just as we do. Colorado State University Distinguished Professor Dr. Bernard Rollins notes, “[C]ontrary to what one may hear from the industry, chickens are … complex behaviorally, do quite well in learning, show a rich social organization, and have a diverse repertoire of calls. Anyone who has kept barnyard chickens recognizes their significant differences in personality.” 15 Like people, chickens each have a place or rank within their group—some birds are dominant, and others are expected to be more submissive because they are on a lower social rung. Chickens know their places within the hierarchy, and they act accordingly—for instance, when learning how to perform a new task, they often follow the lead of the dominant members in their group.16 Mench explains, “Chickens show sophisticated social behavior. … That’s what a pecking order is all about.”17 Chickens also remember the faces of those in their social group; Mench continues, “They can recognize more than a hundred other chickens and remember them.”18 Scientists agree that chickens’ complex social structures and good memories are undeniable signs of advanced intelligence comparable to that of mammals. Talkin’ Chicken Chickens communicate with each other through their “clucks”—Mench explains, “They have more than thirty types of vocalizations.”19 They have different calls to distinguish between threats that are approaching by land and those that are approaching over water, and a mother hen begins to teach these calls to her chicks before they even hatch—she clucks softly to them while sitting on the eggs, and they chirp back to her and to each other from inside their shells.20,21 Like all animals, chickens love their families and value their own lives. The social nature of chickens means that they are always looking out for their families and for other chickens in their group. In the wild, chickens spend most of their time in groups—they enjoy foraging for food, taking dustbaths, and roosting in trees together at night. After he toured United Poultry Concerns in 1998, Ira Glass, the host of National Public Radio’s This American Life, was so impressed with the personalities of the chickens he met that he hasn’t eaten chicken or any other animal flesh since. Mother hens care deeply for their babies—Jesus even refers to the loving protectiveness of a hen toward her chicks in the Gospels, which were written almost 2,000 years ago.22 Indeed, a mother hen will turn her eggs as many as five times an hour and cluck soothingly to her unborn chicks.23 Hens prefer to have private nests for their eggs in protected areas far away from predators. According to The Humane Society of the United States, “The desire [for a private nest] is so strong, in fact, that a hen will often go without food and water, if necessary, to use a nest.”24 This demonstrates the fact that hens will sacrifice their own comfort if it means protecting their chicks. Besides bonding to their young, chickens also form strong friendships and enjoy spending time with their companions, just like we do. Kim Sturla, the manager of Animal Place, a sanctuary for farmed animals near Sacramento, recounts a touching story of two chickens. “We rescued an elderly hen, Mary, from a city dump and later an elderly rooster, Notorious Boy. They bonded, and they would roost on the picnic table. One stormy night with the rain really pelting down, I went to put them in the barn and I saw the rooster had his wing extended over the hen, protecting her.”25

Monday, July 21, 2008


I spent a lot of time alone this weekend. It was good. I played with my chickens, mowed the lawn, weeded 3 flower beds, watered everything, laundry, small amount of decorating inside, cleaned kitchen and bathroom, washed my car, and read. It was especially peaceful and quiet this weekend and a good time for reflection. I enjoyed the beautiful 3-day weekend and realized how blessed I am even though I sometimes forget it. I forget it when I'm tired, worn out, feel bogged down, or lonely. This was one of those weekends.

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July 18, 2008
Paddy Cakes and Lilliput started sneezing last week. I did some research on the internet, pulled out my books, and talked with Bruce at Southern States. I decided to put them on an antibiotic for a week. I don't think it's serious as there has been no nasal discharge, no watery eyes, and no wierd poopie. However; I would rather err on the side of caution and nip this in the bud before all 4 start sneezing and it gets worse. I also wanted to treat them way before egg laying time which shouldn't be until September or October. They are not listless and continue to eat fine. They've just enjoyed some fresh Romaine lettuce and raw squash. They have gotten into their own routine now, after having lived together for a week. Ocassionally I will see Paddy Cakes peck at the new cochin (who is yet to be named) but not like at first. I spent quite a bit of time with them this weekend and took them each out individually for a cuddle. I rub them and talk to them while I kick back in my willow chair. Lilliput actually purred! I am not joking and my friend Nora was there and witnessed it as well. She purred for several minutes while I held her and stroked her crown. It was amazing. A woman that comments on my blog occasionally suggested saving the feathers for making dream catchers or other things. What a marvelous idea except I don't know how to make them. I actually have been saving them but hadn't thought of using them for anything except to fill up different vases. Any other ideas for using these pretty feathers?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

July 15, 2008
So much has happened in Chickendom since I last wrote. Let's see - my suspicions of having another roo were correct. One morning last week I was awakended by a crow from the backyard. I heard it again. At first I thought I was dreaming but . . . I went out (with my coffee of course) to observe through the back window without being noticed. Of course it didn't happen again and it didn't happen the next morning at all. Was I dreaming?
I spoke with Trisha on Wednesday evening and decided to pay her a visit on the weekend to let her have a look at my brood. I took Nutmeg (the suspected rooster), and the two Frizzle Cochins (Paddy Cakes and Cherry Cola) along. She pointed out the little nubs (sprouting spurs) on Nutmeg's legs. Duh!!! It didn't even occur to me to look for the beginning of spurs. I've notied his beautiful strong legs many times and rubbed them but never thought about that. He is such a gorgeous bird. He was going to be my show bird. But, you know I couldn't keep him. The two Frizzle Cochins appeared to be pullets. I traded Cherry Cola for a female Mottled Cohin (like the two little roosters I first discovered), and traded Nutmeg for a female version (Golden Laced Polish). Wow - what a difference between the male and female. She is an elf compared to him. The female Mottled Cochin is a tiny little thing also. Everyone is the same age though. (See above picture of me saying goodbye to Nutmeg, the rooster and of me with my new little Cochin and Trisha, my chicken friend).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Coop Details

Well it's been almost two weeks now since the big move outside. The girls are doing well. I've learned that they really do go in when it's raining and they put themselves to bed. I go out each evening to close the pet door so they are protected at night. They enjoyed leftover corn on the cob this weekend and really cleaned up those cobs!
I have given them all names now. In the group picture above: Nutmeg, Cherry Cola, Lilliput, and Paddy Cakes.
I've included pictures of the coop and some of it's features. Pictures include: view of the house and run, an interior view (note the platform for future nesting boxes and storage for feed underneath), food & water area, the pet door, and the run roof (added the lattice for a bit of protection from the rain). Also, note the 2 x 4 just inside the door on the floor. This was added to enable cleaning (it slides up and out) and to keep the liter inside the house.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Moving On Up !

Monday, June 30, 2008
"Well, we're moving on up to the East Side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky. Yeah, we're moving on up to the East Side. We finally got a piece of the pie."
Yesterday Kelly put the door on the run, put up some roosts, and made a platform for the nesting boxes. Beth and I carried the big box outside and transferred the chicks to the run. It was wonderful to see them with the breeze blowing in their feathers and the sun shining on their faces. They walked around and nibbled on the long thick blades of grass. It took awhile but they finally realized they could go in and out of the pet door and come down the ramp again. They found their food and water inside just fine. I went outside last night a few minutes before 9:00 to put them to bed. They were already huddled inside together sleeping. I simply closed the pet door. This morning at 7:00 I went out to let them out and they were still asleep! Must be the fresh air. I peeked through the back window first and called out to them. This afternoon they were inside napping when I came home from work. I wondered today how they did through the semi-heavy rain we had - perhaps they do know to "come in out of the rain."

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, that's the Summer Song

June 29, 2008
We've just returned from vacation on Ocracoke yesterday evening. Beth and Kelly Marie came to take care of the animals while I was gone - 10 glorious days! Kelly and I enjoyed being on the little island again.
Prior to my leaving, Shannon took the 2 Cochin roosters back to the petting farm for me. It was sad to let them go, they are both so sweet and I will miss the morning song. I got some footage of them crowing on the last day they were hear. I just have to figure out how to get it from the disk to the computer.
I suspect there may be another rooster in one of the four remaining, and pretty sure it is one of the Polish but can't tell who. It's not like they stand there with their mouths open for me to see.
I can't really see much difference in their growth since I was gone but the golden laced has definitely developed more feathers on her crown. They were all black and more like a bristle brush when I left and now there are golden feather mixed in and it's fluffier. The solid black beard she has is also more developed - it's a full beard!
I am anxious to get them outside to their own house but it's not quite finished yet - the door of the run is not on yet. They are fun to watch - they are climbing up on top of the food and water jars to get a better look out of the box. They are 10 weeks and 4 days old.

Sweet Awakening!

June 5, 2008
I was awakened this morning by a crow! Peaches jumped off the bed and ran into the kitchen. I followed him and found one of the mottled cochins standing by himself and crowing. It reminded me of a cartoon. The others were under the little top still laying down. He is the one that pays the most attention to me and comes running to me. I couldn't help but feel proud of him but know that he'll have to go back to the farm.
June 12
Not only one roo but two so far. I discovered that the other mottled Cochin is a roo as well. They sound like they both have laryngitis when crowing. I really do love being awakened by the sound. It just seems so natural and peaceful to me. One of the curly frizzles was pecking at Binky (the name I gave the first discovered rooster) at first whenever he crowed but I haven't seen that in the last couple of days. The two Cochin roosters get into small skirmishes sometimes. I find it interesting that the two roosters seem to be the most curious about things. Everyone else is pretty quiet and I still hear the "cheep, cheep" from them.
I keep waiting and thinking the the Golden Laced Polish will begin crowing. The only reason I've been thinking that is because she(?) is the largest of all the birds I have and has been since I brought them home at one week old. She is a beautiful, mighty looking bird, not nearly as delicate looking as the Silver Laced Polish. They both continue to be very quiet.


Work Continues on the Coop

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I moved the chicks into their third box Sunday. I taped two large boxes together and cut off the roof with about 1 and 1/2 feet left on for a little dark area in case they wanted it. The box is about 5 feet long and 18 inches tall. I put a piece of chicken wire over the open areas. They seem to enjoy being able to move around more and I put dried grass in for litter. I also noticed they peck and play with the bird toys I've hung from the wire. They no longer need a heat lamp and the box sits on the floor now instead of the table. They are still a bit skittish when I reach in but I think it's mainly because the wire scratches the box and makes a big noise. So far the treats they've tried: popcorn, macaroni salad, crushed eggshells, chopped cucumber, dried cherries (didn't care for those), and bits of fried fish.
Kelly worked on the coop again this weekend. It's looking awesome! I primed and painted. The pressure treated lumber of the posts don't really need painting but I wanted the house to be a pale yellow with white trim.
I has been really hot the past couple of days and has made me concerned about the location of the coop. The run gets sun all afternoon and evening. I'll have to come up with something to provide them some shade while outside.

Beginning the Coop & The Rooster Crows

May 27, 2008
We started on the coop this weekend. It's 7' tall, 8' wide, and 4' deep. It's not the original design I had in mind but will be just fine - a fine coop. There is a door on one end and the opposite wall will hold the nexting boxes. My biggest concern is making sure the run has shade. I will plant some things around the perimeter of the run in the fall. Too hot to plant now.
May 29, 2008
Today the chicks were out in the kitchen for some exercise. They are getting more used to me and Peachy and are not as skittish. I gave them macaroni salad and they gobbled it up like it was ice cream!! They were'nt the least bit interested in dried cherries. When I came in from cutting the grass, they were standing on the edge of Peaches bowl eating his dry cat food.
I was taking a nap this afternoon and pretty sure I heard an attempted crow. There's a rooster in the house but I don't know who it is!

Cherry Cola

Monday, May 12, 2008
Oh my gosh! Chickens have got to be the fastest growing animals on the planet. I can tell almost from one day to the next how much they've grown. I have had to change the water in the brooder at least 4 times a day. They seem to get the pine shavings in the water constantly and I was worried about their getting enough to drink. The feeder ends up with a lot of shavings in it as well. Friday night I decided to see what other options there are for pet litter. I found something called Care Fresh Pet Bedding. It says "extra-long, extra soft fibers for sensitive skin." It is puffy and dense and it did the trick. No more litter in the water. I only had to change their water once per day after that. It cost a bit more than pine shavings but is definitely worth it. Hey, thought of a cute name for the red frizzle - Cherry Cola. She is the same color of a cherry cola when the light shines through it.

A Little Bit of Exercise

Sunday, May 4, 2008
I decided to move the chicks to a bigger box. They still fit in the Rubbermaid container but it just seems too crowded. This box is 21" x 21" x 14". They have much more room to move around. I have put their waterer and feeder on top of a 1" tall box top. I have read that alot of food gets wasted and frankly it does because they scratch around and throw the liter in both the food and water. Once they graduate to their coop I can hang them above the ground and avoid this problem.
Took the chicks out of the box and let them roam around the kitchen floor. They put up a fuss whenever I pick them up. But I talk softly to them, rub their bellies and under their wings and they calm down. It is amazing to me to be able to see the difference in them in just one week! The red frizzle has developed many more curls, the yellow and black mottled Cochin's have begun showing some white feathers on their wings and the polish crested are MUCH bigger and showing fluffy crowns.
I introduced Peaches (my kitty) to them and called them birdie boos since he knows that word for the parakeets. He pays little attention to them except to rub up against them when I hold them. While they wandered around the kitchen, Peaches just laid beside me and watched. No crouching, no pounce position, no flat ears like he was ready to stalk. That was interesting and fun.
I have lowered the temperature in their brooder by raising the light. I try to keep it about 75 degrees now. I love hearing the little peeps and they sleep alot!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Homecoming

Sunday, April 27, 2008
This afternoon I picked up my long awaited chicks from Trisha and Billy Krushwitz in Clifford, VA. They have a petting farm called KIDZ KORNER(WILDWAYFARM2001@aol.com) A man at Amherst Milling told me about her. She has over 30 breeds of chickens at their petting farm in addition to sheep, goats, cows, a pig, donkeys, guinea fowl, turkeys, peacocks, and some cats. I paid her a visit in March and fell in love even more with the Cochins and Frizzle Cochins. She called me back in April to let me know she placed the order and the chicks will arrive at her place on April 18th. I decided to let her keep them a week to get them started off right since I work two jobs and was concerned about them eating and drinking. I brought them home in a cardboard box. My order was for 1 red frizzle Cochin, 1 mottled Cochin (black w/white spots), and 1 Golden Laced Polish. I took home 3 extras to bond with because we don't know the sex of the chicks at this young age. I will return the others later. When I got home, I already had the brooder ready - a 66 quart clear Rubbermaid container which I have filled with pine shavings and hung an infrared light bulb (100 watts) over. I filled the water container and the food container with chick starter and the temperature was 90 degrees. They seem quite docile as I moved them from their cardboard box into the brooder. They immediately layed down on their bellies with their wings spread and their faces down in the soft shavings. It worried me a bit because I didn't realize they sleep like that and thought perhaps they were too hot. I called Trisha and she assured me that is the way they sleep. I am used to my parakeets roosting. All is calm.

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