chickmommy

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Sunshine

In Chicken husbandry on April 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm

April 29th

The chicken/bunny cage needed some housecleaning so I let my girls play in the yard while I cleaned their mansion.  They scratched around in the grass under just the “cage” part of their house while I scrubbed the bottom and let it dry in the sun. 

The weather was spectacular.  The sun was shining and a slight breeze ruffled their feathers while they preened,  stretched and scratched in the grass for tasty morsels.  An occasional flying insect would meet its doom by flying into their outdoor playpen.  I let my Holland Lop Bunny, Buster out into the yard and he stood sentry by the pen for 30 minutes enjoying the sunshine and entertainment. 

The morning routine is developing into a fun ritual.  First thing, I check on the ladies and clean and refill their water.  Then I sit in front of the cage and open the door.  Violet is the first one out and Rosie and (eventually) Daisy fly the coop.  Violet flies to my knee and makes her way to my shoulder to peck on my pearl earring.  Today all three chicks “discovered” my diamond ring.  It’s a massive symbol of my husband’s love for me.  All three girls took turns pecking at the bauble.  These chicks have real style.  They love diamonds and pearls.  The girls are growing and developing according to plan.  They are two weeks old today and have some new “features”.  Daisy is growing a little “comb” on her head. Rosie is losing her baby down and getting fatter. 

Rosie

Violet has the beginnings of an impressive tail that she likes to shake side to side in a seductive dance.  I’m not sure who she is trying to seduce.  Out of ten creatures in our home only two are male (Buster and Jim).  All three girls like to stretch their developing wings to an impressive six-inch span. Have I mentioned lately that I love these chickens?  🙂

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New Tricks

In Chicken husbandry on April 29, 2011 at 11:37 am

April 28th

The girls are doing something new.  Every time I go out to their cage, I bend down and talk to them in an excited voice.  Each chick runs around in a little circle, gets some traction and jumps on the perch.  Violet of course is the expert.  She hops up and holds on tight with her little talons.  Rosie makes a few attempts often banging her little noggin into the perch before she makes it and Daisy just tries really, really hard.  She gets up on the perch about one in ten tries–God love her.  They sit up there saying “Look what I can do!” and then they jump down and do it again. 

Jim says that I just make them nervous and their activity is an “escape” response, but I know they’re showing off for me.  This afternoon when I sat down in front of the cage and opened the door, Violet flew out and landed on my knee.  She then used my other protruding body parts (there are many) to climb up to my shoulder where she proceeded to peck at my earring again.  After she tired of that game, she flew to the top of the cage and trotted around dropping a little “present” on her sister Daisy’s back. (I wiped it off)  I put my hand on the top of the cage and she used my arm as a bridge to walk back to my shoulder, down to my knee and then she flew back into the open cage door.  But not before she paused a moment and bestowed a warm flowing gift on my arm.  I love that bird.

Spiders!

In Chicken husbandry on April 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

April 27th

The girls looked fat and sassy this morning when I checked on them and cleaned out their waterer.  As I was rinsing it out in the kitchen sink I saw a shiny black spider the size of a dime run across the counter (my house is clean, I swear!).  I picked her up with the edge of a coffee cup and took her to the chicken cage of death.  I dropped her in and (you guessed it) Violet pounced on the poor creature chomping her in her tiny black beak.  The other two girls chased her around a bit in excited pursuit but alas, little Charlotte will never make another web.  I’m going to start calling Violet “Stephen Squawking” because she is super intelligent! (the jokes will get worse)

Later I found a little wildflower that looked like a purple pom pom and I put it in the girl’s cage.  They immediately froze and surrounded the object like I had just thrown a severed head in their midst.  Violet (who else?) was sent in to inspect the package.  After a few tentative pecks, she determined that it was not dangerous and began to tear it to shreds with her beak.  Daisy soon joined in and they made short work of it. Rosie sat on the sidelines and watched in horror. 

She abhors violence.

Bugs Are Tasty!

In Chicken husbandry on April 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm

April 26th

Today was cage cleaning day.  I put the chicks on the grass with just the top wire part of the cage covering them for protection.  They loved walking on the ground and pecking at imaginary bugs under their feet. 

If I can just pick this lock...

I hosed out the plastic cage bottom and let it dry in the sun while I sat with my little girls on their first day touching grass. Earlier in the day we had some drama in chicken land!  I found a small bug on my porch about the size of my fingernail.  It looked like a cross between a roach and a beetle.  I picked it up and dropped it in the cage and all heck broke loose!  Violet saw it first and she chased it around the cage bumping into to her sisters and pushing them out of the way so she could get to the prey first.  Daisy and Rosie saw it then and they joined in the chase.  You can guess who caught it–My little honor student, Violet!  She chomped down and ran around like mad away from her sisters who were trying to get it from her.  She munched on the poor bug until he was no more.  Despite feeling a little bad that I sent an innocent bug to his doom it was really fun to see!  It was like watching a great “chick flick”.  Later…Rosie got up on the perch!!! What a big girl!  She looked so proud….a little wobbly, but proud.  And even later….Daisy did it! 

My girls are definitely gifted.  After dinner I chose a bird to come in and spend some quality time.  I put Violet in my lap on the couch and she hopped up on my shoulder.  We watched a guy on TV make zucchini fritters.  She was unimpressed.  She mostly chirped quietly and tried to eat my pearl earring.  She sat on my shoulder for 20 minutes and didn’t poop on me!  I think that means she loves me.  My ancient cat Missy sat 18 inches from us on the arm of the couch looking totally bored.  Then my bloodthirsty kitten Sam trotted in and I decided it was time for Violet to go back in her box. Another good chicken day. Sigh.

Learning New Stuff

In Chicken husbandry on April 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

April 25th

This morning I awoke to a fun sight.  Violet was sitting proudly on the perch Jim made!  The other gals were staring at her wondering how she did that!  Then she started showing off, jumping off and on and off and on while her sisters looked on admiringly. My old cat Missy (16 years) finally saw the chickens.  She walked up to the cage and stared like she was seeing something from an alien planet.  I think she made a disgusted face but I can’t be sure because that’s how she looks most of the time. 

Later today…

OK this isn’t working out.  I need to fold laundry, make dinner and unload the dishwasher but I can’t stop watching these darn birds!  I sat on the screened porch and opened the cage to see what would happen.  Violet flew straight out like the bird woman of Alcatraz!  She hopped all around the porch and found her way up to my shoulder.  She sat there peeping while her two less adventurous sisters stayed in their cage.  Rosie was taking a dust bath and furiously wallowing in the shavings.  Daisy amused herself by trying to pick the shavings off Rosie’s back.  Neither showed any initiative in making an escape.  Clearly Violet is the sharpest beak in the bunch.  Later, after she tired of perching on her mommy she jumped down, waddled over to the cage and flew right in the door.  Amazing. Violet is the Miss MENSA of the chicken world.  How did I get so lucky?

PS–If anyone is interested in this type of adventure you can get lots of information from a great site called My Pet Chicken http://www.mypetchicken.com/default.aspx This site and the great book I’m reading Chick Days, Jenna Woginrich, are invaluable to this novice chicken farmer. (oops, egg farmer).

First Full Day at Home

In Chicken husbandry on April 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm

April 24 EASTER SUNDAY!

How lucky am I to have a bunny AND baby chicks on Easter! My girls were chirping and happy this morning.  They seemed more active and interested in their surroundings.  It became apparent that the office was not the best place to keep my little brood.  Sammy and Rowdy my 7 month old kittens showed a morbid interest in their new family members and kept trying to paw their way under the door.  Jim had the great idea of putting the babies in Buster’s old bunny cage.  It’s a secure environment where the kittens can watch the chicks but not get to them.  We set up the bunny/chick cage on the back porch where Buster, Missy & Boots (our two old lady cats) and Rowdy and Sam could all have their own little HDTV version of Animal Planet. 

 The kittens were recently declawed but not before they both developed a taste for birdflesh in our back yard.  Rowdy thinks that Daisy is full of yummy cream filling. 

She just wants a TASTE!  All the books say that eventually the cats will realize that the chickens are family members, not food.  After they grow into teenage chicks the cats should not be a threat.  We’ll keep a very close watch on the crew until we’re sure that the felines won’t massacre the little peckers.  Buster shows little interest.  He thinks they smell funny.  He’s a vegetarian so he doesn’t see them as appetizers at all.   I read that even as small as one week, they like to perch on things, so Jim made a little perch out of a piece of wood left over from a project.  He sanded the edges so their little toes could grasp it easily.  They don’t really understand what it is but they keep staring at it.  I read that holding them often makes them tamer so I spend lots of time picking them up and walking around the house with a chick in my hands.  They don’t seem to mind and they even get a little calm after a while.  I have to clean the water trough often because they kick shavings into it and sometimes they even poop in it.  Yikes!  I’m supposed to clean out their cage and put in fresh shavings once a week but I think I may have to do it more often than that.  They are little poop factories.  Eventually I’m going to devise a system to collect their droppings to compost for fertilizer.  One thing a time…

Homecoming!

In Chicken husbandry on April 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

April 23, 2011

Today the Burlingame family got chickens!  Here’s the story in a nut “shell”.  I’ve been hankerin’ for chickens for a while.  I bought a book, Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide and have been cruising the internet looking at chickens and coops for our back yard.  As usual I was gradually talking Jim into the idea.  He was coming around but not fast enough for me.  This morning we took a trip to the Feed Lot to get a few supplies for our little vegetable garden and there was a big sign out front that read CHICKS HAVE ARRIVED.  We went in and they had two large tubs of the cutest little fluff balls I’ve ever seen.  Jim didn’t stand a chance.  In a “flutter” of excitement I picked out three little ladies with the help of the store manager, Robert.  I had been researching breeds but forgot the names of the ones that are supposed to be calm and friendly.  Robert told me which ones were his favorites and then I chose the cutest bird from each group. (OK, they were all cute but a few of them really had it goin’ on).  Turns out that Robert really knew his stuff.  When I got home I looked up my babies and they were all “people friendly” breeds.  Here’s the lowdown on the ladies:

 Daisy:  She’s a buff Orpington.  Originated in Kent, England. Orps are big gals who are friendly, easily handled and are good layers.  The internet deems them “the perfect urban chicken” and the “Golden retrievers” of the chicken world. She will lay pinkish to light brown eggs. She is supposed to have a “subordinate nature” but so far she is spunky and lively.  She’s a lovely yellow/gold color.

Rosie:  Americauna or sometimes known as an “Easter Egger”, this breed originates from South America and were developed in the 1970s into the breed seen today.  Americaunas are mid-sized birds with variegated plumage (a combination of brown, tan and black stripes) and blue/green feet.  They have puffy cheeks and large round eyes.  They have a different sound than other chickens and they can be heard “singing” rather than squawking.  I heard Rosie trill today and it sounded much more like a songbird than a pullet!  Her eggs will be a variety of blue, green and pink.  She is my favorite of the three (don’t tell Violet and Daisy).  She’s beautiful and expressive.  She stares in my face when I talk to her and she lets me stroke her back.

Violet: My beautiful little black girl is an Australorp. These birds come from Australia and are champion layers.  I can expect up to 250 eggs a year from this lady.  These birds are also valued for their meat (GASP!) but I won’t be sampling any chicken nuggets from my babies.  She will be my quietest bird and her eggs will be brown.  She’s supposed to be the shyest of the bunch but she has a nice personality and doesn’t mind being picked up and stroked on her shiny little head. Her plumage is black with hints of green and purple in the sunlight.

In addition to the chicks, Robert sent us home with shavings for their bedding, chick starter feed, a small waterer, and feeder and a red heat lamp.  I left the store giddy and happy.  Jim had a stunned look on his face reminiscent of the day I brought Buster the bunny home to live with us.  On the ride home he kept saying “We have CHICKENS” and shaking his head.  We got home and set up the nursery.  I got a large cardboard box and lined it with about two inches of wood shavings.  I filled their water and food containers and Jim arranged the heat lamp above their little chicken heads.  They are a week old already so they knew how to eat and drink from the feeders. 

We put them in their new home in our office, shut the doors to keep out the kittens and watched them acclimate.  Rosie immediately fell face first in the shavings and was motionless.  No she wasn’t dead, just in need of a power nap.  All three ladies chirped, ate, pooped and slept for the rest of the day.  They seem very happy in their little box and we (Jim will come around eventually) are very glad to have the new addition to our family.

Why a Chicken Diary?

In Chicken husbandry on April 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Hi!  I just got three little chickens and I want to share the adventure with other animal lovers.  Who knew these little puff balls could have so much personality and be so fun?  I live in a small neighborhood and have a backyard with a picket fence.  For the moment, my girls are living in a rabbit cage on my screened porch but within a month we should have our coop finished and my little peckers should be roaming the fruited plains of my estate.  Some of the references in my posts might be obscure to the general audience because these originated as emails to my neighbors and family.  You’ll get the general idea of the day-to-day development of my little ladies and my hope is to make you smile, educate you a bit and perhaps inspire some of you to follow me and get some backyard chickens of your very own.  I’m a first time blogger and first time chicken owner so my mistakes will be glaring and hopefully hilarious.  I welcome any critique of my spelling and grammar!  Bring it on, please!  Thanks for reading this and please forward to anyone who might find this amusing.

Your host,

Deb the Chicken Chick

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