Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Chicken Dumpling Gang

In Chicken husbandry on June 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

June 29th 

OK, I have to give credit for this title to my poor, confused husband.  We were in the back yard last night watching the girls cavort and frolic when Jim said, “Hey, it’s the Chicken Dumpling Gang!”  I asked what the heck he was talking about and he said it was from a Don Knott’s movie.  Being a big fan of all Barney Fife’s films I quickly assessed that he had mixed up the titles of two of Mr. Knott’s great works; The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and The Apple Dumpling Gang.  After I stopped laughing, I agreed that THE CHICKEN DUMPLING GANG was a great name for our little troupe.  Here are a few pictures of some “gang” activity.

Pssssst...wanna buy a watch?

Seriously officer, we were just standing here.

Mess with me cat! I dare ya!

Casing the joint

Hiding out from the authorities

I love these little hooligans.


Feeding Frenzy

In Chicken husbandry on June 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

June 28th

You know what happens when sharks smell blood, right?  Well here’s what  happens when chickens smell grapes.  (soundtrack to Jaws plays in background)

Duuuu nuh, duuuu nuh…

Dun, dun, dun, dun, dun…


Grapes, NOT fingers, Violet!

No animals were harmed during the filming of this post.  However, many grapes were lost, a finger was bitten, and a thigh was scratched.

Bye Bye Babyhood

In Chicken husbandry on June 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm

June 27th 

The girls are growing fast now.  They actually have the “chicken look”.  No more long necks and gangly legs and mottled down feathers.  Before they completely leave their chickhood behind, I wanted to share some pictures that I haven’t had an excuse to post.  A rather lame reason to make an entry I know, but some of these are pretty cute.  I hope you enjoy.

Little Daisy

Rowdy stalking

Bigger Daisy

Preening before bedtime


Violet the Alpha chick

Rosie the Riveting!

Cuteness on two drumsticks!

Watermelon on a hot day

Daisy Scratching an Itch

After posting these pictures I notice a shameless abundance of Daisy photos.  Mothers never mean to pick favorites, but sometimes it just happens.  I’ll try to divide my attentions equally in the future.  Rest assured, Violet and Rosie are loved and cared for as few chickens can boast. Please refrain from calling social services!

Perfection is Boring

In Chicken husbandry on June 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm

June 26th

Up to this point I’ve made a bit of fun concerning Rosie’s crazy appearance.  She has asked me to point out that Violet & Daisy ain’t ALL THAT!  Despite her “Alpha Chick” persona, Violet has a certain flaw that she has been keeping from her fans.  An “Achilles Heel” if you will.  OK, an Achilles toe.  Yes, Violet has a deformed digit.  I told her that it builds character to admit your weakness and strive to overcome them but she is pretty hacked off at me for exposing her one imperfection.  You may want to avert your eyes…

OK, it looks weird, but the chicken books say that sometimes chicks hatch with backwards toes and that they can be straightened if splinted immediately after coming out of the egg.  Since we got our girls at one week old, Violet’s toe was set in stone.  The experts say it doesn’t hurt and shouldn’t impede their “chicken-ness” in any way.  We didn’t even notice it until a few days after she came home with us. By then we were already aware that Violet was destined for greatness so we never worried about it.  She is however, very sensitive, so please don’t stare if you visit.

Rosie to Violet, "And mom says I look crazy?"

On to Daisy–She walks funny.  If you’d like to see an example of her gait please enjoy this U-Tube video.

We’re not sure if this is her natural style or if this is a result of her unfortunate encounter with the feral cat (Near Tragedy, May 18th).  We think it’s charming and we try to keep Violet from making fun of her.  Daisy also has a lazy eye. 

Alas, this is an effect of the cat attack.  One of her eyes looks sleepy ever since she came home from the vet.  We know she can see out of it, (we’ve done experiments) but it just doesn’t open all the way.  I think it makes her look sexy.  Rosie taunts her “Lazy Dazy, Lazy Dazy!”

Daisy being lazy

 but again, these things build character.  And these girls are definitely characters!


Chicks Love Chickens

In Chicken husbandry on June 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm

June 25th        

My good pal Susan recently brought her granddaughter to meet the chickens.  This was not Layla’s first visit to the Burlingame Petting Zoo.  Two years ago she was delighted to meet our brown lop-eared bunny Buster, and then last winter she made a couple of trips to play with the six kittens I fostered for the Humane Society.  She still remembers their mom’s name (Sadie) and is happy they all found good homes (two of them found ours).  On the trip over to our house Layla was incredulous that Miss Debbie had CHICKENS!  Her disbelief hardly dispelled even when she laid eyes on them.  “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HAVE CHICKENS!”  This kid is always full of unabashed astonishment and delight “I  CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HAVE A CHICKEN HOUSE!” and it’s always a pleasure when she visits.  I caught Violet for her and she sat down for a cuddle. 

The other ladies were curious about the little blonde person in the yellow frock and pantaloons. (Daisy was jealous)

Violet scratched her a little on dismount but Layla was a trooper and said it didn’t hurt at all. 

She spent the rest of her visit trotting behind my flock uttering a phrase very close to my heart, “I REALLY LOVE THESE CHICKENS!” One of my favorite things about these creatures is that they draw neighbors to my backyard.  The kids are the most fun.  I grew up with chickens but I enjoy seeing the looks on the faces of little sprouts who’ve only seen them in books or TV.  Perhaps I’m influencing a generation of future urban chicken farmers. There are worse legacies I could leave.

 PS–The unicorn in the pink tights is named Sarah.  Layla thought you should know that.

Chicken Little

In Chicken husbandry on June 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm

June 23rd 

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!  Tonight my girls experienced rain for the first time.  This part of Alabama has been experiencing a drought and although it has rained once since they’ve moved into the coop, it was during the night so they only heard the rain on their metal roof.  This evening Violet, Rosie & Daisy were sampling some grubs from the compost barrel,

perching on the “distressed” lawn furniture,

and generally admiring the scenery of their little half-acre, when it began to drizzle.  Now, they have experienced the lawn sprinkler, so they knew about spraying water.  They soon learned that the evil sprinkler stays mostly in one area so they can avoid it if they don’t wish to get wet.  Precipitation however was a liquid they could not seem to escape, and it became clear that the girls were a little “chicken” of random drops from above.  When it started to come down hard, they all ran for cover under the coop where they stayed til it subsided to another slow drizzle. 

Rosie and Violet got the idea that rain isn’t dangerous so they emerged for some more foraging.  Daisy was slow to trust the menacing moisture and she stayed undercover until she could see that her sisters weren’t being damaged by the downfall (I’m having fun with alliteration today). 

Daisy eventually came out and the girls decided to introduce themselves to my new lawn ornament. 

For some reason, Jim will not let me put this radiant rooster on the FRONT porch.  He seems to think the neighbors wouldn’t appreciate the grandeur majesty of this important piece of art. 

Sammy likes it!

After a while the monsoon blew in and caught the girls off-guard.  They scrambled up on the porch steps with me and cowered under the overhang while the wind, pelting rain and thunder raged all around.  I tried to take a photo of their reaction to thunder but was always a half second off of snapping Rosie’s beak mid squawk. 

After a few minutes of huddling I realized they were not going to get back to the coop on their own so I grabbed each one in turn and braved to elements to bring them to safety.  Jim stood on the porch in his dry socks and offered encouragement.  What a guy!  I got them all in and it continued to downpour for another 20 minutes.  Then something weird happened.  The girls put themselves to bed at 6:45.  This is about an hour before their biological clocks tell them to ascend the red stairs to their comfy bedroom.  I’ll have to consult the chicken books about this phenomenon.  Maybe they are on some new “chicken daylight savings time”, or maybe they were just sick of the rain.  Either way, these ladies never cease to fascinate and entertain their devoted chickmommy.

Toes Are Not For Tasting!

In Chicken husbandry on June 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm

June 22nd

I get a pedicure once in a blue moon.  Since we had a beach trip last week, the moon was blue.  Suddenly my peachy (and pudgy) toes looked like a delightful snack to Daisy.  Heretofore she had never pecked at my toes.  This is perhaps due to the fact that they are rarely appetizing. (usually covered in grass and dirt since I enjoy being barefoot in my back yard) The day of my visit to The Nail Palace she went wild for my tootsies and I was tempted to put on shoes. (gasp!) I had a small bowl of strawberries cut up to hand-feed the girls so I did the only logical thing I could think of.  I put a strawberry slice on my big toenail and attempted to take a picture of Daisy grabbing it with her beak.  I can’t believe I got this photo.

 Later, Violet gave chase and Daisy eluded her.  A tastier “toenail” was never enjoyed by a chicken.

 We had some more neighbors visit last week with their toddlers.  Knox and Josie were delighted with my chickens and Knox was making plans to move in to the coop for the night.  He used to pass my house with his dad in the golf cart and squeal, “That’s the bunny house!” I’ll bet Old MacDonald didn’t have super cute toenails.

Funky Chicken

In Chicken husbandry on June 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

June 21st

Back from vacation!  My girls had a great weekend with their chicken-sitters, Dennis & Tama.  Rosie has developed a bit of a crush on Dennis.  She even jumped in his lap!  This is a far cry from the days when she ran from him and his scary red jacket (Happy Mother’s Day, May 8th).  Rosie has also moved down in the pecking order.  She seems to have been replaced by Daisy as second in command.

She is still the most skittish and hard to catch.  She’s also not good at taking treats from your hand.  Usually it’s because Violet intervenes, but sometimes even when there’s no competition, she is too shy or afraid to grab a grape, raisin or apple slice from human fingers.  She is the last one up the ladder at night, and the last down in the morning.  She is however, becoming one of the most interesting looking chickens on the block. (There are only three but still…) She resembles our country’s 8th president (look it up) with her weird, fluffy mutton chops. 

She has a beautiful “mane” around her neck with long flowing golden feathers. 

Her feet are distinctly green and she’s developing Ed Asner eyebrows, (sorry Ed). 

Her multi-colored feathers are exotic and elegant!

Three neighborhood girls stopped by last week to play with the chickens.  One little expert reached down and scooped Daisy up in her arms like she’d been wrangling chickens all her young life.  She informed me that she raises banty hens.  Later they went indoors to give Buster some bunny love.  He’s a bit jealous that he’s been replaced as the “unusual animal” in the Burlingame household. 

Never fear Buster.  You still da Man!

Bird Brains

In Chicken husbandry on June 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm

June 16th 

One of my chickens has finally made the connection between the scary red coffee can and yummy chicken treats.  Last night I tried once again to “train” my babies to come running when I made the “shake-shake, here chick, chick” sound.  And once again, they all three fled in terror.  Then, Violet stopped in her tracks and a tiny little light bulb appeared over her head.

I think it was one of those 3 watt bulbs you put in Christmas window candles.  She looked at the can and I shook it once more and she waddled over while I poured some scratch on the ground. 

Daisy and Rosie followed suit and the three of them pawed and pecked at the ground like they were digging for gold! Eureka they found it!  Another fun “training program” has begun in the B’game back yard as well.  I decided that I really want my chickens to come sit with me in the evening.  I got the brilliant idea to slice a few grapes in half and lure a chicken into my lap by enticing them with food.  Buster actually gave me the idea.  That’s how he learned that it’s fun to watch TV with Mom & Dad because there’s usually a treat in the middle of the living room floor. So I sat down and put a grape slice in two fingers and showed it to Rosie as she walked by me.  She snapped it out of my hand and ran away. 

Daisy took her grape and calmly ate it next to my chair. 

When Violet strolled by, I showed it to her,  then brought it nearer to me.  She started at my foot and then climbed my calf and stood on my knee to get the grape.  Tomorrow I’ll try to get her to climb the mommy all the way to my lap where I can hold her for a while.  We’ll see how it goes.  Two nights ago we had some new visitors who came to see the chicken show.  Our neighbor, Donna came by with her family because she heard that we had chickens who put themselves to bed.  They got here right on time, because the ladies were just putting on their pajamas and drinking a final slurp of water. 

Just then, more neighbors, Jamie, Skeeter and Hudson came flying out of their golf cart asking, “Are we too late?”  At precisely 7:50 Violet made her way up the stairs followed by Rosie, then Daisy.  Thanks for the great show girls!  I’m sure my reputation in the neighborhood is bordering on eccentric (I used to be called the “Bunny lady”) but I think it’s cool to have people come to my house to see my sweet, smart ladies go nite-nite.   I’ll be on a short vacation this weekend and away from my computer so there won’t be a post for a few days.  Rest assured my excellent chicken-sitter, Miss Tama will take good care of the ladies while I’m gone. 

I would not be surprised if she had taken them all for pedicures while we were away.  Try to survive without the Chickendairy for a few days.  Be strong!

Chicken Salad

In Chicken husbandry on June 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm

June 14th

It’s been a few days since the last chickendiary.  Sorry, I’ll try not to deprive my readers so long in the future. In truth, chicken life has been pretty quiet and routine after the drama of babyhood, Daisy’s encounter with the evil kitty and the two-week coup-building extravaganza.  Basically between now and the first egg there may be few bombshells and unveilings to write about.  Let’s hope that their daily antics will be enough to keep us all on the edge of our seats. 

The girls’ day begins around 5:30 when mommy trudges out into the dewy grass in her robe and slippers to let down the trap door and replenish food and water.  They take their sweet time coming down stairs and usually by the time I’m finished making coffee, they’re all pecking and clucking in the grass. (Yes, they all cluck now, I kinda miss the baby “peep, peep” sound).  Later in the day I come out to turn on their fan and mist the inside of the coop. I don’t know if “misting” them actually helps them keep cool, or if they even like it, but if it’s good enough for the tourists at Disney World, It’s good enough for my chickens. I also refill their container with ice water for the lovely 95+ degree Alabama days. Usually once a day I let them out to run around while I mow the yard, work in the garden, or float in the kiddie pool trying to tan my hide (I have a terrible farmer’s tan going on right now). 

They come out to free-range a second time after Jim returns from the trenches (Maxwell AFB) and we retire to the backyard with a book and a libation.  The evening cools off considerably and the girls frolic in the yard only occasionally being terrorized by Rowdy & Sam.  Buster follows them around and our two old lady cats look off in the distance and try to remember when they actually wanted to chase a chicken.

Usually in the evening they get their scrap snack.  Today’s menu includes over-the-hill grapes, celery stick ends, some carrot skins and watermelon rind, (I leave lots of the red on).  We are still trying to train the girls to come with the “shake, shake”, scary red coffee can.  So far it’s a no-go.  Yesterday our neighbor Michael brought his strawberry-headed twins over to see the chickens.  Jim caught Daisy and Tristan petted her gently.

Tristan, Daisy & Jim

Sophie wasn’t so sure about this whole chicken-petting thing.

Michael, Sophie, Daisy & Jim

The toddlers “chased” the girls a bit but they soon tired of that when they saw a brown, lop-eared bunny hiding under the grill. 

Here are some recent pictures that have absolutely nothing to do with this post.  Enjoy.

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