Rooster Report and more!

This is El Pollo Loco – as the kids have named him. This is the guy – not even alpha roo – who is taking the lead in the crowing arena. He’s gone from being a morning crower to being a most of the day all day long crower. We are not amused. Okay – well, that’s not entirely true. He sounds hilarious – very much like a young pubescent boy in the throes of voice change. Loco is definitely dealing with some vocal challenges. Even so, he manages to communicate with the roo who lives a couple of blocks over. He’s an interesting little chicken this one – kind of a quirky personality. He does have good Roo qualities, though – he watches out for his ladies and he is quick to sound the alarm.

This is our little Welsumer rooster. He’s 5 weeks old now and boy – is he all boy! We’re so happy that he will be rehomed to a wonderful farm where he’ll be encouraged to crow for all he’s worth! I feel confident he will be a stunning grown up.

Our rooster crowing intervention of last evening had an interesting result. First – let me just interject here that letting the boys go into the coop and roost and get a little drowsy first is a real key toward success in this enterprise. Next key to success is having teenagers on hand who are quite skilled at the art of chicken handling. That being said, we went ahead and placed our four roos in the cage/kennel type dog crate on the back porch. They had a bed of pine shavings and the crate was draped for the most part to keep it dark – and protected. (Remembering that we have regular racoon visitors.) John typically is up and getting ready for the day at about 4:30 or 4:45 each morning. Once he’s gotten ready to leave for work he goes out to the coop and lets the chicks out of the coop and off he goes. So this morning he went out and let the girls out. The roos, up until that time, had remained perfectly silent! (This is all the way to 5:45 a.m.!) Once the girls were out and about they began to crow, however.

So, the modified experiment for the coming morning is to NOT let anyone out and about until the hour we feel is appropriate. (I’m thinking 8:00 a.m.) I’ll report how it goes. 🙂
I say this every year – but I just can’t help saying it again. I just can’t believe how much the green beans grow in each 24 hour period of time! WOW! I just found a great green bean salad recipe that I want to try out… I wish they’d hurry up and give me some beans! (At this rate, it shouldn’t be long!)

We have three different types of pear trees on the property. All of the trees are very loaded with fruit this year. We do next to nothing with the trees – other than to prune them. I think we’re supposed to thin the fruit out or something – but obviously, I’m no expert on it at all! A couple of years I made a pear jelly that had cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a hint of cloves in it. People loved it – so I’m thinking it will have to be on the list of things to can this year!

I realized today that it had been a while since I’d posted any photos of the big girls. They tend to forage a little further afield than the middle girls, so they are not often around for photos.Henrietta is on the left and Hallie is on the right. They’re so funny. Henrietta is definitely at the top of the pecking order. She is large and in charge! Well, actually Millie is the largest of the three girls – and the darkest now – she’s so pretty! The big girls are now 16 weeks old by all accounts that we can figure out anyway. Gosh, shouldn’t be long before they start laying!

We’ve got plenty of projects to keep us busy over the holiday weekend – building nest boxes will be high on the priority list. I’m dying to know what people think the best nest box medium is, too. Let me know if you have a favorite and why, okay? Thanks!

Disturbing development!

I want to warn you – the next picture is graphic and more than just a little disturbing. It’s actually pretty horrible, but I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it – and am amazed at how quickly everything went from being just fine to simply horrifying.

Our seven little Welsumer chicks are now 4 1/2 weeks old. We’re pretty certain that there are six pullets and one cockerel – it’s obvious who has the more pronounced comb, quickly developing wattles, as well as definitive male behavior. Funny how these chicks have remained nameless thus far – I think we’re all becoming more accustomed to the fact that they are – indeed – livestock. Yes, there are some that are more bonded to us and much more pet-like, but for the most part, the majority are indeed livestock.

Our routine of late – particularly with the dramatic increase in the temperature the past few days – over 100 degrees at our house yesterday! – has been to allow the big girls (now 15 weeks old) and the middle chicks (possibly as many as four of them are roos! – and are now 9 weeks old) out of the coop to free range. We then move the Welsumer babies into the 4′ x 16′ run to get some “outside” time in a more controlled environment. It’s been working out very nicely.

We did have one of the Welsumer chicks who seemed to be – well, for want of a better word – a runt. At one point in time we found that she was really getting picked on by the others, and went so far as to separate her out from the others for a little while. She seemed to have a slightly swollen foot, and after the separation it quickly resolved and she went back to her pals. She reintegrated nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I’d lost track of which chick exactly she was as she seemed to be catching up with the others – and they’ve all been feathering out so nicely in the past week or so.

Sundays are busy days for us. We checked on the chicks before heading out to church. Everyone was doing great upon our return. John and I headed out to Costco for about an hour this afternoon, and upon our return Jess informed me I’d better come check one of the chicks right away – something was very wrong – it seemed to be bleeding. I quickly went out to the run and quickly ascertained that, yes, our runt, was more than being picked on – she was being brutalized. The picture below is what we found – brace yourself:

They literally tore her apart. You could see completely into the cavity of her body and she was obviously failing rapidly. How could everything go so wrong in 60 minutes? What was the catalyst? She’d been busy, active, involved with the other chicks when we’d left. They had food, water, lots of space. There was no boredom going on here.

We’ve watched these babies closely – they’re beautiful and fun. They’ve been very different from the other chicks. They were actually hatched under a Mama hen – their behaviors are so distinct as a result! They’ve been so interesting to watch. How could this have happened in just an hour away from them?

Our kids are pretty deeply disturbed. They were so sad to watch as this sweet little chick died. Well, so were the adults! We disposed of her body carefully, and set out on a mission to try and determine the big WHY?! Frankly, we found nothing to be a catalyst. We did pick up her tail feathers and the little bits of her that were left in the run.

I find myself feeling even more than normal paranoid Mom thoughts… Will they do this again? Can I leave them alone – at all? How can I *not* leave them alone? They’re in a lovely coop with everything they could need – lots of elbow room. Do I go and check on them though the night to make sure they don’t find another victim from amongst themselves? *shudder*

On to happier thoughts… although it will be some time before I am able to dismiss the above event from my mind!

Our warm weather has worked wonders for our beans. The row against the wall are the pole beans. John will build the trellis for them on the coming weekend. The two front rows are bush beans. I’m so pleased this many of them have survived the chicken mauling! I am a little disgusted, however, at the mole that came up right in the front row of bush beans – the stinker!

Here is one of our – what seem to be – many roos. Comparing him to the other California Whites – he’s obviously male! He is lovely, and sweet tempered – and definitely on the bottom of the roo pecking order. He will occasionally have a stare down with the other (Dominique) roos, but always backs down and walks away. Interestingly enough, he was one of the roos that took Speedy under a protective wing when she was reintegrated with the flock.
Isn’t he handsome?
I will try and get some pictures of the other roos in the coming week. It’s been astounding to see how quickly the middle girls (and boys) are not just catching up to the big girls – but some of the Dominique roos are even MORE than catching up in size!

Earlier in the week – much eariler in the week (like nearly a week ago!) we heard the strangest noise. We were all out in the yard – I was working on the garden the kids were hanging out in the hammock and playing cards. We all looked up and at each other and couldn’t figure out what it was – then – simultaneously – we all noticed one of the Dominique roos let forth with a very pubescent sounding crow. Oh my! And he’s not the only one – it seems all of the then 8 week olds were learning the crowing ropes.

At first we thought – well, it will be ages before they get past their changing voices and figure out how to crow with the dawn.

WRONG.

This morning one of them – hard telling which one – right at 5:30 a.m. let out with a fairly polished crow. Nothing like the likes that Harlan used to belt out – but I’m thinking the junior roos took notes while Harlan was visiting!

Oh my!

Gosh, we need to move! We need a home with a couple of acres and plenty of room for roosters to be roosters and not get in trouble for it! We’ll see how things progress… I’m sending up lots of prayers – trying hard not to nag God, just tell Him what my heart is feeling!

Okay – still sad. It’s gonna take a while to get over the chick incident. 😦

The week of the rooster!

This is Joe… He’s a young, pretty dumb raccoon that comes often during the daytime hours to hang out on our back porch. Our dog doesn’t seem to mind much – unless the chickens are out free ranging – then she gets hacked off. And – oddly enough, our cats don’t seem to give a rip at all! I personally think Joe’s front right paw is injured. I also think Joe may need to go on a little trip to the woods where he can live somewhere other than suburbia!


Jess took this picture the other day. This is Jake (one of our kittens) realizing his sneaky hiding place to observe the chickens was no secret to anyone and he may as well come out from under the car! He’s such a goof!
Isn’t this the sweetest little flower?
Caleb – hanging out on the top of the chicken run. He loves hanging out and watching the girls do their thing! Now that they’re all so big, he just watches – doesn’t seem to have much interest in having any run ins.

Here’s Harlan – never far from the girls – keeping a close eye on them and everyone else! He takes his job seriously.
Henrietta is by far our most social girl. She is not at all opposed to just hanging out sitting on my lap while we’re out in the yard. She is very intrigued by my air cast, though!
Here they are – playing follow the leader yet again – it’s always a riot, though, when they all end up in the corner and wondering why the heck they are there!
Do you see rooster here? Cause I see rooster here!

Here are the baby girls – out for a field trip to the yard. They seem to enjoy the outdoors quite a bit. They are just about three weeks old.
There is nothing quite so right as a flock of free ranging chickens in your yard, garden, and compost heap!
Our week started – for all intents and purposes – when Harlan (yes, as in Sanders, you know, the KFC founder – yes, that’s what he got named!) the Welsumer Rooster came to stay last Sunday. You’ve never seen such a stunning, sweet-tempered specimen of rooster! We learned in pretty quick order that he’s a right at 4:15 a.m. every morning to rise kind of a guy – and that’s when the crowing would start. Then the rooster a couple of blocks over would answer, then Harlan would answer back… and so on, and so forth…
Suffice it all to stay that the neighbors are not thrilled.
I can’t say as I blame them. While we all in this particular corner of the world are on 1/2 to 3/4th acre plots the house direct to the West of us is the least amused. Today they made it clear that Harlan would no longer be tolerated.
We’re bummed – we really have come to love him. He’s absolutely hilarious to watch, and is quite intelligent – not to mention, of course, beautiful to behold. But we want to be good neighbors, so Harlan will return to Sno-Kit Farm tomorrow – much to our sorrow. We hope that in the near future we will have a home of our own with enough elbow room to welcome him back to our flock. Thank you, Sharon, for sharing Harlan with us for this week!

[Here’s Harlan – sunbathing – BUT – keeping an eye out on his flock! It was hilarious when he’d doze off – startle and awaken, then hop up on his feet and crow for all he was worth to prove his vigilance!]

School is out for the summer. It will be wonderful to have the kids home. I love this time of year!