Stinking Hawk!

Can you see it there in the mist?

This hawk has taken to hanging out quite near to the girls.

It seems fairly young.

Rather lithe.

It’s definitely bold.

It will swoop right down into the chicken run – with me standing just feet away!

I wish I could get a picture of it in action like that! But I’d have to actually look out the window before walking out the door – hands full of egg basket, table scraps for the girls, etc. – and be prepared with camera ready at the go.

Makes me thankful for the crows that hang out – they take great delight in harassing this hawk! Go crows!

This morning, as I walked out and nearly came face to face with the hawk – all of the girls huddling under cover – I was surprised that once the hawk winged it up to the tree just beyond the willow that the girls seemed happy as can be to just resume normal activity.

Because I was there? I don’t offer all that much protection – although I can yell – well, except for right now – I’m losing my voice to this stupid cold. I gave the girls a stern talking to about using caution with the stinking hawk hanging out so close by.

See how concerned they were:

Huh? You talking to us?

Yeah – so – obviously – they seemed to feel the danger had passed.

Oh – hey – remember Lacey?

She was one of the chicks Jezebel hatched in February. You can see her a little older here, too.

She’s done some growing up

She’s the Silver Laced Wyandotte in the middle. Pretty, huh?

Dommy (the Dominque – original, huh?) – one of the chicks that Buffy hatched in May may well be going broody… She’s kind of half-hearted about it – part of the time on the nest, part of the time off… That’s her behind the Leghorns. After we muck out the coop this weekend, I’ll set up the Broody Mama portion of the coop and see if she really wants to set eggs or not… If so, we’ll be getting some fertile eggs to bring in for her to hatch.

I don’t think I’ve introduced Blanche yet, either.

This is she:

She’s a buff colored Easter Egger – re-homed to us this winter. Blanche, she’s such a different girl. Kind of a social “special needs” kinda hen. She just doesn’t play well with others and self-isolates quite a lot. She has gotten bolder of late with the warmer weather – venturing out amongst the other girls now and then. But definitely not the team player the other girls are. She lays a lovely nice-sized blue-ish green egg every few days – but always in the wackiest locations! She makes me laugh.

I took some pictures yesterday that I’ll try and post later today or tomorrow. Hard to believe kind of stuff – particularly for those of our loved ones and friends who are on the East Coast awaiting the latest snow storm to arrive…

Back to rest for me, with a fresh mug of hot tea and honey for my very sore throat. Always with an eye out the window for the stinking hawk!

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She’s such a good Mommy!

If you’ve been following along the progress of our experience with a broody hen, you may have caught Monday’s arrival of freshly hatched chicks! Shelly had been setting on a dozen fertilized eggs. On Monday – day 21 (right on schedule) the chicks started hatching. Seven eventually hatched. Two died in the process of hatching out. L In the next twenty-four hours, two more died – both having fallen out of the nest and got too cold. Super sad!

So – we have three little hatchings.

I’ll be honest. The first few days I was about having a heart attack! I wondered:

  • Will Shelly know what to do?
  • Will she reject them altogether? We’d heard of hens that had actually killed hatchlings!
  • Will she be a good Mom?
  • Should we supplement with a heat lamp?
  • Should we take the chicks away from Shelly and just brood them, like we’ve done our Hatchery chicks in the past?
  • Will Shelly make sure they get enough to drink? To eat?

On Wednesday I said to John, “This is WAY more stress than just brooding them like we always have!”

Today, however, I totally take it back.

I will concede that we have learned a TON about the whole process and would definitely have done some things differently – which would have made a considerable difference in the survival rate, I’m pretty sure.

Would we do this again?

Yeah, I think we would.

Here are pictures of Shelly’s trip to the great outdoors with the babies in tow today. She is a fabulous Mom – and was a total delight to watch!

 

 

Rooth is on the left – she was SO curious about those tiny little chicks. You can see that Shelly is all puffed up and is spreading her wings so the chicks can dive under her for protection.

 

 

 

 

It was absolutely hilarious watching Shelly teaching the babies how to sun bathe and dust!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think there’s anything cuter than watching the little line of three chicks following – single file – behind Mom!

 

 

Rooth decides she needs a closer look at the chicks.

Shelly gives her the eye! Can’t you just hear her saying, “Those are MY babies! Back off!”

Get a load of those ruffled feathers!

All in all, Shelly and the babies free ranged in the yard today for about three or four hours. I was amazed that the babies had that kind of stamina! I’m betting they are sleeping really well!

Oh My Goodness Gracious!

This is Shelly.

Shelly is a California White chicken. She’s 15 months old. She went broody the first time when this past December, when she was just a young’un!

When she went broody again in June we decided to try and find some fertilized eggs to purchase to let her set on.

We were fortunate enough to find www.eggs2u.com and got a dozen eggs – six Dominique, six Silver Laced Wyandotte.

We got the eggs June 15th. Shelly has taken her responsibility as broody hen VERY seriously – rarely leaving the nest.

Today was Day 21 – when, typically, chicks start to hatch.

Here are some pictures – brace yourself – they’re just too cute for words!

Seven chicks have hatched. Sadly, two didn’t make it. Gosh, to work so hard to hatch out of those super tough shells and then die. UGH! BUT, by bedtime tonight, we had five beautiful little chicks. I’m not sure which is what breed – but you know what? I really don’t care! I’m having too much fun just sitting and watching them!

More on the babies soon – I promise!

That’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles Central tonight!

The Garden, the Flock, et al…

Ever have one of those – well, months! – that just seem to whiz by? I’ve been taking pictures every few days with the sincere intent of updating on the chicks, the big girls, the garden, etc.

Today ends my procrastination! Today I update! (Okay, so technically, it’s tonight now. So sue me!)

The Garden

John has been sick. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery. Honestly? We’re behind. We’d hoped to get newspaper or brown paper bags down, and then compost or bark mulch on top – but illness, finances, and nuttiness of life took over and it just hasn’t happened yet. That changed today!

A load of compost was delivered – hooray! Yes, this means lots of manual labor on my end, but that will be good for me. I’m just trying to decide how I’m going to keep the stuff out of my cast!

It’s so great to see the corn coming up! And it’s really doing well! We’ve not had much luck with corn in the past, so this is exciting! We’ll try and get it thinned this weekend, and get it mulched.

 John planted two types of pole green beans – the ones in this picture are flourishing – particularly in comparison to the second variety – which seems to be a bit slow and lacking in oomph. I’m hoping a little time will remedy that. I’m determined that WE will eat the green beans this year – NOT the deer!

We were able to actually can some of the green beans from last year – but we ran out quite some time ago – so way not enough! It’s such a bummer when you have to go back to the store bought stuff.

We have actual squash hills now. The plants look so beautiful and healthy – hallelujah! There will be squash soon! I love that so much. Funny how I’ve been missing Mom and Grandma so much this year – the wait for the yellow crookneck squash definitely reminds me of them! J

I’ve done a horrible job of planting flower seed this year. Well, I did get some Cosmos in next to the corn – it’s coming up nicely. And the sunflower, nasturtium, and Shirley poppy in the front bed. It’s nice that the sunflowers are coming along so heartily!

As I’m sure you’ve been able to ascertain from these photos – I haven’t been doing much weeding. I’m a bad gardener! I think that’s part of the reason I’m so excited about the compost delivery today – it’s amazing what a nice layer of mulch can do for a weed problem! Just throw down a layer of saved paper grocery bags, put the compost on top – and voila! No more weeds! You better believe I’ll be out there soon getting that plan into motion!

The Flock

 

 

Remember the Chicken Vortex? First Hallie went missing. Then two of the babies – both Delawares. About a week ago, as I was driving by one of our chicken-owning neighbor’s place, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful Rhode Island Red. “Could it be?” thought I. I promptly determined to bring one of my missing chicken fliers to said neighbor. Later that afternoon William and I did just that, and the neighbor took us to their coop – and said, “Nope. Just our regular group of girls.” She *did* sort of look like Hallie. I wasn’t sure! It was one of those moments when I thought – why haven’t we banded our girls?!

For two nights our babies were missing. Friday we had a family BBQ that we planned to attend. John stayed home – still in the throes of his flu. About halfway into the evening I got a text from him saying, “One of the Delawares is home!”

 We don’t know where she was for 2 nights – but we were thrilled she decided to and found her way home!

 Sunday afternoon as the boys were putting the trash out for collection the next morning Jonathan said, “Doesn’t it smell like there’s something dead over here?” We nosed about but couldn’t find the source. The cats are always finding mice and the likes and playing with them to death – sometimes leaving the partial remains when they’re bored. But couldn’t find anything like that. Yesterday afternoon my cousin Bob and her children were over to play. Her daughter Ari and Karina (my niece who is staying with me this week) were playing hide and seek in the yard when they came in yelling “There’s a dead chicken under the tree!!!” Yes, there certainly was. Poor Hallie. She’d obviously been there for some time. We looked there! But she was quite dark, and it is in a cluster of ground-hugging cedars – and well – we missed her. So – the Chicken Vortex seems to have only gotten one chicken – one of the baby Delawares.

Shelly, one of our California Whites, has gone broody once again. This is the second time for her – the first time was in the dead of winter. You can read about it here. She’s been essentially glued to the nest for several days now – and so after hearing about someone else’s good experiences, we decided to get some fertilized eggs from Eggs 2 U. We got a dozen eggs – part Dominique part Silver Laced Wyandotte. Getting Shelly transferred from the nest boxes where all of the girls lay in the coop to the make-shift “nursery” was an experience for John! But suffice it to say that Shelly and eggs have taken up residence in Pepper’s kennel.

She paced and squawked and paced some more, but she eventually settled down and got to business.

Today she was as happy as a clam to be setting on her eggs.

The funny thing being that she’s always been partial to one of the dummy eggs we’ve kept in the nest boxes in the coop. Last evening we put it in with the fertilized eggs to see if it would entice her to settle down. Don’t know if it did or not – but today – as you can see from the picture – she’s scooted it away from the REAL eggs and is only concerning herself with them!

Our chicks are 9 weeks old today – and are looking less and less like babies – more and more like big girls! I’m still blown away by the fact that the big girls and the not-so-baby-ish babies get along so well. It’s such a relief!

I chose some – well, I guess sort of different – breeds for this batch of chicks. We’re intrigued by the heritage and rare breeds – and so that did have a lot of influence on what we chose.

I’m not sure if my favorites are the Delawares or the Blue Andalusians. They’re completely opposite build. The Delawares are HUGE. The Blues are lanky. We have two roosters for sure – one is a Blue; the other is one of the Buff Minorcas. (There is one other that *might* be a roo – but we’re still watching and waiting.)

We have three different colors of Ameraucana – white, a black with reddish/brownish highlights, and a really golden with brown highlights. They’re all so cute with their puffy little cheeks!

The Fam…

 

 This week we’ve been allowed to have our Jessica home!  She left a week and a half ago to work at a Christian camp about an hour East of here.  She normally wouldn’t be allowed the week off like this, but the camp’s census was down and she was allowed the week off.  (Yay!  I’ve missed her!)  She and William are both working at our church’s version of VBS – called KidFest.  My niece and nephew – Karina and Elijah – are here for the week so that they may attend KidFest, as well.  It’s been great fun for them, too, because my cousin Bob’s children (who are close in age to Karina and Elijah) are attending KidFest, as well.  When they are dismissed at noon, everyone has been congregating at our house for lunch and play time.  These kids sure have been sleeping well!

Jonathan left during the early morning hours Monday for Mexico – where he will go and visit his Mom for the next about six weeks.  It’s so wierd not having him here.  We all miss him!

John is *sort of* getting over the horrible cough/cold/flu or whatever the heck it is that he’s had.  Poor guy – he’s just been having the worst time with this thing.  I’ve threatened actually taking him to the doctor – something he doesn’t much believe in – if he doesn’t get better – soon!

For the most part, we’re all just really glad school is out and the summer is thinking seriously about doing it’s thing.

 What we’re really looking forward to, though…

SLEEPING IN!

I love it when school is out for the summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is way too long – but suffice it all to say that I love this time of year. And here’s one of the big reasons why! J

My chickens are hilarious!

They think no one is looking… that no one knows they’re stealing cat food. Oh, but we know! So do the cats! Caleb (who could be a stunt double for Garfield ANY day) is particularly unamused. But – the truth of the matter is this: the cats are afraid of the chickens – so the chickens eat the cats food! Here’s sweet Henrietta. Poor baby! This morning I went out to let the girls out of the coop and give them a little treat. Everyone raced out of the coop and I opened the big door, and there’s Henrietta – perched up on the roost – pretty high up, to be honest. I talked to her for a minute, then got out of her way – it looked like she was getting ready to hop or fly down. And off I went… I had a doctor’s appointment this morning – a long one!

When I got home at noon I went out to let the girls out of the chicken yard so that they could free range. They went giddily running into the yard and I did a quick head count… “Where’s my Henrietta?” I asked Millie. She squawked at me and then ran off to find bugs. So, I thought – “I should check the coop.”

What should I find? Poor Henrietta! Stuck up on the roost – right where I’d left her – HOURS earlier! So I lifted her down and put her out into the yard.

She pretty much spent the entire day very quietly. Yesterday, honestly, she was far more active – and loud. Today she pretty much hung out close to the coop. Her closed eye does open just a teensy bit now – hooray! And her bald spots are sporting little bits of new feather growth.

Did I remember to announce to the world that Crayon is laying now? Here she is with Rooth. Crayon’s eggs are a slightly pink tinged very pale tan color. And they’re pretty darn big! Like 2.25 ounces. Wow! Some day, I suppose, we’ll name the Welsumers. I think that would have to be precipitated by our being able to tell them apart… So – since we’re not there – here’s one of the five Welsumers! LOL!

Ducky is a riot – she actually poses for pictures. She’s so cute!

Here’s another of the Welsumers… Isn’t her coloring lovely?

And here is super goofy Angel. Angel is the California White with blue eyes. At least I think they’re blue. She also has the distinction of being one VERY curious chicken! When I put the camera down to her eye level she comes charging closer – trying to figure out just what exactly that thing is!

Hence, I get some truly hilarious pictures of her!

Today is one of those days when being out in the yard with the girls was just the right thing to do. Especially after hearing that I need another surgery – one that will require me to put NO weight on my left foot for at least a month. Sigh. Thanks to the girls, though, I was able to end the day with more than one laugh!

I can’t believe it’s January!

December flew past in a bit of a white blur… At one point in time we actually had two feet of snow on the ground… Looking back and remembering how slow some of those days went by – with no ability to get out and about – there really was no true sense of cabin fever. We enjoyed having the chance to do some things slowly – to be honest. But here – at January 5th (how did THAT happen?!) – with the kids back in school today for the first time in weeks and weeks – it feels like it was just a blur.

I decided quite definitively this morning that I would not allow the girls to free range today – there’s a big rain storm moving in – they’re saying we may get up to an inch of rain this afternoon and evening. But as I went out to let them into the run I was greeted by their sunny little faces on the back porch!

“How did you get out?” I asked them. They squacked in return.

I eventually figured out the nest box door had not closed completely the day prior – apparently – and the girls had found a way of escape!

So they’re free ranging today. They love it so – it’s hard to deny them the freedom! (Well, except for when it requires me chasing them back home from the neighbor’s yard down the street!)

Isn’t BB getting pretty? She’s our Cuckoo Maran – I think I’d like to add a couple of more of her breed to the flock… We’re getting ready to put together an order of chicks. Lots of thinking to do on that!

Ducky – honestly – is the sweetest little chicken. She’s sweet natured and lays the coolest eggs. And she’s very pretty!

I just love Ducky’s stripes!

This might be Angel… there are a couple of the California Whites that I have a hard time telling apart. But this one – and Shelly – both have the super floppy comb and are kind of comical looking.

Pepper was a little jealous that I was taking pictures of the chickens, so she had to haver her picture taken as well. She’s getting so whiney lately! Lord! It’s about to drive us nuts!

Here’s Millie – official leader of the pack – telling me all of her woes and concerns about the goings on in the flock. She is SO vocal! Maybe that’s where Pepper is learning the whiney thing!

And here’s our newest arrival – Crayon! She’s adjusted so nicely to life in the coop with the girls. I feel pretty sure she’s younger than the others… I know so little about this breed. I’ve done some reading – but I come away feeling like I still don’t quite get it. I have noticed in the past few days that her little comb is redder than it’s been thus far. Maybe she’s just coming into lay. We’ll see!

There is just something so right about looking over the garden plot and seeing the girls hanging out and scratching. I honestly couldn’t imagine our lives without the chickens in them now. It’s kind of fun how the neighbors (well, most of them anyway) are just as thrilled with them as well.

I should also report on Shelly – our broody girl. She continues to spend the majority of her time on the nest. We did end up moving her back into the coop with the rest of the girls. It was the right thing to do. She’s such a grump! She will peck at anyone who attempts to take a peek under her to see if she’s hijacked anyone else’s eggs to sit on. We did our best to try and find fertilized eggs for her to sit on – but honestly, we’re just not ready for that yet. Plus the weather is so cold… maybe if she goes broody again in the Spring – we’ll see. In the meantime, we humor her.

The boys have gotta go…

It’s official. We just can’t have roosters here. We’ve tried various methods of keeping things quiet in the mornings – but it’s just not working.

Its interesting, the past couple of weeks we’ve had quite a few of the neighbors stop by and mention how much they enjoy the fact that we have chickens now. A couple even stopped by to say how much they enjoyed having Harlan nearby (must be morning people! LOL!). But there is one neighbor particularly who is not amused – much more than not amused – by our chicken keeping. Suffice it to say that as renters – not home owners – we must tread lightly.

Our intial hope was that we’d find a place to move to (maybe even buy someday?!) with some more elbow room than we currently have where roosters are do what roosters do – including crow. We hoped our little roos would hold out on the crowing arena until then. My, we were naiive.

Of course, the boys have been practicing crowing for a little more than a week now. Amazing how far they progress in perfecting their technique each day! Equally amazing – how each morning seems to be a little bit earlier that the crowing begins than the one preceding.

We tried Danni’s wonderful crate them and keep it dark enough to prolong the “nighttime” effect so that they don’t start crowing quite so early protocol. It actually worked fairly well the first morning. But I think the fact that we have a neighbor rooster who starts “singing” pretty early in the day is working against us!

We came to a consensus yesterday that all of the boys must go. It only makes sense – and honestly, it’s much better for the roos, too. We were fortunate to find three homes to send the five roos to. The little Welsumer rooster will go to a wonderful home with Victoria next week – thankfully, he’s young enough that he hasn’t found his voice yet! Sami has a more rural home and came yesterday to take our California White to be king of the coop at his place. And a young man who is wanting to raise chickens came today and adopted the three Dominique roos. All five roos will now live pretty posh – on a chicken standard, anyway! – lives on at the very least mini farms. Hooray!

So… we’re left with a redefined flock. The three big girls (RIR’s). The four California Whites. The three Dominiques. And the five Welsumers. If our calculations are correct – the big girls will start laying sometime 2 or 3 weeks from now. THAT will be exciting!

Now to head back to my online real estate browsing! There must be a home out there for us somewhere!

Just when I’m beginning to despair…

…that Spring will never truly arrive… That it will be dreary and rainy and blustery – forever. Then, God brings about little glimpses of not only Spring, but the hope of even – sigh – Summer. Yes, that tiny little red dot is a teensy tiny little lady bug – sans dots! How cool is that?

Look! There will be hydrangeas, eventually. Hooray!

And beautiful, fresh, so sweet they could make you sing – peas.
And there will be, of course, scads of tomatoes – which is only right.

Okay – so for all of you chicken moms out there – take a peek at these two chicks below – the white is a California White, the other a Dominique. Do they look like roosters to you??? Cause they do to me! I know – they’re only 4-ish weeks old, but I’m starting to think they are. There are nodules where spurs are starting to bud out, they’re becoming more and more aggressive… One lady on a local chicken email group says she doesn’t call it until they either crow or lay an egg… Is it possible to know this soon?

Oh – can’t forget this beautiful flower. I threw out some flower seed last summer – it was a mixture and to be perfectly honest I have no recollection of what was in it. I have no idea what this flower is – other than lovely!

And, just to assure my life is never boring…. saw the orthopedic specialist today (one in a long line of them since October, I might add) and do you know what he had the nerve to do? See for yourself:
FOR A MONTH! I only get to take it off when I shower. Stink. Good thing I have the Costco supply of 10 gallon trash bags – I have a feeling I’m going to be going through a lot of them cause the boot has to be covered up whenever I go out into the yard.
So, I won’t despair. Summer is coming. God is faithful. Even when I have to wear an immobilizer!

Construction and Little Peep Update

Finally I have the chicken yard framed! With transporting teenagers hither and yon, septic tank issues, etc. it has taken much longer than I planned. I thought I would have it finished by now.

This is “Mr. Darcy” He is our Dominique rooster. We also have a California White that appears to be a rooster as well, but we haven’t named him yet. He might not be a permanent resident.

This is “Shelley” She’s sporting the latest in bent comb fashion.

This is “Ducky”. She’s the “extra” chicken we were given. The man at the farm supply thought she might be a Maran, instead of a Dominique. We think this may be the case as her markings are different as she matures and she has “black-ish” feet. For more info on Marans – check out the following website: http://www.mypetchicken.com/Maran-B71.aspx


Just the chicks hanging out.


Scary Space Alien Chicken that dropped by. Actually it is a clay creation of our 11-year old son.