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!

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!

Introducing…

our new Welsumer rooster! Sharon (from Sno-Kit Farms) generously gifted us with this stunning bird. He’s nameless as of yet – but I’m sure the kids will find a name for him in short order. We’re a little blown away at how HUGE he is! And surprised at how upset he can be over Pepper (our dog) being nearby. He obviously doesn’t know yet that Pepper is a chicken dog and wouldn’t harm him. Here’s hoping they acclimate to one another in quick order.

Speaking of roosters… take a peek at these pictures:

Do you see three roosters there amongst the (what we are now calling) “middle girls”? Today as they were out in the chicken yard it was *amazing* to watch the facing off behavior – along with several chest butting episodes. These three – I’m convinced are roosters… Sigh… We’re trying to decide what the plan will be with them.

Henrietta is a true sunbathing beauty. The minute the sun comes out – she assumes her sunbathing position. She LOVES sunbathing! Isn’t she funny?

Pepper the wonder chicken dog. Shortly after eating our mid-day meal William moved the “middle girls” out to the baby play yard in the garden. The girls quickly figured out they could fly out – and sure enough – did! Pepper was laying nearby in the shade of a flowering tree of some sort keeping an eye on them. In no time at all they had moseyed up along side Pepper and hung out in close proximity to her quite contentedly.