Experiments in Flock Management

Each year there are decisions to be made about how to manage the flock of hens.

Said decisions typically include choosing whether or not we’re adding to the flock in the Spring (or Fall); if we are adding to the flock, how many and what breeds we’ll bring in; when to bring them in; and how long they’ll stay sequestered before integrating them into the flock at large. Part of the whole decision making process is deciding which of the hens will be retired. Another part is when transitions will be made – and how. It’s important to not make too many changes or to stress the flock out – it can really affect their health.


February 21, 2014

A number of years ago it occurred to us – that while it’s fun to get a smattering of this breed and that breed (one year I think we added something like 10 different breeds) – it sure gets to be a challenge in the coming years what breed came what year. That’s when we decided that when we add to the flock, we typically add half a dozen or a dozen chicks of a particular breed at a time. It sure makes it easier to keep things straight.

This year we brought in 13 black Cuckoo Marans and 12 California Whites.

It was about 4 or 5 weeks into observing chicks that we realized we had a couple roosters.

Both roos, unfortunately, are black Cuckoo Marans. I really wanted MORE of those incredibly dark brown eggs, not less. But oh well.

As you can see in the picture above, the roos grow at a substantially faster rate than the pullets. At 8 weeks old last weekend it was becoming obvious that we were going to need to pull the roos out of the enclosure for the chicks and integrate them with the big girls.

Let’s just say they weren’t amused – and catching them was a little bit comical. But catch them I did and they were sent out to make it in the wider world.

They tried and tried to get back to their little girls, but to no avail.

Over the course of the last week we debated whether or not we’d open the baby enclosure up to allow the rest of the babies out into the rest of the flock.

The Cuckoo Marans are certainly big enough.

The California Whites – not so much.

So – we decided to separate them out – bringing the Cuckoo Marans out and leaving the California Whites in.


Before….


During


…and….


After.

It took the Cuckoo Marans a whole day to leave the inside of the coop and venture out to get food and water – they wanted their sisters!

Just in case you weren’t aware – chickens are NOT solitary creatures. They bond to one another – and they mourn when they are separated.

The goal in this flock management experiment is to let the California Whites grow a bit bigger over the next few weeks, and THEN integrate them into the rest of the flock.

The great thing about the way that we keep our babies sequestered (the separation allows them to see one another as the babies grow), means a very smooth integration to the flock at large. Without that opportunity to become visually comfortable with one another, it can spell disaster (and sometimes death) for the babies that are being integrated. That simply hasn’t been a problem for us with the method we use.

So we wait… for the California Whites to grow. And the roos to start crowing…

Home again!

One has only to spend 17 days in the hospital (two stays) over the course of a month (first admission 7/23/09 – second discharge 8/23/09) to really come to appreciate one simple fact:

Home is precious.

I’m so glad to be home.

I’m about a weak as a kitten, but I truly feel the beginnings of well. I haven’t been there for a while.

I have a lot of work ahead of me- remembering to eat (even though I don’t have much of an appetite), remembering to rest (probably the hardest thing), resigning myself to doing what I CAN, not what I feel I OUGHT to do. Can put a kink in a girl’s preconceived ideas of doing stuff!

And just in case you didn’t know.

I adore my husband.


(John holding William – Oregon Coast, 1997. William was just 6 months old.)

He’s so kind. Patient. Loving. Compassionate. Conscientious. You know – one of those guys who do the right thing – even when it’s not the easy thing to do. A guy who has the character of God deeply ingrained in his heart. His smile and laugh just make my heart glad. I’m just so thankful to God for the great honor of being John’s wife. Something I truly do not deserve. But God…

So – guess what I did when I got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! (Okay, after I checked email.) I grabbed the camera, headed out to the yard, found a place to plant myself, and I took a few pictures.

Stuff happens when you’re away from home!

The babies stopped looking like babies and look more kinda like awkward teenagers now! At first we thought we had one Dominique and one Silver Laced Wyandotte. Now we don’t know. I’m hoping they are two different breeds – cause one of these might be a roo if not!

Note the differences:

Birdhouse gourds galore have grown!

And so exciting!

Someone has started to lay the cutest little white eggs!

They weigh in right at 1 ounce each.

Kinda piddly compared to BB’s 3 oz eggs!

Here’s my guess as to WHO the layer of said adorable eggs is:

One of the Blue Andalusians. Isn’t she pretty?

So – it’s good to be home.

Happy sigh.

I refuse to think about the fact that it’s only two short weeks before my kids head back to school again. I am SO not ready for that yet. Jessica comes home from camp tomorrow late afternoon – after a summer away. She will be a senior in High School this year. I want every moment with her possible.

Off I go to rest.

Not a good sign…

Today I was in and out of the house for various reasons. The girls (big and little alike) rushed to meet me each time – they always expect snacks. How can I deny such enthusiasm?

At about 1pm I went out to get eggs. Everything was hunkey dorey.

John got home at 4pm. He came in from the back and asked, “Was there a chicken showdown today?”

You see, there’s been LOTS of posturing going on the past few days. I’ve wondered if it’s pecking order being worked out, or if it’s roos starting to feel the effect of puberty.

We went outside and he showed me this sight – LOTS of white feathers. No blood – but LOTS of white feathers. There were a few more over further into the front yard. And just a smattering by the back porch – but these ones from a Blue Andalusian.

So who is missing white feathers? Or is someone missing? We did a quick survey and can’t seem to find our big girl white chickens – the California Whites. Oh dear. (Shelley, of course, is still broody and is safely tucked away in the dog kennel sitting on her dozen eggs happily.)

We did a quick head count and found the White Ameraucana – I’m wondering if this one is a girl or a boy! See… (sorry, fuzzy! He/She wasn’t so sure he/she was happy to have a close up picture taken!)

Look at those tail feathers… They’re definitely longer than the average hen’s… Only we’ve only ever had one Ameraucana – Crayon – and she’s definitely an egg layer!

Anyway – found the White Ameraucana. He/She? was fine – missing no feathers.

Found all four of the remaining Delawares. All present and accounted for – no missing feathers, either.

So… that leaves the California Whites. What could have happened? We do have a new neighbor two houses down – with big dogs – that have been seen roaming freely this week. Our neighbor across the street was quite cross with them and their owner yesterday over some destruction they did in her perfectly manicured yard.

When putting the girls to bed tonight and doing a head count, we realized that, indeed, one of California Whites (the no-name one), AND one of the Blue Andalusian baby girls are missing.

STINK!

When did this happen? I was in the house – at the kitchen sink (looking out over the coop and side yard), at the desk (looking out from a different angle over the coop and the side yard), in the laundry room (same view, slightly different angle), my room (looking into the branches of one of the Camellia’s they hang out on during the day often). How did I not hear anything?!

This is not a good outcome thus far! Two of the big girls gone, two of the little girls gone.

Wondering if I should be worried – a lot. Some worry will come perfectly naturally, of course! That’s just paranoid Mom’s way!

It makes me glad we’ve got Shelley setting on those dozen eggs, though! I wonder what the outcomes/odds on successful hatch will be. We’re ten days in on her setting – here’s hoping she takes her job seriously!

I’ll update if we find out anything else. I sure hope it wasn’t those new neighbor’s dogs!

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

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!

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!

Phew – it’s finally cooler

After all of my whining about the cool weather I’m a little ashamed of complaining about the heat! Does it make it any better that it got up to 100+ degrees here? Does that make me less of a wuss? LOL! Today… sigh…. it was a beautiful 85 degrees here. My, it was lovely. I love 85. I even love 90. I don’t love humidity, though – I confess.

We’ve gotten so much done!

We got the chicken wire up around the rest of the garden – hooray!

We got bark mulch around the plants in the garden that the chickens had scratched the first layer away from.

We got the rest of the flower bed along the street planted and bark mulched – what a relief to have that done!

With those things done my garden is looking so much healthier, happier, and just generally beautiful. I love that.
(The green beans are growing like crazy!)

I’ve got to say that having the kids home to help has been invaluable. They’ve worked so hard – and helped in so many ways. And with virtually NO reluctance to pitch in and give a helping hand. I’m so proud of them! And of course my beloved husband who gets up at the crack of dawn, works a long day at work, then comes home to work further here at home on our various projects – well, he just blesses me like I really honestly just don’t know how to adequately express. Gosh, I like him so much. Yes, of course, I love him (I mean, I did marry him, afterall!) – but, gosh, he’s so cool! I love hanging out with him! I love talking to him! I love spending time with him out in the garden, or working on some project together, or just sitting on the lawn furniture enjoying the quiet of the afternoon. I’m so glad that God doesn’t work on the merit theorum!
I promised more pictures of Roos. Here is Alexis – one of Jessica’s friends (Alexi) named him – 🙂 He’s 9 weeks old now and nearly as big as the big girls. He’s definitely the alpha male around here. [Don’t panic – the stump he’s perching on is the one the boys used to spray paint the bottom of William’s skate board red!]

This is kind of a typical event at our place… right after I’ve given Speedy her special treat (still giving her preferential treatment) I let the babies a little turn at whatever might be left over, and then the middle chicks get a run at it all. They all particularly love the oatmeal with fruit and a dollop of yogurt on top the best. Note the babies (who’ve just eaten their fill and walked away from the treat) are looking longingly on at the middle chicks who are now getting their turn!

Tonight we are trying our junior rooster crowing control experiment. Thanks to Danni for the great suggestion. We’ve taken Pepper’s “bed” – a cage-like dog crate (it’s huge – so is she!), put it on the back porch (which is protected on 3 sides), covered it with the exception of a small corner so that there’s good ventilation, and put the four oldest (and now all crowing) boys in it. We’ve noticed over the past few days that they are all polishing their ahem – abilities – in the crowing arena. It’s time to take steps. If this doesn’t work out, sad but true – they’ll have to go. We must maintain good neighbor relations!

I’ll report back on the rooster control tomorrow.

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.