Friday, May 31, 2013

You're My Satellite

There is something extremely special about watching a mother hen with her chicks.  I will never tire of it!  We are now 10 days into the lives of our newest chicks.  They are very attached to their mother, Grun.  She puffs her feathers up like a turkey and clucks softly, communicating with them.  They are quick.  It's hard to get pictures of them that are not blurred.  In a split second, they scurry around and dive under Grun for cover if something seems amiss.  Grun is very protective of them.  She will go after any hen who dares to get near her chicks.  It is also very cool to watch her 'tidbit' treats to them.  She will tear pieces off of whatever treat she finds and leave them for the chicks.  I have witnessed the chicks finding worms and slurping them up like spaghetti!

Amazing as it is, I do not think the big girls even care about the chicks.  They are all floating around the yard in their own little orbits.  The big girls and Lila travel together, Grun and her babies hang close to the coop, their pen and hide under the bush in the chicken garden, the cat roams around and flops into the grass not getting too close to any of the birds, but not caring that they are around and then there is Phoenix. 

Poor little Phoenix.  He is now getting close to a month old. His feathers are coming in and honestly, with the heat we've been having, I would put him out now.  Only one's orbits include him.  He's a total loner relying on his humans to protect him.  He sticks close to us and often runs to our feet when he's scared.  He will even climb up my arm to the safety of my shoulder.  I feel sometimes like my cockatiel is back from the dead.  Only Chickens don't make as good pets as caged birds and I'll never get him to say Birdy Birdy or Wanna Come Out?  He cuddles up to the blue stuffed bear Trent offered him in the brooder.  He's a pretty curious and pleasant guy and he is definitely all rooster.  His comb has enlarged significantly and is turning red.  He stands erect and tall as he surveys the world around him.  He even prances when he walks in that proud rooster way.  He's going to be beautiful.  I am prepared to possibly have him butchered.  Partly because he will be a good young bird, partly because his father is a jack ass and the apples don't usually fall far from the tree, but the main reason is I just don't think he'll fit in.  By taking him away from Grun, I think I screwed his chances of bonding with the flock.  Time will tell, and once she loses interest in the chicks (I read that can happen as early as 4 weeks), I will move her back with the big gals and move Phoenix in with the chicks.  Hopefully they will accept him.  As far as the chicks go, I've been reading everything I can about sexing them.  So far, no one's combs seem to be enlarging and that was apparent with Phoenix pretty early.  The Ameraucana's do have different style combs, though, so the difference in breeds might make the signs harder to notice.  Our suspected frizzle does not seem to be showing frizzled.  All 3 chicks feathers are laying as they should against the skin.  That is a bummer, but we are very lucky that all 3 chicks have different colorings!  The woman who sold me the eggs said she got mostly the black chicks with the chestnut head.  That chick's feathers are coming in brown speckled and so far, it has the longest tail feathers of the 3.  The gray and black chicks seem to be feathering in as expected....solid black feathers on the wings of the black one, and solid gray feathers on the wings of the gray one.  I will have to keep watching for clues on the sex.  I'm hoping that all 3 will be females and Phoenix will be able to replace Lila and all will be well.  If we get any more boys, we will have some tough decisions to make!  One neat thing....the little chestnut head has leg feathers.  I'm not sure what breed the frizzled parent was, but it must be something with leg feathers.  I wish I had gotten pics of the parents!  We still don't have suitable names....Blackie, Brownie and Mouse have come up.  We are so original!  hahaha 

I initially bought medicated feed as I felt that was giving the chicks the best start.  We have finished the 2 small bags and I bought a 50lb bag of grower feed from Brown's Feed Mill.  They do not have organic, but I got non-medicated now as I do not feel they need it anymore.  The babies with Grun look awesome (yes, when I catch them, I do look at their butts!) and Phoenix is by himself and does not seem to have any sticky butt issues either, which is the main issues with the young birds.  I do think the chances of disease is much less when the mom raises, vs a brooder situation.  Glad things are going well!

You're my satellite...
You're riding with me tonight...
Passenger side, lighting the sky, Always the first star that I find.
You're my satellite. -Chorus from "Satellite" by the band Guster

Slowly watching our cute and fuzzy chicks feather out into their adult day at a time.