Friday, June 21, 2013

Back to the Grind!

We noticed today some changes in the dynamics with the chicks and their mama.  Grun has been hanging in the coop when she gets the chance.  She also does not seem to be clucking to them like she had been.  Today, we left for afew hours and left her with the big gang in the main coop and enclosed the chicks in their little run.  There was no trauma, no squawking or calling by Grun.  The babies were calling, but quickly went about doing their chick business of eating and scratching.  After we left everyone out for the evening, Grun also stayed away from them.  She's not avoiding them per se, but doing her own thing.  They will sometimes follow her, but they have been scurrying around together in their own baby flock.  Genny just brought in another surprise from today! 

Grun laid an egg this evening!  It's not as dark as usual, but she has had a almost 2 month hiatus from egg laying due to her broodiness.  When she was young, they had slowly darkened over a period of a month or so.  I expect after seeing this egg, it will be the same.  You can definitely see the dark specks, which none of the other girls have in their eggs.  Here's hoping she won't decide to take up residence in the nest box again!!!  We have enough babies......for now!!!! 

I did have a moment with her today.....let her know that she has been a wonderful mama to those eggs we brought home and put under her.  The chicks are still afraid of us, but we are working on handling them so they trust us.  Made us miss Phoenix even more as we can really tell now how fond of us he was whereas these babies are all about the mama! 

Glad to see her first egg looked perfect!  She's been off layer feed since the chicks have been born, although the last few weeks she's been pretty much free ranging all day, so I'm sure she is picking up what she needs.  We also give her yogurt treats. 

The gang enjoying a snack of yogurt and oatmeal this hot afternoon.  The babies are with the big gals!

Flower full of yogurt!  Grun is behind her.
Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Here we month old!

Things are going great with the babies!  We have one wonderful mama.  Grun has been super and the babies just adore her.  I didn't realize how big they were getting until I went to tuck them in tonight and saw these big ol' babies huddled next to Grun.  They still try the occassional jump on Mama's back or under her wing, but it's getting less and less believable since they are so large and now fully feathered on their wings!  I have a feeling Mama Grun will be kicking them to the curb soon.  She is letting them get further away from her when they are out an about.  So far, they all interact with the big girls and Lila with no incidents.  Grun doesn't seem to have to go Kung Fu on them much anymore.  They still run to keep up with her, but they are definitely wandering further from her at times.  They can fit between the fence on the chateau, so I usually open it in the morning or Grun will pace from inside while the babies taunt her (and the big gang!)  wandering around the yard.  I'd rather have Grun with them, so they are basically free ranging all every sense of the word!!!  They will be truly spoiled!  I catch them in the front flower beds every so often when I get home from work, but I do believe they stick to the chicken garden and around the coop area and possibly up by the swing set.  I'm glad they can be trusted and there is plenty of spots to run for cover, so they have kept themselves safe.  We are lucky not to have any preditor issues in over a year.  We are in fox territory for sure, but with the coop up next to the house, I think that helps deter them. 

Diatomacious Earth-  Kenny has been adding Diatomacious Earth to the wood shavings in the coop.  We do think it's been keeping the fly population down.  YEA!  Wonderful how great natural, chemical free solutions can be!  With the rain we have been having, the babies run is a little muddy so we need to pick up another straw bail to clean it up a bit.  We kept straw in the big gang's run over the winter and it really seemed to keep the mud to a minimum.  Plus it gives the gang something to scratch and boy do they enjoy that! 

Here's some pics of the babies at one month old!  We can not say for sure sex yet, but I am hoping that the Black Ameracauna (aka Blackie for now) and the Blue Americauna (Mouse) are girls.  Keeping an eye on their combs which do not seem to be enlarging.  Brownie.....on the other hand has me perplexed.  His mother was the frizzle but not sure what else she was mixed with.  He/She has feathered legs which is pretty cool.  The comb is small but very wide which makes me suspect it might be male.  I posted some pics on the chicken boards and am hoping for some expert opinions.  It's feathers are coming in very pretty with some brown/silverish lacing around the neck.  There are many patterns on it's feathers it will be very pretty.  Mouse's head is coming in darker gray, but that is what both the males and females look like, so no telling by color for the solid two, at least by color. 

The following shots are of 'Brownie'.  Notice how pretty the feathers are patterned.  In this first pic, you can see the pink under the corner of his mouth....waddles are starting to form.  Another reason to suspect male.  Females have waddles too, but early developing ones could mean male.  I also got a good leg shot so you can see the feathers on it's legs!  First feathered leg chicken we've had. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Harsh Reality of Chicken Life

All the books you read to help you along your chicken keeping journey do not prepare you for the harsh reality of what is chicken life.  The social structure alone can be mind boggling.  The jostling for who's in charge and who is not is constant.  Anything that upsets this delicate balance throws the whole chain of command in a tailspin.  The cute and fuzzy chicks quickly determine this structure and they have no alliance to each other.  It's even worse than the Bloods and the Crypts.  It's every chicken for himself.  We watched our six grow up and quite honestly, we suspect the ranks changed afew times over the year.  Now Grun is separated from the flock, but she is still mingling with them when out in the yard with her chicks.  I'm sure when she moves back into the main coop, there may be issues.  Especially after today's 'incident'.  You see, there has been a horrific murder.  Inspector Genevieve is on the case and has inspected the crime scene.  To the best of her knowledge, there is one main suspect.  I guess I should start at the beginning....

Phoenix has spent the last 2 nights blocked into a nest box in the main coop.  He is almost fully feathered out, so does not need the heat and quite frankly, it's warm out and I really don't want him in the house anymore.  Grun has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with him and will attack him when he is anywhere near her and the babies.  So rooming with them, as I had planned, was not an option.  I checked him this morning and gave him some more food and cleaned out his water.  He didn't seem to peep for me, so I figured he was enjoying being near the gang.  We blocked off the opening with a board, but there was some room at top of it.  I guess today, Phoenix decided he was sick of being in the nestbox, or perhaps he was being his curious little self.  He weaseled through the gap in the board and ventured into the coop.  When I got home from work, I went looking for Grun and the babies as I had left them free range all day.  All were accounted for and I sighed in relief.  The gang was lined up by the run door pacing to be let they do everytime we are outside.  Something wasn't right.  Then I noticed a small pile of black and my heart sank.  PHOENIX!  I cried out to him but it was way too late.  I went upstairs for a second to collect my thoughts.  I was not going to enter the coop to retrieve the body with Lila in there as I would be attacked for sure.  When I came back down afew seconds later, Rosa was standing over Phoenix's body pecking him and grabbing and shaking him like a Pit Bull mauling a small animal.  I was disgusted and screamed at her.  I finally opened the coop door and they birds all came running out.  Lila looked me in the eye for a brief second....I think he understood my grief and even he passed by me without incident.  So sad to see my happy little boy lying in a heap.  What a horrible way to die.

When the kids returned from school minutes later, I told them my tale.  After some tears, growling and obvious disgust, Genevieve was determined to get to the bottom of this.  After a brief review of the scene and the suspects, she determined that Rosa indeed was the culprit.  She was the only one sporting a bloody beak.  I reminded her that surely Rosa did not act alone, but that was no consolation.  She tried to punish Rosa by locking her up in the coop.  Of course, reprimanding a chicken is even more ridiculous than a dog.  I don't even thinking rubbing their beak in their mess would make a difference.  These birds really do not care.  They don't have allies, they do not protect each other...ok, Lila is the only one with that job.  The rest of them just are out for themselves.  It was a hard lesson to take, but one that was probably inevitable with Phoenix.  By removing him from his mother we saved the 3 younger chicks lives, but we put Phoenix at risk to lose his.  He had no chicken companions to rely on.  We are preparing for his funeral and he will be buried in a box with his dearest friend, a blue stuffed bear Trent gave him.  She slept on this bear or cuddled up to the bear every night.  We are very sad but knew his life would cause us trouble.  2 least one has to go.  Who knows what sex the 3 babies are at this point, so we could end up with even more. 

Genevieve said it best.  Rosa, YOU will be butchered!!!  I said, oh, so Lila is spared?  She declared yes, indeed Lila would be spared from the dinner table..........for now. 

Phoenix aka Phi Phi 
RIP 5-6-2013 - 6-3-2013
Love you Phoenix!

<3  Malissa