Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘chicks

She Survives

leave a comment »

Much to our surprise, our Buff Orpington appears to be functioning normally after enduring a dangerous encounter which drew blood on Saturday in a fracas with our Belgian Tervuren Shepherd, Delilah.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie witnessed the hen drinking water and eating food in the coop, and when I peeked in on the chickens, our hero was in one of the nesting boxes, cooing.

I don’t know how she does it.

Looking back over the whole experience of deciding to make the blind leap into having chickens, despite knowing we had a dog who would do everything in her power to foil our plan, I am in awe of these three survivors who have endured every calamity of our inaugural year.

We thought it would be good to have chickens to help control flies, but we didn’t have a coop. So, I built a chicken coop. Then we just needed to get chickens. Cyndie ordered three each of three breeds from an online site.

Therein started our crash course in caring for chickens. Absolutely every challenge that arose was a first for us. Cyndie learned how to clean baby chicken butts when several of them developed problems.

We gambled on moving them to the coop before the weather had really warmed up consistently. We basically guessed our way through training them to free range, yet return to the coop. Finally, we left them completely on their own to avoid any number of potential passing predators.

Unfortunately, the losses started with Delilah, who ended up producing our first fatality when she broke free and grabbed a Rhode Island Red by the neck. Then in June, we lost six birds all in one horrible evening to an unseen attacker.

Somehow, the three that have survived all the challenges are closing in on their first birthday next month. I feel like they are doing it almost in spite of us.

After what the Buff has just been through, she has earned the bragging rights as toughest of them all.

Here’s hoping they all channel the survival skills gained in their first year into long and prosperous lives, and more importantly, that they might teach any new chicks that happen to show up, how to do the same.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Coming Together

leave a comment »

I was keeping Delilah tied close to me while cleaning up around the paddock, partly to keep her out of trouble with the horses, but also because I don’t want her venturing to the full reach of the leash, scouting chickens. She seems to understand the drill.

After retrieving her from the kennel located behind the house, we walked along the back pasture fence line toward the chicken coop. I had already checked on the chicks earlier, so knew where to expect them. Keeping myself between the chicks and Delilah, we strode parallel to the coop where I stopped to put the memory card in the trail cam for the night.

She was appropriately curious, but not frantic over the presence of the birds. I doubt she will ever reach a point where she would let one of the birds walk into her space without attempting to grab it, but it feels nice to have her practicing a respectable level of calmness with them in view.

In the paddock, I had my attention on the task at hand, letting Delilah explore the immediate vicinity around me. When she stopped and stared, I looked up to find the chicks making their way over from the coop to join the horses for some short grass grazing.

Although separated by safe distances with Delilah restrained on the leash, it felt good to have us all coming together in the paddock. It was a hint of the ideal we wish could somehow come to be.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Chicks Exploring

leave a comment »

I have no idea whether the raccoon Delilah alerted us to outside our sunroom in broad daylight yesterday afternoon had anything to do with the new presence of our 8-week-old chicks roaming the property. It was certainly a surprising and uncharacteristic sighting.

Daily, our chicks have expanded their excursions from the coop, and yesterday achieved milestones that gave me great satisfaction. Cyndie found them marching along the edge of the woods toward the compost area where they quickly unleashed their best chicken behavior on the piles.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Later, after running with Delilah to follow the scent of the raccoon, we moved behind the barn to check on the birds. When they spotted us, they scooted from the paddock over toward the coop. The paddock is the other spot I hoped the chickens would frequent. My two primary goals realized in the same day. Huzzah!

While I am grateful that Delilah is attentive enough to call out the presence of a raccoon threat in our yard, I’m not yet convinced her concern for the chicks is as altruistic as we would wish. While Cyndie was cleaning the barn, Delilah held an uncomfortably intense focus on the compost area.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2017 at 6:00 am

Chicken Catching

with 4 comments

We are getting close to opening up the netting and giving our chicks a chance to do some exploring. They are currently confined to a small courtyard at the foot of the ramp out their door, as well as the space beneath the elevated coop.

Cyndie tossed a little food as I was preparing to take some pictures while they were out and about. That resulted in most of the heads being down and the butts up.

I didn’t make it out to see the show when Cyndie moved them back into the coop for the night, but she said it was quite a spectacle. She had read one suggestion about training them to come in for the night by regularly using a unique call and shaking a little container of food for enticement.

I asked her what her call was going to be. She didn’t have anything specific worked out yet. I think it might be, “Here chicks.”

Sounds like they were unimpressed with her offerings.

At first none of them wanted to go in. Then one headed inside on its own accord, but when it realized it was alone in there, it came back out.

After Cyndie got a couple of them inside, one chose to lay down right in front of the door, obstructing the opening.

With the food offering failing to impress them and Cyndie’s call not inspiring action, it was time to resort to the long hooked stick to pull them in by their feet.

All this was accompanied by Delilah’s unwelcome barking, which did not contribute one bit to Cyndie’s calm demeanor.

In fact, from the house, it sounded like there was some cursing going on down there. At least, from what I could sense between the barking.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

Not Quite

leave a comment »

First of all, I have good news and bad news to report on Dezirea’s progress. The good news is that she is showing interest in eating and behaving much less depressed. The bad news is that she is showing very little, if any progress toward returning to normal manure production. She remains under close supervision, but we have decided on a path of minimal intervention for now.

I caught several frames of activity on the trail cam a couple of nights ago, but the best way I can describe what appeared in the series of images is, the camera captured Predator in invisible stealth mode. It was actually kinda creepy.

It doesn’t show up in a single image, but when a series of multiple images is toggled, the blur of translucent motion is detectable. One possibility is that a deer was moving too fast for the camera speed. I suspect deer because a minute later, the view picked up an extreme closeup of a fraction of the rear flank of what can only have been a deer passing directly in front of the camera.

There aren’t any other animals that size, except for maybe the Predator.

It’s not quite warm enough for the chickens to be given full access to their little courtyard, but in the days ahead, the forecast looks promising. The birds are showing great interest. Cyndie snapped a shot of two of them enjoying the view out their picture window.

Delilah seems even more anxious for them to come out than they are. Lately, there is nothing about her behavior that assures me she understands their protected status in the hierarchy of our domestic animals.

I’m pretty sure she is not quite there.

Just like Dezirea is not quite back to normal health.

We are standing by expectantly, sending love to all our critters for good health and mutual respect.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2017 at 6:00 am

Good Time

with 3 comments

The chicks seem to be having a good time getting comfortable with their coop, especially since we are experiencing the return of wintery cold rain and dreary gray skies outside this week.

It’s almost time to scrape the poop board!

Cyndie snapped this wonderful photo of the bulk of them making good use of their roost perches. These birds keep doubling in size every few hours, it seems. Can’t wait for them to be out chasing the local fox away and eating all our bugs.

It does work that way, doesn’t it?

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Small Step

with 3 comments

Giant leap.

The hatch opened and our chicks took their first look at the outside world yesterday. We put up a temporary barrier to contain them to a small yard outside the coop for the training period where we familiarize them with the routine of navigating in and out of their fortress.

The Barred Plymouth Rock chicks are establishing themselves as the first to explore new opportunities, yet the Buff Orpingtons have frequently stepped past them to be the first to leap.

It surprises us a little because the former started out, and continue to remain, the smallest of the group, and the latter have always been the most skittish when activity picks up around them.

I figured the Rhode Island Reds would be the leaders, but they are proving to be more than willing followers thus far.

I wonder which of them will take a lead in ganging up and chasing off the first predator that shows up with nefarious intentions.

A guy can wish.

After Cyndie and I got the fencing installed, she hustled up to the house to prepare a little picnic lunch for us to eat while supervising the chicks’ recess period.

We witnessed a lot of hopping around on the ramp and moving in and out the door while we ate, but only one Plymouth Rock and one Buff took full advantage of the outing.

When Cyndie wanted to end their playtime, she stepped inside the courtyard with several birds on the ramp and the two on the ground. She decided to reach for one of the chicks on the ramp and in the ensuing bird startling, two other chicks made for earth.

Suddenly she had four opportunities to practice catching evasive chicks to teach them how to return to the coop when it’s time.

It was a giant leap of a day for us.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2017 at 6:00 am