Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘chicks

Scared Chicks

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While Cyndie is away at the lake, I am filling in for her as “chick mom” when I get home from work each day. I think they had me figured out the first moment I stepped into the role. I can see it in their faces.

“You’re not doing it right!”

“Mom always cuts the crust off.”

“We don’t strip down to our underwear for naps.”

I’m definitely the dad in this relationship. They have a heat lamp and some water. They’ll be just fine.

While staring at them romping around like a bunch of 3-week-old chicks for a while the other night, I mindlessly belched a frog-voiced burp. I scared the daylights out of them!

Never saw twelve chicks move so fast all at once like that before.

In a blink, the scattered puff-balls instantly became one tiny pile of little heads squeezed into the smallest possible space at the other end of the brooder, frozen in a motionless defense move that looked like an attempt to appear invisible while maintaining absolute silence.

We both held our positions until I broke the spell by speaking to them in my best falsetto “dad-charming-chickens” voice to let them know it was just me and everyone was safe. As quick as they froze together, they went back to fluttering about as normal.

“Say ‘excuse me’ Dad.”

Excuse me.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mixed Mind

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It’s a battle to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook amid a pandemic that our government has failed to effectively manage, which has our economy teetering on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, Cyndie’s garden extravaganza can be described as nothing but a bountiful success and our new brood of rambunctious chicks inspire visions of a wonderful future.

My mood of the moment has been swinging wildly between hope and despair.

Federal secret police snatching protesters in Portland? The White House disrupting coronavirus reporting to the CDC? What is our government up to and why does there seem to be no way to enact checks and balances that once protected our democracy? Why is it that the current President has been allowed to keep his financial interests secret all this time?

Last night we lucked out once again in the stormy weather lottery. We were spared even a hint of destructive wind in the moments after warnings and radar images indicated a tornado was headed in our direction. We have yet to hear any reports of whether the vicinity around us was impacted negatively.

I can report the lightning bolts flashing dramatically in the clouds overhead were more frequent and numerous than I have ever witnessed before in my life. The constant rumble of distant thunder never once appeared to match the immediate flashes occurring directly above our location which baffled my understanding of the way things work.

I cannot fathom what actual energy was at play to generate such a dazzling display of countless electrical arcing bolts without the usual accompanying impacts of typical thunder. Just one night prior, we suffered two BOOM!s of thunder that scared me into a clench of inadvertent reaction that lasted three times as long as the explosion of thunder itself. The worst of those incidents surely was one that struck somewhere close enough that light and sound were simultaneous.

I can’t say for sure because I was attempting to be asleep at the time.

The warming of our planet assuredly is unleashing greater intensity of local storms, but each time we escape unscathed I feel a moment of hope that our destruction is not imminent. Tornadoes can be devastating, but they can also be relatively precise as to the areas of impact.

That is a little like deciding to raise free-range chickens in an area that includes foxes, coyotes, possums, skunks, feral cats, occasional passing mountain lions, neighboring dogs, and marauding raccoons.

It mixes my mind.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2020 at 9:57 am

More Chicks

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New chicks arrived this morning!

 

It was a two-day trip to get here through the U.S. Mail and all but one appeared to be in perfect shape. The lone weakling initially appeared as one who didn’t survive the trip but she did eventually take a drink and stand up on very wobbly legs. We are hoping for the best that she will gain strength to keep up with the rest of the rambunctious brood.

Because our previous familiar breeds were not available at the time Cyndie placed the order, she went with four that are completely new to us:

New Hampshire, Dominique, Barnevelder, & Light Brahma.

Here we go again! Despite the current battle with a fox that has boldly made a daytime attack on our 3 adult hens.

Sometimes heartfelt decisions defy logic in favor of hope.

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Finally Out

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Yesterday was a big day for the chicks. After having spent a month in the brooder and two weeks confined to the coop, they finally set foot on mother earth.

Cyndie and I created a fenced courtyard that allows us to open the chicken door and let them test out their skills on the ground.

We also installed plastic awnings over the side windows for added protection against blowing rain. The warm days that have finally arrived necessitated removal of the plastic panels over the windows, to increase cross ventilation. All the windows and the entire ceiling are covered with 1/4″ metal hardware cloth for enhanced air flow.

The temperature in the coop soars when the sun is shining high and hot.

The chicks were typically tentative about venturing out. We slid open the chicken door while working our way around the fence perimeter, burying the bottom in the ground. Despite our verbal enticements to coax them out, the top of the ramp was the farthest any of them wanted to venture.

There would be five or six heads peeking out, and maybe one brave bird stepping on the stoop. Then there were none. The chicks would all move back inside to the safe familiarity of their last two weeks.

It was getting hot, I was getting tired and sunburned, and the hour for lunch had already passed. Without waiting to witness the chicks achieve touch down, I headed up to the house.

Not long after, Cyndie arrived to join me, announcing they had all suddenly conquered the ramp and made landfall. I missed it.

That’s okay. I also conveniently missed the other end of the milestone: the frenzied struggle to make them all go back inside again at dusk. That’s when you end up crawling around on hands and knees beneath the coop to snag birds and toss them back through the chicken door, trying not to let the ones already inside come back out again.

Thankfully, Cyndie took the first shift. I’ll have my turn soon enough.

Today is World Labyrinth Day! The weather is good, our land is mostly dry, the trees are budding and the grass is growing. If you are reading in the Twin Cities, it would be a great day to visit us and walk with the world for peace!

The coffee will be on and the fresh horse-shaped cookies are delicious. I’ve tested one or two. Cyndie says she made them with less sugar than the recipe specifies.

Peace!

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Written by johnwhays

May 5, 2018 at 8:32 am

Bigger Digs

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The chickens are out of the brooder and into the coop! They seemed pretty happy with all the new space, if a little bit confused over the unfamiliar surroundings.

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Our weather has turned the corner finally, and the warmth of April sunshine is making a big difference. Time for me to stop whining about the suffering we’ve endured in the face of the extended winter that has blanketed our region.

Look at that.

I don’t have anything to whine about, and I can’t think of anything else to write.

It’ll probably be too hot outside today.

 

Written by johnwhays

April 20, 2018 at 6:00 am

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Let’s Move

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When they started out in the brooder five weeks ago, our chicks had plenty of room. They are now getting a little testy with each other over their lack of space.

It’s time to move to the coop.

We probably would have already moved them, except it’s been so cold and snowy.

Now we are expecting a run of warmer weather and they are going to be movin’ on up.

You can see in the photo that they are sprouting enough feathers to reveal their eventual colors. The Golden Laced Wyandottes are showing that golden lacing nicely. They all have a long way to go before maturing into their wattles and combs.

By that time, we will need to have decided whether to let them roam free or keep them confined to protect them from predators. For a while there we felt okay with last year’s experiment, but with the rash of springtime attacks polishing off the last of that brood, it doesn’t feel quite right to not try something different.

We’ll move on that decision when they start to out-grow the coop in a month or two.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Feathered Friends

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The new chicks are growing into chickens already! They are sprouting feathers and flapping around in the brooder like the little adolescents they are. The downy, peeping hatchlings that arrived in the mail are gone but for the memories.

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If they keep up at this pace, and the weather continues to pretend it’s still winter, these guys are going to have a shocking move to the coop and the great outdoors. The landscape is under a two-and-a-half inch blanket of white stuff this morning. Based on the forecast I read for the coming week, with more snow and cold temperatures due, it’s as if spring has forgotten to sprung!

Yesterday, the three adult hens were busy aerating the forest floor.

Looks like they are going to have to put that project on hold for a while now.

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Written by johnwhays

March 31, 2018 at 8:59 am

Too Cute

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The chicks are doing very well at staying healthy and looking lively. After just a couple of days of not seeing them, the difference was clear. They look bigger, seem more robust, are more active (between frequent bouts of insta-napping [see example at 1:02 of video]), and are showing clear evidence of feather development.

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We are hoping their early vigor will be a characteristic that stays with them through adulthood.

Before we got chickens, I had no idea they could be so captivating. I now understand how some people get so obsessed with them.

Count us among the smitten.

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Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

Year’s Difference

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We are enjoying the continued lessons from the self-learning school of raising chickens. A year ago was our first attempt. After building a coop from scratch, we ordered nine chicks to be delivered by mail.

Three of those have survived the year and are managing really well today. We are on the verge of asking them to help us learn about introducing them to the twelve new birds that just arrived last week.

What a difference a year makes. Here are pictures from yesterday of our one-year-olds and our new arrivals…

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Here’s hoping they will respond well to our efforts to slowly introduce them to each other in the months ahead. It will be a learning process for all of us.

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Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

New Chicks

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I am happy to report that all chicks arrived safe and healthy, traveling in a box through the US Postal network in freezing temperatures. I am fascinated that this process works, given the despicable condition of a few other packages we have received over the years. Live chicks sent through the mail is a marvel.

Last year when our chicks arrived, I wasn’t around. Yesterday, Cyndie let me get in on the excitement of picking them up out of the shipping box and dipping beaks in the water to get the chicks drinking.

The birds come with a 48-hour guarantee of good health, plus, we received one extra of each of the three breeds. We figure, given their guarantee, it’s cheap for breeders to provide an extra, in advance, to avoid the expense and risk of shipping out a replacement should there be any infant mortality.

As of last night, they all looked to be doing just fine.

That’s not always easy to determine. Chick naps seem to happen at all times, in the middle of any activity. It looks like sleep just sneaks up and swallows them. When they lay down, it often looks like they must be dead, sprawled out with legs askew. Then another chick will stumble over them and the sleepy bird will pick up its head and look around. Sometimes they get up and get back in the action, sometimes they try going right back to sleep.

They will fall asleep while eating, or in the middle of all the other chicks that are flitting about, chirping. Occasionally, one will look like it might drown, getting snoozy head-first in the waterer.

We are happy with our healthy start, and are hoping for more of the same for the duration of time they are in the brooder, and beyond.

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Written by johnwhays

March 17, 2018 at 6:00 am