Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘chicks

Pullets Aplenty

leave a comment »

We were only away for two days, but upon our return, it was hard to find any signs remaining in our latest brood of chicks that identifies them as chicks anymore. They are reasonably qualified as pullets now, up until they become actual egg-laying hens. After checking on Pequenita and walking Delilah, and then saying hello to the three adult hens, we climbed into the netted front yard of the coop to commune with the young ones.

Last week, Cyndie constructed an added wing to the enclosure, cutting the old net to create an opening to the added space on fresh grass. That area encompassed an old wooden spool to which the girls all took a quick liking.

A cluster of them gathered up there to preen feathers together after the treats ran out that we had been offering up from the palms of our hands.

One of the friendly Dominiques hopped up to perch on my arm. I’m not sure if she was simply showing off about how comfortable she is with us or if she was specifically intending to lay claim on me and garner something of higher ranking over all the others as a result.

I was more than happy to oblige.

Alas, that only resulted in one of the New Hampshires one-upping the competition to show who’s boss by climbing on Cyndie’s back.

Those legs look like drumsticks. Next thing you know, that young one just might surprise us with practice crowing one of these days. None of the other two-month-olds are anywhere close to matching the pace of development of that one.

The other New Hampshire doesn’t have near the comb or wattle growth yet. However, she does have pretty good balance and wing action going for her.

The feather-footed Light Brahma appears to be doing a bit of a shuffle beneath her, doesn’t she? Look at those dance moves, cha-cha-cha.

There was plenty of action inside the fencing with our dozen pullets yesterday afternoon.

It was a pleasing “welcome home” to rural life once again.

Thankfully, no masks required.



Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

Chick Socializing

leave a comment »

Was hangin’ out with the chicks yesterday to further our ongoing exercises of socializing them to be friendly with people. I served up some extra treats in my palm that brought everyone up close for a piece of the action.

Those who didn’t want to fuss with the crowd wandered around behind me to peck the rivets on my pants.

All four breeds are developing nicely and everyone appears to be getting along reasonably well. We’ve reached a plateau of little change in our daily operating procedures for them that will likely last weeks. We are under the impression that they need to grow closer to the size of the adults before we take out the divider in the coop and merge young with old.

There are signs of a comb beginning to show above the beaks of all of the chicks, but one girl, in particular, is well ahead of the rest. One of the New Hampshires has me wondering if it’s possible she’s not actually a girl.

This one has always been bigger than all the others and already has both comb and wattles well developed. If we start hearing some crowing sounds one of these days, it will be a confirmation. Either that or we could be getting our first new eggs much sooner than anticipated.



Written by johnwhays

September 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

Maturing Wonderfully

leave a comment »

The chicks have grown into pullets as they enter their seventh week and have completely mastered a routine of roosting in the coop overnight and romping in the fenced front yard all day long.


Over the weekend, I found myself drawn to wander down to visit them on two separate occasions to just lay outside the fence and hang out. They have already devoured all the greenery that previously existed inside the fence so I’ve become a source of treats, dropping blades of fresh green grass inside for them.

When they pick up a blade, it often sets off a frenzy of thievery as nearby chicks move in with attempts to steal it away for their own.

By supplying these snacks I appear to be cementing my reputation as a friend-not-foe because they already come running excitedly when I announce my arrival with my best falsetto-voiced chicken greetings.

They are doing so well thus far we are wishing we could just skip ahead to merging with the adults and letting them free-range right now. Luckily, the adults made a few threatening gestures yesterday along the fence line to help me see the value of waiting until they are much closer in size.

It is good to see they are growing in familiarity with the antics of the twelve new chicks. That’s the whole point of the netting, giving them a chance to see, smell, and hear each other, but with a barrier for protection from aggression.

What’s not to love? I think they will get along famously when the time comes. The four new breeds are just so adorable!



Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2020 at 6:00 am

Timid Start

leave a comment »

Given how bold the chicks seemed to have become since gaining familiarity with their coop, we half expected them to leap at the chance to escape and explore once we opened the door for them.

They “chickened” out. Despite plenty of gentle coaxing from their chick-momma, it took manual transferring to finally get their feet on real ground.

Even with that, we only got 10-of-12 to come out and explore the fenced run we installed for them. That was good enough for us on their first day under the open sky.

More time was actually spent under the safe cover of the coop itself. The three adult hens wandered nearby, showing occasional mild interest in the new feathered chirpers. I got an impression from the Australorp that she was looking for an opportunity to give a few of them a piece of her mind, as she stalked in close a couple of times to see what the young ones were up to on the other side of the netting.

One of the Light Brahmas decided to sprint back up the ramp shortly after the excursion began, but other than that, just as I suspected, none of the others made it easy to get them to return indoors for the night.

We’ll increase the time they can be outside a little each day for a few days to a point where the door can stay open during daylight hours and they can come and go as they please. Based on how voraciously they chomped grass blades and green leaves in the short time they were out, I suspect they will eliminate anything growing green within the run in a matter of a few days.

I don’t expect they will be timid about coming out of the coop for more than another day or two.

I’m as eager as ever to get them melded as equals with the three adults so we can remove the barriers splitting the coop and give them the full space to share. It will make a lot of things easier about cleaning and feeding when we get back to our normal way of doing things. But with an interest in avoiding a failed attempt, we are going to be very patient about waiting for obvious signs the time has arrived.

It’s still our first time dealing will all the intricacies of introducing new chicks to existing adult hens and we want to give all parties involved the best chance of having the introductions proceed without any “unnecessary-roughness” penalties needing to be flagged.



Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Always Hope

leave a comment »

It is a time of speeches for democracy in the US this week and hearing the intelligent oration of our previous (44th) President last night was incredibly refreshing. After enduring years of the undoing of countless protections to our environment, the destruction of our country’s reputation across the globe, disrespecting our allies and coddling our adversaries, and repeatedly trashing our precious freedom of the press, the campaign for an alternative is finally stirring hope for a better future.

I sure hope our youngest eligible voters will show up like never before to exercise their right to have a say in who our lawmakers and policymakers and leaders will be for the next term, all the way down the ballot.

If our chickens could vote, I think the twelve young ones would choose to have the net removed so they could take over the whole coop.

The three adult hens might not be ready to accept the kids yet, though. Tuesday night, I think they thought the kids had locked them out of the house. When I arrived to close the chicken door for the night, to my surprise, the hens came running to meet me.

“What are you guys doing up still?!” I asked in amazement. “You’re supposed to be in bed already!”

Then I noticed their access door was already closed. Poor things couldn’t get in.

It was as if they were running toward me to tell me all about their dilemma.

When Cyndie got home later in the evening, I asked if she knew any reason why the door might have been closed. The realization flashed and she moaned in woe. She had closed it earlier in the day, in case any of the young ones hopped over a barrier while she was pulling out the poop board to clean it, and forgot to slide the door back open.

The young chicks have quickly gained full confidence for climbing to the big roosts and will make big leaps and flap wings to reach places we’d rather they didn’t, like the slanted surface above the nest boxes.

But their confidence and aggressiveness give me hope they will be up to every challenge that lies ahead while maturing into adulthood.

It feels good to experience a little boost in hope. For our chicks, yes, but more importantly, for our country.

It’s been a really long stretch of little to none in the hope department.

This serves to remind me to always hope, regardless of how gloomy the prospects might ever appear.



Written by johnwhays

August 20, 2020 at 6:00 am

Successful Relocation

leave a comment »

The chicks are in the coop!

Among the changes the chicks are dealing with, a bedding of sand instead of woodchips appeared to be the primary focus of their initial impressions.

It didn’t take them long to push the envelope of their abilities in exploring the new levels available. It was cute to watch them consider a leap multiple times before actually launching from one perch to another.

It got chilly last night and exposed the youngsters to cooler temperatures than they were used to in the brooder. Cyndie ended up lowering the heat lamp a little to ease their adjustment to this new world.

When we went down to close the chicken door, it was sweet to hear the three adult hens soothingly cooing while calmly perched on their side of the roost. They appeared unconcerned about the twelve new coop-mates that suddenly appeared during the day.

The chicks seemed just fine with the situation, as well.

The newbies will spend a week or so confined to quarters to establish the coop space as their current and future home before being granted brief, but expanding outings in the fenced front yard we will be installing today.

All these steps are designed to keep them safe while they are maturing toward a time when they will be merged with the adult hens and granted the full rights of free-ranging the property to the delight of us all.



Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2020 at 9:42 am

Scared Chicks

with 6 comments

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.



Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mixed Mind

with 4 comments

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.



Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2020 at 9:57 am

More Chicks

with 2 comments

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.



Finally Out

leave a comment »

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.




Written by johnwhays

May 5, 2018 at 8:32 am