Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘feathers

No Idea

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It’s a complete mystery to us, and an entirely unexpected circumstance for the demise of another chicken. I fully expected it would be a predator killing and running off with our next victim.

Jackie found an ominous scattering of black chicken feathers inside the barn yesterday afternoon when she arrived to tend to the horses.

We leave the bottom half of the split doors closed all day to dissuade the chickens from getting inside and leaving their calling cards all over the barn. They are certainly capable of hoisting themselves high enough to get up and over the half doors, but we have yet to catch them doing so.

Our first question is, then how did she get inside? Did she come in of her own accord?

The scattering of feathers were generally confined to two separate spots. What caused the loss of feathers?

Eventually, the trail of feathers led to the discovery of a body, curled up like a little napping kitty, back behind a stack of rakes and shovels leaning against the wall. The deceased hen was completely intact, with no visible wounds.

What was the cause of death?

We have no idea.

Did it get inside on its own and then have a panic attack? Did a predator chase it inside? Carry it inside?

Would a potential predator leap over the door? A cat would.

Did the chicken come inside and then surprise a predator inside? Most likely guess would be a neighbor cat that was trespassing in our barn.

This would have happened sometime in the middle of the warm sunny day yesterday. Cyndie and Jackie said it was really windy around here during the day. Did that have anything to do with how or why the chicken ended up in the barn?

No idea.

We are now down to 9 chickens, three each of the three breeds we purchased. In fact, we only paid for nine. We received 1 extra chick for each breed back in March. This marks the end of the spares provided to cover for possible loss due to any hardships for day-old chicks traveling through the US Postal service.

We received other news from Jackie last night. After a couple of weeks back in classes at UW River Falls, she has decided she needs to move back on campus. Our live-in helping hand will no longer be available to provide the coverage for us like she did through the summer. Jackie has allowed us a good number more weekends away than we’ve been able to achieve previous years.

Our basement “apartment” may be back on the market for someone who knows and loves horses. Also being able to handle a diva of a Belgian Shepherd would be an added plus.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

Quick Fox

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That didn’t take long.

From the looks of the feathers that flew, the Buff put up a fight yesterday morning.

Cyndie found the lifeless body beyond the hay shed, not far from our property border to the north. That is a long way from where the trail camera captured the fox crossing our trail in the woods, but it is in the same general northerly direction. We think we have a pretty good idea about what direction from which the threat originates.

Meanwhile, my relocation of the trail cam did not produce the hoped for results. I’m guessing the motion of moving branches was triggering the captures. I scanned 722 images and found one with a nice face shot of a squirrel and one blur of a smaller squirrel leaping through the air. Nothing else, beyond wiggling branches.

Having read about the superb cunning of fox behavior, and their ability to learn patterns of our movement, I’m even more impressed over the great snapshot we have from the morning last week when the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens were dispatched.

It is not lost on us that the elusiveness of this predator has kept us entirely blind to its presence, beyond the one picture. Even though it has obviously been active during the day when we are out and about, neither of us has ever seen it with our own eyes.

Foxy, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 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

Animal Progress

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Things are progressing nicely with both our horses and our new chickens. This time of year, the horses are in the process of shedding their winter coats. Yesterday, while I was cleaning up the paddock, Dezirea made several attempts to use me as a rubbing post for her forehead. I was a little surprised to see she still had her white blaze because my sleeve looked like it had received a full transfer of white hairs.

Legacy had rebuffed Cyndie on Saturday when she brushed out the rest of the herd, so she tried again at feeding time last night. He tolerated her efforts while munching the fresh hay she had just served. The ground was an eye-catching spectacle of white hair.

Maybe it is because of his light coloring, but it sure seems like he sheds a lot more than the other horses.

Meanwhile, the chicks are visibly maturing by the day. I was a little skeptical when Cyndie came in after a day to report they were much bigger, but sure enough, it was noticeable. Over the weekend they have shown significant progress in wing development. There are even a few first glimpses of tail feathers appearing.

I’m just happy we have succeeded in keeping all 10 alive thus far. Actually, Cyndie deserves all the credit. She has meticulously maintained their health with all the internet tools at her disposal, and a hair drier to fluff those little tail feathers after cleanings.

I’m chomping at the bit to get them out on the manure pile to eat bugs. The flies are already active outside, so watching the chicks scratch and peck in the brooder is wonderfully inspiring.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2017 at 6:00 am