Tag / feather picking

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Beauty Parlor


Feathers rocking an amazing do.

I have three nesting boxes.  The problem is that I have four broody Silkie Bantam hens.  They are stubborn.  As a concession two will often share a box but when one of the big girls comes into lay for the day, it is like World War III.  Every Silkie jockeys for position to stay in their box.  What does a girl who wants to lay her egg do to the broody girls?  She talks to them and gives them a peck.  Often, these hormonal Silkies cannot be reasoned with.  They have an unreal dedication to brood.  The only way they vacate the nesting box is through repetitive pecking by the big girl who wants to lay her egg.  Finally, one little Silkie can’t take it anymore and abandons the nest scooting out into the run.

This repetitive pecking for the Sikies comes at a price.  It affects their cute little heads.  Once filled with a poof ball of fluff, they have now succumbed to the feather styling efforts of the bigger girls.  Some little ones sport mohawk-like dos. Others appear to have a sort of male pattern baldness working.  Then there are some that are missing a few patches here and there, almost mange-like.  I feel badly and know that as soon they snap out of the broodiness, their beautiful poofy coifs return.  The Silkies, on the other hand, are unfazed.

I wish I could be unfazed like them when I get a bad hair cut.  We have all had them.  When trying out a new stylist sometimes the cut is just a little too short, shows off the ears too much or just is the wrong color.  I think the worst cuts though have always come when I have brought a photo in as an example.  “I want to look just like this movie star.”  The problem is we are not in Hollywood.  We have humidity; combine that with running around the day, doing errands, laundry, cooking, washing the dog and serving as an after school taxi cab does not always match the do.  Having naturally wavy hair, often those Hollywood styles end up at the end of the day looking like a huge ball of frizz with it’s own zip code.  Sometimes, I think the chickens could do a better job at styling my hair.  Hey, they’d probably do it for free, especially if they found some bugs in there after I was done gardening for the day.

Have you entered the chicken coop giveaway yet?  You have only until tomorrow by 11:59pm East Coast Time.  Click here for the link.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens DIY Projects Health Issues

Hen Apron

Yesterday afternoon, I visited with the girls as they enjoyed some sunflower treats in the run.  I have not seen too much of Dolly as she has been broody for the past couple of weeks.  She typically hides in a zen-like trance in the right nesting box.  I check on her twice a day.  She never minds feeling my hands taking the warm and toasty eggs from underneath of her.  She seems to understand that soon enough, someone else will lay another egg for her to rest upon.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Moonlight Mischief

I’ve been waiting two years.  I’ve known that one day it would eventually happen late in the evening when we had settled in for the night.  It would wake me from a deep sleep.  I would immediately run to the coop with my heart racing and my throat tight.  Finally, it happened last night.

At about 9:30pm, I heard the unmistakable chicken alarm.  It was loud.  It was so loud that I heard it while the TV was on, through the house walls and a closed up coop.  I panicked.  I was snuggled on the couch under a blanket in my pjs.  I jumped up, ran into the garage, opened the door and threw on the flood lights.  I grabbed a flashlight and my coat off the hook.  The alarm was still sounding.  I ran to the coop.

Racing through my mind were visions of raccoons, skunks, fisher cats and coyotes.  I shook my head to try and empty it.  A vision of one of the girls clenched between a predator’s teeth was burning into my mind.  When I arrived, nothing was there.  The coop was locked and secure.  Nothing was out of place.  Thank Goodness.  As I reinspected the locks, I noticed that there were pine needles scattered on the nesting boxes from the wreath hanging above.  Something surely was perched upon the nesting boxes, peering in through the window and planning their entry attempt.

Finally, I returned inside.  There was nothing else I could do.  I left the flood light on and said a quick prayer for the girls.  It was quiet the rest of the evening.  This morning I went out early to greet the girls.  I arrived with scratch in my hand and fresh water.  The girls were giddy.  I opened up the coop door and one by one like popcorn they popped out of the coop.  All eight were safe and sound.  Tilly came over first to say good morning.  She is our most talkative hen.  While we chatted, I could not help notice that her neck feathers were returning.  Guided by the brilliant light of a Cape Cod full moon, Dottie Speckles had methodically been removing Tilly’s neck feathers while they were sleeping at night.

Tilly had finally wised up.  This week, I have checked on them in the coop at night.  Dottie Speckles still wanted to sleep near Tilly.  However, Tilly no longer decided to face in the same direction.  All the chickens were facing toward north except for Tilly.  She was facing south.  She was protecting herself from Dottie Speckles.  Well, as Tilly and I were talking this morning, I noticed. Tilly’s tail and back feathers were missing and sparse.  Dottie Speckles is picking at Tilly’s tail and back.  Dottie Speckles only picks on Tilly.  We have tried numerous solutions with Dottie Speckles. No one else is missing feathers.  No one else is showing this behavior.  Everyone else seems to get along.

As Tilly and I were talking.  Dottie Speckles came over.  After she said her hello to me, she pecked Tilly on the back and pulled out a feather.

To be continued