Tag / Meesha

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Chicken T.V.

Sometimes I find myself outside next to the coop or watching the girls free-range.  Often, I lose track of time, sitting there, just watching.  Frankly, watching chickens is like watching a good t.v. show and I find it not only incredibly therapeutic but relaxing!

Chicken t.v. is always different.  You never know what will happen and each time you tune in, you learn something new about your flock.  Plus, we have all sorts of genres occurring out there!  When Chocolate was still with us, it was like watching a romantic comedy.  He was a big flirt.  He would lure the girls over with treats.  Some of the girls adored him, and others, like Oyster Cracker, never fell for his charms.  Instead, she often treated his advances like one would treat a bad date.

We have westernlike showdowns too.  Lately, these showdowns have been occuring more frequently as the mini-chickens are finding their place in the pecking order.  First, they meet head on.  Then, they move their heads side to side.  If no one steps down, then they elongate their necks and stand as tall as they can.  Finally, someone gives, the other receives a peck and life continues on like nothing ever happened.

We also have game shows too.  These are the funniest times when the girls are playing with their treat ball.  The wire ball is filled with goodies like a halved apple, a head of broccoli, or a large juicy tomato.  The girls take turns wacking it like a pinata.  It swings wildly and sometimes spins.  It is a game to the girls.  It keeps them occupied and gives them tasty rewards.  This is one of my favorite things to watch.

We also have dramas.  Sometimes, they are like a good medical show.  If you saw yesterday’s post Sunshine had an injury that we had to tend to.  Sometimes they are like a mystery, like when Dolly fooled the girls with her disappearing act!  Sometimes, they are even sad, like day we rehomed Chocolate and Meesha. Some days are filled with drama, complete soap operas.

Finally, we have an occasional Broadway musical, mostly from Tilly.  The girls will sing their little hearts out.  Some are altos and some are sopranos.  Some sing lead and others back-up.  I think that Tilly does most of the singing, especially when new treats come or she is laying an egg, or she wants to free range.

I love chicken t.v.!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Saying Goodbye

Well, sometimes the best laid plans can change.

After I finished posting yesterday, my friend with the farm called and asked when I was going to bring my chickens over!  Her ears must have been ringing!  She also asked about Chocolate and if I was ready to bring him too.

 

Past Winter, reminding Chocolate who is boss by cradling him on his back.

I went through the motions almost trying to numb the reality that today was going to be the day that Chocolate would be rehomed.  Chocolate became very symbolic to me.  He helped me advocate with the town to allow individuals to keep backyard roosters.  He graces the cover on the Agricultural Commission brochure that I helped to create.  He also served his flock well, protecting and warning his girls from danger.  He is the father of our first brood.

I caught him and gave him the most love that I could.  As tough as it was, I placed him in the box.  I also decided that Meesha our little Silkie girl who has been broody for over 2 months was going to need a change of environment if she was going to survive.  Sitting in the nesting box had made her very thin.  As much as I could, I intervened but it was just not enough to break her broody spell.  Next, I took all of the chicks from the brooder except for one of Dolly and Chocolate’s chicks and Dottie Speckles.  I placed them in another box.

We drove over to the farm and the little Silkie Chicks went right into the run with my friend’s twenty or so baby silkies of mixed ages.  Soon they blended in so well and seemed so happy that they were no longer decipherable.  They were happy.  Next Chocolate and Meesha were placed in their very own cage.  I had done it.  Chocolate could no longer try and harm my daughter.  Meesha would be nursed back to health and the babies were now in a large chicken daycare waiting to find new homes.

Later that evening, Dottie Speckles and our little Silkie newly named Fifi joined the larger flock under the cover of the night.  I placed them in the nesting box with Dolly.

Photo Credit:  GLC

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

The Sleepover

Yesterday around 4 pm, Dolly desperately wanted to go outside into the bigger run.  I really could not blame her, as I too would be tired of living  in a brooder with 8 little chicks.  She needed sometime to herself.  I obliged.

Out in the run, she was having a fantastic time.  She took a dust bath and enjoyed standing on the log with Chocolate shouting out to the world her return.  She was having so much fun that she did not want to return.  Around 5:30pm, I needed to leave to run an errand and I knew that I would most likely not be back until after they went to bed for the night.  I tried to bribe her to return to her chicks.  I tried treats, love talk and reaching into the coop without any success.  Finally, I decided to just leave her.  Meanwhile, things were quiet in the brooder as the babies were all taking a nap.

When we returned, it was after 9pm.  Everyone including Dolly was asleep.  I locked up the coop and then came inside to spend time with the babies.  Everyone was sleeping except for Dottie Speckles.  She was having a party at night, like most newborn infants do. She was peeping and eating and drinking and having fun running over her new siblings’ backs.  Despite her silly antics, no one got upset at her.  Finally, she did settle in amongst the downy blankets of chicks and fell asleep.

Last night it poured.  We awoke to thunder and lightening and a deluge from the sky.  When I went outside to the large coop and run.  Dolly was inside the coop looking for her babies.  She was calling for them.  She seemed upset and kept trying to look underneath the broody twins, Meesha and Autumn for her babies.  She was easy to grab.  I picked her up.  She did not fuss one bit.  I returned her to the brooder.  It was a sweet little reunion.  They were all happy to see each other.  Dottie Speckles kept jumping up to pull on Dolly’s upper chest feathers. 

They say that Mother Hens will let their babies on their own at about 6 weeks.  Everyone is now 3 and 1/2 weeks old except for Dottie Speckles.  Over the next coming week, I think that I will let Dolly determine what she wants to do.  I will continue to give her choices.  I can tell that she is torn between freedom and her babies.  I wish I could let her know that her chicks will be just fine no matter what.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Tattletales

Believe it or not, Meesha and Autumn are still broody.  Many a day now, I go into the nesting boxes and find them sitting together.  I am not sure if they will ever snap out of it!  I guess there is nothing like having a good friend to get you through these times.  I am sure they sit together in the box and discuss their dreams and aspirations.

This morning, I needed to clean out their favorite nesting box.  Over the course of the week, it has become very matted and littered with spare feathers and dirt.  The good news was that everyone was out in the run this morning enjoying scratch.  As I returned to the coop with my bucket and gloves, in came Meesha.  I placed the wooden piece that runs across the bottom of the nesting boxes up in the air at an angle across the boxes to keep the chickens out.  Meesha was not happy.  Quickly she stormed out of the coop.  She immediately returned with Autumn to evaluate the situation.  Timidly they inspected my work. I heard them talking.  They must have concluded,  “This doesn’t look good.”  They left.

I continued to clean the box.  Suddenly, as I looked up, Meesha and Autumn returned with Chocolate, our rooster.  He immediately, unafraid, came closer to investigate.  He had a fury in his eyes.  Who was keeping his broody girls from entering their boxes?  Luckily, I had the wooden piece barricading him out of the boxes.  Otherwise, I would have been his next victim.  Finally, I was done.  I waited until the girls and Chocolate exited.  I returned the wooden piece and latched the nesting boxes closed.

I’m curious what the girls said to Chocolate in the run.  Whatever they did say, it was enough to make him protect his girls, investigate and “take care” of the nesting box invader. I’m sure they are not happy that I took away their old nest.  One thing is for sure. Chocolate is a great rooster and does his job well.  If only I could talk to him about convincing his Silkie girls to end their broody insanity and lay some tiny eggs for Easter.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Photo Opportunities

This morning Dolly spent a really long time taking a dust bath!  She could not seem to get the hole deep enough and could not seem to scratch enough dirt up into the air.  Finally, she was exhausted and just lay there, contourted into the strangest of positions; panting.  For a moment, I thought that she was dead.  I tried calling her to return to the chicks.  She wanted no part of it.  This was her moment.  I was enjoying watching her.  I sat near her for about 15 minutes.  Then I thought that I should get my camera.  This was a moment that I wanted to capture.  However, when I returned she was in the coop eating.  Luckily, though, the moment was not lost.

Instead we were also able to get two nice pictures of Autumn and Meesha.  Since those two girls are still broody, I was easily able to grab them out of their respective nesting boxes.  With some initial resistance and pecking, they calmed right down in my arms.  These will finally complete our family portraits!  I have been waiting months for these two shy gals to pose for the camera.  I think they turned out great!  Our wall of fame is complete.  Here they are.  Don’t they look like tough gals?

Meesha
Autumn

 

Photo Credit: My husband

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Evil Broody Twins

Meesha and Autumn are broody.  They have both been broody for about 2 weeks now.  This week, they have earned themselves the nickname, The Evil Broody Twins.  As they perch upon empty invisible eggs, their wrath is apparent when you even whisper their names.

They spend most of their day in the boxes, as expected.  Sometimes I find them sitting on others’ eggs and sometimes only air.  No matter, their greeting is always the same.  It starts out with a lot of low growling.  Meesha puffs up her neck.  I can see her labored breathing around her wattles.  Slowly, I try to pet them to reassure them that I come in peace.  With a quick whip of the neck, PECK!  They get me every time.

This morning, they were both together in the left nesting box, facing in opposite directions.  I think they planned it this way.  If I grabbed one from behind, the other’s head was there to peck my hand and vice versa.  I thought for sure they were fighting over a large egg that the girls laid this morning.  After about 5 minutes, I mustered up my courage and I grabbed them both, lifted them and revealed…nothing.  It was all over nothing.  Don’t ever listen to anyone that says chicken are not smart!  This morning those evil broody twins had a strategy.

Chickens Coop Care Stories from Our Nest

Spring Cleaning

Nice and Clean

Today after yesterday’s snow, I could not wait to get out and do a little cleaning.  I originally planned to just clean the interior of the coop. However, as I began, I decided to clean the whole entire thing!  I let the original flock out to free-range.  I locked Meesha and Autumn in the run and started with the coop.  It is usually a rather quick job taking about 15 minutes.  However, today was different, I had to contend with Chocolate.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Spring Visitors and Traffic Jams

Well, the girls must know Spring is in the air.  Except for Dolly with her new brood of seven chicks, all of my Silkie Bantams are experiencing degrees of broodiness.  Yesterday, Meesha and Autumn monopolized two of the nesting boxes.  Today, Feathers joined them occupying all three.  Tilly has taken on the role of nesting box police officer.  When she is not distracted by treats and scratching, she is inside of the coop chasing the little girls off the nests and out of the boxes.  Today, I found a traffic jam, a line waiting for the boxes.  Oyster Cracker was in one box, Autumn in the other.  The other two Silkies were at the door waiting to return to their boxes!

Autumn in the right box
Oyster Cracker in the left

As the two girls waited by the door, a lot of growling was occurring between the Silkies.  Oyster Cracker on the other hand was getting down to business laying one of her large gorgeous brown eggs.  I know that when I return to the coop in a little while, one of the tiny Silkies will be perched upon Oyster Cracker’s humongous warm egg.

 

Will you hurry up already!

This morning I also had the pleasure of meeting Maryann and her husband Bob.  Her flock of Buff Orpingtons can be found here.We actually live only a few miles from each another and never knew that one another existed until we both discovered each other through our love of backyard chickens.  We had a very lovely time this morning.  I introduced all of our chickens to them.  The chickens were happy to have some visitors.  Chocolate loves showing off his beautiful girls to others.  He even crowed about them to Mary Ann and Bob.  Of course their visit would not have been complete with seeing Dolly and her baby chicks.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to connect with people and share your experiences both good and bad with others.  As she held Percy, it seemed as if she already had a special connection with the chick.  It was a very touching moment.

A gift of Spring from Maryann and Bob

I was also touched by their thoughtfulness.  They brought the most beautiful arrangement of Spring pansies for me and my flock. We made plans for future visits and I will be featuring her flock in my Tour De Coop series sometime this Spring.  They say it is supposed to snow on Cape Cod today, our first day of Spring.  Today, I don’t mind.  My heart has been warmed by this experience!  Once again, another reason to keep backyard chickens.

Photo credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Cutest Composters Ever!

Do you mean I’m cute?

Yesterday, was such a taste of Spring!  It actually reached 55 degrees F.  All day, I anxiously glanced outside, just crazy to get into the run and clean out the beautiful compost the flock has been making all Winter long.  Finally, around 2pm, I was able to escape into the coop.

As it is too cold to compost in the composter bin during the Winter, I put the chickens to work.  Each time that I cleaned out the coop, I would spread the dirty pine shavings and chicken poop in the run.  The flock loved it!  The could not wait to scratch through the piles searching for treasures.  Over, the course of the week, what resembeled shavings and poop, became indistinguishable from the soil in the run.  The chickens love composting their own waste. By scratching and digging, they are turning their own compost pile in the run.  The best part is that it never freezes, because it emits heat while composting. So, I kept adding more each week.

All season long, I have watched the chickens slowly become more and more elevated upon compost.  They managed to compost about a foot of compost in their run.  This was my chance to remove it.  I let Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine, Feathers and Chocolate out to free-range.  Autumn and Meesha had to be locked in the coop because of last time.

Tilly says Thanks!

I pulled the run apart and climbed in with a shovel.  My neighbor has a huge wheelbarrow, both my kids can ride in it at the same time.  Graciously, he lets me borrow it from time to time. As I was busy at work and the rest of the girls were free-ranging, Chocolate made the rounds.  He curiously came over now and then into the open run.  He walked up the ramp to the locked door and talked to the two prisoners.  It was so cute.  He really does try to attend to his family’s needs.

After about an hour, I pulled out 4 wheelbarrows full of compost.  The final pile is about 4 feet by 4 feet by 2 1/2 feet high.    As a finishing touch, I regraded the run, rearranged the log and the perching roost, then pushed the run back together.  I returned the flock to the run and released Meesha and Autum from their imprisonment.  The chickens were very happy to have their headroom back.  I was very happy with the fruits of their labor.  By the end of April, the compost should be cured enough to start spreading in the gardens.  I know that plants are just going to love it!

 So in the ever growing list of the chicken job description, I will now add “Cutest Composters Ever!”

 

The huge pile of…compost!
All clean now

 

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Bad Hair Day



Clockwise from top left: Autumn, Feathers, Meesha, Feathers

 The northeast was slammed again with more snow.  The Cape got rain and let me say, lots of it.  The ground was already frozen with a combination of old snow and ice.  This did not allow the freezing rain to go many places.  In some areas of our yard, the ice is at least 6 inches deep.  Salting and sanding our driveway did little to help.  The salt drilled holes into the ice but did not melt it. 

The chickens were kept pretty dry thanks to my weatherproofing.  However, most of the Silkies ended up today having bad hair days.  Dried mud caked onto their head feathers made for pretty silly looking birds this morning.  Dolly was the only one who maintained her gorgeous coif.  That doesn’t surprise me, she is our most sophisticated and proper Silkie in the bunch!



Lookin’ good Dolly

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