Tag / Tilly

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Tilly is Sick

Tilly doesn’t feel good.  To begin with, she is not her typical self.  She has been broody for the last week and a half.  Even though she is eating and moving her bowel normally, she just seems so sad.  She is not giddy.  She is not running around telling everyone she is the boss.  Yet the worst part for me is that she has stopped “talking”.  Tilly is my talker.  She talks non-stop.  She narrates her every move.  She tells us a play by play account when she is laying her egg. She carries on long and purposeful conversations with the others.  She talks when she eats and drinks and I even hear her say goodnight at dusk.  Now, she is suddenly quiet.

Chickens

Almost A Week in Photos: Hello There!

December 3, 2011

I love it when Tilly runs into the coop from the run when she hears me fiddling with the latch on the nesting boxes. Here she greets me as I open up the nesting boxes to check for freshly laid eggs.

I am away for a few days spending time with my sister and her new baby on the West Coast. Please enjoy these photos while I am away.  I can’t wait to return and share my adventures with you. 

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Health Issues

Tilly’s Feat

This morning around 9am I found Tilly sitting in the right nesting box. Sitting in the neighboring nesting boxes were Dolly and Feathers.  Dolly and Feathers are both broody.  I quickly checked beneath all of them for eggs.  There were none, so I went on my errands for the morning.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Twister for Chickens

In my jammies saying goodnight to Oyster Cracker

These last couple of nights I have desperately been trying to figure out the girl’s sleeping arrangements.  They always seem to be mixing it up.  Finally, I am finding all four Silkies sleeping side by side on one roost together.  No one is sleeping in the nesting boxes. It has taken months to achieve this and I find myself feeling like I need to do some sort of celebration dance.  However, the other three who have roosted religiously since they were little are no longer roosting.  Last night was the first night I really decided to investigate just what is going on with their bedtime sleeping arrangement.

As I peered through the open lid of the nesting box, I found Tilly on the roost across from the Silkies.  She was asleep facing the wall.  Directly in front of Tilly were the two Buff Orpingtons laying in the shavings.  All I could see was a big round golden fluffy butt in front of me.   I reached in as far as I could.  I ruffled her tail and tried to get her to move.  She was as still as a statue.  I reached in with my other arm to see if I could gain a few inches in my reach.  It was not working.  They were content.  I began to weigh my options.  I had let them sleep like this for two evenings already.  I did not want them to start this new habit.  I determined I had to try and get them to roost.

I knew that I could not reach the girls through the nesting boxes.  I knew the Silkies were happily sleeping on the roost in front of the large double doors.  I was left with only one option; the pop door leading into the run.  I climbed into the run and opened up the pop door.  I whispered to the girls.  They replied back with sleepy chatter.

With my left arm, I reached in past Tilly’s fluffy bottom on the roost and headed straight underneath the non-compliant Buff Orpington.  It was Sunshine.  I gently nudged her upward.  Her head was underneath of Oyster Cracker’s bottom.  She was toasty warm, but she probably could have suffocated under all that fluff!  I nudged her upward and she stood.  No sooner, had Tilly stood up on the roost.  Then I saw Oyster Cracker.  Oyster Cracker was peering at me through Tilly’s legs!  She looked as though she wore Tilly’s butt fluff as a Polish Hen hat.  She cocked her head from side to side.  Sleepily she stared at me as if to say, “What are you doing Mom?”  I felt as though I had suddenly entered a game of Twister with the chickens.  Sunshine had now found herself a place on the perch and I reached in to guide Oyster Cracker out from underneath Tilly.  She is one heavy girl!  I had to reach in with my other hand and guide her to the roost.  Finally, everyone was on the roost.  I waited for a few moments.  No one stirred.

I have no idea how or why the bigger girls ended up in that sleeping arrangement.  Strangely, they all seemed comfortable.  I guess it must be how little kids feel when they play Twister.  They are so limber.  Their bodies can easily place one hand on red, reach over their friend and put another hand on blue while their legs are still on yellow and green.  I for one, find myself achy from just sleeping the wrong way at night.  But I can tell you that I am getting much better at Chicken Twister.  As I write this, I have just returned from locking up the girls for the evening.  I peeked in.  I knew exactly what to do.  I peered in through the pop door.  I confirmed Oyster Cracker’s head underneath of Tilly.  I backed out Sunshine.  She climbed on the roost.  I backed out Oyster Cracker.  She climbed on the roost.  They all settled down and this time, I had this game of Chicken Twister down to a science.  Like a well oiled machine, the girls and I performed tonight’s round of Chicken Twister to an audience of four fluffy Silkie butts.  Ironically, the Silkies missed all of the action as they were obliviously facing in the wrong direction, happily sleeping wing to wing on their roost.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Habits

Robins return each year habitually to hatch eggs.

Habits can be classified as good and bad.  I think that we all tend to have both.  Good habits can benefit us directly and some are even chore-like.  When I think of good habits, I think of brushing my teeth, setting a bed time, eating healthy (or at least trying to), catching the school bus in the morning, going to church, or regularly meeting a friend for coffee.  Good habits can also be chores, such as paying the bills, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house and cooking dinner every night. Unfortunately, we all have bad habits too. I think of young kids picking their noses.  Biting our nails.  Chewing with our mouths open. I happen to pick my cuticles and hangnails.  Interestingly, I have noticed that chickens also have both good and bad habits.

Their bad habits include kicking shavings into the water, emptying their feed dish, hogging the roosts, sleeping in the nesting boxes and eating eggs (gasp)!  Their good habits include rising early in the morning, running out first thing to have some scratch, going to sleep at night and carrying on conversations with me.

Tilly’s best habit is the job she does as head hen.  Every evening, she is always rounding up everyone and making sure that they are all in for the night. Her bad habit is being mean to the Silkies. Sometimes, she tends to overreact.

Oyster Cracker’s best habit is always being first to greet me at the run door.  Her worst habit is repetitively jumping into my lap when our quality-time session was only supposed to last a few minutes.

Sunshine’s worst habit is pecking my hand very hard when I hand feed the girls scratch.  You’d think she had to make a kill before she ate.  Her best habit is being Oyster Cracker’s inseparable best friend.

Dolly’s best and worst habit is always being broody.

Autumn’s best habit is surveying the run first thing in the morning before dining on any scratch.  She seems to be checking that the perimeter is secure, or…she could be trying to escape.  Her worst habit is sleeping in the nesting boxes.

Feathers’ worst habit is pecking at my jewelry.  Her best habit is being my most friendly Silkie.

Fifi’s worst habit is pretending to be broody and faking me out at least once a week.  She sure does put on a show, complete with growling, tail in the air and the classic poufing up.  Her best habit is taking care of her feathers.  She is the fluffiest little girl for a non-show quality chicken.

If you look closely and observe most species, you will find that they over time develop patterns and repeat things.  Some say that routine is familiar and familiar feels good.  Others say that sometimes things are merely according to schedule.  Animals instinctively fill roles that aid in survival.  People, I believe, are the only ones with the power of insight to change them or at least add one new good habit to out-number our bad ones.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

 

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Soul Food

The eyes are the window to the soul.
~traditional Proverb
Today, I stole a quiet moment.  It had been long overdue.  The kids were playing so nicely and quietly together that I took time to sneak off into the gardens and brilliant sunshine where I have been working all week long.  I found a place in the grass and sat.  From my vantage point I could see the chickens, the garden and the new beehives. As hard as it was, I refrained from calling out to the flock.
Tilly and Oyster Cracker were wing to wing just sitting in a huge dusty crater they had made; a perfect bath for two.  I felt like a spy.  There I was like a fly on the wall, peeping into their moment together.  What were they doing in there?
There they sat.  I could hear them talking a low sort of muttering under their breath.  Then one would see something on the other’s back and they would gently remove it with their beak.  It would be quiet and then their conversation would resume.  There were no awkward moments of silence.  There was no rush to jump up and grab treats from me.  Their guards were down.  They too were just chilling out relaxing.  This was their stolen moment.
Moments like today are so few and far between for so many of us.  It was strange, this realization that the chickens needed time for themselves too.  They needed quality time for themselves, without the pecking order in the way, other family members showing up trying to squeeze their way into the dust bath or any unplanned visitors to interrupt their day.
Sometimes by doing nothing at all, we accomplish what we truly need.  Hearts are filled.  A sense of peace is restored and we are enveloped in the warmth of the sun’s arms.  Our souls come alive.  If I pay close enough attention, I swear sometimes I can feel it dancing in my heart.

Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.  ~Oscar Wilde

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Chickens

Saturday: A Week in Photos

June 2011
Tilly and Oyster Cracker were enjoying digging and scratching in the same hole.  When one would pick their head up, the other would put their head down.  Chicken Teamwork.

We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week’s photos. I can’t wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos. 


Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Chickens

Wednesday: A Week in Photos

May 2011

While out free ranging this past Spring, Tilly found an oak branch and took it with her all over the gardens.  It was so funny to watch as she dragged it from place to place.

We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week’s photos. I can’t wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.


Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

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