Posts Tagged ‘chicks’

I love my life. But there does seem to be quite a lot of it.

Between my job (not inher­ited that cas­tle in Spain yet), keep­ing us well fed, tend­ing the gar­den, the ani­mals and ensur­ing the house doesn’t fill with dog hair like an enor­mous house-shaped pillow…well, the days are full. But I know you’re yearn­ing for news about all the beast­ies here, so I present to you the Chicken Chron­i­cles: The Reader’s Digest Version.

By the way, before I get too far along, this post is ded­i­cated to my friend Gail, at Clay and Lime­stone. Not only did she offer the phrase Chicken Chron­i­cles in com­ments about how she enjoys my chick­ens’ antics, she also man­ages to do all that life, gar­den, job stuff and blog too. My hat’s off to you, Gail!

First, Pol­ish hen Edith went broody this sum­mer. For those of you who are not chicken mam­mas and pap­pas, that means she decided moth­er­hood was all she needed to ful­fill her des­tiny in life. She took to her nest box and refused to budge. Well, I have a fairly laissez-faire pol­icy when it comes to nature, so I fig­ured, let’s see where this takes us.

Frankly, as laissez-faire can be, the whole thing was messy. Long story short, all the other hens added to Edith’s clutch so that she ended up try­ing to sit on about 15 eggs—an impos­si­ble task for a lit­tle Pol­ish hen. To com­pli­cate mat­ters, Tina Turner, a beau­ti­ful buff Pol­ish hen, was swayed by Edith’s efforts and decided to hatch a batch of her own. She was eas­ily dis­suaded for a more care­free life among the moth­er­less hens.

Back to Edith…After about three weeks it was clear that noth­ing was going to hap­pen on the baby mak­ing front, so I took mat­ters into my own hands. Actu­ally, I took Edith into my own hands and took her off the eggs to get rid of them.

Voila! There was a chick under her!

Now, I will dip into the details just a bit here, even though this is the Reader’s Digest ver­sion. Edith is not the birth mother. T. Boone Chick­ens, our enor­mous rooster, does not do the wild thing with the Pol­ish hens. I don’t know if it’s because he prefers the more full-figured hens or if the Pol­ish girls are just too fast for him, but I’ve never seen him do the deed with one of the mop-headed girls. I sus­pect that the new chicken is from Dor­thy or Mered­ith, our Easter egg chickens.

So…to get back to the story. Edith and her baby were sep­a­rated so that the other chick­ens didn’t com­mit infan­ti­cide, as chick­ens will do. After a suit­able and appro­pri­ate mater­nity leave Edith and her young were re-integrated back into the flock. It was an endear­ing sight to see her alert­ing the baby to bugs, tomato morsels and blue­berry treats. At night she would sit with the baby under her. After the baby grew too large to sit on, she would put her wing pro­tec­tively over the baby as they sat side-by-side.

Baby and Edith, his adop­tive mum

The baby is now about 13 weeks old.

So far we’re call­ing the baby “Baby.” Clever, no?

The rea­son is that the baby will even­tu­ally be named Ricky or Lucy, names picked out by Carol at May Dreams Gar­dens. But one of the names has not yet stuck because I still don’t know if Baby is a Lucy or a Ricky. We should know in another month or so. But I will tell you this. Baby has really, really big feet like T. Boone Chick­ens. And Baby looks like a cross between Dorothy and Mered­ith, the Easter egg chick­ens. We will never know who the birth mother is with­out DNA testing.

Oh, and Baby loves Edith, his adopted and devoted mum. She is his true mum.

Robin

Once again I am renam­ing the small gar­den area on the side of the house.

chickens-on-wallkabout-august-09

Back when Winifred, our sweet Bel­gian Mali­nois, was still with us, we called it Winnie’s Poop Gar­den. It was not a place where you wanted to spend your free time.

Last year, des­per­ate for more veg­etable grow­ing space, I planted toma­toes and cucum­bers there and dubbed it the Other Veg­gie Garden.

chicks-august-09

This year, the Palazzo di Pollo and the aux­il­iary chicken coop, the Eglu, now reside in that area. And since I was divid­ing what seemed like hun­dreds of hostas this spring, I began trans­plant­ing them into the shaded area beside the coops. Nat­u­rally, I added more hostas as I fell in love with them dur­ing vis­its to gar­den cen­ters. I called it the Hosta Gar­den, but just as eas­ily could have called it the Slug Gar­den, since the slugs and snails moved in to par­take of the expan­sive hosta buffet—their fav.

Now that the baby chicks are old enough for some super­vised walk­a­bout time, I am call­ing this the Chicken Gar­den. This is where the big chick­ens and lit­tle chick­ens are cur­rently engaged in their nightly meet-and-greet lead­ing up to the merge of the two tribes.

Miss P adores the chickens. She would, in fact, love to eat the chickens. But being a smart cat, she understands they are off-limits and has ceased making predatory moves in their direction. It doesn't stop her from looking though.

Miss P adores the chick­ens. She would, in fact, love to eat the chick­ens. But being a smart cat, she under­stands they are off-limits and has ceased mak­ing preda­tory moves in their direc­tion. It doesn’t stop her from look­ing though.

You can­not just toss lit­tle chick­ens in with big chick­ens because they will be pecked on and could be injured. It is best for chick­ens to get to know each other a bit, work out their dif­fer­ences in rel­a­tive safety and begin estab­lish­ing the new peck­ing order prior to being thrust under the same roof. Using the Eglu as the tem­po­rary home for new chick­ens allows the chick­ens to see each other but not co-mingle until they are ready. This also allows us to ensure that the new chick­ens are dis­ease– and pest-free before intro­duc­ing them into the flock.

Now that the Pol­ish and Easter egg chick­ens are about 11 weeks old, it’s just a mat­ter of days before we attempt the big move. Until then, they peck and scratch in the Chicken Gar­den under close super­vi­sion.  After all, we don’t want a repeat of the inci­dent that took Johnny Cash.

P.S.

I SWEAR I am still gar­den­ing. I have the pho­tos to prove it. More soon.

P.P.S.

You can see the whole chicken photo album here. Click on the photo for a larger image. There are more pho­tos in the albums from the pho­tos sign at the top of this page.

Robin

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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