Monday, July 30, 2007

Rock-a-bye Baby

I try to keep hens with chicks in a shelter at night, but one hen refused to oblige. I never could find where she spent the night. Then last week I was walking under the trees at dusk and heard the distinctive sound of happy chicks. I looked up.

The Peahen, on the other hand, gladly comes into a shelter every evening. The chicks have recently grown enough to fly up to the high perch.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chickie Update

Berna the ASD showed what might have been protective interest in our new resident.

But I wanted the chick to have a well-rounded family upbringing. I rounded up the hen with the youngest chicks and put them all in a cage. I then introduced the still-uncoordinated chick. Everyone showed interest again, and soon the chick was warmly ensconced under the hen with the other chicks.
The family is now out in the world and doing well. It looks like my valiant chick will get her way and thrive.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I'm Here!

This spring I tucked a large dog crate behind a stump, filled it with straw, and used a fiberglass panel to keep rain and dogs out. My hope was the chickens would find this an attractive place to lay eggs - a place where I could find and collect those eggs.

The chickens loved it. Soon I was finding 4 eggs a day laid in a neat nest. Then time got away from me, and when I checked for eggs I found a protective hen guarding the egg stash. Soon I found my young duck was spending nights there with the hen. Having been raised by a dark hen, she tends to think of all dark hens as mom. Ducks, it seems, want to keep the family unit in tact longer than hens do.

Thursday morning I saw the hen out, followed by 4 fluffy balls. I went up to clean out the rest of the eggs, and found another hen fiercely guarding the nest. Yesterday that hen was importantly leading her 3 fluff balls around, fending off anyone who came too close.

Once again I checked to see if I could now get in to clean. There were still almost a dozen eggs in the damp and messy crate, but no feisty hens. I was about to remove the eggs when I heard a very load peeping. I got out and looked behind the crate, thinking that one of the new family had gotten stuck, but the peeping had stopped. I crawled back in (this is a huge crate), and a baby chick again loudly announced her presence.

It took Jesse (Samoyeds are quick to respond to bird calls for help) and I several more minutes to figure out that the chick in distress was still in an egg.
Only one egg was calling. It had a very small hole pecked out, and was completely cold - but very noisy. The chick had taken the movement and warmth from my hand as a positive sign. I'm here, she said, and I want out. I carefully pulled away the shell, and a damp and noisy chick pushed out. I gathered up the remaining eggs and place them and the chick under a heat lamp.

This did not satisfy my latest farm resident for long. She wanted to be held, to feel a heart beating above her. Here's a chick wanting a mom, I thought, and out there is a hen mothering a small flock. Let's get them together.

Mom was most interested in the new chick in distress. She came right over, and started making a huge display of finding food and teaching chicks to eat. The other 3 were running around happily pecking at anything mom found. The new kid just wanted to cuddle up and sleep. Finally mom settled down on top of the still-damp baby.

I came back to check on progress about a half hour later. Mom was just walking off with her original chicks, and the littlest babe was flat on the ground. She was fine, just a bit cold and still wanting cuddling.

So she spent the night cuddled up to a hot water bottle, inside a thermal bag. This morning she's dry, fluffy, and still in need of a mom. I'm going to try her again with a momma hen. It's been raining for a week now, so keeping her warm and dry will be a challenge - unless the hen and chicks adopt her quickly and she can keep up with them. She's a day behind, but one very determined soul.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Best Laid Plans...

The sheep shelter.

The sheep water.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Summer Fashion

Sheep shearers are difficult to find these days, especially for small flocks. A local farmer I buy hay from picked up my crew to be sheared with his mob. Here they are sporting their summer 'dos.

The horned ram looks a lot like the sleek goats. They are going to be so much cooler now, with the temps heading up to the 80s and 90s.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fourth of July

America's favorite holiday always leaves me puzzled and sleepless. Why are we so thrilled by loud noised and dangerous fireworks? Fireworks often set off by people who've spent the day drinking. Frightened animals and fire hazards, injuries to children...we are an odd lot.

This year summer came to the Northwest early - it's been in the 80s for days. Usually summer begins here July 5. June is notoriously cool, cloudy and wet. It was this year as well, punctuated by the occasional steamy hot day. The blackberries have gone wild. I've worried that while I'm out pruning my way into an overgrown area the canes will attack me from the rear, encasing me forever in a briar patch. Keeping 1/4 mile of road passable is a continuous task. After a day of pruning a new cane waves proudly into the roadway.

I've been remiss in keeping up with my blogging. I'm going to backfill with pictures I've taken through the spring.