Soft & Strong

The soft, fluffy down of a baby chick.


This little girl has gumption!  

Her mama abandoned her nest just days before the egg was due to hatch. The egg was cold; we didn’t know if was still viable. But we took the chance and cobbled together an incubator out of a styrofoam cooler and a light bulb (Thanks again Internet).  


Right on schedule we heard chirping!  But a day later, nothing more than a wee hole in the egg. She seemed to be struggling, so we peeled back the shell and helped her out.  Back in into the incubator she went, to stay warm and dry off. 


After a day or so, we tried to introduce her to her mama.  Maybe there was still some maternal instinct left?  Nope. The hen pecked the chick till she bled. 

We rescued her again. 

Now she is in a brooder in our laundry room chirping her little head off. My husband says she tweets more than Donald Trump. 

We might call her Twitter. 

WPC –Texture

A Variation On The Theme

This Thursday, I’m sharing a sketch (or two) of my humble chicken coop door.

  
I’m not sure which version I like best …

  
The chooks sure love the “open door policy”.  When I’m at home and can let them free range, they spend the day hunting for bugs and taking dust baths. Then at dusk, they march back in, and one by one hop up on the roost, muttering their good-nights to each other.  Very sweet.

  
But that rooster? Hmmmmm.  He and I are still working things out.

For Norm’s Thursday Doors

Full of Care

So.  We are renovating the chicken coop.

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We are effectively doubling the size of the fully insulated, winter cozy, multi windowed coop. This, at a time of year when we simply do have a spare moment to take on an extra project.  All because we have broken our cardinal rule: do not become too attached to chickens!  Or, in this case, hen.  That sweet little Phoenix hen was my gardening companion all summer. And I grew to love her. I like to think she feels the same, but who knows?

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If you recall, we introduced a new flock of babes to our one remaining hen last Spring.  (Click here to read that sad tale: Garden Share – July)   That flock grew to produce four roosters, and everyone knows that’s at least 3 too many. We were especially disappointed to realize that both of the Silkies are fellas.  But it is the two Australorp guys that are bothering that sweet little hen – driving her to distraction, and causing us some real concern for her health.  Those guys could really hurt her in their enthusiasm.  For the past couple of weeks I have been keeping her in a dog kennel in the barn and only allowing her to free range when the other crowd stays in.  But that is far from an ideal situation.  With the weather turning cold, I worried she was cold at night, all alone like that.  And I feared she was getting lonesome.  We knew we had to make some decisions.

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The solution is two of the roosters will have to go: one Ausralorp Roos and a Silkie.  We’d need two separate coops: one for the Australorp family and one for the Phoenix, Silkie, Houdan crowd.   Oh my, what a racket!

My carpenter (and mate) was home just for the weekend (between business trips) – and the rush was on!  Once started, it was important to get it done quickly and have every bird secure by mid-day Monday.  By early Monday morning, conversation went a little like this: Him: “Janet, I don’t think we can do it!  I don’t this we can make it!”  Me: “just focus on one task at a time…… focus! What do you want me to do?”

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Which is how I got the exciting job of removing nails from boards.  I learned, the hard way, to take care not to kneel on this upturned nails.  And I tried not to comment (too often) about poses such as this which include too many blades and limbs.

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In spite of all that, or maybe because of it – it’s amazing what can be accomplished with a firm deadline, we managed to finish to the point in which all birds are secure for the week.  This weekend we will insulate and finish the interior.  They will be snug and ready for winter … And no one will be sleeping in the dog house.

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So, that’s how we came to be renovating the chicken coop.

weekly photo challenge: careful

The Chickens – Close-Up

  
My Austrolop chicks are now just over two months old and when I see them together in the yard they all look very much the same – little bundles of black feathers.  Except two are just beginning to hint that they might be roosters, (let’s hope there are only two males in this flock) and of those two, one has little sprinkles of copper on his wings.  They are barely distinguishable ….. Unless you get Close Up (WPC).  Then you can see that the feathers are not all black after all, but a shimmer of teal, mauve and copper. He’s gonna be handsome dude!

  
This little one is a Silkie chick.  I have two of them (also about two months old) and there is absolutely no way I can tell them apart – no distinguishing marks at all. I’m assuming they are both hens, but who knows?  One thing is for certain, though: they are sooooo cute and fluffy – right down to their toes! 

Garden Share – July

Oh July!  Full-on summer time!! Thanks, again, to Julie of Frog Pond Farm for introducing me the Garden Share Collective.

Here in Nova Scotia, it seems that we have gone from winter to summer in a week!  A week ago on Sunday I reached for a heavy coat to go out and run some errands.  Today it is 25C and sunny!  It’s a bit of a shock.  We have also been getting healthy dose of rain about every three days (and usually in the nighttime, which is nice).  So, the grapes,  the herbs, the veg and the roses are all catching up after a slow start.  And the weeds?  Well!  They are loving this!!

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Here is a little taste of the strawberries, which are in full production:

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Besides the weeds, it is my little flock of chickens who are my main concern.  On May 1, we had a visit from a fox.  Yup!  You know how that turned out.  She (I suspect it was a mama fox with a family to feed) took out the entire flock except for one sweet Silver Phoenix hen.  It didn’t help that it was the very day we were leaving to go on holiday.  There was nothing we could do, but leave her here alone in the coop under the care of my father who dropped in twice a day to check on her. Immediately upon our return I set about sourcing some chicks.

 Introducing…..our new flock:  6 Austrolops, 2 white bantam Silkies, and 2 Houdan. Here they are on day one:

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The Houdan were about a month older than the others, so I kept them separate for a couple weeks before introducing them the our one remaining hen.  They were very skittish.  One kept hiding under the other and seemed to be in constant panic mode.  I’ve been worried for weeks about how to best introduce the chicks to these three.  I placed them in a self contained dog kennel inside the coop for 4 days.  This way everyone could meet each other without contact.  They are growing as fast as the weeds in the garden and their small space was getting crowded fast! Last night I took them from the kennel and placed them on the roosting bar.  They settled immediately. All that worry!!  This morning I went out to open the coop up to the run and watch these babies explore their new surroundings.  Here they come!

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So far, so good. They are about 7 weeks old now.  My poor Phoenix girl doesn’t seem to know how she got herself into this mess.  It must feel like an invasion every few weeks.

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Mademoiselle Houdan is just in a constant state of confusion, anyway.  But she’s certainly a looker!!

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But my real concern is her sister.  The second Houdan chick, who is now about 11 weeks old is unable to stand up properly.  Her legs just don’t seem to support her and spread out in opposite directions.  We first noticed a problem about 10 days ago, and the issue has continued to get worse.  I separated her from the coop before introducing the chicks as I just didn’t want to add to her stress.  I also wanted her to be in a small space with easy access to food and water.

I don’t know what has caused this leg issue, and I don’t know if there is anything I can do to help her.  If she can’t support herself, she may not be able to stay clean and access the necessary food & water. So I’m really at a loss. If anyone has had a similar experience, or have heard of such a thing, I’d be very interested in learning more.

 In the meantime, I’ll keep her quiet and safe, while I enjoy watching those little chicks grow and explore.

Fresh As Fresh!!

What perfect timing!!  Those very spoiled and coddled hens of mine have finally decided to earn their keep, and have begun laying eggs again. We came home from several days away to find 8 fresh eggs in the nesting box!!!  Welcome to Spring!

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It is usual for hens to take a rest from laying during the darkest time of the year.  But this year, they have enjoyed a nice long rest – starting two full months later than last year.  I wonder if they somehow knew something we didn’t – that we were in for the harshest winter in memory…. and just decided to hold off.  Your guess is as good as mine – into what a chicken thinks – or even IF a chicken thinks.

Perhaps because of the hard winter, which added another 100 cm of snow and ice to the landscape in the past week (in March!!), we were just beside ourselves with glee when we found these gifts from our “girls”.  And on the first day of Spring! A very positive sign.

We celebrated the best way we know how – we scrambled up 5 of those eggs with onions and dried oregano (also from the garden).  Mmmmmm!  Happy Spring to You All!

WPC – Fresh

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/fresh-2/