Mostly Cheerful Chicken News

The chickens have informed me that I haven’t shared much about them in a while. So, since they are acting extra cute these days, I’ll update you on their ups and downs.

I feel pretty

The best news is that one of the chicks we hatched, Peeper, seems to have made it through to a happy adolescence. She was three months old on December 7 and is quite large for her age.

You can see my green tail feathers and how my comb is already coming in.

It is hard to get good pictures of her, because she’s so dark. She has her dad’s green tail feathers and cute little ear tufts, while she has most of her mom’s brown coloring. I can’t wait until spring to see what color her eggs are. I’m guessing dark olive green, since Buttercup lays dark brown eggs and Bruce is an Easter Egger rooster.

I may be mottled, but I was FREE!

The sad news is that we have lost two hens this week, in unrelated incidents. Springsteen, the Jersey Giant, had lost most of her feathers in the molting season, but was starting to get them back when the freeze hit. I think she may have gotten too cold, given that she was the lowest on the pecking order and may not have been able to huddle up with the rest. Darn. She laid nice eggs.

To distract you, here’s another picture of Peeper.

Babette, the fancy French hen, had been having trouble for months, because Bruce kept pecking at her head when he mounted her. I had her separated for a month or so with Peeper and company, and she seemed all right, but she got let out when I was out of town, and I think she must have gotten pecked too hard. While she never laid more than a couple of eggs, she sure was pretty. I hope I can get another of her breed, the Faverolle.

At least something is productive. The dandelions are out and have little friends.

On to better things! At long last more of the “new” hens from last spring have started to lay. Blondie, who is a HUGE yellow chicken, has been faithfully churning out eggs all season. They are small with little white dots. For a few weeks, hers were the only eggs we got.

I can’t help it if I lay small eggs. I’m a good layer!

But, a few days ago, Blanca, the one who lays the beautiful sky-blue eggs, started back up again. That made me really happy. I guess she just took a short winter break.

Blanca says she had to keep up with Billie.

And lo and behold, Billie Idyll kicked in, and is laying white eggs every other day or so. She also finally few in some tail feathers. Now we are getting around three eggs a day, which is fine for the winter.

I was just waiting to lay eggs until my tail feathers showed up.

The older hens and Bruce went through a particularly unattractive period in the early autumn, when they molted. There were feathers everywhere. But, now they are looking more like themselves, especially Star. She was looking pretty bedraggled after hatching out Peeper and the other chick, but she now looks like her old self, except all her feathers are gray (she’s the one who had some gold neck feathers).

Bruce is showing you his magnificent tail. Note his ear tufts and Peeper’s matching ones!

Bertie Lee, Buttercup, and Henley are all looking better, too. Henley has more white spots than she used to, which is something her breed does. They are taking their winter break, as is their right. I’m sure they’ll pick up again when the days start getting longer.

We appreciate the opportunity to check out horse poop and take dust baths in the pens.

The only one of the “new” hens who hasn’t laid an egg yet is the extremely beautiful Easter Egger hen, Betsy. I have no idea what her problem is. We got them in the summer, so she should have laid something by now. At least I’ll know when she does, as they will be an interesting color, I hope.

I just can’t be bothered with laying eggs. Can’t you see I’m beautiful?

I’ve been letting them out a little a few days a week. I’m now worried, since I saw a hawk earlier, but they sure do enjoy wandering around. I’ll just be sure to lock them back in if they begin to not come home again. No more garage chickens. They now have a warm place to stay when it gets cold!

We promise we won’t go sleep in the garage, say Bertie Lee, Star, Bruce, Henley, and Buttercup. Looks like Bruce is trying to get Star broody again.

Even though chickens can be a pain to take care of sometimes (like when burrowing somethings get in and eat their food), I enjoy their happy little sounds and their antics.

Thanks, Blondie, Billie, and

Two Things under Control

Getting two things under control in one day is sort of miraculous for me. I’m on one of my rare “get things done” kicks, and wow, I’m doing great. In addition to the big things I have taken care of, I’ve also scheduled the movers to take my stuff from the Bobcat Lair to its storage location, made a plan for dealing with all that stuff once it’s in Cameron, filled out my timesheet on time like a good employee, updated all my kanban board cards, and drafted two new job aids for work. Go me.

Two weeks old!

The biggest thing I remembered to do today has been to get my flu shot and COVID booster scheduled. I figured if I was scheduling, I might as well just get it over with today. I might feel sorta icky over the weekend, but I think I’ll be able to power through like I did last time. And since I’m going out of town next week (why yes, I am going to Colorado to hide out in a condo and continue to work hourly, but with better scenery and food), I wanted to be as safe as possible while traveling.

Ready for my jabs

The other thing I did isn’t quite as big in the health department, but I have two little chirpers who are very happy with me, and one big squawker as well.

It’s good to see the floor.

Yesterday, I watched Star once more knock over all the food and water dishes in the baby chick cage and I just had enough of her. She didn’t seem happy, and she wasn’t actively caring for the chicks anyway. So I shooed her out. At first I had her in with Babette, but I noticed Babette would not leave the top of the cage, even to lay an egg, so this morning Star went back to the big flock.

Not Babette, but I was happy to see Blondie using the chicken swing!

Let’s see how long she goes laying eggs until she gets broody again. I hate to tell her, but she doesn’t get to raise chicks when it gets really cold outside. She was really happy to get out, as she was molting away in the little cage and desperately wanted to take a dust bath. I’m glad I made her happy.

Now that the Black Chick and the Brown chick have reached the mighty age of two weeks, they have their own quarters. I took the opportunity at lunch to clean Star’s mess up, so they could actually see the floor of the cage, and get to their food and water. I have them both hanging, which means it is a lot harder to knock them over. The only thing is, I believe I have the world’s cheapest hanging chicken feeder and waterer, in the most flimsy plastic ever. I figure it will last long enough to get these guys into the bigger area (i.e., soon as they are too big to squeeze out of the fencing).

We can now get to all the perches!

It was pretty unpleasant doing the cleaning, since I had to scrape it up. I couldn’t just slide the bottom out and wash it, because the chicks would escape. Next time I will put them in a box or something, if I have a helper.

Look at me! I’m up high!

I feel a lot better about the chickens, and there is a lot less stink now that Star is out. And I am all sure I’ll get all my other annoying chores done, like changing my driver’s license address and registering to vote in Milam County, where, alas, my vote will rarely count.

Well, darn it. The internet went down hard over here in Milam County for a few hours. That meant I couldn’t work, even after I got my shots. I assume someday this post will upload.

Chicken Wrangling Success

Good news for me! I think I have the situation with Star and her week-old babies under more control now. Lee went out and got me the same feeder and waterer I had for the previous chicks that had gotten thrown out accidentally. I got those set up, and no matter how hard the dang mama hen tries to scratch at the water, she can’t get into it, and at least when it’s pretty full, she can’t turn it over and ruin everything in the cage.

This place is a mess (I have cleaned up).

The chick food also has stayed nice and dry and pristine since I got the feeder set up. Star’s food is still in a dish, and it seems okay now. She just likes to scratch. So, I gave her some scratch today. The chicks seem to like it first, unaware that they should only be eating medicated chick food.

The Brown Chick shows their new feathers coming in and their pretty eyes.

They seem fine and dandy, however, bright eyed and flapping their wings like they already want to take off and fly. Luckily, their wing feathers have not grown in very much. I guess they’ll be taking off sooner rather than later, though.

The Black Chick is probably a gray chick, but the wing feathers are pretty dark.

Ha! They can fly all they want, but they can’t get out! Hooray! They will have a little platform to stand on, a perch, and such. They already seem to like the little tree branch I put in there for them.

The rain has been pretty persistent, but the chicken cage has just gotten a little damp, which is not bad at all.

Rain damaged fire ant nest looks like it could be in the Grand Canyon area.

The rain has led to some interesting things outside the chicken world, like fire ants building interesting looking nests (yes, I’ll get rid of them, but sometimes they are fun to look at).

And the pool guys are back today. I guess yesterday was too rainy. In any case, I’m glad the chickens are okay and the horses have shelter. I’ve ordered even better feeding and watering stuff that should come in soo, so maybe the chickens will be fine for a while.

Lunch hour is over. Time to go make some documents.

The Chicken Family Annoys Me

Of course I am glad that Star managed to hatch two chicks. And I am proud that we made a fairly safe place for them to live and that their real feathers are starting to come in. But, wow, they seem hell-bent on making things difficult for themselves.

We’re innocent, honest.

The big culprit is Star. She has consistently overturned every food dish I put in the nursery. So, baby food and adult food are just scattered all over the place. I guess they have no trouble finding food.

But, that’s not all. The chicks were having trouble getting to the first water dish I gave them, so I put in a saucer. The Black Chick and the Brown Chick (no real names until they get older, I decided) get all excited whenever I add water. That’s because the moment I pour in nice, fresh water, Star jumps in it and begins scratching in it, getting it dirty and spilling it. I’m sure she has her reasons, but that is really annoying.

Mom, you spilled all our water. Again.

The chicks have their own little things. The cardboard border is down, thanks to Star, so of course the chicks try to get out. The good news is that chicken wire is too small even for 4-day-old chicks. They also like to get between the cardboard and the wire. At least they can get back out. I did try to fasten the cardboard with some metal, but that didn’t work. I will find some duct tape and use that next. I’m gonna outsmart those fowl.

Drink the water, don’t stomp in it.

I’ve been trying to get by on stuff I already had here, but it looks like I am going to have to go to the feed store and try to get one of those little chicken waterers and HANG it, so they can’t turn it over. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with food. The thing I am using is obviously too easy to overturn. I guess I’ll get one of the plastic chick feeders, too. They all got thrown out when the garage was cleaned out last month, and I have no one to blame but myself for that. I think I did it.

I’m sure I’ll get all this chicken stuff figured out, and maybe when the rest of the family comes back again, I can get more ideas or help. In the meantime, I get to figure out what to do with the chickens so I can clean the cage. Hmm.

Consistency is Dull

Sorry, y’all, but there’s not much new around here. The two chicks are still with us, so that’s fine. I’d like that to stay boring.

Dang, we can’t get out.

The pool guys are still tiling. They spent a lot of time smoothing the edges, but did get some edging cemented in. They are so careful. That makes me happy. They also work like 11 hours a day. Ugh.

They were just leaving when I took this.

And the horses are fine. I’ve been so tired this week that I haven’t done much with them, but today I took Apache and Fiona out for some fun. First, Apache got to try out the new poles in the round pen. He tried to avoid them at first, but then started to have fun trotting over them. He even cantered really nicely for a bit!

Reward time.

We went for a good walk, practicing good manners, and exploring. Of course Fiona came along. She seemed to enjoy the view.

Whee

It really seems to me like these two have as much fun as I do wandering around and checking out all the different plants, hills, and trees.

Let me out!

And the promised house offer has not happened. Not surprised. No news is no news!

So yeah, it’s not exciting. The blog visits have plummeted. But, I’m employed, I have friends and family who care, and I’ll keep on keeping on, with a good attitude. Thanks for reading, all right of you.

Cheep Cheep, and Such

Sheesh, today was a dang busy one, but at least it’s mostly good. I had a lovely dinner last night with my friend, though it was bittersweet. The restaurant is in the location where my favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, Hao Q was, before the really fun woman who owned the place, Hong, passed away.* It happened during COVID, so Anita and I didn’t even know. In any case, it’s now a Filipino restaurant, and pretty good.

Smiling women with cute hair.

Anyway, Chriztine and I laughed so much at each other’s stories (how I had burned hard boiled eggs yesterday morning, how she went the wrong way on the one-way street across from my former workplace, etc.) and guessing what the ingredients were in the extremely interesting frozen dessert we just HAD to try (there were beans, that we knew).

I do love the neighborhood in Austin. That’s Elvis the cat, on a roof. I think that’s Elvis. It may be his “brother.”

I worked and worked all morning in the sparkling, clean house, wishing an offer would come through, but, as of this writing, it has not. I did get to see my son, who is being very patient with keeping the Bobcat Lair house so pristine. Anita is growing weary, though. I feel bad for her having to do all the showing work, caulking and other optional but helpful things.

I did get to see two neighbors and their dogs! They were glad to see us, too.

I zipped back to the ranch as fast as I could, knowing that those chicks were due to hatch at any time. I rushed over to feed the chickens, then noticed Star was NOT in her nest. Oops. Babette was looking a bit nervous (well, she always does, actually, but at least her head is healing).

Something’s wrong!

Then I saw Star, under her cage. I looked in her nest and saw only one egg. Hmm. Wait a minute. I stuck my hand under Star (earning her wrath and some pecks), and discovered two little fellers. They had hatched and thanks to Star messing with my cardboard border, they’d gotten down.

Little chicks!

They could easily get out of there, so I couldn’t leave them. I ran to get Lee, and we proceeded to engage in a pretty darned funny (in retrospect) battle to capture Star and the little ones. I gave Lee a stick to prod them, and I got Star in the cage, but didn’t want to latch it so I could put the chicks in.

While I was around the back of the henhouse trying to catch the little ones, Star got back out, and she and Babette ran around and around, to Lee’s annoyance. But, he stuck with it, and I was able to get both chicks in the safety of their cage.

Getting Star a second time was NOT easy. I hope I didn’t hurt her, but I do think she lost some feathers. Finally they got in there, I put in new water, chick food, and adult food for Star, who I hope will start eating now.

I’ll just go ahead and eat this chick food.

Meanwhile, the saws were buzzing away over by the pool. The guys have put a smooth plaster edge around where the tiles will go, and have started putting in the limestone ledges around the pool. Lee said they did a lot of smoothing yesterday, too. I guess the tilework will take a while!

I’m getting the hang of the new job and am making some handouts and such. I’m glad I got useful sort of quickly. I just need to get enough sleep to have energy to do more with Apache in the afternoons…it will come.

There’s a lot going on with many of you readers, so I want to let you know I’m thinking of you and want to hear from you. Being a part of a community of kind and thoughtful people means so much to me.


*Please read the wonderful messages on Hong’s memorial page. You’ll get the idea. She knew everyone’s name, their favorite dishes, their wine preferences…everything. She was a total hoot, too.

Ready for Babies

That’s baby chickens, not humans. I’ve been informed I won’t be having grandchildren. But, Star has been setting on three real eggs and one fake one for a while now. I’m guessing chicks will show up any day now. So, it was time to get ready for them.

She is in a cardboard box in the “hospital pen” (her choice). Rain gets in there and can’t drain, so it’s not ideal for babies, but the cage is well protected, so that’s good. I set out to fix things, with the help of the usual helper, who happened to show up for a day or two. Here’s what we did.

First, I put Star in a different box, which I had cut an exit in, for when the chicks come. She was pissed off, especially when I didn’t replace the fake egg. I forgot hens can count.

I’m not pleased.

I cleaned the tray where rain had pooled, and Star wasn’t thrilled with that either, but you can’t have chicks in a puddle.

Babette, who has a head injury and is isolated, was also not thrilled.

Next, we went over to the spare metal storage area and got two pieces that will block rain from coming in, as well as protect from winter winds. It went up great!

The yellow sign also protects the other side from rain. Two sides are still open for ventilation.

I think we did a good job being creative. I had noticed that the bottom of the cage had some openings that a chick might get through, so another cardboard box came to the rescue. We made a nice barrier that will also keep chicks in for a few weeks while Star can exit to eat.

“Hey! Get me down from here!” At least it’s easy to move Star to work on the cage.

Now I’m ready for chicks. Maybe this time some will make it! I have to go to Austin to get my hair done next Wednesday, so I’ll put out food and water before I leave, just in case.

“I feel cozy now.”

And now to relax a bit before tomorrow. I have talked to my son and my dear step-sister today, so I’m not even feeling like a hermit!

Chickie Birthday!

That’s right, the three chicks are a week old today! I’m actually sort of surprised they made it, since our coop isn’t fancy and I’ve just been leaving Mama Star in charge.

We like it down here!

I went out to see them as soon as I got back from Austin. They were all hanging out together as usual. They had gone through a whole container of food and most of their water, which tells me you can only stay away from these guys one day unless I get a bigger feeder. But these are easy to handle and clean, so I’ll keep using them.

When I saw this, I had to blink.

I spread some scratch on the ground for Star, then headed to the garage to clean and replenish their water holder. When I came back, I could see Star, but there was lot of movement near her. The chicks had come down! I guess they figured it out yesterday!

Bronzer, Granite, and Steel look so mature!

The chicks were eating all Star’s food and running around pecking at everything. I was happy to see them eating blades of grass with abandon. They are so confident at one week old. I’m happy.

We’re busy growing feathers.

Yep, those babies can’t help but cheer us up. Even Lee is charmed by their peeps and pops. I even catch him giving the older chickens treats. And he was asking me about my chicken food ingredients.

We’d like to get to that long grass over there. That grass is getting trimmed soon. I promise.

Speaking of the other four hens, they got annoyed by a garage light that wouldn’t shut off and quit laying on the fridge. Now they are putting all their eggs in the far corner on an old mop. It’s really painful for me to get to them, but at least all four laid in the same place. Eight eggs, no searching! Plus, Big Red gave one. Do I need more chickens? Maybe not!

By the way, for Earth Day, our local grocery store, H-E-B, gave away cool Earth Day bags. A friend in Maryland wanted one, so I went out after lunch and got one for me and her, when I knew they’d still have some.

Pretty.

While there, I got a little bouquet of flowers to reward myself for perseverance. The store flowers are reasonably priced, though not compared to the wildflowers.

I got myself flowers to cheer me up.

I hope you thought about the wonderful planet where we all live today, and the amazing animals and plants we share our home with.

Chickens Sure Are Good Mothers

More stories of chickens, coming up. I was getting concerned about keeping Star, my mama hen, literally cooped up with the chicks in such a small space. I came up with the idea of blocking off the exit from the original Tractor Supply coop into the larger chicken run, which would give them a lot more space to run around, plus room for Star to poop that isn’t in the middle of their eating area.

You can’t really tell, but Bronzer is standing ON star. Good mom!

I looked around for something easy and temporary, but couldn’t find anything that was both large enough and liftable by me. At last I spotted a fine roll of chicken wire just sitting in the garage, looking at me. It could be cut to the right size and used to cover the hole!

I recruited my spouse to help me, since I didn’t know where wire cutters were, and it’s fun to make him go outside and do things every so often. It’s a bonding activity. He measured the space and cut a piece of chicken wire, which we then managed to attach fairly securely to the entry. It will most assuredly keep the chicks IN, but I don’t know if it will keep varmints OUT.

All secure-ish.

When and if the nephew gets back, I’ll see if he has ideas for reinforcing it. Once the chicks are a month old and fully feathered, I’ll probably let them out, anyway.

The big moment arrived and I opened the door to the space. I thought the chicks would rush right over, see the opening, and dash down the ramp to see all the delicious plants and dirt.

Hmm, I can do downstairs.

Instead, Star came over, looked out the door, and went down the ramp, where she promptly took a dust bath. I knew she wanted one! Meanwhile, she kept making interesting clucks, which seemed to be aimed at the chicks any time they came near the door.

They ran around peeping, but did not exit. She went back up the ramp, and promptly blocked the exit. I realized right then that I could not keep the food and water “downstairs” like I’d hoped. She was not going to let them out!

Can we come out? NO!

I came back a few times yesterday to check, and sure enough, Star had pooped, eaten a bunch of grass that had started to grow in there since the other chickens abandoned it, and taken more dust baths, but there was no sign of chick exit. I decided to put HER food on the ground, since the chicks seem to like it a lot and I’d prefer they eat their medicated rations.

Can I come out? NO!

I do believe Star is in charge of chick activities, not me. And she is one smart Mama. It got so windy yesterday that it would probably have blown the chicks around. Plus, a late cool front came in, and it got chilly outside! The babies needed to roost under their mom, where it’s nice and warm.

Star’s mothering instincts are quite impressive to me! I’m a bit bummed that I had to go to Austin for a couple days, so I may miss their big moments of freedom. Or, when I get back they may be right where they were, enjoying their chick food and grit, and gurgling their water.

One nice thing about getting up early is sunrises!

Let’s hope things keep moving along in a positive fashion. There actually has been good news both in my little circle and in the world this week. It’s good to have a bit of balance back!

Hungry and Cute Chicks with Pix

As soon as I got a break from work meetings, I headed out to feed the flock and check on the new babies. I was happy to see that Star had at least moved them in the night. I was wondering if she’d ever move!

The fraternal triplets. Look how they differ in size and foot color!

It looked to me like no one had touched the food or water I’d put out, so I moved them closer to the chicks, and then sprinkled a little of the food on the surface. Once the gray chick took a peck at it, the other two joined in!

Hey! This is FOOD! Note the wary Mom head in most of my photos.

Pretty soon, Star ALSO realized there was food in there, and she started eating out of the food dish. I’m hoping that modeling will encourage the little ones to peck in the nice clean container, and maybe also figure out the water is over there.

We’re all eating now!

I feel like I helped the little dudes out a bit, and I sure got a lot of joy out of watching them eat. I assume they didn’t need to eat much the first day, but will need LOTS of food from now on!

I may be the smallest, but I ate first, chirps the gray one. I don’t have names yet.

I promise, no daily update posts, though I’ll probably sneak in some photos as they grow. I’m glad Star is a good mom so far!

I’m already hiding the gray one from you! And how dare you spend only $1.35 on our feeder!
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