The time has come. The weather has turned to the more reasonable temperatures of spring and Violet finally has enough feathers to get her through the cool (but not cold) nights. We have been putting Violet out in a “playpen” (a children’s moveable pen that I had gotten at a yard sale) while the rest of the flock was outside during the day, but we were always careful to keep her separated from any interaction with the rest of the flock.
The hens were curious but there was no aggressive behavior toward her. A good sign, I thought.
Today is the day we incorporate Violet into the flock. This will be done in a series of steps. The first step will be to put her entire cage in the hen house for a few days. This will ensure she is protected while everyone gets to know her during the night and day.
After the girls have gotten a chance to know how it is to live with her in their midst, we will let Violet mingle with the flock (while being supervised) to make sure that no one in particular picks too much on her. It’s a bit tricky because Violet is the only chick being introduced and there is the high probability that everyone will be tempted to put her in her place. I’ve seen the damage that excessive pecking can do, and let’s just say it’s not a pretty sight. Continue reading
Right after I took this photo of our chickens having a bit of fun in the yard yesterday, Charlie, our Black Copper Marans – the black chicken in the middle of the group – saw the door which I had left open and before I could stop her she ran, like, well a bat out of hell, into the house.
Quite frankly, she walked in like she (still) owned the place. Her first stop was the dog’s food and water dishes. A long time ago, Charlie abandoned her chicken feeder when she realized she could eat the same food and drink the same water as the dog. Clearly, she still prefers dog food over chicken feed.
Everyone that walked by greeted her as if she still belonged in the house. Continue reading
Even with the constant horrible events of last week culminating in the Friday-in-which-we-couldn’t-extract-ourselves-from-the-news-even-if-we-tried that ended in the eventual capture of the remaining Boston Marathon Bomber, the next day dawned bright and new. Just like it’s supposed to do in the aftermath of a terrible storm.
It was Saturday and the beginning of the kids’ school spring vacation. We all desperately needed to step away from the news and the internet to remember how grateful we are for what we have.
It felt righto get out of the house, do some cleaning, and spend time with the members of our flock. Continue reading
A friend of mine (Hi Em!) stopped by yesterday for a visit with Violet. With all that’s going on in the world these days, it was nice to take a little bit of time away from the news sites to spend it with a friend and a chicken.
Photo credit: Emily Bersin
Violet, who has a personality of her own, took immediately to Em. She climbed up on Em’s shoulder and snuggled up under her chin to take a nap.
“Some people have a chip on their shoulder. Look at me,” crowed Emily, “I have a chicken on mine.”
When Violet had had enough of being in high places, she climbed down to lower ground (a leg) and stretched herself out in the sun, the beginnings of a dust bath – her instinctive behavior of how to relax in the sun.
Photo credit: Emily Bersin
We can learn much gentle wisdom from these chickens of ours:
- Even when it looks like the world is falling apart, be sure to spend time with friends. Hug them when it’s time to say good-bye.
- Take time to appreciate the rest and rejuvenation power of the sun. Get outdoors for at least a few minutes each day.
- And when you need to poop, don’t do it on your friend.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.
I may be setting myself up to being served a giant piece of crow pie in the next few weeks, but I’m still going to go with the prediction that Violet is a girl.
First there were the sexing by tiny wing feathers which although difficult to see, I made the determination that they looked more like a female’s (uneven feathers) than a male’s (even feathers.)
Now, I have additional information based more on my experiences with chickens than anything else.
First, when violet is resting, she stands more horizontally than vertically. I’ve found that this is the typical stance for a pullet as opposed to a cockerel. The boys tend to be more upright, their chests thrust forward, while the girls, tend to be lower to the ground and steadier. Continue reading
I have a tiny writing space at the back of a storage room. In it I have my desk, computer, and all the notebooks and reference material I need to write my articles and get my work done. I fit in it nicely, as does one other human-person at a time. In the afternoons, the kids take turns coming into my “cave” to tell me what happened at school. Having one talk at at time, means that I really listen to and hear them one at a time. It’s turned out to be not such a bad thing.
To one side of my tiny office, I also have a yellow reading chair I had found at a consignment shop a while back. Once Pippin discovered it, however, he called it his.
And then this happened. Continue reading
Here we go again.
As you may or may not know, Black Copper Marans are unsexed birds. This means that, like almost every other chicken breed out there, you cannot tell which ones are the boys and which ones are the girls by their birth colors.
Oh sure, you could do that vent sexing thing, but I’m personally not going to go there.
Male birds make a lot of noise. Because of our close neighbors, we are not able to keep roosters (or Guineas) in our flock, which is why we were thrilled to find out last year that Charlie was a girl. We got to keep the bird that ended up living for six months in our house.
Now we have to wait (and wait) to find out if Violet is female or not.
I’ve heard about determining sex from the pin feathers (in fact I’ve even written about it and here’s a presentation on it) but I’ve never tried it. Apparently when a chick is up to 24 hours old, you can (sometimes) determine the sex from the very tips of the wing feathers. Continue reading
Yesterday I put up a video of our new Black Copper Marans chick; Violet peeping her little heart out.
I took that video on her first day in our house (and the reader that said she was calling for her mom and siblings was right) since then she’s settled down and has become flock mates with our dog and the kids. Her brooder is in a high trafficked area so she gets lots of attention from the members of her unconventional flock on a daily basis.
During the day when the kids are at school, I’ve also been known to bring her into my office and set her down on a heated blanket while I go about my work. She’s a calm little chick and will often stay put for a long time allowing me to hit my writing deadlines. (FYI, she is still enamored by the James Taylor songs I play while I work.)
Violet rocking to James Taylor in my office.
But we still have some raw weather here in NH (in fact, it’s cold, grey day, today) and so I’m a little concerned about keeping her out of the heat for too long. Her pin feathers are coming in nicely but she is still covered with adorable but not very warm baby down. Continue reading
I usually don’t include videos in my posts (who has the time to watch them right?) with this incredible exception (which still makes me laugh.) But I thought I’d include two in today’s post as sort of a public service announcement.
Marc took this video, it’s entitled, “Why your neighbors will hate Guinea hens.” He took it right before we put the birds in the box for transport to a new home. The Guineas are the ones that honk, pretty hard to miss it. To do this video justice, turn the volume up (way up) before you hit play.
Why your neighbors will hate Guinea hens
(Actually for the full effect, play this loudly on loop at 6 a.m on a Sunday morning.) Continue reading
There is one thing about Violet that we just can’t seem to get over and that is her perfect toes.
Beautiful, beautiful toes
Every time we pick her up, we’re just amazed when she wraps her toes around our fingers. “Look at how long they are,” Addy says to me on a daily basis.
It’s not like we haven’t had with normal toes before, we have. Many. But we haven’t had a Black Copper Marans chick before with anything close to normal toes. I’m afraid our normal with regard to BCMs is not everyone else’s normal.
Remember Charlie’s little mangled toes? Continue reading