Tag Archives: Charlie the house chicken

Lesson 757 – Man, that’s potent stuff

I mentioned yesterday that we had our chickens out in the yard this weekend while we were making the transition from the mess of winter to spring.

Branches that had fallen from ice storms were picked up and leaves too stubborn to release during last fall, but had finally decided to let go were raked. Of course, all this raking and moving opened up a whole world of yummy goodness for our birds.

Our hens foraged for hours and stuffed themselves on bugs, worms, and, in one particular bird’s (Charlie) case, the remnants of a sandwich inadvertently left at chicken level.

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Marc and I took on the task of digging out the enclosed coop area.  In the winter we don’t do anything other than keep adding wood chips to the henhouse and yard. This, of course means that in the spring when we do finally attend to this task, we have to dig out close to a foot of compressed, decomposing food, poop, and chicken waste. Continue reading

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Lesson 752 – There’s no place like home

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.

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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

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Lesson 750 – Moving on up – new digs for Violet

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

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Lesson 748 – Violet and a friend

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

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.

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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.

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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. 

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Lesson 747 – Sexing Violet by her body and feet

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

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Lesson 745 – Chasing dreams

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

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Lesson 743 – Sexing Violet by her wings

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

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Lesson 742 – Red marbles, James Taylor and a tiny chick

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.

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

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Lesson 740 – Toes, beautiful toes

There is one thing about Violet that we just can’t seem to get over and that is her perfect toes.

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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

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Lesson 738 – So what’s the big deal with Black Copper Marans?

Last year when we got Charlie, I didn’t even know what a Black Copper Marans was. Oh sure, I knew that it was a chicken but other than that, I’d be hard pressed to pick one out in a police lineup.

But of course, then I came home from the Poultry Congress with Charlie – a tiny Black Copper Marans chick who because of her medical (and my parenting) reasons ended up living as a house-chicken in our home for 6 months.

Black Copper Marans are striking birds. The Marans is a rare breed of chicken originating in France. It is a medium breed compared to others, popular for poultry shows and is a dual purpose fowl known both for its extremely dark eggs as well as for its very fine meat qualities. (Note – no fork full of Marans will ever pass these lips.)

To add to the allure of Marans, the character James Bond (from the Ian Fleming books) demanded that his omelets were made only with Marans eggs, all other varieties considered to be of lesser quality.

And who are we to argue with James Bond?

I know, you’re probably thinking? Really? All this fuss over an egg? What’s perhaps most interesting about these eggs is that Marans have the unique ability to secrete a dark pigment that coats the egg just as it’s ready to leave the chicken. The egg comes out with the pigment still wet which is why it’s difficult to get a “perfect” unblemished egg.  Straw, wood chips, and cleaning can all remove some of that pigment. Next time you go to a Poultry Congress check out the Marans egg judging and you’ll have a new appreciation for these precious eggs.

Just take a guess as to which one is Charlie's

Just take a guess as to which one is Charlie’s

The color of Marans eggs is a dark brown which makes them rather look like chocolate Easter Eggs. It’s where Charlie got her name. As a chick, we didn’t know if she was male or female (we eventually figured it out) and so decided to give her a name based on her eggs’ characteristics. She became “Charlie” of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s also why Violet is named after another character; Violet Beauregard, of the same book. (Beau if she’s a male?)

But with Violet’s name we’re also using a little bit of magical thinking, very much hoping that if we named her with a girl’s name that she might just turn out to be female and we could keep her in our flock as a sister-mate to Charlie.

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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. 

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