Tag Archives: chick Charlie

Lesson 599 – taking the farm out of the bird

Charlie is never left out in the flock for more than a few days at a time. We (I) always bring her in to make sure that she gets enough food and water (she grew up eating dog food and she always runs to the Pippin’s dish when she’s in the house.) Whenever she sees me, she barks (yeah, it does sound like a bark) and runs over to me expecting me to pick her up. When I release her to the yard, she always heads to the kitchen back door, she knows where to go.

Yesterday I brought her in the house and sure enough, she made a bee-line to the kibbles. She scratched and pecked and managed to spread the dry food all over the floor. When Pippin came over to see what was going on, Charlie started to attack him, pecking at his black button eyes and nose. Pippin yelped in distress as Charlie made advance after advance.

Once Trevor had picked up Pippin and gotten him to a safe place, Charlie stood in front of the back door leading to the pen where the rest of the flock was outside exercising. I opened the door and without my even saying a word, Charlie hopped down the steps and joined her sisters in the yard. A few moments later when I looked out she was busy having a dirt bath and throwing the dust all over her back.

I guess that try as you may, you can never really take the farm out of the bird.

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Lesson 533 – A smart little house chick

Charlie, our house chicken, is one smart chick.

You know how I was working with Charlie and a clicker in order to try and get her to poop on command? As we know, that little experiment didn’t exactly work out well. It turns out you need to be with a chicken virtually 24 hours a day in order to do poop training and let’s just say that when you have to work and then on the weekends when you have to drive your kids all around town (and then home again) – it’s not easy to be there when nature calls.

But here’s the thing, you don’t need to be around all the time when you are offering treats by clicker, you just need to have a treat in your hand when you do it.

I am the only one in the household who is allowed to use the clicker but not everyone knows this. When Spencer came home from college for Easter, he picked up the brightly colored toy-like clicker. “What’s this?” He asked, as he started clicking it non-stop thinking perhaps it was some sort of musical instrument.

Don’t step on Charlie, I said to Spencer as Charlie, after hearing the clicker, came running over to Spencer’s feet looking for a yummy, yummy freeze-dried meal worm. Spencer didn’t know what to do, but I did. I dug out a large worm and held it in my hand letting Charlie munch away while I clicked the clicker. Continue reading

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Lesson 527 – A day in the life of Charlie – the house chicken

Although it comes as no surprise (to me anyway) Charlie has decided that I am the alpha in the flock. Whenever I get up to move from one room to another, she trots along behind me like a little puppy, I swear, if she had a tongue long enough, it would be wagging. And like a good, obedient member of the flock, when I tower over her, she submissively curtsies with her wings to the side ready for me to mount her.

It’s actually quite an honor.

When we had that freakish February heatwave a few weeks back, I moved my writing from the 3rd floor (which with the skylights cooks up like an easy-bake oven) to a chair on the first floor at the far back of the mudroom. When I’m sitting in that chair, writing on my laptop, Charlie has to be next to me (which is why I finally put a pillow on the floor just for her.)

Looking down from my chair onto Charlie.

This means, of course, that I have to think twice about getting up, because when I do she flaps and indigently runs off only to eventually come back settling near me once again.

She’s kind of like a toddler that way. She even opens the bathroom door and comes into the room when I’m in there. (and here I had thought that once the kids had gotten older – those days would be gone!)

When I’m sitting on a couch, she comes over and sits near me. Continue reading

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Lesson 525 – Charlie and the great outdoors

This weekend we took Charlie outside (by herself – no other chickens around) so that she could eat some tasty bugs and organic matter. There was also method to my (continued Charlie) madness. I wanted her to be outdoors if only for the sensations to her feet of real ground. I’m a little concerned that a chicken with known foot problems has learned only how to walk on a flat surface, we’ve all noticed that in the house she sort of galumphs around when she is happy. It’s an odd little dance. I’m not necessarily saying this is bad (after all, I’ve been known to galumph on occasion) but I just want to make sure that Charlie has all the chicken life skills she’ll need and that includes walking on and scratching in dirt.

At first she was intrigued with what she found on the ground. Num, nums. She ate critters, small pebbles, and stray feed.

After she had had her fill, Charlie discovered dirt. She was over the moon when she discovered that a dirt bath done with real dirt beats a dirt bath on a tile floor any day. Continue reading

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Lesson 522 – Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about chicken poop

Those of you who read my blog – did you notice I went a whole day without mentioning bird poop? Well enough of a holiday, it’s back to business (pun stays.)

Today’s post is going to be a bit of an anatomy lesson.

Let’s talk about humans first. We have something called the urogenital system. It is a separate system in our body designed to clear out impurities from our blood with the end product being urine. It’s a separate system that uses its own exit from our body.

Then we have our intestines which is a pretty nifty way of extracting nutrients from our food and passing on the inedible parts, called feces, out of our body. Again, it’s a separate system. The only time human urine and feces mix (ideally) is in the good old toilet bowl.

Not so with birds, however, they only have one opening from which the kidneys and intestines empty their goods. What comes out is a combined, highly efficient package (bomb.)

Here is an artist’s (mine) rendering of bird poop based loosely on what I’m been seeing from Charlie. Continue reading

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Lesson 520 – Chicken poop and clickers

Pavlov would have been very happy with Charlie this weekend.

Saturday I spent driving the kids to soccer, then to gymnastics, then back from soccer, then back from gymnastics, then off to get shoes, back to college, and then finally to get some supplies at the store. There wasn’t much time left for being at one with our chicken.

On Sunday, however, my schedule cleared (except for a short trip to a Maple Sugaring tour) and I was able to spend lots of one-on-one time with Charlie.

The instructions that I had read said to watch the bird for her poop-tell. I thought it was when Charlie stretched first one foot out behind her and then another but I quickly found out that this was not a consistent signal.  The best thing to do, I figured out was to sit with  Charlie and just wait for the blessed event.

I brought Charlie over to a perch (she doesn’t like sitting on my arm – might be because of her feet or it just might be her) and “clicked” and gave her a meal worm each time she settled down and sat on the perch. FYI – apparently meal worms are the crack of the chicken world, Charlie went nuts for them. I then sat with Charlie, paying an inordinate amount of attention to all the activity going on with her bum. Each little twitch got me tremendously excited!

After a bit, Charlie did poop from the perch onto the pad underneath. Like a young mother absolutely fed up with changing dirty diapers, I clapped, clicked, fed her a meal worm, and promised Charlie a new toy for being so good. Continue reading

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Lesson 518 – Becoming one with chicken poop

Yesterday I went to the store and got a clicker (ergonomically designed to fit over my finger, no less.) I also got a jar of freeze-dried meal worms (again, YUM) ready for this coming weekend of chicken poop-training.

While I was at it, I also got some dog treats for Pippin. Hey, why not, right? Maybe we can get him to learn how to do something other than being adorably cute.

Anyway, in preparation, I’ve been watching Charlie for her poop tell (which of course, reminds me of the movie Casino Royale,which of course, reminds me of Daniel Craig, but I digress.) Haven’t figured it out yet, but then I haven’t been able to spend too much time with her.

That old black magic – work, calls my name. *Sigh*

Through Twitter and on Facebook though, I’ve been hearing sporadic stories of house chickens. Yes, apparently they do exist. Continue reading

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Lesson 517 – House training a house chicken

I fully admit and take responsibility for my actions (isn’t that the first step? :-))

I like having Charlie in the house. We’ve had her here since she was a day old and she’s become part of the family. Even Pippin, our dog who lost his two best buds last fall has grown attached to Charlie. The two of them play with each other, like, well, puppies.

And like puppies, when they are tired, they fall asleep on top of each other. It’s nothing short of adorable.

Allowing her to live in the house, is not exactly surprising behavior on my part, as a kid, I was always the one to bring home animals both injured and adoptable. Throughout my childhood, I’ve had hamsters, guinia pigs, gerbils, mice, (I once had 46 mice that all escaped in my bedroom and my mother told me I couldn’t ever eat dinner again until I found all 46 – I did), birds, rabbits, fish, frogs, ducklings, dogs, cats, and even salamanders.

If it was alive, and especially if it needed help, I was there. (Is there really any surprise that I went on to have 6 animals children of my own?)

Yesterday, on a whim, I googled “How to house train a chicken” and, believe it or not, I actually found directions on clicker training a chicken to do her business on demand. It requires watching the chicken for the “poop-tell” (that specific body language that indicates poop is coming – kind of like when a toddler starts wiggling and you ask him if he has to go pee.)

Once you know this sign, you take the bird over to a spot lined with paper (some people used a litter box) and hold her there on your arm until she poops. Once she poops you click the clicker and reward her with a treat (I’m going to be getting freeze dried meal worms – YUM!) According to the directions, the chicken should be trained in about 2-3 days. Continue reading

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Lesson 516 – That Chicken, Charlie

That chicken, Charlie!

I think we’re heading toward trouble with Charlie, more specifically, I think *I”m* heading toward trouble.

I’m having a little difficulty even thinking about letting Charlie join the flock (and remember, I’m the one who holds Chicken workshops and who counsels everyone to let nature take it’s place when putting chickens together and the pecking starts.) This weekend, we introduced Charlie to the outside birds and she was pecked so horribly that I had to rescue her and bring a trembling little bird back into the house.

Now when I open the backdoor, Charlie runs as far away as possible.

As Charlie gets bigger, she gets bolder. No longer content to stay captive in our den, (for the longest time, she wouldn’t step outside of the room, leary of the terracotta tiles in our foyer) she now roams the entire first level of our house (older house, with wood floors.) It’s not unusual to see her scampering around the kitchen or living room, wood doesn’t allow much traction and her method of stopping forward motion is usually just to skid to a stop.

She’s also getting more socialized with the kids, I’m constantly hearing things like “Move over Charlie, I want to sit down” or “That’s a good girl, Charlie.”

Yesterday, as I was walking through the living room, I saw Charlie and Pippin sleeping together. Charlie had her neck stretched across Pippin’s back. Those two are buddies who play together and once she discovered it, now also drink out of the same water bowl. (which makes life for a house chicken much easier because she is so big that she tended to tip over the chick sized waterer.)

Pippin sleeping with Charlie

It’s a good thing having a chicken in the house, I tell Marc. The fact that she’s so close to Pippin means that she’ll be eating all ticks he brings in. Heck, she might even finally get on top of our annual black ant invasions.

Marc just kind of shakes his head and walks away (although I did catch him the other night watching a movie on the Kindle with a chicken on his knee.)

Pippin is our watch-dog for when people approach the house but Charlie is quickly becoming our watch-chicken inside the house. I can always tell when the kids are on the first floor by Charlie’s little chirrings. She’s a child locater of the best kind. She’s a doll, a treat, but when you come down to it, she is a chicken.

Charlie perching near me while I read.

In a world filled with far too much sadness, sickness, tight budgets, and umbrella-wielding gunman, what’s wrong with taking in a little bird and protecting her from those big, bad bullies out in the world? I see nothing but goodness at the idea of having a chicken in the house.

Marc, on the other hand, begs to differ. And this is where the trouble lies.

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Lesson 506 – The peril of chicken toes

Last week, the public school kids were on vacation, this week, both of the college kids are home for Spring break. It’s really too bad it worked out this way, the kids have always seen flock members returning as a cause for celebration and would have loved to have spent the entire time together. (Although to be honest, the college kids seem to be more interested in sleeping than in socializing, so I’m thinking they just might be very glad the stars aligned themselves in this manner.)

Although Spencer, who goes to school the next town over, had been home to visit since Christmas (Hey mom, do you know where my blue blazer is?) and had met Charlie – Griffin had only heard tales of a mythical chicken living in our TV room (mom did what? No way.)

He got to meet Charlie on Saturday after a “looooooooong” train ride from RIT to Massachusetts where he was picked up and then had to endure a “looooooong” car ride home. Although exhausted (those looooong train rides can really take it out of you, especially when you have nothing to do but watch all 3 movies of the Lord of the Rings) he managed to get some quality time in with Charlie.

Charlie has grown (as all good chickens do) and now lives in what was once a wire rabbit cage. We found that she had outgrown the tupperware tub and because of water and condensation accumulation needed something that provided a little more air circulation. Enter Vivian’s old starter cage. When I say that Charlie lives in the cage, though, I’m speaking relatively of course, the rule is that if someone is in the TV room, then Charlie has to be out of the cage, free to roam around, which essentially means that Charlie is only in the cage at night. We leave feed for her on the floor and clean up the messes (and there are quite a few, Charlie is definitely not house broken) as soon as they happen. When she’s not eating or drinking, Charlie is sitting on our shoulders, peeping in our ears trying to figure out who did the crime before the TV detectives do. Continue reading

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