Balfour Girl's Page
Hi everyone... I've always wanted a blog, and never in a million years would I have imagined that it would be on a chicken website! I'm a 49 year old woman living the life of my dreams... well, close anyhow. It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but my hubby and I are finally right where we want to be. In 2005 we bought a house in the country. He retired and I work part time for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (I'm 15 years younger than him so someone has to bring home the bacon for a few more years!). My old cat passed away and we were suddenly petless. Norm wanted to keep it that way because his idea of pets is a cat to chase the vermin and a dog to chase the predators and they both work and sleep outside... my idea of a pet is making them a part of the family, showering them with love and affection, sleeping with them... feeding them at the table. Okay, you get the picture! So, no pets. But our neighbour across the road had pets. First it was Sammy, the cat.
He was eating my birds so we started feeding him. He kept eating the birds, but loved being fed so hung around all the time and kind of became ours... (officially became ours in March 09, but he's his own cat and comes and goes as he pleases).
The chickens came next... Chicken (later named Bea) was attacked by a coyote and Norm rescued her and nursed her back to health.
By that time I was in love with her and asked the neighbours if we could steal one more so she'd have a companion. They told us to hurry as they had sold their flock and it would be leaving the next day. That's how we got Punkin. They lived in a big dog kennel all summer...
My proudest moment is when I gather an egg (too bad Bea learned that eggs were delicious) but look at the size of Bea's egg vs a store bought large!
And my scariest moment was just before I learned that chickens bathe in the dirt...
My happy little family!!
So... on Nov 26th, 2008, Punkin disappeared. The next day we heard that part of her wing had been found on the golf course, about a mile away (makes me wonder if she was picked off by a bird, as a coyote could have just packed her up behind our house to the woods and not carry her a mile including crossing the highway). I decided to give Bea away as I thought she'd be cold and lonely in the coop by herself, so we took her to a woman's house where she loves her chickens like pets - I figured we were kindred spirits and she would treat Bea the way I'd want her treated. Unfortunately, Bea began to systematically beat the crap out of this woman's three chickens. We watched one get beat up and then when she started on the second I picked her up and took her home. I decided that she can continue to free range during the day and stay alone in her coop at night and hopefully she won't be too cold (she seems to prefer lonely... antisocial little brat!).
Rest in peace, Punkin... sob.
December 11, 2008
Bea was doing fine until a bird hovering over the yard really freaked her out, so I put her back in her coop and didn't let her free range for a few days. Then it snowed and she wouldn't come out. Today I decided it was too sad with her there all alone, all the time (I had even taken a milk crate down to her coop and sat with her for a while each day). A neighbour offered us two roosters who were slated to be put on the chopping block tonight, so we brought them home, watched for 5 minutes as the pecking order was established and they all seem fine. Someone told me that there should only be one rooster for every 10+ hens, but I couldn't leave these guys behind, and I would have taken them all if Norm had let me... hopefully they don't wear Bea out. This is their first night together... Bea is tucked into her usual sleeping space in the end nesting box, and the boys are keeping their distance from each other. It's supposed to get very cold this weekend, so hopefully they will be more cuddly by then!
December 13, 2008
After only a couple days together, the gang is settled and seem happy. We've named the boys. The little RIR is Nini, an Italian endearment for little fella. Momo is the BO. Momo was a character in a movie who was big, sweet and gentle. The man Momo liked to throw his arm out and shout "Il Duce!". Our Momo likes to throw his chest out and shout "cockle doodle doooooo!" They all slept together last night (I could tell by poop placement, haha!). I think everything is going to be just fine!
December 14, 2008
After only three days together, my chickens are settling in really well. It's so cold here right now that today Norm and I hung plastic on the coop walls to block the icy wind. Tonight I went down to see how the gang were handling the cold snap. Bea has the best spot... she's tucked in behind the boys, barely visible. They've all cuddled together and I'm very happy about that!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Yesterday I talked Norm into coming down to the coop with me to look at Bea. She's getting a little bald looking - I'm assuming that it has something to do with being the one hen in a coop with two roosters... Norm figures she looks fine and they do all seem to get along well. Momo seems to be in charge. He tells Bea when there's food and she and Nini come running. If Nini is eating from the same dish or hand as Bea, she'll peck at him and he backs off, but Momo stands behind and waits till everyone else is finished before he eats. So when we went down yesterday afternoon to see them, I forgot to take water. I've been packing an icecream pail down in the morning and bringing home the frozen bucket, and then filling it and taking it down in the afternoon, bringing home the frozen bucket from morning. Yesterday the water wasn't frozen so I didn't worry about it, but last night I got thinking that I should have brought fresh water and had a hard time sleeping because I was so worried about the stupid water! I was up at 7 and showered and ran down to the coop by 7:30, only to find them all still in bed! That's a first... me beating the chickens up in the morning. I wished I'd had my camera as they were all tucked into one of the nesting boxes and only their heads were poking out!
This afternoon I chopped up some lettuce and olives and took them a treat. They seem very content, but I sure can't wait till we build our own coop and get a bunch more hens to take some of the pressure off Bea...
Feb 14/09... it's been a while since I've updated my blog, so here goes. The three chickens are all doing well. Nini, my bantam Rhode Island Red, loves me and is jealous of my hubby. He has what I thought might be frostbite on the tips of his comb, but our neighbour thinks he's fighting when I'm not around. I find that hard to believe as they all seem to get along so well. Momo, the buff orpington is the nicest rooster I've ever met. He's brave and gentlemanly and gorgeous. He's not too sure about me, which is too bad. Nini has jumped in my lap when I'm sitting with them, but Momo won't even eat from my hands very often. Bea is molting - and began losing her feathers on Groundhog Day, a much more indicitive sign of spring than any groundhog and its shadow, I think! She's looking a little the worst for wear with her semi-baldness. Poor girl. The three of them do seem to get along very well together and I'm eagerly waiting for the day when my husband starts to build a coop in our yard.
It's finally spring. We had a long, cold, snowy winter and the kids were trapped in their coop the entire time. Now they're back in my yard (the coop is across the road at the neighbours) and sleeping in their dog kennel at night - free ranging during the day. I thought the kennel might be too small for the three of them, but as you'll see by the photo below... not so much! Nini has changed now that he is a free range rooster. He's very independent (and probably a little lonely) and is quite aggressive, although when he bites me there are consequences and he knows it, so he doesn't bite too often any more. They are such characters and I LOVE having them in my life! Now it's a matter of building the coop. Norm and I are already having differences of opinions on where it should go and what it should look like. Sigh.
May 2/09 Bea, the old woman who was our hen Bea's namesake, died two years ago today. In a strange twist of fate, our Bea died this morning. We knew she'd been "off" for a few weeks... fluffed out, hunched down and not moving around as much, but she was still eating and looked pretty good, so I hoped it would pass, whatever "it" was. Not to be. Now I wonder if Nini and Momo will be as inseparable as Momo and Bea were. Good for Nini if that's the case. Norm's been working on building the coop, so it should only be a couple more weeks till we can get 4 hens and make our boys happy. And Bea had been eating her own eggs, so this pretty much solves the problem of how to deal with that! But I am sad. Bea was our first. Poor girl.
May 19/09... we almost lost Momo to a large hawk the other day. Luckily all he has to show for it is a big green bruise in one "arm pit" (wing pit? haha) and a small gash under the other wing. He's also half bald and his comb lost its color for a day or two. Now both boys are living back at the neighbour's coop, which is secure and has a covered run. I'm still waiting for Norm to finish my coop, but his health hasn't been great lately and I must be patient. Here is a picture of Norm working on the coop.
May 25, 2009... today we bought five RIR pullets. They're adorable, and are living in the neighbour's coop while the two roosters are back in the kennel till Norm finishes the coop. As soon as the girls are big enough we'll introduce them to the boys... can't be too soon for me. Nini has developed an unnatural attachment to my Holey Sole shoes!
June 3/09: I'm so sad... Nini, our RIR rooster was picked off by a coyote with pups this morning. Sometimes it's so hard having chickens as pets. I loved that little guy. The other night after supper in the gazebo I lifted him into my lap and he climbed onto my wrist, roosted, and fell asleep! When Norm walked up the hill to his shop Nini ran behind him, and when Norm came down from the shop (to where he's building our coop), he'd carry Nini... I wish I'd gotten a photo of that. It was adorable. I'd see that scene twenty times a day. It's better to have one rooster with five little hens, I know that. But GOD I wish that we hadn't lost Nini... sob.
June 28/09: Norm told me to keep the little chicken door to the covered run closed at night. I thought he was being silly. It's fenced and protected (so I thought). This morning I went down there and two of the girls are dead. One ripped to shreds, one decapitated but otherwise intact. I think it was a racoon. I've been crying all morning. Poor babies. Now the remaining three are coming home today. This will be quite the experience. They will meet the rooster, move into their new home and experience free ranging all at once.
Later that day... well, Momo impressed me so much today. I thought he'd rape the girls, ready or not, but all he's done is the typical posturing (flapping wings, fluffing himself big, the "Chicken Dance" and crowing - with laryngitis... a sadder sound you've never heard!!). He's absolutely taking his job as protector seriously, and the hens are following him around and he's making sure they stay out of trouble. Fun to watch, and takes a lot of the pressure off... here's a photo of the girls being shown where the food is!
August 19, 2009: This has been a wonderful summer for my flock of four. Momo is a true gentleman and looks after his girls with dedication and patience. They are totally free range and only go into their little house to rest or drink throughout the day. At night I close them in to protect them from the predators. They never leave the yard and I know that I will always find them in one of 4 places in our yard where they like to hang out. They are healthy and shiny and I adore them... unfortunately the girls are WAY too timid to hold, and when we do have to catch them they freak out in a big way. So we don't try to catch them. We can herd them with promises of food, they'll eat out of our hands, but picking them up is out of the question, which is too bad, because many of our visiting friends love to pat a chicken... it's a new experience. So for now I'll live with the fact that my pets aren't affectionate (unless I have a juicy berry or soft piece of bread in my hand!) and maybe one of these days I'll have babies who will be picked up from day one!
6 October, 2009
Norm and I went away for a week, leaving our house guest to look after our home and chickens. A coyote got Christa on October 2nd... apparently they'd been heading down the road to the neighbour's yard. I don't know why they've started doing that... maybe with the cooler weather they're running out of good food in our yard. Oh well... three chickens fit better on the top roost so the survivors are happier! And someone's FINALLY been in the nesting box! No egg yet, but any day now...
Note: it's a couple of hours after I wrote that and today WAS the day! I'm so happy!! hahahah... the golf ball was a suggestion by our house guest who thinks the chickens need to know where to leave their egg...
OUR FIRST EGG... OCTOBER 6, 2009... or not.
Norm found these the very next day under our deck!
March 14, 2010
Our neighbour offered us some banty hens last week so we picked them up yesterday... two little RIR's and a buff orpington that I named the Little Missus! Finally Momo has some hens that are his size! Unfortunately there's a pecking order thing going on with Honey and Jenna that is upsetting me, and them too, I'm sure. Hopefully they settle in quickly as I'm not getting a lot of sleep (trying to get to the coop before they beat each other up in the morning!).
Thursday, May 27, 2010... I'm a Grandma!!!!! hahahaha... this is so thrilling! I LOVE MY BABY, and there's still 2 more eggs in there!
June 12, 2010... the other two eggs didn't hatch, so Chicken Thursday is an only child. The following pics are taken at 15 days old. Can you tell whether it's hen or rooster yet? I have nothing to compare it to, and can't tell myself.
Here's an updated photo of my baby... growing so fast....although it still wants to be a baby!
Saturday, July 3, 2010... today I had an interesting experience. I helped my bantam buff orpington who was egg bound. I gently rubbed olive oil on her vent (sounds kinky, but it was really kind of sad as she was tender and had blood and poop all over), then got her to stand in front of a conveniently located heat lamp and said, "push, push" every time she tried, till about 15 minutes later a big, hard egg popped out! Now she's in the nesting box... probably one or two more in there...
April 26, 2011
It's been a long time since I've written. Life is good with my six hens and rooster. We've put a bee hive in their yard and they all seem to get along well. I got a "chicken cam" for Christmas so I can watch my peeps at night if I want! Thursday turned out to be a girl, and has been laying eggs regularly since spring.
Friday, May 27, 2011... today is Chicken Thursday's birthday!
So, this is my page, I hope you've enjoyed it! With love from my hubby Norm...
...and me, crazy Chicken Lady, Lonnie!