First I want to say, I grew up on a farm and would have never attempted to purposefully put two roos together. Now, how this adventure in chickenhood began, it was in November of 2014, and the phone rang. A family member called me to inform me that they were being evicted from their home, and that they had four "hens" they bought a year ago, that needed somewhere to go
(I didn't take pics at time, didn't think they'd make it, this is from today.)
They told me the chickens weren't very big and that they never laid eggs, so no one wanted them, and they wanted to know if I would take them to add to my freezer. Well, first I thought, never laid eggs at a year, umm okay? So I go over there to find four of the most pathetic looking birds I had ever seen. They looked like sickly pullets. I thought how can they be a year old? They were sooo small with full feathering but not the body structure of a bantam, okay, but they obviously needed me. They were living in a "coop?" that was made of pallets and hog wire, the floor was a muddy watery mess, they had no weather safe place to rest, and it was very cold. Their food was mixed in the mud and sludge, no fresh water, and obviously very cold. I pulled my husband off to the side and said, "Well this is gonna be one of those good deed things, alot of work with no reward. I don't think they'll make the stress of being moved, they are in such bad shape, but I'll try." I gently collected the birds and placed each in a small animal cage or cat carrier and placed them in the back seat of my car where my husband had the heat going and was quietly playing some soft music for them to try to keep their stress level down. I asked them for any feed and supplies they had, I was told they had a bag of feed and a bale of hay. What I was given was a half bag of scratch and a molded piece of a bale of straw. I told them never mind on the straw I would pick up hay on the way home, and asked what all were they feeding them, so I had a starting point for rehab (very much needed). To my utter shock and great disappointment I was informed that for the past year all these birds had received for food was this scratch. So, I say my goodbyes get in my car and as my husband backed down the drive I start to tear up. He asked what was wrong besides the obvious condition of the birds. I told him they only fed them scratch, he said, "What? That's like feeding your child nothing but popcorn, yeah they'll live but they sure won't be healthy, no wonder they don't lay eggs." I thought to myself, I may never get them well enough to lay eggs but, I'll do my best. So off to the feed store we went. We picked up a fifty pound bag of laying pellets, a feeder, a waterer, and two bales of clean alfalfa hay. We got to the house and since this was a come get them now or they will just be left here kind of heart breaking thing, I was by no means prepared. So we left them in the car to stay warm and we unloaded the car, headed down to a storage shed behind the house and started cleaning it out. We got everything out and took one of my husband's canvas paint tarps and covered the doorless opening to the shed. We hung wire to cover that to keep predators out. I spread out the one bale and used the other for nesting boxes I made from an old rabbit cage bottom and three milk crates that were laying around the shed. Set up the waterer and feeder. We then carefully got the birds out of the car and carried them to the shed, where we released them one by one in their new dry, clean, and way warmer coop. My husband set up a heat lamp in the corner to help them stay warm and we watched as they ate like they never ate before. I sat out there with them for about four hours, talking to them and watching their amazing personalities emerge and how they interacted with each other. By the time I left to go in the house I had named them.
Big Mama, she was the biggest of them and the rest seemed to follow her lead.
Red, who was and is second in command was the next biggest and seemed to have a reddish tone to "her" dull brown feathers.
Blondie, who is orange, has deformed feet, and seems to be slightly air headed but bravest of them all.
And last but not least Henny Penny, she was soooo tiny and everything freaked her out, she acted as if the sky was falling.
I noticed Red seemed to be more protective of the others and that Blondie seemed to act as if "she" was Red's chick. Well I checked on my "girls" everyday, talking to them and just interacting with them, hoping their skiddishness would subside some and no there were no eggs and no signs of any either. After about two months they calmed way down and their eating slowed by quite a bit, but the transformation was amazing. First, over night Red and Blondie grew beautiful big red combs, waddles, and tail feathers. Their tail feathers started to appear and the once dull and shabby looking feathers became glossy and vibrant with color, all four of my birds were now twice the size they were when I rescued them. And the best part of all, Big Mama and Henny Penny were actually hens and started laying beautiful green and chocolate eggs.
I never thought these poor birds would survive let alone thrive as they are now. When we had had them about three and a half months we noticed the boys trying to breed with the girls and I told my husband we are going to have problems, two roos in one house can be very dangerous for the smaller roo. My husband then pointed out that they hadn't fought any yet and let's just see. Well, me thinking I know best, decide on a backup plan, I contacted a family member that knew of the birds and had offered to help in any way, and we discussed rehoming the smaller roo, but was sticking with the wait and see approach. Well the day came that the boys had a squabble and after we got them separated we placed Blondie in a carrier and made the call. I stayed outside with him to keep an eye out, but as I watched I noticed something, Red was making this most horrible noise and pecking at the cage Blondie was in. I assumed he was trying to continue the squabble, so I went to shoo him away, and he turned on me. He started doing what we lovingly call his karate kicks at me, so I went to pick up the cage and he wouldn't let me near it. I also noticed that Blondie was trying to bash his head into the cage door, that's when I decided to take him out to check on him. As soon as I opened the door he shot out and straight to Red, but no fighting, they started grooming and rubbing against each other like they were consoling each other. I called my husband out and told him what happened. He said, " Think about it, think about the conditions they lived through before they got here, and they did it together. Now that they feel secure and safe,and you just went and caged one of them up and separated them. They don't want to be apart." So a called my family member back and told them nevermind, we were keeping Blondie. I don't know what that squabble was about but they've never had one again, and when you watch them out in the yard, they work together, one watches while the other one eats. Both protecting their girls, from anything or anyone. I can actually say it is very obvious that they love one another and to seperate them would be a great injustice. So as long as they live I make them a solemn promise that they will never be apart, we just bought nine new female chicks to bulk up their breeding selection in the future, so hopefully no more squabbles,cause you know the fight had to be over a girl, lol. Red is the alarm and Blondie, who hilariously ended up being a bantam, is the muscle. If one of my dogs get too close when they're playing in the yard, Red stats crowing away and here comes Blondie doing his little dance, with his head down and his wings spread, he runs at my pitbulls and makes them girls run. And yes you read that right I have two female pitbulls that are a little over a year old and their best friends are those roosters.
Frigga she thinks they're her chickies
Freya, her favorite is Blondie
If those roosters sound the alarm right in the coop my dogs run to check out what's wrong. One night at three in the morning we were abruptly awaken by our dogs jumping on our heads, I opened the door and off to the coop they went, two minutes later out comes the girls with a very large rat and they were playing tug of war with it. I went in the coop and there wasn't a feather out of place. In fact the birds had gone back to bed already. The other strange thing is my three male cats, they love my chickens, they sleep with them at night since it got warmer, and the birds do not mind one bit. One day, I went out there to collect eggs and one of my cats was sleeping on them, in the nesting box. I assumed this was a problem (dumb me), so I put a cat bed on a high shelf in there to get the cats out of the nesting box. Yes it worked the cats no longer slept in the nesting boxes but now the chickens lay their eggs in the cat beds. So I remove the cat beds only to discover the chickens would not go back to laying in the nesting box, they started laying wherever, so I thought. One night I go in pretty late, I had been gone all day and I collect eggs daily. To my surprise, the chickens, none of them were roosting to sleep.
Red and Blondie were together with my big tabby Miracle sleeping in the corner.
(Miracle, personally I think he thinks he's a dog because he loves to herd the chickens around the yard)
Henny Penny was curled up with my black cat Loki in a nesting box.
(Loki - he loves to play hide and seek with the chickens, he disappears behind a bush and when they get to looking for him out he pops and runs crazy in circles till he flops down and he'll hide again. Henny Penny will not go in at dusk without him.)
And Big Mama was sleeping on top of my siamese cat Thor in another nesting box.
(Thor - I think his life calling is to be Big Mama's pillow, she sleeps on him, every night.)
I learned to just leave them alone.
So in my newest adventure with chickens, I have learned so far:
1: Chickens are survivors, they have alot of heart. (Seriously I couldn't live on nothing but popcorn for a year and goodness knows how often they had that.)
2: Chickens can make friends with anyone.(Predators too, as long as they too have a good personality and manners.)
3: Chickens are smart (Mine know if they can't handle it, call a dog.)
4. Even the most dire of circumstances can be turned around with a lot a hope and a lot of hard work.
5. Chickens are wonderful therapy.
Hope you enjoyed hearing the beginning of my family's adventure, I will be updating when our new chicks arrive later this week by mail so wish me luck there. I wish you, your own great adventure.
6/4/2015 - Well after a very chaotic morning, we finally got our new babies this morning. All nine of our new beauties were happy and healthy when they arrived. They ate and drank and ran around checking their brooder out, and no pastie butts! The babies are so cute and they have already figured out that if they raise cane I'll come running. So every once and a while I hear lots of little chirps and go in just for them to want attention. The temp is perfect they don't huddle but they are not avoiding each other either. I stick my hand in the brooder and they chase it around, they already love being picked up and petted. The pittie babies are just totally mesmerized by the little ones. They always come running when they see me going for the door of the room I'm keeping them in, and when we go in they just sit next to the bin I use as a brooder and stare. If they hear the chicks chirping before me they go to the door and whine. So I took pictures of the girls and here they are:
Easter Egger Rhode Island Red Easter Egger Silver Laced Wyandotte
White Leghorn Delaware Dominique Barred Plymouth Rock
I use a heat lamp, with a 100 watt bulb. I couldn't find any chick feeders I could get here in time so I bought a regular bird feeder that releases the food at the bottom and has a perch all the way around. For a waterer I use the bottom of a five gallon bucket about an inch deep. I use a 2'x4' plastic bin as the brooder, with pine shavings as bedding. I got the chicks immunized against Mareck's (probably spelled wrong) and I bought organic apple cider vinegar for their water, just in case. It is funny because this is my first time with such young chicks and definitely the first time getting chicks in the mail. So, I'm probably being a little obsessive about the details, but I take my duties as my animals' caretaker very seriously, and I have a lot of time, effort, and money tied up into this. I really do wake up with the chickens, and Red and Blondie are crowing a hour before the sun starts to rise. My daughter asked if she could bring the grand baby over to see the chicks I told her that when they are old enough to be put in a pen in the yard she can come over to see them because they are really delicate and when I put them out she won't be able to reach them, so no accidents.
Hope you enjoyed my update and felt my absolute excitement in this new part of our adventure. I'll update weekly with new pics of everybody.
6/15/15 Well it's been a busy busy week and some. The chicks are doing great and with the very hot week ahead of us, we decided to go ahead and build their outdoor run and coop to house them till they join the big birds.
We put them in there saturday, and they love it, they run and try to fly, chase bugs and scratch and peck away. I used an old rabbit cage as their coop, placed their heat lamp on top, and used three foot t-posts to place the board on and attach the hardware cloth for the run. I stapled plastic on top of the board to cover the sides and top of cage to weather proof at night and during rain. I use the paint tarp to give the chicks shade in the hottest part of the day and give a little better wind block in case of storms, it is large enough to cover the entire coop and run, and I use my container plants to hold it down in case of high winds, like the ones we got yesterday during an afternoon thunderstorm. I used two inch chicken wire as a roof over the chicken run to protect from eagles, hawks, and owls. They should be good with this setup till they are old enough to join the big birds. They are already have alot of feathers, and boy are they coming out beautiful.
Well we have an update on the big birds too. This morning, Blondie our smaller roo, decided he wanted to play with one of the pittie girls this morning while Daddy was walking her. Well he had never done it when my husband walked her before, so he didn't know what was going on. What Blondie does is he charges at Freya and then runs away, and he does this to get her to bark and chase him. He does it everyday till I let her go and she'll run after him till he gets to their pen and then he stands there and crows his loudest crow he can get out and makes her whine as she waits for him to come out. Then she gives up and goes about her business. Well my husband being unaware of this dynamic, when Blondie charged Freya, he freaked out thinking Blondie was going to get hurt and tried to shoo him away. He pulled Freya up on the porch and tried to shoo Blondie down, but Blondie not understanding, kept coming. Finally my husband pushed him off the porch, something Blondie was not prepared for and he fell down the stairs and just laid there. Next thing I know I hear a blood curdling scream from my husband and I come running. There's my husband crying, holding Blondie, he just kept saying, "I think I hurt him, oh my god I'm so sorry." I took Blondie from him and his eyes looked fine he was breathing and just being stll, I put him on the ground and he acted like he couldn't walk, my heart dropped. I picked him back up and handed him to my husband, I told him Blondie could be in shock, just hold on for a sec. I grabbed four sticks I had laying around and my chicken wire and built a make shift pen for him four feet by four feet, put some water and feed in there and placed Blondie in there, he still acted like he couldn't move well. I told my husband I might have to cull him if he doesn't get up, I can't let him suffer. My husband just cried and kept saying he was so sorry. Well here comes Red our other rooster around the corner with the girls in toe. Up jumped Blondie trying to figure out how to get out and get to them. I told my husband, "See he's not as bad as it seems, I'll just keep an eye on him, you go to work."
He went off to work and called every fifteen minutes checking on him. Blondie is doing fine, I let him out to join his friends. He's running around the yard pecking and scratching like usual, I did notice the back of his comb is purple. I called the vet and she told me that he probably hit it when he fell and it stunned him. She said it is a natural reaction for a chicken to not move when stunned. She said as long as he is acting normal now he should be fine, probably just has one heck of a headache.Red is being overly protective of his little buddy and I'm still waiting on him to send out his cocky little crow, but other then that he seems to be doing fine.
I called my husband and let him know, he was so relieved. I will be working with my husband and the chickens, because he is scared of them, and if he wouldn't have been, he wouldn't have panicked when Blondie rushed the dog. Wish me luck, Red loves tormenting my husband. I explained to him, that the animals have their own little games they like to play with each other and that all I can say is that's Blondie and Freya's version of tag and they do it everyday. He rushes her and she chases him to the pen and when he gets there he crows ali ali oxen free. He never actually attacks her, she never actually tries to catch him, but it's what they do.
So between new babies that grow very fast with changing needs. Cats that seem to be on a role getting stuck up trees, two in three days. And chickens confusing and really terrorizing my poor husband, he got attacked by Red trying to cut the grass yesterday ( he got too close to their dusting spot, he didn't know it was there), plus this morning, we have had one heck of an adventure this week. I NEED a nap, lol. Have a great day, see you next week.
6/24/15 Well the heat is up here so the little ones got moved to behind the house, under the big tree, with the big birds. I put their coop and run we constructed for them along the older ones pen. Blondie seems to be just as happy as a hog in mud. He stays by the chicks all day, he forages in the grass next to them and seems to be giving them food through the hardware cloth. It looks like they are kissing, lol. He walks up and they come running. Red joins him allot of the time but he does have other issues to deal with like his ongoing game of king of the hill with Big Mama and Henny Penny, he's losing terribly. The girls spend their time with the chicks too, Henny Penny tries to join in when they are running around chasing each other trying to get the bug one of them caught away. And Big Mama is already working on teaching them she is boss, the chicks will be curled up together in front of the fan sleeping and she'll run at them and make all kinds of cackleing noises to wake them up. They jump up and all run for their make shift coop, and before they can look to see what scared them she cocks her head and walks away. Miracle has made it his job to guard them around the clock. Last night we had a thunderstorm brewing that woke me up and I remembered I still had their fan going in the open. So I ran out to grab the fan and make sure everyone was safely tucked in with the strong winds that were blowing. I get out there grabbed the fan and start to lower the tarp down on the sides of the chick's coop and run, when I get to the coop I see something between the plastic covering the coop back and the coop, so I make my way to the other side to look, the chick's weren't acting like anything was wrong they were just sleeping away, not a care in the world, and there he was, Miracle. He had tucked himself between the sheet of plastic and the rabbit cage coop, sleeping away with his little one's, lightening and thunder and high winds and all. The other two cats and the big birds were in the main coop. So I just tucked the tarp down around them turned the heat lamp on and let them be, the next morning everybody was good. I took some pictures of everybody hanging out this morning, I'm going to have to put some cat food out there for him since he seems to want to spend all his time out there, even in full fur coat and a heat index of 105, he just lays in front of the fan under the shade of the oak tree watching his babies.
Miracle just waking up Henny Penny has to say hello Time to go for a walk Here comes everybody else
Everybody says hello Check the perimeter Now time for head count Big Mama seen a bug
Now time for king of the hill poor tired guard cat Red's got to show off uh Big Mama's coming
Down the hill haha chicken Where's Blondie? There's Blondie! Ruby (RIR)
Just hanging out with the girls....... and Miracle, lol.
Hope you enjoyed the update, have a great week!
6/30/15 - Well we've had a great week. I think I got the girls back to laying in their nesting boxes. Blondie has recovered from his fall, except he still doesn't crow, think it's a self esteem thing and not any physical restriction. Red is cocky as ever. We finally named all the chicks, it took a long time but it's finally complete. Now I have my base flock determined, it's just a matter of getting the chicks through to adulthood to start laying those eggs and making new chicks. Here's an updated pic with their first pics and their names, boy have they grown over these past four weeks:
Ruby is our beautiful Rhode Island Red. Tata is our very vocal easter egger. Dixie is my husband's little docile Australorp. Dominique is our lovely very lady like Dominique. Foghorn is our no holds barred White Leghorn named after the famous cartoon character whom she shares a personality with, loves tormenting the dogs. Della is our delicate Delaware. Easter Egger got her name solely because I hadn't thought of a name and needed to get her attention one day and it stuck, she comes running when you yell easter egger. Freckle face is my little sweetie soldier, I started calling her that because it looks like she has freckles on her beak and face. The irony of it is she is my Silver Laced Wyandotte and will grow up to be gorgeous, but has started out as my Darth Maul looking baby. I told my husband no matter how beautiful she grows to be, she will always be my little freckle face who along with Rocky love to blitz attack my older chickens. Rocky is my Barred Plymouth Rock, but she was not named for her breed. She got her name because at three weeks old she broke out of her run into the big chicken pen area. And she chased my big chickens into their coop, she just came running at them and feet first started flying at them and they ran. That's when Freckle Face joined in, under the wire she went out into the big pen and after the big birds just like Rocky. So I bent back the corner of their run so they can get out and play in the big pen but still get to their run to hide if need be. Since, it has been a regular comedy in my pen area. The big birds wake up and wake up the chicks by crowing and clucking away next to the chick run, then the chicks start stretching and getting something to drink. I come out with the scratch for the day and everybody comes running, just pecking away together like they don't even notice one another. I also have a banana in the morning and the fun begins. I start by throwing pieces to the big birds even though the chicks will steal pieces, and after the big birds are busy eating I continue to throw pieces to the chicks. They run and chase each other stealing pieces from each other and the big birds if they're not careful. Henny Penny usually loses hers on a regular basis, but Blondie sometimes gets a piece back for her, but the other day Freckle Face had it and she wasn't giving it back, she ran with it into the chick run, where Blondie can't get, but she went right next to the wire and every time he would try to get to the banana through the hardware cloth Freckle Face would peck him, a couple times she got him real good in the comb. He had some blood spots that scabbed. Freckle Face, Rocky, Foghorn, and Easter egger are the more dominant of the chick part of the flock. Easter egger is the alpha and has absolutely no problem attacking one of the big birds if they start chasing or scaring any of the other chicks. Rocky and Foghorn are the scouts, they go out and explore in front of everyone else. They check food I throw out to them first before anyone comes to eat. They go out in the main pen to test the big birds demeanor before anyone else goes out and are the distractors if someone gets on the wrong side of one of the big birds. Freckle Face is the enforcer, pick on one of the chicks, she'll get between you. She has attacked and backed down all four of the big birds at one point or another. If the big birds get to close to the opening of the chick run she runs out there to chase them off.
And something I personally have never witnessed or atleast noticed before is this strange partnerships the chicks have developed. First is Easter Egger and Tata, I assumed this developed due to their shared breed until I witnessed the other partnerships that did not share a breed commonality. Easter Egger protects Tata, she shares her food with her, and Tata demands to always be able to sleep next to Easter Egger. She will screech and screech till either Easter Egger moves or whoever is next to Easter Egger moves so Tata can take their spot.
Second but actually the first partnership I noticed is Ruby and Foghorn. Ruby follows Foghorn around and Foghorn shares her food with Ruby. If Ruby gets busy eating and Foghorn wanders off, once Ruby notices she chirps and chirps till Foghorn comes running back. If the big birds take notice of Ruby, she squeaks and Foghorn sends out the alarm and here comes Rocky and Freckle Face to the rescue giving Ruby time to get back in the chick run. And they too sleep together on purpose, looking for each other at nap time.
Della is Freckle Face's little buddie, but Della is allot more independent of the more docile chicks. She is pretty drama free and tends to handle her own mistakes. They really only share food and sleep together. Della is very independent usually doing her own thing, completely unaware of most squabbles, that is until the squabble finds her. Then Freckle Face gets her out of it safely.
The last but not least partnership is actually a threesome of friends. Rocky, Dominique, and Dixie spend the majority of their time in any combination of the three, but sleeping and eating are done together. Dixie is very timid but has a tendency to remain invisible when a possible threat is in the area. Dominique also is a drama free chick, not getting into squabbles. She is an excellent forager and tends to share her finds with her partners that make the rest aware of it. She introduced everyone to the compost pile. Rocky is the head of their sub group, she tells them when and where to sleep, she directs them whether they stay in the run or go out to the pen. And if someone steals one of the other girls food, Rocky goes and gets it back. She is the queen of banana snatch backs. Whenever they are eating or sleeping these partnerships are the most obvious, you will always find them divided in these groups.
I told my husband as they get older the pecking order will be intriguing to monitor. There are various sub groups through out the main flock and various sub groups made out of variations of the sub groups.
Here is a list and the members in rank as I have noted so far:
Older Flock - Big Mama, Red, Blondie, Henny Penny
Chick Flock - Easter Egger, Freckle Face, Rocky, Foghorn, Tata, Ruby, Dominique, Della, Dixie
Foragers - Foghorn, Ruby, Easter Egger, Tata, Freckle Face, Della, Rocky, Dominique, Dixie
Defense - Rocky, Freckle Face, Easter Egger, Foghorn
Strategy - Della, Dominque, Ruby, Rocky, Easter Egger
Look outs - Tata, Dixie, Dominique, Della, Rocky
7/15/15- Well allot has been going on here, so much so, I've barely been on the site at all. First two days before the fourth of July, a very large but extremely thin intact male pit bull showed up. He never bothered the chickens one bit, and everybody else acted like he belonged here. I tried to scare him away to absolutely no avail. He would just lay at the edge of the woods and smile at me, let me walk right up to him yelling and he rolled over and showed his belly. So I called my husband out and asked what did he think we should do, he said feed him. I thought great, who knows what his temperment is and what diseases he may have. So I went in the house and got a bucket of food and water and brought it to him. He just started eating like he never ate before, and as he ate I got to take a better look at him and he was covered in thousands of ticks. It looked like he had growths on him it was so bad. I could see every rib and vertebrae on him. So I came in the house on got to searching for rescue organizations. Everyone was packed, no one could even refer me to someone that might be able to help, the animal control said it would be in his best interest if I put him down. I can't do that to an animal that doesn't pose a threat. And he didn't. He got done eating and ran right to my husband trying to get him to pet him, my husband's a little squimish about ticks. So I got out my trusty hemostats and slowly approached him and tested the waters. He just sat there letting me remove tick after tick. It was so bad I would think I had one and when I put them in the bleach jar I use for ticks, there would be four or five at a time. I did this for four hours while he just sat there enjoying the attention. I really feel he was someone's pet as a pup because he knew basic commands and is potty trained already. Well we made a make shift shelter for him on the porch and he wouldn't leave it. Everyday I went out to pull ticks and feed him waiting for a vet to be open the next Monday. Well sadly come the evening of the third he wandered off, I guess neighboring fireworks scared him. But he showed up the next day limping, someone had shot him in his back leg. My husband and I were so sad at seeing this poor animal with the BEST personality you could imagine, going through all this and you could tell he is young. Well my neighbors were home and they do allot of animal rescue work, so I called one of them over and told them what was going on. Come to find out, they had been trying to catch this dog for over a month, he had been dumped at the beginning of our road, but he wouldn't come to them. She went and got her wife and told her, my neighbors are the most awesome people I know, she said, "Okay I know an emergency vet open in the next state, let's take him." So I helped them load him in the kennel in their car and off they went. They got his leg repaired (flesh wound thank god), got him fixed, all his shots, flea and tick meds, rest of his ticks removed, tested heartworm negative and got the heartguard for him for six months. I thought great, he will now have a great loving home and all will be well. I guess Dude (that's his name) had other plans, they brought him home the evening of the fifth and put him in his quarter acre run, he was doing okay till he realized he was right next door to us. He then proceeded to push himself in the corner of the fencing closest to our house and howl and howl. The neighbors apologized and said they couldn't promise us a good nights sleep that night, I said to give him a couple days he'll be fine. Well, at four in the morning, my husband goes out to put his coffee grounds in the compost bucket only to find Dude laying in his make shift dog house. He comes in and tells me we have a guest, I go out to find Dude just wagging his tail and so happy to see me. So I put down food and water for him, and told my husband when the neighbors wake up I'll let them know and to just lock him on the porch. When my neighbors came out to walk their dogs later, I told them, and they asked if we just wanted to keep him since he's obviously wanting to be here, we said yes. So this is our newest family member:
Well he is a real character and an asset to the chickens as he has already saved Blondie once. Seems as though early this week some children that still had access to firecrackers thought it would be funny to walk down the road and throw them at things. Well they got to my property and felt it would be funny to throw them at Loki, Loki ran, but Blondie being my fearless little rooster charged the kids into the road. Dude seen what was going on as did I, I started yelling at the kids to get out of here and Dude went running. Needless to say being this is a new dog that I have never seen interacting with children I started screaming for him to come back. He didn't and I ran faster than I think I ever had. But it wasn't the kids he was going after, it was Blondie, he runs over and grabs Blondie's whole body in his mouth, and Blondie isn't making a sound. My heart stopped, I can't have a chicken killer. But Dude ran to the middle of the front yard and just dropped Blondie and Blondie popped up like nothing happened and went back to the flock. Of course I put Dude on the porch, yell at the kids to get the heck away from my property, and go catch Blondie. I bring him in the house check him from top to bottom, not a mark or feather out of place, in fact the next morning he started crowing again. Which it's been like almost a month since he fell and stopped crowing, now you can't get him to shut up.
I've always felt everything good or bad happens for a reason, even if we can't grasp the big picture of why. But I know Dude is here for a reason, no intact stray male wanders up in the condition he was in, with his personality and gentleness, with absolutely no lasting health conditions. His ticks are gone, fleas gone, no heart worm or other parasites, no diseases, potty trained, and the remarkable bounce back when it comes to his weight is just awe striking. He's dog friendly, cat friendly, chicken friendly, good with strangers, and a recent discovery great with kids, my grand daughter loves him.
On the chicken front, Henny Penny has decided to go broody. She is now sitting on a clutch of about fourteen eggs. I put a bowl of feed and water next to her box when I realized she hadn't left the box for over twenty four hours. The fun part is going to be moving her to clean out the box since she has started pecking anyone that gets near her nest. Funny part is, it's Big Mama's nesting box she's decided to go broody on, so Big Mama is not happy about her eviction. It'll be seven days Saturday, so I got to making a candler for the eggs. Yeah I know it's usually a flash light and dixie cup, but I had to go all out. I got a gallon pickle jar, an old lamp, paints and some hot glue. I painted the entire outside surface of the jar except a quarter sized hole on the very bottom a light yellow as a base. Then once that was dry i lined the unpainted spot on the bottom with a circle of hot glue for the egg to sit on. after that I turned the jar upside down and painted a scene of chicks playing in the grass with a blue sky back ground. Then I cut a hole in the lid of the pickle jar so it would fit onto the lamp over the fixture and secured in to the lamp with sheet rock screws. I put a 100 w bulb in the lamp and after the paint dried in screwed the jar over the light bulb onto it's lid. I use plugging the cord in as the on/off to my lamp. I've tested it out and from what I can tell it works great, I'll know for sure come Saturday. Hoping to be starting my second generation. Wish me luck
7-24-15 Today is a very sad day for the curtisbirds, this morning I discovered Henny Penny our beloved broody girl was taken from us. There were supposed to be bad storms last night so I made the cats come in. But Thor wouldn't come, he stayed in the coop with the birds. When I went out this morning to give the kids their banana bananas, nobody would come out, so I went in to investigate. I started my head count and thought everybody was there, and started saying banana banana and the pullets first followed me then Red, Big Mama, and Blondie, and as I started out the door I looked over to tell Henny Penny and Thor good morning, but they weren't there. Then I noticed that one of the eggs she'd been setting was busted in the nest. I started calling her, and went outside to see if she just abandoned them, but no Henny Penny. So I started to call Thor, and from the woods I heard a faint meowing, so I followed it and about fifty feet down a path in the woods there he was just laying there, covered in blood. I picked him up and it was his blood, he had bite wounds all around his head and front legs. I knew something had got her, and him probably trying to protect his friend.
I carried him in the house and cleaned him up. I keep a supply of antibiotics for cats and dogs on hand, for things like this, I do live in the woods. I went back out to the coop and brought the dogs with me to investigate. I checked the nest and noticed the eggs weren't cold to the touch so I gathered them up in my t-shirt and rushed them in the house. I rinsed them down with warm tap water to get the liquid remains of the lost chick off the remaining eggs and put them in my homemade incubator. I went back outside to the pen and the dogs were all a stir looking, sniffing, listening. I told them find Henny Penny, Frigga lifted her big head and off she went in the woods to the fence line and started to bark, I looked into the neighbors yard but didn't see anything. So I took Frigga back to the house and got everybody inside. I went out myself to do some looking for evidence of a breach in the fencing or the coop, couldn't find anything, not even a feather. So I removed her nesting box because Blondie was just sitting in front of it making this just awful crowing noise, it sounded like he was choking. And the poor baby's comb was solid black. I put the box behind the coop and rinsed it down, I went back in the pen and picked poor Blondie up and carried him around awhile while I checked on the garden, and right behind me was Red, Big Mama, and all nine little pullets, just staying as close as they could to me. I went in the house with Blondie as everyone else waited at the door and got Thor and everyone else. The dogs went right back to the coop just sniffing, and I noticed they were paying particular attention to one corner of the fence, next to the coop, Dude happened to jump up on it following the scent and I noticed the fence post move. That's not right I thought, since it's a two by two, that's stuck two feet into the ground. I called Dude down and examined the post, it was snapped at the base, like something big pushed between the fence post and the coop. So I disconnected the fence dug out the bottom of the post and replaced it. I called my husband at work and told him what happened, he said that he was sorry, but that it also worried him a bit because to break that post it had to have been something very heavy and big, and he couldn't imagine a coon or coyote being able to pull that off.
So we discussed it and decided to put Frigga out there with the chickens to at least give alarm and be able to defend the coop till I got out there with my rifle. So I was out in the pen working with Frigga to get her to stay in the pen, she hates being penned up, when my neighbor to the right of me calls from across her fence. She asked if everything was okay because they heard a commotion last night and I told her what happened, she told me if it was something real big to call her and she has a shot gun that she'll assist with, because anything big enough to bust that post like that might not be satisfied with just some chicken and she also has livestock. I thanked her for her offer and we discussed if either of us heard anything we'd call the other and deal with it, since my husband's out of town working. She went back to her animals and I went back to trying to convince Frigga to stay in the pen, it didn't happen. I ended up going with Scarlet, my wolf hybrid that I saved when she was three weeks old and the sheriff's department had come out on a dog attacking a child report and come to find out it wasn't a dog at all but a Red Wolf, with a litter of pups under an abandoned house. They thought they had gotten all the pups and the mother had gotten away. Well later that afternoon, I go to pull in my driveway and what I think is trash someone had thrown starts to move, right before I almost ran it over. I guess the mother was trying to move the pups and lost her with all the scary men with guns running around. I slammed on my brakes and throw the car in park, and up to my door wanders this whining tiny little puff ball. I opened my door and she owned my heart, I couldn't turn her in, so I took her to my vet who agreed with me, so we just labeled her a shepard mix. I got her fixed a couple months later, and she's has been the most loyal and loving animal you could imagine and smart as a whip. So she's really good at this kind of thing.
Later that afternoon, my neighbor on the other side of me, were Frigga had led me towards, hollered over his fence and asked if any of my chickens were missing, I yelled yeah, and this little bit of hope in me thought maybe she escaped and got somewhere safe over there. But no, he told me he came out to go to work at five this morning and there was feathers and blood all over all four of his vehicles. He said it was crazy because he couldn't make out any paw prints just feathers and blood and chicken tracks, all over everything. He said he was sorry and that he would point his spot light on his back porch towards the woods between us to maybe keep anything from going through there and he'd keep a listen out for any commotion. I told him Scarlet would be out there, so he agreed not to shoot at anything. Well, this evening when I tucked everyone in Blondie's comb was almost all the way back red, and everyone else seemed allot calmer with Scarlet in there with them, even though she's missing her soft bed right about now. I made Thor stay in for the night, with his wounds and the fact he wants to lay were Henny Penny's nesting box was and make a chirping noise. He's gonna miss her. Frigga is beside herself, she considers herself chicken mama, she goes nuts if a squirrel's in the yard now and she didn't act like that before. And you can feel an almost strange tension in everybody tonight, the slightest sound sets them off. Loki has resided himself to sleeping on top of the coop and Miracle is sleeping in the large nesting box with ALL the chickens. No one is even on a roosting bar. And Scarlet is laying across the doorway, ears at constant attention. Thor and the other four dogs are all curled up at the back door just waiting, every once and a while one of them looks out the door window.
Hopefully we do have some positive news, I got on here this afternoon, because when I candled the eggs all I could see was the out lining of what looked like feathers and the air sac, which looked good. I found the water test and even though they said it was for past due hatching, I had to try something, I needed a pick me up. So it said that if it floated but only just broke the water surface it was good, and if it moved in the water that was real good because that was the chick moving around in the egg. Well, I have to report that all of the twelve remaining eggs rock and rolled as they described it, so hopefully we will get some babies. Some Henny Penny babies. I already told my husband that if one comes out looking like her, it WILL NOT be a meat bird for this winter and I will call her/him Henny Penny 2. I know your not supposed to get so sentimental about your livestock, but she was special, she was the main reason I saved my original four. She was my niece's bird, the only birds I've ever taken to vet. I still haven't told her and I know I'm going to have to and it breaks my heart. But it will be alright, more than likely we'll hold a bodyless funeral and I'll have to make a grave marker for her and Sam will ask if she can name one of the babies and I will probably be keeping two chicks, if I can get them to hatch and thrive. Well, I have a long night ahead of me, won't be able to sleep knowing more than likely whatever it was will be back, looking for more groceries. I just hope it's not that puma like cat that was spotted an a hunter's game camera a couple months ago, that was only twenty miles away, and big cats have big territories. Wish us luck and happy hunting, I'll update on any new news as it goes. Hopefully my next update will be hatching and/or catchings. Night y'all.