September Update

The Silkies had their three-month-old birthday at the beginning of September. It is sooo hard to sex Silkies and these babies are truly enigmatic, but as the month progressed it became obvious what was going on.   I was and continue to be almost positive Emily's a girl - she's got a rounded, feminine crest on her head and carries herself like a hen.  Courtney, with an upright, rooster-like stance, was the largest of the Silkies. Courtney's head-feathers were sort of swept back and her neck feathers were rough. I was guessing Courtney was a rooster. Then Courtney crowed.  That solved that mystery.  Petite Paulette was somewhat hen-like in posture, but had rough head and neck feathers. I thought that this little bird could go either way. Then Paulette crowed.  That mystery was also solved. 

Since the breeder I got the Silkies from will take them back if you for some reason are not satisfied (with no money refund), and since I do NOT need any more roosters, I took them back on September 12th.  That left Emily as the only Silkie.  Even though she had the two Marans and Angitou the Polish for company, I think this poor little hen felt a little sad, lonely, and abandoned.

Emily is sad

Other news that is a bit more upbeat: Early in September I started to build a half-acre chicken run to give my birds more space to move around in. First I put up this 10 foot wide, 8 foot high gate - wide enough to drive the tractor thru and hopefully high enough to contain the chickens.

Then I started in on the fence.  Here's a line of fence posts going up the hill.  Some of the posts came from the farm I grew up on and are perhaps older than I am. A good steel fence post will last a long time!

Here's how it's looking right now: Four feet of wire fence topped by four feet of netting. Not only will this contain the chickens, it will also keep the deer out and will probably keep the zombie hordes at bay after the apocalypse!


The Chicks Go Outside

On Saturday I finally came to the realization that the chicks were not going to get moved to the big coop in the time frame I had originally planned on - so I decided I would build them a small outdoor run in their current location. I spent about 10 minutes putting up the world's most rickety fence, then grabbed a lawn chair, a beer, & a camera & watched them come outdoors for the first time.

Maran, Angitou, & Carmen stand on the threshold for a long, long time trying to figure out why there's a gaping hole in the wall & what it all means.

Carmen: "There's yummy green stuff down there!"

Carmen goes for it.

Yes! Carmen, Angitou, & Maran are out!

Meanwhile the Silkes, oblivious to these new developments are standing around with their fingers up their noses. If they had fingers....or noses. Anyway, they are totally unaware.

Courtney: "Hey! There's a gaping hole in the wall. And the other chickens are in it!"

Courtney, Paulette, & Emily peering nervously into the abyss.

Courtney: "There's yummy green stuff out there! I'm going for it!"

Paulette & Emily, "Courtney! Come back!!!"

All the Silkies finally make it outside.

Next day: Everybody loves their new chicken run!

Baby Chicks and Other Birds

2014-07-27 Baby Chicks and Other Birds

Angitou

Carmen & Angitou in a staredown

Emily & Carmen

Carmen and Angitou give each other a little peck on the beak while Maran feigns disinterest.

Maran hunting and pecking

The baby chicks have been hogging all my poultry posts, so it's time to post a pic of the adult hens. Here are Mary and Mary the Campines, who do everything together, sharing a nest.

Here's an early morning shot of my flock on the roost. This is everybody except for Snowball & the babies. This is also proof that I'm up before the chickens.

Chick Pics

Some pictures of the babies from the last couple of weeks!


Emily, Paulette, and Courtney the Silkies - 3 weeks old.


Angitou the golden Polish with Maran and Carmen Maranda the cuckoo Marans - 2 weeks old.


Angitou and Maran closely examine a pecked-over plant sprig.  They're a little over three weeks old in this picture.


Here's Emily at a little over four weeks old.  She's at that awkward stage where she's got a combination of her baby down and her first Silkie feathers.

New Chickens and a New Tractor!

I had a birthday in April, and it has been a bit like my birthday, Christmas, and the 4th of July all rolled into one with the new chickens joining the flock, new baby chicks, and a shiny new John Deere tractor!


Linda and Sandy Leghorn came to live at the ranch in early April.  They used to belong to a family who had them in their backyard and decided that they just couldn't keep them anymore. Right now they're living in the corner pen of the coop and getting acquainted with the flock through the fence.  Already each of them is laying a giant white egg every day--living up to their Leghorn reputation!


Here are Paulette, Courtney, and Emily, my new baby Silkies that I just got from a local breeder.  I am being optimistic that by giving them girl names, they'll all be girls--Silkies are pretty much impossible to sex when they first hatch.  These three fluffy cuties will soon be joined by three other chicks that I'm getting next week--two Cuckoo Marans, and a Golden Polish.



I just took delivery of this sweet little John Deere utility tractor and a handful of attachments, including a front-end loader that will be super handy for hauling chicken manure.  With this tractor I can put a new upper limit on the number of chickens I can have, don't you think?!

I'm a Dude!

First, you need to know that it is so hard to sex Silkies that you can only buy them as straight-line (unsexed) baby chicks, second it's worth pointing out that Silkies are so devoid of secondary sex characteristics that a given chicken can be up to a year old before you really know what you've got, third, I have to say I've wondered about Courtney for a long time - lack of any real nesting behavior, the hostility shown to her by the two roosters, and lately how her neck feathers appeared to be growing into hackles - fine, fluffy hackles to be sure, but hackles nontheless. And then yesterday she started crowing. Courtney is a roo. This, I'm sure, is only a surprise to me. Courtney has known what he is all along. So, given our new understanding of this bird, Courtney the person and I had a discussion and concluded that one of my new Silkie chicks will be named Courtney and that this bird will from this point forward be named Snowball - a name some people have used for him all along. Snowball is still a cute, sweet, social bird. He is kid-friendly & you can pick him up and pet him & carry him around & he'll continue to be part of my flock - but we will all now have a better understanding of who he really is.

Cold!

Outside temp right now: -17. In the coop: 20. I'd like to keep it above freezing but the heaters are maxed out warming the air 40 degrees. The chickens seem just fine, but I've gathered some frozen eggs.