Meet the Flock Roundup – May & June, 2017

Meet Veronica the Easter Egger, a prolific layer of green eggs. Veronica's in her 5th year and was the only Easter Egger of her generation to lay continuously through this past winter. Such a hard worker! And very pretty to boot!

Here's a 2013 baby picture of Veronica. She was a very strikingly pretty chick with her black "eye liner". She also had a black "V" on top of her head, which pretty much demanded that she be given a "V" name!

Here's a nostalgic look back at Angitou the Gold Laced Polish hen from last summer. Angi went through two molts last year. Her spring molt resulted in this gorgeous full golden plumage with the black penciling. After the fall molt, most of the black penciling is gone and there's a lot of white feathers in her crest - a much more mundane appearance. It's sad that she lost all of her pretty feathers, but I still love her anyway.

While spring molts are a little unusual, that's exactly the project Courtney the Silkie has decided to undertake. And it's a good thing, since she was in desperate need of some new feathers. She spent all winter with an embarrassingly exposed chin, as you can see in this picture. I guess I should have found a little chicken muffler for her to wear!

Barbara Barred Rock thinks there's nothing quite as fresh or delicious as scratch right out of the scratch bucket!

Meet Moe and Paula the Salmon Faverolles! Moe and Paula are about 24-hours-old in this pic and in those few hours had experienced very eventful lives . First they had to peck their way out of their shells, then they were put in a box and had a very long car ride. After that they were able to settle in under a warm heater with their friends, discover the water fount and peck at bits of chick food. After the initial excitement, life settled down for these little girls.

Meet Rose and Valerie the Golden Laced Wyandottes, two days old in this shot. In this picture Valerie is trying to crawl under Rose because....well just because.

When this picture was posted on Facebook, these two little three-day-old Speckled Sussex chicks couldn't be properly introduced because they didn't have names! I asked for suggestions and my readers took the challenge and offered a whole bunch of good suggestions!

By the time the Speckled Sussex chicks were four days old, names had been selected and Pippi and Squawky seemed to be happy with the final choice, a variation of "Pip" and "Squeak" suggested by a faithful reader.  I liked the name "Pip" quite a bit. The process of a baby chick pecking it's way out of an egg is called "pipping". I decided to modify Pip to Pippi to make it a bit more feminine - and also because as a kid I was a big fan of Astrid Lindgren's "Pippi Longstocking" books. "Squeak" is a great description of the sound both of these babies make right now, but as they get older the sound they make is definitely going to sound more like "Squawk"! And then, my four-year-old grandson independently came up with the name "Squawky" which impressed me, the doting grandpa, quite a bit!

Ten-day-old Rose the Golden Laced Wyandotte chick pauses in her constant caroming around like fuzzy ping pong ball just long enough to give her chin a little scratch. 

It's been so fun to watch the chicks' social interactions as they sort out their pecking order. If Squawky is not the top banana, she's definitely in the leadership circle. Squawky is two weeks old in this shot and has just sprouted brand new wing feathers - the speckled pattern on those little feathers will cover the rest of her body as the rest of her feathers come in!

Valerie the Golden Laced Wyandotte chick and her friend Pippi the Speckled Sussex, both seventeen days old in this shot, hang out in the "chick clubhouse" (aka the top of the heater). 

At three weeks old, most of the babies were well into the process of molting off their baby fuzz and replacing it with their first feathers. I call this stage, when they're no longer cute chicks but have not started looking like pretty hens, their "squawkward adolescence". Moe and Paula the Faverolles are late bloomers, though, and are still cute and fluffy! Here's cute and fluffy Moe.

Here's Valerie at three weeks, definitely beginning her "squawkward adolescence" and looking a bit ungainly. But, ungainly or not, she's got to be the world's friendliest chick! While the other chicks are shy when I go into the brooder coop and run away, this little girl runs TOWARDS me! I've dubbed her "Val the Pal"! Here she says, "Ride around on your hand? No prob! Sounds like fun!" 

Buffy the Buff Orpington from Coop 1 chats thru the fence with Snowball and Courtney the white Silkies from Coop 2 about egg production, fluffy feathers, and whatever else it is that chicken neighbors talk about.

Betty the Easter Egger is now living by herself in the center part of the pole barn - normally a chicken free zone that I use for storage and parking the tractor. She's not the first hen to spend time here and I'm sure she won't be the last. First Betty developed some sort of leg weakness. It's not obvious when she's walking, but she didn't have the leg strength to launch herself up onto the roost or up to the nest boxes. The flock "mean girls", who seem to be aware of that sort of thing long before I ever am, were bullying this pretty little hen incessantly--following her around and pecking her mercilessly. So I decided she needed to live by herself for a bit to heal. Then, she did something that made my jaw drop to the floor.  Out of the blue one day, she started crowing. It is extremely unusual for a hen to crow! Roosters crow! Sometimes (and this is also extremely rare) hens undergo a spontaneous sex change and become roosters.  Is Betty the Hen now Bob the Rooster? Stay tuned. I'm sure there will be lots more on this story.  

A sad goodbye:  I am very sorry to report that Arlene Barred Rock departed this world on June 24. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I've written about Arlene on several occasions. Anyone who would be so harsh as to use the phrase, "just a chicken" has probably never had chickens, and more specifically, never knew Arlene. I'm going to miss this sweet little hen.

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