28 August 2009

A Chicks' Life

I got my first set of baby chicks last year. Eight little beaks with seven chickens and one Roo. I got my first egg on my birthday last year. All through the cold winter the girls gave me four to six eggs a day. I spoiled them feeding them warm oatmeal with apples, and a special mash made with cracked corn and whole oats. My philosophy was (and is) I feed them well, they feed me well.
By spring Elliot Roo was quite a handful and by summer I was at my wits end. He was so big and could be so aggressive. He would attack our poor gardener every time he bent down to pick a weed or plant a seed. He would strip the poor girl's backs he was so fiesty. He would lunge at me randomly and I did not turn my back for a moment! Although if you caught him he would happily snuggle down to be patted, and he loved it when you hand-fed him anything!
I made a fence outside for the girls so they could free range on bugs, grass, and weeds. Elliot got to me (and the girls) one too many times so I put him outside the fence for a couple of days to give us all a break. I would let him back in at night when he was calmer. After the third day he had had enough. He left. The next day I went looking for him. I could hear him but did not find him. The day after I looked again and thought I saw him at a neighbors. I had to go to an appointment but vowed to come back with Art later to get him since he was still hanging around. I really thought he would eventually just come back to the coop... The next day he was gone. I assume that someone took him. He was a big beautiful Roo for those who can handle him in all his glory!
We lost our first chicken to illness. Poor Ginny got sick inexplicably and died while we were out of town. We lost her sister Hallie to a fox. This prompted us to put a gun out in the greenhouse in case he came back. I also hung a predator "eye" outside. The fox has not returned.
We got our baby silkies by a fluke. I went to Tractor Supply to get chick feed and they were having a chicken swap. I bought two beautiful blue/black silkies that were about a month old. They were so snuggly and adorable. But so shy. They clung to each other and even when I brought them out to munch on grass they would never be more than six inches from each other.
Two of my birds went broody this summer. Ironically, they did it just after Elliot left. Not sure if they were trying to replace him or what but both Dorrie and Abbie were out of commission for a month! Corrie was hoarding eggs but would not always sit on them and once they were taken she would forget about them for a week or so. Still, she was brooding off and on for about two months. All told I think we 'lost' two dozen eggs to brooding behavior. Maybe next year we'll have some baby chicks in the coop.
The other day I was absolutely horrified when I went outside and saw that my dog had gotten one of the baby silkies. HORRIFIED! I think the dog is getting nuts in his old age. He killed a squirrel the other day and brought it into the house, too. He has never ever ever done anything like that before! Scary. So the dog is on restriction. I won't let him off his run outside, all guests are warned to give him space, and he can't be inside alone with Blizzie. I was bit by a dog when I was small and I have zero tolerance in that department. I love Polar but it would be unforgivable if he bit a person! I cried and cried. Between losing Zoi and losing Jezzie all within a week I was a mess.
We did get a new little feathered friend. We adopted a little Cochin Bantam born in June. He was a little sweetheart. He has made friends with Isabel who has been very sad and lost without her sis Jesabel. He does have spunk. Jumps right in there and tries to make a place for himself. Of course, he runs right behind me when they peck at him. Too funny! Izzie and he are in the little coop away from the big girls who are pretty aggressive toward them. Hopefully, when the Roo grows up a bit it will be a smooth transition.His name? Well, I told Art a long time ago that he could name the next Roo. We are going alphabetically and the next letter was K so he could pick any K name he wanted. Yeah, he picked 'Killer.' It sounds more like Killah since he says it with a Boston accent but all the same... I call him 'Baby K' because Baby "Killer" is way inappropriate.
I hope we are done with loss and on to happier times in the hen house!


C said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Hubby asked me if I wanted to have some chicks this year, but with a farm and cattle...and a new baby, my garden has been left to the weeds for the most part, so I don't think adding chicks to the equation would have been a good idea! Maybe another year! Yours are gorgeous!

Have I told you lately how awesome you are? I don't know where you find the energy to manage it all! xoxox

Uncivil said...

My dad's hen just had 7 baby chics. I think he has 3 or 4 grown hens an one ornery, hornery Rooster!
The old rooster picked on my dad's favorite hen one too many times, and dad opened up a can of whoopass on him and he leaves her alone now.
He's gonna take the Roo to market and raise another one from the chics.

Poor Polar, he's just doing what comes natural to some dogs. My dad can't let his pup near the chics.

Give Polar the benifit of the doubt. The squirrel might have already been dead or badly injured when he found it?

Farm Chick Paula said...

I loved hearing about your chickie babies Shannon, but I'm sorry you've had such bad luck!!! Sorry Elloit never got his act together- he certainly was a beautiful bird.