My next-day post turned into a week later…..the realities of life sometimes get in the way of those things, like writing, that I’d rather be doing.
There are other realities in life that we encounter less frequently (hopefully), but always, when they occur, too often. Before I get to that, I have some updating to attend to.
So obviously, the chickens have continued to grow. Since my last post, the “Fine Wines” have feathered out nicely and have been spending time in the small pen that Tony built for the “Shakespeareans”, aka…the “Untouchables.”
For three days, their outdoor run was not in the location you see above. We had them across the driveway, closer to their brooder inside the garage. They LOVED the great outdoors, and were very quick to get the idea that they could eat the grass, and bugs under their feet. Our first group didn’t seem to catch onto this concept quite as fast. Maybe it’s because they were raised by a Great Dane, and not a hen…hahahaha! This younger brood has taught us a lot about chicken behavior, and some of the dangers they face. They just, in all aspects, act more like the typical caricature model of those feathered fowl you see in cartoons. Younger than our first brood, these “Fine Wines” have scratched the dirt, found that grass is a great substitute to feed, chased bugs, and found a roosting place earlier and with more ease than the “Shakespeareans.”
They don’t really want to be held (unlike Claudio), but have found that it is a necessary evil to getting outside. There is one exception to this, “not wanting to be held” tendency that I will detail in a bit.
The “Untouchable Shakespearean Four” have settled very nicely into the chicken house. We started out having to coral them at nighttime back to indoor safety around 8:30 to 9:00. The sun hasn’t been setting until about 9:30ish, and since, at this point, we manually close their access door we lose patience around 8:30. One night we waited, and it was so cool…it was about 9:15 p.m…our neighbor’s rooster called out…our little man and ladies lifted their heads and ran straight into their house! It was the most awesome sight!! Once the sun starts setting a little earlier, I’ll have patience to wait for this crew to begin doing that on their own…for right now, we do the nighttime coral dance. =o)
Well, now to get to the title of this post…during the week that we were introducing the “Fine Wines” to life outdoors, we had a real-life homesteading lesson. We left the brood out in their covered pen while we went to dinner. I wasn’t concerned as I had left the older group out many times with no problems…Tony, on the other hand, mentioned that we should bring them in…my thoughts won-over the moment, and we went to town…the 6 glasses of wine stayed out. As we were coming up the driveway back home, a hawk took off from a ground level position…near the outside brooder. I glanced at the six smaller chickens…they seemed ok. My concern was mostly on the older four, their outdoor pen is not top covered….they were not outside. Taking a peek into the chicken house, my fears were quelled…they were all there, but they didn’t come out to greet me. Something scary must have happened.
My attention then turned back to the “Fine Wines”…they were all grouped together in one corner of the pen, except one…it was laying, crumpled against the side of the pen…the opposite side of the pen. I thought, “Oh no!!” And within the few seconds it took for me to get to the brood, the additional thoughts that went through my head were…”Which one is it? I think it’s going to be the rooster…he’d try to protect the girls…he always does…Oh no is it Gretchen?” By the time I formed that last question, I realized that it WAS Gretchen….he was dead.
Our imagination tells us that Gretchen (the Rooster) must have run forward in front of the flock to protect them. Even though he was still so young, Gretchen always put himself in front of the girls when he sensed something. The hawk must have grabbed him through the wire mesh wall. It was very sad, and it was a very good lesson of true nature…it is all around us up here in Oregon. We have less of a threat of the artificial dangers such as animals being hit by cars, but a more prominent possibility of predators. This requires a different level of thinking and planning. We’re still figuring it out…like the fact that we now put a cat carrier into the outdoor pen so these little ladies and gentlemen have a place to run to for protection.
Do you remember me saying that the younger brood of 6 (now 5) do not like to be held….well, the night of the hawk made things a little different. Those little glasses of wine stood absolutely still while we picked them up to move them inside. They actually relaxed into the crevice of my arm and almost all of them closed their eyes as I walked them back to their home. They were scared, and exhausted. Huddling together, they ate, got a drink of water, then huddled together and took a good sleep. They were somewhat quiet for a little over a day, but something really cool started to emerge….we had a new little rooster. Up to that point I hadn’t noticed that we had two, except for a little “chest pounding” by Gretchen and this little one….welcome to the cockerel section, little Merlot!!
My concern now….will little Merlot be big enough to stand up to Benedict if necessary? Hmmmmm……..