Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Buff Orpington’

We Thawed, They Moved

As brief, beautiful and fun as it was, it is good to see the vibrant green of our Oregon home once again. To read these words one may think that we have been trapped under ice and snow for weeks…well 5 days is a long time! {ducking as tomatoes are thrown by those in the midwest, etc. who have spent months in a deep freeze} There are reasons we moved to Oregon rather than, say, South Dakota…5 days of snow, then a thaw is apparently one of them.

The vibrant green of the moss on the trees is striking!

The vibrant green of the moss on the trees is striking!

Expanding the view of the vibrant green moss on the oak trees.

Expanding the view of the vibrant green moss on the oak trees.

The ice-rain layer covering the snow left some damage, and broken limbs…but thankfully most of what we are seeing is minor.

Minor branches broken and debris is most of the damage we have found so far!

Minor branches broken and debris is most of the damage we have found so far!

We’re still hoping that the damage, if any, to our newly planted trees is minimal. Although we’re not too worried about the 300 Douglas Fir babies as they are built for Oregon winters, and the fruit / nut trees are also quite resiliant to the cold while they are dormant, the Giant Sequoias are a greater concern. So far, the tension and suppleness in their young branches seem okay…only time will tell (at least another month) if they will survive. Here is what they looked like in the snow/ice…

As we thawed, our band of cabin fever poultry showed great happiness in being able to stretch their legs. Literally, as soon as they noticed a path out of their cabana without snow those little chicken feet ran to the great outdoors. They were so happy!!

The “Chicken Littles” on the other hand had GREAT BIG changes awaiting them. With increasing bullying going on in the bigger chick brooder, it was time for them to move into the adult chicken house. Thursday night was the big transition. In preparation, I had cleaned the big house, and added a lower roost that afternoon. About an hour after dark….my son and I carried each one in, sitting them on the lower roost. The older chickens didn’t seem to really notice or care about what was going on below them…funny how darkness kind of lulls chickens into a daze of some sort. Since Little Austin Healey and Honda are 2 weeks younger than the oldest Chicken Little, I hooked up the heat lamp in their original brooder (within the big house), but left it open so that they and the others could hop in and out as they wanted.

First night in the hen house...it's actually dark, except for the flash!

First night in the hen house…it’s actually dark, except for the flash!

I worried, but they survived the night! I put up a barrier to keep them inside the house and cabana areas, but would also allow the older chickens out…well at least I figured the older chickens would find their way out, and they did. Benedict was hanging around the “Littles” and seemed to be accepting them quite well. I hadn’t seen much pecking going on by either hens or rooster so I was hopeful…

Since then they are struggling a bit with their courage…I find them all in the brooder area most of the time, although they know how to get in and out of it. I did see some pecking going on from the more dominant hen toward the young ones, but it was more attention getting than trying to harm…however, Benedict, our rooster, did go after one of the little suspected roosters in a much more “assertive” way. I scooped up that little baby and held him…..okay a little over the top, but he (hopefully she) closed his eyes and snuggled in…they are still my babies!! We’ve had stormy weather everyday since Thursday, and I’m hoping that once the older birds get out and about more, the younger ones will start becoming more adventurous, and grow their courage..the combs on about 3 of them sure are. NO ROOSTERS!!!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

How Did They Do It???

Just about 2 feet of snow!

Just about 2 feet of snow!


Our neighbors horses...so gorgeous!!!

Our neighbors horses…so gorgeous!!!

How did they do it?? As I try to navigate my world in the midst of a three day snow storm I am amazed at how unprepared I feel. Albeit, I lack in the true snow boot arena, I have mud jumpers that do the trick in keeping my feet dry (for the most part)…since my snow pants (I think I have snow pants) are still packed away somewhere within our shop, double layers of pants seem to keep me warm enough for about a half an hour, although soaked through…then there’s the waterproof jacket and gloves….I’ve got some stuff, but definitely not enough. Trudging through two feet of pant soaking, ice accumulating, leg freezing snow, the warmth of a nice warm fire was all I could think about….well, that and sledding down on of our hills obviously adding to my already frozen appendages. But I have to think….”How in the world did the pioneers….those who crossed the great divide, climbed the Cascade Mountain Range to land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon…how did they make it without the warmth and waterproofing necessary to sustain life this day and age. Would we be able to survive as our ancestors did? How did they survive?” I guess many did not (remember the Donner Party), but somehow, most did!

How did they do it??!!

How did they do it??!!

My San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, sun 90% of the year upbringing and adulthood is a far cry from the winters of the Pacific Northwest. There is much I have to learn about preparing for weather that can turn on a dime…what’s that saying up here?…”If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes…” On Thursday morning, this was so true!! Within 15 minutes of my walking out the door for work, we went from a few clouds, cold, brisk, refreshingly clean air, to major clouds, “It’s starting to snow”…”We’re in a blizzard (well almost)”…”It’s snowing for 3 days”… “We’ve got 2 feet of snow”…to the beginnings of freezing rain…and if it warms 15 more degrees (which is actually predicted) we may have flooding due to a fast melt of all the snow!!! Holy guacamole!!!!! I am not in Kansas…or in my case, California, anymore!! But I am so happy to be here!!

How are the adult and young flocks doing in all this cold……update coming soon!! In the meantime, here’s a friendly, Claudio, hello!!

Claudio wondering, "What the heck is all that cold, white, icy stuff!"

Claudio wondering, “What the heck is all that cold, white, icy stuff!”

A Little Elbow Room

If you’d like to add a little ambiance to this post…please click on the youtube link…it will play while you scroll. If you want to relive something from your childhood…if you grew up in the…gulp…60’s & 70’s this is a cool blast from the past and fun to watch. Either way, or both ways…ENJOY!

Being squished is no fun!! It’s not fun when you’re trying to maneuver in a small space. It’s not fun (yet totally important) when you’re having a mammogram. It is certainly not fun when you are one of eight rapidly growing young chickens.

We’ve had a lot of bickering going on within the young brood. Still in the small, improvised brooder, there has been increasingly less and less space as the chicks have grown. Since it is winter, they are house-bound, and getting no relief from one another, with the exception of the two days in the 50’s without wind we had about a week ago. Since then they have been in real tight quarters…not a healthy lifestyle to sustain healthy “tween-age” chickens.

I tried allowing the young chickens into the adult chicken’s house area.

Visiting their home-to-be. once they grow up!

Visiting their home-to-be. once they grow up!

By closing the outside door, the young ones were protected from the incoming draft, and the incoming house-protective flock. The chicks were somewhat reserved in their enthusiasm, and the older chickens were not happy to be closed out of their house. This idea was fine for an outing, but they needed a more permanent home during their too big for this, too small for that awkward stage.

My solution…drag their outside look-I’m-a-big-chicken-now pen into the shop, and set it up as an indoor pen. The beauty of this is because it has an open bottom, all I have to do to clean them up is to lift the pen a little, move it over (corralling the chickens within it’s walls), then sweep up the old shavings. EASY!! Also, when we do have a warmer day, I can easily walk the chicks, and their pen outside for a little while.

I’m hoping this move will make our little snarky brood a little kinder to each other. I’m feelin’ the love…I hope they are too!

Looking happy in their "tween-age" brooder.

Looking happy in their “tween-age” brooder.

Jag enjoying her new perch.

Jag enjoying her new perch.

An old TV antenna provides the support for a heat lamp.

An old TV antenna provides the support for a heat lamp.

The Gentleman Rooster

Aesops Fables – THE ROOSTERS AND THE EAGLE
There were once two roosters who argued loudly. They wanted to prove who reigned over their flock and farm. Day and night the roosters crowed, proclaiming each one’s own strength and power. One day, crowing turned into fighting. One rooster saw that the other rooster was hurt. He stopped fighting as his kindness would not allow him to continue. The other rooster proclaimed his victory. Flapping his wings, he crowed louder than ever before. Running into the openness of the pasture, he jumped onto a log and announced his victory again, and again, drawing the attention of a soaring eagle. With quiet accuracy, the eagle snatched the rooster off the log and carried him away.
The moral: Victory comes in humility and kindness, while boastful pride can cause destruction.

Our rooster, Benedict, is a true gentleman rooster! He reigns over his flock with a firm hand, yet he is kind. He keeps the hens safe from the hawks that fly overhead (see previous post titled, “A Day in the Life…”), runs, I mean runs to a hen if she is calling out in distress, leads the flock to the chicken house when darkness approaches, and just a few days ago welcomed with open “wings” Chardonnay (our mama, broody hen) back to the flock. The more dominant hen, Don Pedro, tussled with Chardonnay as she first arrived…but Benedict jumped in between the two hens to stop the fighting.

As these events unfolded, the four oldest chicks had their first outing from the brooder. It happened to be a sunny day, and temps were in the 50’s so in full sun Lo Ri-dah, Jag, VW, and Pontiac stretched their legs! They were only out about 45 minutes before they lost their sun, but it was fun while it lasted!!

While I was out with the the four adventurers, Chardonnay jumped back in with those still in the brooder…and so did Benedict!! I was ready to jump in and save the babies in case Benny got aggressive, but this AWESOME rooster was a perfectly behaved “daddy” to his little brood. BTW, Benedict’s comb succumb to some frost bite this winter…the white patches are areas that were affected and are, hopefully, healing. The darker coloring on his feathers at the top of his neck is clinging dirt from the Vaseline, and NeoSporin I put on his comb.

The following movie stars Benedict, Chardonnay, Chevy, William Jr., Honda, and Austin Healey…

I’m hoping Benedict’s actions in the brooder is a good indication of the easy transition to come once the chicks are ready for the big leagues…joining the rest of the adult flock.

BTW, if you noticed, Austin Healey is doing FABULOUS (said in a very flamboyant manner!!!) Her legs / feet had some bruising as Chardonnay kept the little brood on their feet much of the day. As her legs have gained strength this bruising has calmed. Now that Chardonnay has left the brood completely, everyone is calmer and I have noticed there are more periods of resting. This has been good for our littlest member of the flock!!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

Oh and in case your wondering if, Penni, our Great Dane is watching out for the new bunch of babies…you decide!! Hahahaha

Are you our Mother?

Are you our Mother?


I promise to watch over you... I may chase you, but I will protect you!

I promise to watch over you… I may chase you, but I will protect you!

The Three Amigos

Status Update on our 2013 Christmas Season Hatchlings….

Over the course of four days, our brood of seven hens and one rooster grew by three…you all welcomed, Loa Ri-dah, a few days ago (see previous post)…today I’d like to introduce you to Jag,

Top - Little "VW", to the left - 1st hatched "Loa Ri-dah", to the right - Jag

Top – Little “VW”, to the left – 1st hatched “Loa Ri-dah”, to the right – Jag

and sweet little, pure yellow VW, named after my daughter, Roni’s, little yellow bug.

Jag and Loa Ri-dah are Buff Orpington/Rhode Island Red crosses…while VW, at this point, looks like a pure Buff Orpington whose parents can only be Claudio (hen) and our gentleman rooster, Benedict….who by the way…is “DA MAN!!!”

If you remember, Chardonnay has been sitting on 14 eggs, she started with 7 and added 7 as that first week went on. Roni and I decided to candle the remaining eggs in the nest to get an idea of things to come, and if it seemed that there were more viable eggs. Due to the difference in time, it is hard to gauge when to take the eggs away and let Mama just go about raising the 3 that hatched. Candling is really cool! I hadn’t ever done this before, so I was quite amazed. Out of the 11 remaining eggs, 4 had not formed, but 7 had. Within each of those 7 eggs was a definite air pocket, and complete blackness indicating the growth of a chick.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.

A beautiful air pocket within this shell.


This egg is very full...close to hatching??

This egg is very full…close to hatching??

Whether or not the eggs are still viable at this point, only time will tell…we have a few more days for the next hatching window (actually from today through Christmas.) In the meantime, Chardonnay is loving on her babies…she is such a good Mama Hen! In the cold of winter, she provides a consistent place of warmth, and her babies know it.

Staying warm with Mama

Staying warm with Mama

Speaking of the cold, it has been a challenge. I am using long throw rugs to block drafts from the people door that leads from the main chicken room into the now revised people/brooder room. I’m using this same method for the people door that leads outdoors. By doing this, using a heat lamp, and an abundance of pine wood shavings, I think our little family is keeping warm and toasty. Chardonnay’s nest is in a bit of a covey not directly in line with the heat lamp, keeping it at a more moderate temperature for Mama. She seems to be thriving there.

I have been amazed at this entire process of our broody hen, however, one event holds a high amount of respect. Mama had been on the nest for a few days. I went in to check on the family, and found that she was off the nest…..and the eggs (11 at that point) had been moved…completely moved from her nesting area. Chardonnay moved her eggs directly under the heat lamp;

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.

The seven developing eggs after candling, and removing the four nonviable eggs.


she and the babies were sitting away from them. I scratched my head thinking…”Maybe she feels it’s time to abandon the nest?” I decided to totally just clean her nesting area with new shavings and see if that made a difference. I went away for a little while, and lo and behold, when I returned, the eggs were back in their proper place, and Mama was back on the nest! UNBELIEVABLE! That was completely AWESOME…but then again, my little Chardonnay is completely AWESOME!!!

A Christmas Miracle

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

CHRISTMAS HAS COME A LITTLE EARLY THIS YEAR IN THE FORM OF THIS LITTLE PACKAGE……

Introducing "Loa" or more formally... "Loa Ri-dah"

Introducing “Loa” or more formally… “Loa Ri-dah”

She hatched yesterday morning….and I am in complete awe. I mean, it works…it really works!! You raise a chick, they grow and start laying eggs, the roo becomes a full fledged rooster, a hen sits on a nest…and WALLAH…a baby chick hatches out of that egg!! I mean, c’mon…isn’t that the coolest thing ever!!! God’s creation is amazing, and I am continually amazed at His design in nature. AMAZING!!!

I dipped Loa’s beak into her water dish, and she responded wonderfully!

Finding the water dish

Finding the water dish

She is so tiny! Mama Chardonnay watches her carefully as she comes out from under her, skits around then dives back under Mama to stay warm. Sooo cute! I don’t know if anymore will hatch, but I’m really optimistic now. Stay tuned…….

The expanded brooder with wall removed from nesting box.

The expanded brooder with wall removed from nesting box.


Chardonnay still on the nest

Chardonnay still on the nest

DAY 21

Just a quick, quick post……

Yesterday broody, mama hen, Chardonnay, let me check out her batch of eggs. Besides growling and raising her rear, she has been such a nice hen during this process. She has never tried biting or pecking at me when I approach her, and she lets me pet her after her initial growl. Maybe it is because I bring her goodies like worms, spinach, water and cracked corn for the frigid evenings? I have been pampering her a bit, but she totally deserves it. Imagine sitting on 14 eggs for 21 days…..that’s right today is day
twentyone

Twenty-one days that Chardonnay has been on the nest…today may be the day she hatches one or some baby chicks!!!!! Okay so here is the real exciting part………..

I stuck my hand underneath Chardonnay yesterday, and just held it there for awhile…and then I felt it……..MOVEMENT!!!! No kidding, I know it wasn’t my imagination….there was like a quivering movement in at least two eggs that I had my hand on!!! So right now, I am confident that there is life in some of those eggs, and today, may be the day for little ones that look like these…

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

A Day in the Life…..

….Of a Chicken!

It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining, giving warmth to the cool, damp, November morning. I had been away, not for more than a few hours. The welcome I received was as if a long, lost friend had returned from an extended absence.

There we were, my chickens and I, enjoying the warmth of the sun, basking in the knowledge that we were together again. Then it dawned on me, this flock of welcoming poultry were hoping that I had a bag of lettuce in my purse. But then, well, look what happened next…

Our reunion was interrupted as I went into the house. Within moments, I felt that I was being watched. I wondered from where the ever-present aura of watchfulness had sprung. Looking around, the culprit was exposed.

"Look guys, she's in there!"

“Look guys, she’s in there!”

My fascination with the flock was diminished as the reality of three dogs standing around with their legs crossed, looking up at me with pleading eyes led me back outside. Truth be told, the canine drive for eliminating outside was truly a blessing to our feathered friends.

The following events happened in an instant in time, yet slowly played out in great detail in front of my eyes. As the four of us opened the garage and walked out to the world awaiting us, Penni my Great Dane, ran to the right. Glancing that direction, a dark veil draped over the bliss of the morning. There swooping down toward the tiny patch of grass in front of our porch on which our chickens had just been gathered, was a very large, brown bird. Stealthy and silent, the hawk was quickly approaching. As if in a choreographed dance, Benedict our rooster, caught sight of the danger and started stomping and clucking loudly, sending out the alarm. The hens responded quickly and headed for the cover of the porch. As the hawk reached, what I would consider the striking vicinity, it must have noticed the approaching freight train named, Penni. Without hesitation, the hawk effortlessly turned to the left, and with completely silent movements disappeared into the horizon. Penni ran toward the direction it flew, but it was so quickly gone.

Quickly counting heads I found all present and accounted for. Benedict was doing his own counting…

The flock stayed hunkered down for several minutes under the chairs on the porch.

Hiding out from the big, bad monsters.

Hiding out from the big, bad monsters.

They came out and resumed their foraging, however, remained a little more on edge. Happily everyone survived, but the hawk now knows our address…she will be back. And she was back…today. I think she got a bit closer this time because I found a lot of feathers…a lot of Buff Orpington feathers which means either from Benedict (rooster), or Claudio (hen.)

My poor little chicken.

My poor little chicken.

All the other hens are Rhode Island Reds. Seeing the hawk once again, I found the flock split into two different hiding places. They managed to get enough courage to come back together, and my kids and I wrangled them into the chicken house…we then closed the door for the rest of the night. It was time to just stay indoors and calm down. Once again, all were accounted for.

So the big question is now….free range, or corralled under cover. One, obviously, has a larger danger factor than the other…but it also holds more freedom, better tasting eggs, and the ability to welcome me home. They seem happier since being able to free range, but maybe a bit less relaxed. What would you choose?

The Day After One Day in September

To say that the events of Merlot’s day in September came and went without another thought would be the understatement of the year for our family. We have always done everything within our power to preserve the life of any animal that we have been blessed to care for.The events of Merlot’s September day was something we had prepared for in the physical requirements, but it took a lot to get the ethereal preparations in order…once we got somewhat there…well, that’s yesterday’s story.

The story of the day, is about healing….the healing of the flock. Within two hours of Merlot’s absence, we had an egg…Don Pedro, who had seemed to be quite uncomfortable for more than a day jumped into the nesting box and started kicking around the pine shavings…

Our very first egg!  Thanks Don Pedro!!

Our very first egg! Thanks Don Pedro!!

These days in September actually began on Sept. 15th. Since then, the flock is at peace, we have gotten five small eggs and Benedict has become the gentleman protector of his flock. It has taken until today, one week later, for this city-raised-buy-your-eggs-from-the-grocery-store-girl to work up the nerve to cook up our hen’s eggs….and they were delicious!!!!

My first home-grown fried egg.

My first home-grown fried egg.


September 2013
Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.

Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.


BREAKFAST!!

BREAKFAST!!


These are some delicious little eggs!

These are some delicious little eggs!

One Day in September

Life is full of “firsts”…some you can foresee, and some you never thought you’d experience. Two years ago and beyond, I never would have pictured the “first” that was necessary one day in September.

I had mentioned in a previous post about our “bad boy”, Merlot. This animated, exuberant rooster had changed his approach from assertive, to aggressive. His aim was the flock, and any hen not falling into place was to be punished….and punish he did! He chased, he pecked, he pulled out feathers, and he jumped forward with talons leading the way. The three hens that were loyal to Benedict…Don John, Don Pedro, and Claudio were the objects of Merlot’s main aggression. He was relentless in his pursuit, grabbing and pulling the hens by their combs….our entire chicken community was constantly disheveled and on edge.

Benedict, our buff orpington rooster, emerged as a lover, not a fighter. In the beginning he stood up for his three gals…chasing Merlot away…Merlot would respond. Until one day….one day in September. On that day, Merlot raised his talons to Benedict and Benedict cowered to Merlot’s rising aggression. It was 89 degrees that day…Merlot had the entire flock sequestered inside the hen house. Anytime they tried to get off of their roosts to get food or water….he punished them. They were breathing through their mouths and suffering in the heat of the day. As I chased Merlot out of the chicken house he turned on me biting and raising his neck feathers. He ran back inside, to reestablish the hostage situation, I decided it was time for his tyrant reign to end.

Merlot was separated from the flock that day. The solution was apparent. Given his aggressive nature, he would be vulnerable to getting into the wrong hands wanting him for fighting, and he was not appropriate to lead a flock. We decided that we would finish the responsibility we started when we added him to our little farm. He would meet a humane end. Everything went well…it was quick, and the processing without blemish. Merlot is now in our freezer awaiting to grace our table side-by-side with our Thanksgiving turkey. We think he deserves that place of honor!!

So please help us celebrate Merlot with a video tribute…light hearted, and exemplifying of the life that was Merlot’s!!

The Bully, The Rooster…. Meet Merlot

It is totally obvious that the boys, Benedict and Merlot, have definitely, and loudly hit their “roosterhood!!” They are both very handsome, young studs with a definitive following. Benedict has his three ladies: Don Pedro, Don John, and the beautiful Claudio. Merlot has four ladies that follow his every command: Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Sangria. They are both ever present Sultan’s with a separate, devoted harem. Everyone, generally, lives peacefully with one another. The hens co-mingle and get along quite nicely. The roosters seem to be tolerant of each other, and in the human world, would probably even kick back once in awhile at a BBQ or at the beach…. that is until this past week.

Something has changed in the “mind” of young Merlot. When that rooster stepped out of the chicken house on Wednesday morning, things were different. It was as if he looked around and said, “this kingdom is mine…it is all mine!!” He started wrangling the girls into a corner of their outside yard. Benedict’s harem were caught a little off guard and seemed confused…rapidly clucking, they followed Merlot’s direction, except Claudio. Claudio ran the opposite direction. She has never been amused with Merlot’s antics, and has chased him around the yard many times (Caludio is 2.5 weeks older.) This, apparently, did not sit well with young Merlot…his new demeanor was not accomodating, and he was determined to let everyone know.

Watch out Benedict...I'm ranglin' for your hens .. especially that beautiful Claudio!!

Watch out Benedict…I’m ranglin’ for your hens .. especially that beautiful Claudio!!

Later in the day, it was very apparent that Merlot was not only trying to win the affections of the flock, he was demanding it. It was like a switch came on overnight; he had become a mean, bully boy. Although Merlot was chasing and pecking any of the ladies who fell out of line, he was pursuing Claudio at a different level. He would dig deep into her back or above her tail with his beak, pulling out feathers while she desperately ran away squawking loudly. She had become afraid of Merlot, and by afternoon, was isolating herself from the rest of the flock. If he saw her trying to eat or drink, he would chase her away.


(Since this IS my first rodeo raising chickens (both hens and roosters) I’d be totally appreciative if you could tell me if this is normal rooster behavior, or is Merlot an aggressive rooster. I don’t want my girls stressed out. He also has taken to biting people. Thank you for your advice in advance!)

While all of this was going on, Benedict just stood around looking like a deer in the headlights. Normally, this Buff Orpington gave Merlot a very small allowance; there was not much that he would tolerate from the smaller Rhode Island Red. Was Merlot taking over the throne? While they are both Sultan’s…Benedict has been the real King over this chicken coop. I was hoping that he was going to step up and put Merlot in his place. Benedict is, normally, kinder to the hens than Merlot tends to be.

As Friday rolled around, something was happening within the flock. The older girls (the Shakespeareans, AKA The Untouchables [see earlier posts]) started standing up to Merlot. Benedict had had enough of Merlot chasing around his girl, Claudio, and was standing up for her….chasing Merlot whenever he came close. Also at this time, Benedict found his voice. His crowing became louder and more forceful…he was not going to let Merlot rule his kingdom…neither were the girls!

As the weekend has progressed, there is calm in the kingdom. The two sultans are with their proper harems, and Merlot has been moved back into place where he originally resided within the pecking order. It’s a good thing too…because given the choice of having to eliminate a bully rooster from the flock, and/or reduce one sultan to bring peace back to the hens…wellllllll…there’s a reason why Benedict is one of the “Untouchables.” I truly hope Merlot understands that………. ūüėČ

Watch'a talkin' about Willis??

Watch’you talkin’ about Willis??

{popular tagline from the 1970’s T.V. series – Different Strokes
Different Strokes

A Sad Reality

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.”

Watching over both broods, Penni is a very busy Mommy!

Watching over both broods, Penni is a very busy Mommy!

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.”

The Fine Wines decided this was a good place to spend the night!

The Fine Wines decided this was a good place to spend the night!


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.

Little Getchen.....the rooster.

Little Getchen…..the rooster.


The little hen who would be a rooster!!

The little hen who would be a rooster!!

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!!

This little guy stepped up to the plate after Gretchen died.

This little guy stepped up to the plate after Gretchen died.

My concern now….will little Merlot be big enough to stand up to Benedict if necessary? Hmmmmm……..

From Brooder to Chicken House

Still catching up….

About 10 days ago, we moved our 4 “untouchables” to their new home…the lavishly designed chicken house. Who are the 4 “untouchables” you ask, and why am I calling them that??¬† They are the 4 originals…the 4 amigos (although 3 are amigas)…the 4 never to be seen on a dinner plate, soon to be leg banded so no mistakes, named after Shakespeare’s,¬†“Much Ado About Nothing”¬† male character roles even though 3 are hens, first brood of chickens our family has ever raised.¬† I feel very parental over these fine, feathered friends!!

Benedict (the rooster), Claudio, Don John, and Don Pedro - The 4 "Originals"

Benedict (the rooster), Claudio, Don John, and Don Pedro – The 4 “Originals”

Don John, and Don Pedro

Don John, and Don Pedro

Claudio

Claudio

Penni, our Great Dane, must have been a little concerned too.¬† She HAD to get into the chicken house and count her babies.¬† As soon as she found everyone accounted for, she relaxed and left the newly designed home with her approval.¬† She hasn’t needed to get in there since, so I guess everything checked out to her liking… ;O)

Making sure all is right with her little puppy-chicks.

Making sure all is right with her little puppy-chicks.

June 26, 2013 087 June 26, 2013 090 June 26, 2013 094 June 26, 2013 097 June 26, 2013 101

Their first night out of the brooder in the garage was a rough one….for me!¬† I worried all night about raccoons or coyotes, were they warm enough, did they have enough light filtering in from the¬†outside shop light.¬† I had read that chickens like some sort of dim light in their house…that they are scared of the dark…really???¬† So I worried that they were cold, afraid, and vulnerable……am I the only one who thinks this way??

I think this is what you get when you move from city life to country life….an over exaggerated tendency to want to keep everything under your own roof to keep it safe.¬† Maybe it stems from always needing to know where your animals are when you live in the city.¬† If they are not within earshot or sight, they are at risk for getting hit by a car, picked up by animal control, or barking too loudly and disturbing neighbors.¬† Dogs must always be leashed, confined, and controlled….cats, although given a bit more freedom, better not be choosing a neighbors freshly dug garden as an area of interest or they risk mysteriously disappearing.¬† Always, always know what your pets are doing….since I have not been removed from that reality for very long, I am still working my way around the city confinement vs. being able to stretch the boundaries a bit more.¬† I’m trying not to view the chickens as pets….but I think I have lost that battle with the 4 “originals.”

Me and my buddy, Claudio!!

Me and my buddy, Claudio!!

Despite my worrying, the chickens have done well.¬† The last couple of nights have been cooler than I’m comfortable with since¬†they don’t have¬†any type of heat source.¬† A light bulb or the heat lamp may be something we add today.¬† I’ve read varying advice on that.¬† These 4 are not of egg laying age, and although feathered out nicely, they don’t yet have the body fat (I’m guessing here) to keep them as warm as they should be.¬† I am not sure if that is true or not.¬† But they are not yet roosting, and they huddle together on the floor in a corner during the night…that tells me that they are a bit cold.¬† I’m not okay with that, so we’ll see what we can do today.¬† If anyone has insight of this, I’d be happy to get your advice!!¬† The chicken house is not wired so we’ll have to run an extension cord…hhmmmm.¬† I’ll have to figure out how to get an extension cord through a wooden wall…I may have to drill a hole…..sorry Tony!!!

First time contemplating walking down the ramp to the great outdoors.

First time contemplating walking down the ramp to the great outdoors.

They made it!!

They made it!!

I'm not sure why we thought closing the chicken door was a good idea.

I’m not sure why we thought closing the chicken door was a good idea.

Stay tuned…..the “fine wines” have had a little adventure of their own….but that’s for tomorrow!!

 

 

 

Chicken Coooooo…… naw……. Chicken House!!

When you think of chickens what comes to mind??¬† Well after seeing these little girls (and it looks like 2 – 3 boys) grow and feather out from their soft, downy, fluffiness…I don’t see dinner!!¬† Those clean, pudgy fryers that I buy at the grocery store¬†could¬†never have been one of these cuties….I have to keep that separation…at least at this point.¬† Tony thinks differently, he thinks that when the time comes we will have a delicious meal sitting before us that once was in the chicken coooo…..uhmm …house.¬† Only time will tell, although I have no doubt that if it were the best option to feed the family he wouldn’t hesitate….but, there is a grocery store 3 miles away….and hunting has never been his thing.¬† Age and time has a tendency to change you…maybe it will me too……but I’ve named them, maybe I shouldn’t do that.

Shelter….that was the big question on our list a couple of weeks ago.¬† What are we going to use for a chicken shelter as they grow out of their brooder?¬† We started looking around for premade chicken coops.¬† There are some really cute ones out there, but I couldn’t see 10 fully grown chickens spending a rainy day or many successive rainy days, as we have here in Oregon, squished together in such a small area…. #1:¬† these little gals like to stretch their legs… #2:¬† I don’t want them having to be so squished together that they have poop everywhere they walk.¬† I realize that they are going to have poop everywhere they walk no matter the size of the chicken coop….but if the shelter is a little bigger, it will be more spread out and they won’t have to be walking through fresh “piles” of it.¬† That’s my inexperienced way of thinking.¬† It may be really inefficient in¬†poultry management principles…but doesn’t it make sense…a little??¬† BTW, Tony agreed with me on this one.¬†¬†¬†ūüôā

Not being able to find just the right shelter option, Tony decided to build one.¬†We thought about contracting with Adair Homes¬†(our home builder), but decided to take¬†the project on ourselves…hahahaha.¬† ¬†After looking at many different plans,¬†Tony decided to combine¬† a few different ideas, and the chicken cooooo….naw….chicken house was built.¬† It really is a thing of beauty….

Tony Building the Chicken House (with a little help from Penni)

Tony Building the Chicken House (with a little help from Penni)

The Two Rooms and Nesting Box without Interior Wall

The Two Rooms and Nesting Box without Interior Wall

The Front People Door

The Front People Door

Clean-Out Trap Door

Clean-Out Trap Door

Looking Out the Chicken Door

Looking Out the Chicken Door

Roosting Ladder

Roosting Ladder

Looking Out from the Chicken's Area

Looking Out from the Chicken’s Area

Nesting Boxes

Nesting Boxes

The Work Area and Egg Gathering Side of Nesting Box

The Work Area and Egg Gathering Side of Nesting Box

Looking Out the Chicken Door

Looking Out the Chicken Door

The only thing left to add now are the chickens…………….

Mickey 4th of July

BTW…our family would like to wish your family a Happy 4th of July!!!¬† Our prayers go out to our wonderful country, that our footing would once again become solid in it’s foundation, and that God’s hand would not be lifted as we continue to move away from the principles that made our country great.¬† May God continue to bless our United States of America, and may His people never forget the sovereignty of His love.

Of Chickens and Dogs

A little behind in my posting….

In May we took the plunge and¬†welcomed not one, but two broods of little chicks (4 and then two weeks later 6 more) into our home.¬†¬†I say, “our home” because as is the case with any animal we¬†welcome in, they end¬†up being a permanent fixture within our home.¬† Picture 10¬†tiny chickens running to and fro,¬†fluttering around as if their¬†soft, downy feathers could sustain flight.¬†¬†Imagine the family of people, dogs, cats,¬†and chickens all living in harmony under one roof.¬† Imagine the chaos….can you see it???

Wait a minute….is this for real….who lives like this???¬† Uhhmmm….isn’t that how it’s done??¬† We’ve never raised chickens (okay, Tony’s dad had a chicken or two in the backyard when he was young.)¬† Don’t they get cold??¬† What do they like to lie-down on??¬† Do you just throw food around for them…what about grit….can they eat lettuce…what about corn??¬† How old do they have to be before they can go outside….will they run away…should we build a coop or buy one…when do they start laying eggs??¬† Wait…what???¬† These little ladies (and maybe gentlemen) poop….ALOT!!

Benedict, Claudio, Don John, and Don Pedro

Benedict, Claudio, Don John, and Don Pedro

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

Merlot, Sangria, Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Gretchen

So we (no…let’s be more specific) I had a lot of questions.¬† I saw little yellow Buff Orpington chicks, and tiny¬†rust colored Rhode Island Red chicks looking up at me, and my heart melted.¬† All of a sudden they were dependent on us to feed, water, clean, protect, and provide shelter….how could your heart not melt?¬†Remember, I’m a city girl gone to the country.¬† You eat things from the grocery store,¬†NOT that you raise from¬†“babyhood.”¬† To me, these¬†little girls (and guys?)¬†are pets with benefits, namely fresh eggs.¬† Tony¬†hauntingly looks at me, blinking kindly and says, “We won’t touch the original 4, the rest lay eggs for awhile then into the pot.”¬† I laugh, and talk about how cute they are, brushing his cute, nonsensical comments aside as a¬†¬†little blonde chick¬†falls asleep in the palm of my hand.¬† So….into the house they came….well, that is….under the same roof.¬† Okay….into the garage within a make-shift brooder made from a¬† small white cabinet.

Brooder #1

As they grew, I transformed a, yet unfinished, dog bath that Tony was building….it¬†has been PERFECT for that “in-between”¬† stage.

The chicks grew fast, and needed more space.

The chicks grew fast, and needed more space.

So, where do the dogs come in???¬† I think it is probably more appropriate to say, “DOG.”¬† One big,¬†Penni dog who thinks she is Mommy to this little brood of chick-a-dees.¬† Now don’t get me wrong, there are 3 really curious doggies at the farm (can I legitimately say, “farm” now that we have chickens??), and they are just not sure what these fluffy peepers really are.¬† However, the big,¬†Penni dog has set the premise that NO ONE messes with “HER” puppy-chicks…Karli and Tucker¬†are listening.¬† After a couple of scuffles¬†over territorial rights surrounding the perimeter¬†of the brooders…the big, Penni dog keeps close track of what her brooder babies are doing.¬†¬†The real question is….is she protective over them because they are her¬†“babies” or because they are¬†future meals….hhhhmmmmm.

What's in There?

Whew!...It's much easier keeping track of everyone now that they are all in one place.

It’s much easier keeping track of everyone now that they are all in one place.

Are You My Mother??

Are You My Mother??

Usually separated by a short wall, we bring them together a little bit each day.

Usually separated by a short wall, we bring them together a little bit each day.

Stay tuned…more adventures to come…..!!!

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