Sunday, December 09, 2007

Chicken Dance

Besides being the infamous oom-pah wedding song from Werner Thomas, it's the apt description of my morning chores that takes up far too much of my where-did-it-all-go-to? time. Somehow my daughter's hobby, and my indulgences and bleeding heart have led to:

First, there's the regular laying flock of Surprise and his dozen plus girls. They lay the eggs, so the earn the money. No problem so far.

















Only, one Red Cochin hen has decided coop life is too, well, cooped-up for her, and she has found a way out of the penned yard every day. Like a feathered Houdini, she defies logic and crafty incarceration attempts and finds her way out. So every morning I am greeted by this:

She waddles over, pleased as punch with herself, as if she is supposed to be outside the enclosure. All would be forgiven if she would then return with no fuss to the pen, but...no. So the dance starts with all the rest of the flock lined up at the fence (cheering her on, I just know it...) and me chasing her around till I've cornered her to get her back in the pen. Some days I'm just not up to it and I default to the Red Scoop of Joy, and toss a whole bunch of grain in there and watch her race to join the feeding frenzy. Now, they would be getting fed eventually anyway, but this way it feels just too much like the chickens are calling the shots, and the dumb human is being played like a banjo.

But then there's the "exceptions" who require separate housing and board. Like Pecky...




...who is now occupying the former maternity ward for broody hens, as she was a summer hatchling Ameracauna who is too big to be housed with her brood-mates, but is too small to be safely released in the regular flock because the harrassment is just too awful. (Hen-pecked doesn't even BEGIN to describe it...)





So after feeding her, I have to take care of her brood-mates Caesar and Jelly, offspring of the award-wining Buff, who are bantams and just too small to be in with real chickens ever.















Next, there's loud-mouth Gomer, who I just think is the cutest little rooster ever, and who needs a hen in the worst way, but thankfully Red Pyle Old English Game Bantams do not just grow on trees around here...





And on to the "outlyers", (that is the parents of Caesar and Jelly), Buff and Stenson, who live in a chicken condo of their own, mostly because they're bantams, so again, too small to be in with regular chickens, and also because too much sun and outdoors time would fade their plumage. It was also told to us that bantams are very broody, and the spearate digs were to encourage them to raise a bunch of show-quality chicks, however Buff emphatically states that motherhood is not in her contract, and Caesar and Jelly can thank their existence to the fact that broody hens don't care much about whose eggs they sit on, so long as there's eggs.
(Oh, blast! Where did THAT picture go?)

Joining them are the newest pair, Salmon Favorolles named Zeus and Maya:

They have five toes. That's one more than normal for most chickens. However, the novelty of this is wearing thin, as they eat just as much as regular chickens. So they are stop # 6 on the Chicken Breakfast Express.

And just because I need more exercise, I finish all the way across the property by feeding the turkeys.

So, this weekend, we are doing some serious systems work. Shrinking. Consolidation. Re-configuring. After all, I've signed up for Ravelry, and I'm gonna need every spare moment I can get. Enough Chicken Dancing for this gal.

10 comments:

Lauren said...

They all look grand and lovely, even the escapee. I miss my cochins and their feathery feet. Something about them made them seem smarter than the rest. And don't get me started on the turkeys. I miss my Bourbon Red tom so much; it seems silly.

Thanks for sharing your flock with us. After losing the ~50 birds that we have this fall, it is so nice to see someone doing well with theirs.

melanie said...

Lauren-

Missing your guys is not silly at all! And don't give up on farming either, you inspired me to have turkeys in the first place, so Rubius' legacy lives on...

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

You're a brave soul, joining Ravelry. Sounds like the bottomless pit for time, so I'm steering clear of it like it's the plague!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Oh, come on; make your life easier every day and use the Red Scoop of Joy. Look at it this way, you are training Miss Red Cochin to come running into the coop right away every morning to get her grain. Then who's playing who? :-)

Kathy said...

My bantams are always running in with the big girls. Slick, our true Ameraucana bantam rooster, is a busy boy keeping both large and small girls satisfied. But he always seems to have a smile on his face. Hmm...wonder if the two are related, ya think? :)

I gave my girls this winter off - no lights in the barn...they've molted and are now just keeping warm building stores for next season to start. But I still hate having to buy eggs at the store!
:)

Barbara from Nova Scotia said...

My girls get enough light and feed so I get the minimum of eggs that we need, just so I don't have to buy them. I'll have to give them up soon enough, but not yet...
By the way, nice chickens.

Elysbeth said...

Funny how the escapees always think it's grand fun. I agree with michelle. Bring on the scoop.

Look me up on Ravelry. It's like all things, you can either become totally sucked in, or after all the initial uploading you can step back from the keyboard.

melanie said...

Funny, Ms. Red Cochin is less motivated to escape with 8 inches of white stuff on the ground...makes me want to stay inside too, mostly just to catch up on Christmas knitting.

Lisa said...

Isn't the Red Scoop of Joy awesome?

Do you keep your turkeys separate because they are so much bigger? I'm getting geese, white midget turkeys and Pekin ducks this spring, and am obsessing about housing.

Our Icelandic chickens are all laying again, after only taking off about 3 weeks. We hear it's because they are used to low light in Iceland. But I sure am glad! Want a rooster to get some of their genes?

melanie said...

Yes, the Red Scoop IS awesome! Don't know how I'd manage without it somedays...

We currently house our turkeys in their own pen, on the lower lot, near the goats. I have heard turkesy and chickens do not do well together, and they eat different feed.

Perhaps in the Spring when everyone is back to free ranging, they might co-exist during the day...

We currently have an Ameracauna rooster, and a mating pair of Salmon Faverolles, and those boys have the mating thing all sewn up for now. It gives me just enough "purebreds" to hatch out if we need chicks, and we can't really use mutts on the farm, since my daughter shows them in the fair.

Glad to hear yours are back to laying - we all need fresh eggs! I'll never go back to store bought.