Bzzzz July 1st, 2009

I wonder if the reason God makes baby animals so adorably cute is to ensure that we will love and care for them?

Think of a baby kitten’s wide-eyed stare, puppies tumbling over each other in enthusiastic play, baby koala bears holding on to their mums, baby kids flopping their big ears around. Heck, even babies that grow up to be killers are lovable when they’re little—baby bear cubs, coyotes, foxes.

Not snakes though. A small size does not improve a snake’s lovability factor.

Baby chicks, I think, rank among the most adorable of the adorable baby animals. Adorablest? I know because I have six new baby chicks as of this morning—two buff laced Polish, two standard white crested blue and two Easter egg standard. (At least, that’s what I ordered.)

baby-chick-2-0701

This adorable Easter egg standard's name is Meredith. Not only will Meredith go nicely with Myrtle, Maude, Madelein and Marilyn, but it is also Ben's girlfriend's name. Live long and prosper, Meredith!

This little cutie is one of the Easter egg standards and will grow up to lay blue/green eggs.

If everyone survives to adulthood, we will then have 12 hens and a big old rooster named T. Boone Chickens. That will double the number of hens T. Boone must service.

My husband keeps shaking his head and asking, “What are we going to do with a dozen eggs a day?”

Frankly, I don’t give a damn. I just like my chickens. The eggs dishes are a bonus—quiche, pound cake, omelets, souffle, frittatas, egg salad, deviled eggs, creme brulee, chocolate ice cream, cookie dough ice cream, chocolate chip cherry ice cream…

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Bzzzz October 31st, 2008

For some time we have been a house divided here at Bumblebee.

We had the three laying hens living in one set of accommodations and the younger chickens living in another. They showed interest in each other and occasionally pecked at each other through the wires, but there was no co-mingling of the chickens.

Maxine and Maude on their afternoon walkabout

Since winter is inevitably creeping our way, I started allowing the chickens side-by-side free range time about three weeks ago to prepare them for their lives together.

Predictably, the three hens took one course and the two younger chickens another. There was the occasional skirmish if someone found a particularly tasty bug or worm, but for the most part, the two mini-flocks were separate, but equal.

This week as colder temperatures hit in earnest, I decided to force the integration of the flocks.

Olivia (or Oliver?) has grown out of the ugly stage

After letting all the chickens out for their afternoon walkabout, I closed the Eglu hotel where the younger chickens had been shacked up. Little did they know what was in store for them as they went off to blissfully peck for bugs.

As evening rolled around, the three hens moved back to their Palazzo di Pollo. The two younger chickens began circling the Eglu, making escalating sounds of distress.

“Hey, who closed the door. Let us in!!”

Clearly, they would not just follow the hens into the Palazzo. We had to do a bit of human intervention. Ben and I caught the chickens and shoved them into the Palazzo.

I am very sad to report that my sweet hens did not show their best sides. In fact, they were horrid to the poor chicks. No one was seriously injured, but there were definitely feathers all about the Palazzo when I went to open their door in the morning. The two chicks had taken refuge behind the garbage can where I keep their stash of food and the three hens were strutting about and barking like dogs. It was not their finest moment.

Minnie Ruth (aka Brett Favre) is not a beautiful chicken. But she/he has attitude.

Since no one was hurt—except perhaps for their feelings—I decided to press on with the integration.

Over the next few days, hostilities continued, with the hens asserting their dominance and the two younger chickens cowering in fear. After all, they were out-numbered.

Then one particularly cold evening I left the big door of the chicken house open hoping that all the chickens would find their way inside unassisted because I was busy indoors. To my amazement, when I went to tuck them in, all five of the chickens were huddled together in a warm little ball in the corner of the Palazzo. It seems that hostilities cease in cold weather. Even chickens are pragmatic in their cold weather co-habitation decisions.

I won’t say that all the chickens are now fast friends. But the pecking order has been established and there is now the minimum of hazing of the newcomers.

As for the question of gender in the younger chickens, I can only say that one, if not both, are roosters. Minnie Ruth is the smallest of the birds and exhibits the most animosity to humans. I don’t know what I did to deserve her/his ire. My husband says it’s because I keep calling him Minnie Ruth instead of something manly, such as Brett Favre.

As fall sets in and winter takes its place, we have two nice poultry panel heaters that will keep all the chickens warm and happy. I anxiously await the next developments with the chickens. I am most anxious to learn if I have any more hens—or if I am stuck with a couple of cranky roosters.

Fall at Bumblebee Garden

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