Bzzzz October 25th, 2010

I love my life. But there does seem to be quite a lot of it.

Between my job (not inherited that castle in Spain yet), keeping us well fed, tending the garden, the animals and ensuring the house doesn’t fill with dog hair like an enormous house-shaped pillow…well, the days are full. But I know you’re yearning for news about all the beasties here, so I present to you the Chicken Chronicles: The Reader’s Digest Version.

By the way, before I get too far along, this post is dedicated to my friend Gail, at Clay and Limestone. Not only did she offer the phrase Chicken Chronicles in comments about how she enjoys my chickens’ antics, she also manages to do all that life, garden, job stuff and blog too. My hat’s off to you, Gail!

First, Polish hen Edith went broody this summer. For those of you who are not chicken mammas and pappas, that means she decided motherhood was all she needed to fulfill her destiny in life. She took to her nest box and refused to budge. Well, I have a fairly laissez-faire policy when it comes to nature, so I figured, let’s see where this takes us.

Frankly, as laissez-faire can be, the whole thing was messy. Long story short, all the other hens added to Edith’s clutch so that she ended up trying to sit on about 15 eggs—an impossible task for a little Polish hen. To complicate matters, Tina Turner, a beautiful buff Polish hen, was swayed by Edith’s efforts and decided to hatch a batch of her own. She was easily dissuaded for a more carefree life among the motherless hens.

Back to Edith…After about three weeks it was clear that nothing was going to happen on the baby making front, so I took matters into my own hands. Actually, I took Edith into my own hands and took her off the eggs to get rid of them.

Voila! There was a chick under her!

Now, I will dip into the details just a bit here, even though this is the Reader’s Digest version. Edith is not the birth mother. T. Boone Chickens, our enormous rooster, does not do the wild thing with the Polish hens. I don’t know if it’s because he prefers the more full-figured hens or if the Polish girls are just too fast for him, but I’ve never seen him do the deed with one of the mop-headed girls. I suspect that the new chicken is from Dorthy or Meredith, our Easter egg chickens.

So…to get back to the story. Edith and her baby were separated so that the other chickens didn’t commit infanticide, as chickens will do. After a suitable and appropriate maternity leave Edith and her young were re-integrated back into the flock. It was an endearing sight to see her alerting the baby to bugs, tomato morsels and blueberry treats. At night she would sit with the baby under her. After the baby grew too large to sit on, she would put her wing protectively over the baby as they sat side-by-side.

Baby and Edith, his adoptive mum

The baby is now about 13 weeks old.

So far we’re calling the baby “Baby.” Clever, no?

The reason is that the baby will eventually be named Ricky or Lucy, names picked out by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. But one of the names has not yet stuck because I still don’t know if Baby is a Lucy or a Ricky. We should know in another month or so. But I will tell you this. Baby has really, really big feet like T. Boone Chickens. And Baby looks like a cross between Dorothy and Meredith, the Easter egg chickens. We will never know who the birth mother is without DNA testing.

Oh, and Baby loves Edith, his adopted and devoted mum. She is his true mum.

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Bzzzz March 31st, 2010

Now that spring has sprung, I’m more willing to do outdoor guard duty while the chickens have some walkabout time at the edges of the woods and in the yard.

They have the run of the place for at least a couple of hours most days. But when I open their outdoor run, the first thing all the chickens do is run, run, run for a spot between the back of the house and my Miss Kim lilac. This is where they bathe.

For chickens, a bath doesn’t involve water and bubbles. It involves loose dirt or dust.

The chickens dig and scratch with their sharp nails until there is a nice, soft patch of loose soil. Then each hen nestles down into the spot that she has prepared and wallows around, scratching and kicking the soil onto her back, opening her wings and rolling around. It looks like chicken heaven. You should be so happy in the bath.

This little ritual serves a useful purpose for the chickens. In hot weather it helps to cool them off as the soil particles work their way into the feathers. It also goes a long way toward avoiding mites, lice and other parasites. So the dirt bath is serious chicken hygiene.

For me, the chickens have also done me a favor. They have completely eradicated some invasive morning glories that no amount of weeding could control. In the years BC (Before Chickens), the morning glories would often wind their way into the lilac bush.

“Hey, wait!” you say. “Where is the big man while all these hens are bathing?”

Well, T. Boone Chickens usually takes a very abbreviated bath and then standards guard to ensure that the hens are protected and have their privacy.

He’s such a gentleman.

P.S. This is not really a chicken blog. But I do have a chicken section in my photo album. Have you visited it?

Posted In: Chickens

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