Monday, January 31, 2011

Poppy is Gone

I finally came to the realization last week that Poppy is indeed a rooster.  And while he hasn't started crowing yet, it's only a matter of time.  And the longer I held onto him, the more difficult it was going to be to part with him.  He was the sweetest boy.  He doted over his girls.  Always letting them eat first and keeping an ever present eye out for danger.  He was never aggressive and would readily eat out of my hand.

And of all the directions this situation could have gone, I think I found the best possible outcome.  I found a family who was looking to increase their flock.  They currently have two bantams.  And while I'm sure the first few days might be a shock to Poppy.  I'm also sure he'll quickly get used to his new surroundings and will watch over their bantams with the same love and care that he watched over my girls.

I think they will even keep his name, Poppy.  Which I thought was kind of girly for a boy.  But they pointed out that Poppy means Dad in Spanish.  And how appropriate is that?

Coco was Poppy's best bud and she gave me a good scolding this morning.  She's usually very quiet and goes about quickly eating the treats I put out in the morning.  But not this morning.  She got right up in my face and told me how upset she was.  BAWK!!! BAAAWK!!! BOK BOK BOK!!! BAWK BAAAWK!!!!!!!  Oh, it was just painful to listen to.  I even ran out at lunch to buy them some crickets to try and soften the blow of this change.

I took lots of photos of Poppy this weekend and thought I'd post some favorite here as a lasting tribute to him.

Poppy standing tall and watching over the girls in the yard.
Poppy with her girls enjoying a bug bonanza after I moved the compost bin over a few feet.

Poppy is about a week old in this photo.  And this is how the babies all sleep.  Beak down - butt up.
And the very last photo of Poppy before I hand him off to her new owners.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poppy is Indeed a Roo

I've feared this day for months now.  Ever since I brought my baby chicks home from the store.  My fear was that one (or more) would turn out to be a rooster.  And indeed, Poppy is really a Spice Boy.

I've suspected it all along.  But Cuckoo Marans are very difficult to sex and develop combs and wattles early on making it very deceptive.  And I had decided to ignore what everyone said until I heard a crow.  Which I haven't yet.  But I was watching them last night and Poppy has these HUGE legs and feet.  I mean like three times the size of the other three.  And then there are those saddle feathers.  Which are at the lower portion of their back and are pointy.  Poppy definitely has saddle feathers.  And Poppy's behavior screams rooster too.  He gently watches over the other three.  Letting them eat first before he steps in.

So I'm really bummed today.  I love my four Spice Girls and they all get along so well.  Breaking up the pack is going to be difficult on each of them in addition to me.  I really have my heart set on having four girls.

I suppose I could try and trade Poppy for a pullet.  But then there is work to introduce a new girl to the group and with that comes risks of introducing diseases and resetting the pecking order.  Or I could wait for one of my girls to go broody and buy one or two new baby chick for her to raise.  But with that again, comes the risk of getting another rooster.

There is a chance that Poppy would never crow.  A very small chance.  And if I thought that would be the case, I'd keep him simply because he's georgous.  And there is one school of thought that says, this could be the case since he hasn't crowed yet.

On the flip side, he could just be a late bloomer and a month or two or three from now could just start crowing and never stop.  And that would just be disastorious given that roosters are strictly not allowed in my city, and that I live so close to my very quiet neighbors.

So I'll try to get my head around this tonight over a strong cocktail.  (No pun intended.)  And I'll keep you posted.  Please send me your love and prayers.  And to Poppy too.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It is a Learning Experience Indeed

You might remember my post where I was so excited about finding a bench for their run that the girls couldn't poop all over.

Well, indeed, it is a learning experience.  I came home tonight and went into the run and reached for the kneeler to flip it up to the bench position, when I noticed something not quite right.  The smooth edge of the foam seat/kneeler was no longer smooth.  It was all ragged like it had been pecked.  And sure enough, upon closer inspection, the girls have pecked all around the edge of the foam.

My chickens are eating my bench!

I've heard of chickens eating things that were not good for them and it NEVER occurred to me that they would peck at the foam part of the metal seat/kneeler.  Sigh.  They didn't eat much and they all appear to be just fine today so I think we're okay on that front.

And I guess the bench will have to stay outside the run or maybe I can put it up on top of their hen house or someplace where they can't reach it.  And it seemed like such a brilliant solution.

Chickens 1
Flock Mistress 0

Monday, January 24, 2011


This is a photo of me with Ginger on my shoulder and I'm holding the hollow hull of a watermelon.  See my previous post ( for the full photo montage of the watermelon.

I remember being a little girl and my mother coming home from her weekly trip to the grocery store; the back of the station wagon filled with groceries.  She was determined to make us each pull our weight around the house so she went in and banged on the door to my brother's cave (aka - his room) and demanded that he come out immediately to help carry in the groceries.

Grumpy from being disturbed and forced to set foot out into the daylight, my brother grumbled from his room and out to the car to begin retrieving bags.  Determined to get this over as quickly as possible, he gathered up as many bags as he possibly could and stacked the watermelon on top.  Well, as you can imagine, he got about half way up the driveway before the watermelon rolled off the bags and obliterated itself all over the driveway.

The chickens and goose were on it immediately.  They chattered and pecked and pecked and chattered and it didn't take them too long before there was nothing left but a few bits of rind.  The red was gone.  The white was gone and every seed had been gobbled up.  Except for the sticky spot on the driveway and the irate scowl on my mother's face, there was no trace that watermelon ever existed.

So I thought I'd see if my girls liked watermelon as much as my pet chickens did back when I was younger.  And indeed, watermelon is good eats.  My husband and I ate most of the melon at breakfast.  But I did leave a bit more of the red on the rind than I would have normally.  I also filled the rind with some hard boiled egg so they girls would get some protein in addition to the sweet treat.  And as you can see from the photo above, there is little left but the outer most rind.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Watermelon is YUMMO!

 We enjoyed this watermelon for breakfast and decided to let the girls have what was left over.

I thought the girls should have some protein for breakfast so I filled the hulled out melon with a hard boiled egg.

And this is what was left six hours later when I went to say good night to the girls.  Yummo!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Update on Carrots

Carrots may look like fingers but they are not a hit at all.  When I went out this morning, all the carrots were lying on the ground pulled out of the treat bowl so they could more readily access the other treats there.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carrots and Fingers do look similar to a Chicken

I found a few baby carrots in the back of the fridge last night and thought that the chickens would like those.  They are still kind of intimidated by things that are not chicken bite sized so I steamed them in a little water in the microwave for a minute to make them soft.

This morning I took them out to the girls who studied them intently and quietly discussed this new treat in the bowl.  Their conversation was pretty much the same as the one they had over the weekend when I emptied a bag full of crickets into their run.  Minus the part about them moving of course.  See "No More Baby Food" posting:

Pumpkin actually took the first taste this time but quickly dropped the carrot and ran off.  I swear she's scared of her own shadow.  So I picked it up and held it out to the girls who continued to study it.  I feel like I should be giving them an English lesson when they stare like that.  "CARROT."  "THIS-IS-A-CARROT."  "IT'S FOOD."

Then Poppy took a big bite.  She's definitely figured out that she can use her beak as a weapon and will harpoon just about anything in front of her.  I had to break off a few smaller bites for Ginger and Coco.

I went to leave them with the rest of their carrots and head off to work when I noticed Poppy was following me.  Poppy really doesn't like to be picked up and doesn't follow me around so I was intrigued.  I stopped and bent down to look at her and she just stared back up at me.  So I put my hand out to try and tickle her tummy and she bit me.  She didn't peck me.  She bit my finger like she was trying to eat it.  And she looked really disappointed when it didn't come off in her beak.

I probably woke up the neighbors when I yelled OUCH!!!  Honestly, the birds hardly make any noise at all but their Flock Mistress (aka - me) could take on a rooster my constant laughing and the occasional AAAOOOWWWWW when I get pecked or Ginger gets her toes nails digging into my shoulder.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's a Learning Experience

I got ahead of myself switching the girls feed over the weekend.  I thought the girls were suppose to go from baby chick food to layer rations and that grower/finisher feed was for meat birds.  But after a fellow backyard chicken friend mentioned hers were on grower/finisher feed, I did some research and indeed, this is what they need to be eating.

Layer rations is so high in calcium that they really shouldn't be on this feed until they are actually processing that calcium into egg shells.  And thankfully, the feed store was open on Monday so I buzzed down there and picked up a bag.  I felt like such a bad chicken mama letting them eat the layer rations for the day.  But one day shouldn't hurt them at all.

I've also been on the look out for some sort of seat to put in the girls run so I have something to sit on when I go out to feed and visit them.  But I've struggled because anything I put out there, they will poop all over making it, well, not something I'll want to sit on.  Out on a walk yesterday with my husband we saw this woman working in her garden and using a kneeler and my husband says to me, that's it!  That's what you need for the girls run.
It's both a bench and a kneeler.  I can leave it in the kneeler position (pictured above) out in their run and if they want to sit on it and poop on it, it's fine.  Because when I go out to visit, I'll flip it over to the bench position and this way, it will always be clean and ready for me.  YEA!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

California Dreaming

Here in California, spring starts to show itself in January.  This weekend we had warm sunny days that pushed the thermometer up towards 70 degrees.  Trees are starting to flower and what isn't already blooming, is full of fat buds just waiting to burst open.

This was certainly the warmest day the girls have known since their existence last October.  And they took full advantage of it by having a nice long nap in the sun.

Pumpkin - Easter Egger (she doesn't see well and is kind of a spaz)
Coco -  Black Jersey Giant (does NOT like to be picked up - I hope that changes)

Poppy - Cuckoo Marans (still not 100% sure she's a girl - no crowing yet so we'll see)

Ginger (lower right) - Buff Orpington (using Poppy as a pillow)  She's as sweet as apple pie.
 All of them get along like they hatched from the same batch of eggs.  Just so fun to watch them move around the yard to forage, discover new things and nap together.

Monday, January 17, 2011

To Free Range or Not to Free Range?

That is the question I'm struggling with lately.

My girls live in a sizable run that is secure from both the top and bottom from predators.  And my intention all along was to let them free range in my garden.  But after hearing about a number of local hawk attacks on chickens, I'm not sure I'm going to do that anymore.

I just assumed that a Coopers Hawk wouldn't go after a 7 or 10 lb. bird.  So I consulted with a number of my Audubon friends, including a raptor biologist, and all confirmed that indeed a Coopers Hawk will go after a chicken, regardless of size.  While it may not be able to carry the chicken away, it will still kill and eat what it can before taking off.

So I've decided that I will not free range my girls after all.

After raising these beauties from day old chicks and really getting to know them, they have become pets and are part of the family.  I would be totally devastated if I were to loose one to a hawk.  I'm already an emotional wreck when I find a dead bird in our yard.  My husband can attest to this.  He's dug many holes in the yard for these birds who I tenderly wrap up in layers of tissue paper and gently bury after a few kind words.

This changes things in that I was really counting on them to control the bugs in my garden.  But it's not worth the risk just to save $30 on a jug of Sluggo.

So my Spice Girls will have to call their run their full time home.  I will try to keep them amused by filling their run with leaves and yard clippings for them to dig and play in.  It will still make me sad when I see them lined up at the gate, peering out into the garden, and salivating at all the potential things there are to dig up, mow down, gobble up and poop on out there.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

No More Baby Food

The girls are twelve weeks old this weekend.  That means it's time to switch them from their baby chick starter feed to layer rations.  This feed contains a little less protein but is higher in calcium which will give the girls what they need to lay eggs with strong shells.  It also has a touch more fat and fiber for proper nutrition.

I gave their run a good cleaning today, scrubbing out the water container as well as the feed containers.  All the leaves I tossed in there back in October were starting to break down from all the rain we've had so I raked those up and tossed them into the compost bin.  In the process, I moved the compost bin and pulled out some of the finished compost to put around plants in the garden.

The previous compost foot print becomes a fun spot for the girls to dig in and see what bugs are hiding there.

We also went around the corner and filled up two big trash bags full of pine needles to dump in the run.  It gives the girls something to dig in and gives them some protection from the wet, clay soil.  To make the pine needles more fun and interesting, I stopped by the pet store and bought three dozen crickets which I sprinkled onto the pine shavings.

The crickets had a chance of escape for about 30 seconds while the girls discussed this new treat.  The conversation went something like this:

Poppy - "That's new.  What are those?"
Coco - "I have no idea.  And why are they moving?"
Pumpkin - "Oh, I hate new things.  I'm scared."
Poppy - "Coco, give one of those a try."
Coco - "No way, you try one first."
Poppy - "Never gonna happen.  Hey Pumpkin, try one of those hopping things."
Pumpkin - "What hopping things?  I don't see well.  WHAT HOPPING THINGS?"
Poppy - "Oh, right.  Pumpkin doesn't see well.  Hey Ginger, Give one of those hopping things a try."
Ginger - "Okay.  I'll try one."
Ginger - "Ooooo, crunchy on the outside - chewy on the inside.  YUMMO!!!"

And the feeding frenzy ensues.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Girl or Boy - WHICH IS IT!

I'm 99.9% sure that Coco, Ginger and Pumpkin are girls.  But I'm still on the fence with Poppy.

At a young age, she started to develop a comb and wattles.  Which made me wonder if she was a boy.  So I emailed some people who said that she was a boy.  But then I learned that Marans (Poppy is a Cuckoo Marans) are some of the most difficult birds to sex.  So I sought out a few people who raise Marans and they said to relax, that Poppy was most likely a girl.

She's one week older than her sisters and noticeably larger than they are which also causes me to take pause.  But I relaxed and didn't really think much of it until this week when I was looking at her and noticed that the ends of her tail feathers are starting to curl down, like roosters do.

Poppy - Boy or Girl?
I emailed my friends again and asked what they thought and one says a boy and the other says definitely a girl.  I'm so frustrated.  It'd be one thing if I had a flock of 10 or 20 birds.  But when you only have 4 and raised them from baby chicks, you really become attached to each of them.  They all get along so well with each other that the thought of having to remove one from the pack, just breaks my heart.

Nothing is definitive yet so I'm getting ahead of myself.  And I did have a few people email me saying that their Cuckoo Marans rooster doesn't crow.  Not a peep.  Not sure how that's possible.  But if that were the case, I see no reason why I couldn't keep Poppy.

But I do have to admit, I was really looking forward to having Cuckoo Marans eggs in my egg basket.  They are dark chocolate brown and just so different from anything I've seen.  In a carton with Pumpkin's green eggs, Coco's giant brown eggs and Ginger's brown eggs, I thought that would be so pretty.

Cuckoo Marans Eggs
And anyone who knows me personally, knows I HATE surprises.  I don't like waiting.  I'm an impatient person and horribly organized.  So to sit back and take this day by day is KILLING ME!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Favorite Treats

People who don't own chickens say that they are not very smart, bird brains, and even dumb.  But those who raise chickens, especially just a few so you really get to know each bird, will tell you otherwise.  Now I'm not saying that they are highly intelligent.  But they have survival instinct about them.  And they do have an amazing ability to recognize things visually.

My girls clearly recognize me from other people and will come running right up to me.  They also recognize their favorite treats and dig right in to eat.  New treats are cautiously studied and discussed before one will take a taste.

This morning I took them cantaloupe rind to peck at.  I couldn't stay to listen to the discussion and see if they were going to be a hit or not.  And I'm eager to get home to see if they eventually did decide that melon was a treat.

Thus far, spaghetti noodles are their favorite.  Meal worms and crickets were also a huge hit.
Italian flat leaf parsley and spinach are also good eats.  Arugula, not so much.
Lentils and rice didn't get eaten right away but were all gone when I checked later in the day.
Yogurt is only good when they can peck it off my fingers.  Which isn't much fun for me or my fingers.

Bread is a not a hit at all.  I remember my childhood chickens LOVING bread.  Maybe when they get older.

They do seem more interested in things that are bite sized for them.  Bigger things are still scary as I don't think they've learned that they can use their beaks to dig into it.  And at 11 weeks, they are just tweens so in due time, I'm sure their tastes will change.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 81 in Captivity

Our captors continue to feed us healthy, organic chicken feed with a small daily treat.  We'd much prefer they fill our feeder full of meal worms instead of the chicken feed.  And that the daily treat be a big bowl of noodles!!!  Cuz we LOVE noodles!!!

We continue to try and dig our way out of our run, tramping down the dirt we dig out in the hopes that our captors won't notice.  But they come through once a week and put all the dirt back.  They even put a cinder block in the far back corner where we were making the most progress.  And, no matter where we dig, we run into this heavy gauge wire that has been buried around our run.  We suppose that it's a good thing because it keeps critters out.

We spend our days digging up and mowing down anything and everything in our run.  We've done our best to destroy the Liriopes that were planted there.  We've picked off all the Camilla flowers we could reach and scratched the flowers apart.  They magically change from their bright pink color to dark brown.

Our only communication with the outside world is with the Yellow-rumped Warblers, hummingbirds and White-crowned Sparrows which are small enough to slip through the wire roof that securely covers our run.  But they just come in to chat a bit and then flit off.  We wish we could go with them.

Our captors love to pick us up and stroke our backs and tickle our tummies.  Only Ginger enjoys this treatment.  I'd much prefer to be left alone.  Poppy especially dislikes this treatment.  She still remember that she had to have her bottom washed every day when we first arrived here.  Our captors keep saying it had something to do with Pasty Butt.  Either way, we're all glad that's behind us.  snicker

But on the bright side, our house is quite nice.  Our studio condo has three large nest boxes so we won't have to wait to lay our eggs.  It has a large window so we know when it's time to get up.  It's nice and warm on these cold, damp nights.  And it protects us from the wind ruffling our feathers while we sleep.  Our roosting bar where we sleep is just the right width for us to relax our toes at night.  Our feet get such a work out from digging during the day.

We're having a vote tomorrow to decide whether we abandon further escape attempts.  Given how plump we've gotten and continue to get, I suppose it's best if we just settle down and stay a while.  Besides, our captors have been bringing us more meal worms this week.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Yoga for Chickens

Yoga for Chickens?!?  No, I haven't completely lost my mind. 

This morning, I actually woke the girls up.  It was just getting light outside and I had to be at work early so I went out to put some grated apple in their treat bowl.  I could hear them start to chatter to each other.

Cheep Cheep Cheep  "I hear mom outside."  Cheep Cheep Cheep  "Mom usually brings treats in the morning."  Cheep Cheep Cheep  "Let's get up and go see what mom's brought for treats."  Cheep Cheep Cheep

So I peeked into the house and said good morning to the girls.  And one by one they stood up on the roosting bar and looked down at me.  And with four loud thuds, they each hoped down.

Each did a few quick chicken yoga stretches.  They stretch one leg out behind them and flex a wing with each feather separated.  Then they stand up and arch both wings up in camel pose.  And then the other leg and wing get a good stretch so they are balanced.

Ginger on the left is demonstrating the single wing/single leg stretch.
Coco on the right is demonstrating the dual wing arch stretch.
I've got to buy a scale.  I'm so curious what they each weigh today.  I thought they were getting so big but I saw a full grown Buff Orpington (like Ginger) this weekend and she was HUGE.  Ginger is only a quarter of her size.  So, clearly we have quite a bit of growth ahead of us.

But back to chicken yoga.  If you are still not convinced that chickens do yoga?  Check out this book at

Eat, sleep and yoga.  They do live the good life.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Anatomy of a Hen

I found this on the web.  The only identification for giving credit is "A beautiful diagram by an unknown 4Her at the Grays Harbor County Fair".  Probably drawn by a child who loves chickens as much as I do.

I thought this was a beautiful diagram and very informative in describing the basic parts of the chicken.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Birds Eye View

Ginger is just the sweetest chicken I could imagine.  We call her our Love Bug because she's borderline affectionate.  She will grab a few treats and then loves to hop up on my shoulder to watch her sisters eat.  And I usually tickle her tummy and sneak her a few extra treats.

Tonight, she hopped up on my husband and didn't stop at his shoulder but continued all the way up to the top of his head.  I think the fact that he had his hoodie up probably made it seem like just another level to climb.

I just thought that was too funny not to photograph.  She eventually flew down and went to forage with her sisters before heading off to bed.  They are now on the same cycle as the sun and usually head off to bed just after 5pm when the sun goes down.  Which means I don't get to see them during the work week as they are still asleep when I leave for work and tucked into their coop when I get home in the evening.

They also experienced their first California earthquake today.  Just a 4.1 magnitude which to us locals isn't much more than a foot massage.  I wasn't home to witness their reaction.  But I do remember being a child in California with chickens and being outside when the chickens began to act very strange.  I thought they were hungry so I went to the kitchen to grab them a treat and the next thing I remember was being grabbed by the scruff of my neck and practically drug outside by my mother as a rather sizable shaker rolled through.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Going Green

We are really going to make a push to go "green" this year.  I'm not ready to go off the grid or put solar panels up on my roof.  My goal this year is to incorporate all those little, easy steps that can really make a difference in the world.  And to educate others about how easy this can be and what a difference it can make.

Two years ago, my New Year's resolution was to try and not use any plastic bags.  I bought an egg sized, nylon sack from a store and kept that in my purse.  It has a pouch sewn into it so it packs up nice and compact.  And you can get a surprising amount of stuff in it.  This way, I always have a bag with me.  I didn't think it would last more than 6 months but it's more than 2 years old and still going.

I also bought some mesh sacks that have drawstrings and use for all my veggie purchases.  The only thing I don't like, is that wet items such as spinach, get the groceries all wet.  But otherwise, they work great and have really helped cut down on the number of plastic bags that were coming home with us.

I have a collection of reusable bags I keep in the trunk of my car.  This way, I'm always ready when I go grocery shopping or stop at Target to stock up on things.  My mesh veggie sacks are in there as well.  I can pull out just what I need or I keep them in an over sized canvas bag which I can grab and this way, I have what I need when I end up in the check out line.

Let's all do what we can to go a little greener this year.  If you plan on getting off the grid and going solar, great!  But there are so many smaller steps that can really make a difference.  Every little bit will help.

Green Tips from our Local Recycler

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chicken Trivia

The average hen lives 5-7 years but there are records of them living up to 20 years.

Chickens will lay between 600-800 eggs in their lifetime.

Hens will lay eggs their entire life, but production decreases each year.

Chicken's body temperature normally runs at 102-103 degrees F and can be elevated by feeding them certain foods such as cracked corn.

The record for most number of eggs laid in one day is 7.

The record for the most number of yokes in a single egg is 9.

Chickens can run up to 9 miles an hour.

The chicken is the closest living relative to the T-Rex.  And if you've ever seen one run, you'll see the connection.

There are more than 200 varieties of chickens today.

There are more chickens on earth than there are people, with over 3 billion chickens in China alone.

Americans consume 8 billion eggs a year.

If you have a fear of chickens, you are an Alektorophobic.

Chickens can make over 200 distinct sounds to communicate with each other.

One chicken can create enough waste in its lifetime to power a 100-watt light bulb for five hours.

The size egg a chicken lays is determined by the age of the bird, not the size.  Hens start out laying small eggs and the size will get larger and larger over time.

Chickens will also lay bigger and stronger eggs if you give them more light, making them think the days are much longer than in reality.

If you have a group of hens and no rooster, one hen will often take up the role of the rooster, stop laying and begin to crow.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cost of Eggs

I was at Whole Foods last night and usually I'm just buzzing through the place, using my cart as a battering ram to get out of of there as quickly as possible.  But it wasn't crowded last night so I took a more leisurely pace.  I noticed baskets of loose eggs in the produce case and went to take a closer look.

First off, have you ever seen an emu egg?  OMG, they are BEAUTIFUL!!!  They look and feel like a really big avocado.  And I think you'd need a hammer and chisel to crack one open.  They are also pricey.  I think they were $28 each.  Too bad there isn't a chicken that lays an egg this dark green.  How cool would that be?

They also had cage free, free range, organic chicken eggs.  These were 50 cents each.  I'm a tad math challenged and I looked at that for a bit, and then it hit me.  "THAT'S $6 FOR A DOZEN EGGS!"

I blogged a while back on the cost of raising chickens ( and promised to blog more in the future.  I don't expect to re-coop my cost of getting established but I'm hopeful that I can break even once the girls start laying eggs.  And at $6 a dozen, I'm starting to think that breaking even is setting my bar too low.  I might actually see some savings.

Not just from the eggs, of course.  I'm already composting their dropping and plan on fertilizing as much of my garden as possible with this which will save me a bundle.  The question is, will 4 hens make enough to make this happen and can I compost it fast enough.  Time will tell...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

No Treats - No Love

Yep, that's what it's come to.  I knew chickens were very food motivated and even read that in all my books.  But somehow I thought it would be different for me.  I thought since I raised them from day-old chicks, they would think of me as their mom and just love to hop into my lap when I came to visit.

This afternoon, I went out to visit the girls who were resting under their house, their favorite place to hang.  I'm sure they feel safe under there.  And it's dry and protected from the wind.

Not one of them would get up to come see me.  I bent down and made eye-contact.  And not a single one moved.  Not even Ginger who is my love-bug and always come over to let me tickle her tummy.

I fed them several dozen live crickets yesterday and felt they had too many treats so I scaled back today and only gave them some arugula this morning.  And clearly, they noticed.  If they don't see treats, they aren't going to bother to get up.  No Treats = No Love!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How Many Nerves in the Finger?

OMG.  Lots and lots and lots.

I know this because Poppy has tried to take off my finger on many occasions.  They love to eat out of my hands.  And it's fun to feed them from your hand.  But when introducing something new, they study it, and look at it and then Poppy will go in for the kill.  This is especially true with soft things like oatmeal or yogurt.  She literally takes my entire finger tip into her beak and clamps onto it.

Ginger, on the other hand, is so delicate and just pecks at the tips of my fingers.  And only pecks hard enough to take the food off of my finger.  Which is not hard at all.  And she has turned out to be quite the love bug.  If I don't pick her up, she'll hop up into my lap.  This morning, she snuck around to my  back and hopped up to the middle of my back and then up to my shoulder to watch the other girls eat their apple.

The kids who live next door came over to say hello to the girls the other day and were giving the girls some bits of their croissant.  I was keeping a close eye on my Poppy to make sure she didn't get too close to those tiny fingers.  That would traumatize those poor kids for the rest of their life if she were to get a good peck in.  And I purposely bought docile hens so that the people could come visit with them and not be attacked.  Fortunately, no fingers were pecked.

But Ginger did peck me in both the mouth and the eye when sitting on my shoulder this morning.  I know she's just going after anything that looks like it might be food.  Maybe having her sit on my shoulder is not such a good idea.

They are still technically teenagers.  I'm hopping they mellow out more as they continue to age.