Friday, May 27, 2011

The Chicken Edition

I started a different blog today and had to put it in my 'save' pile for later this weekend. I will get to it, its about a project I completed this week. It has been a busy week as I helped out at my girlfriend, Julie Wier's farm shearing her 121 llamas and alpacas. Yeah! She has a big farm and now lots of wool. But as I went out to the barn today to feed, I heard the 'peep-peep' that I recognize. Every year I say I don't want any more chickens. I have kept the eggs away from my little hens so far, or so I thought! You see, these little bandy Araucana hens are the setting-est chickens I have ever seen. If more than 3 eggs are in a hen box, she will squat on those eggs and won't get up. There are good companion chickens to have when raising 18th century heritage chickens like we do. To keep the breeds of the LeFletch and Creve Coureur going, they have been inbred enough that they have lost their setting instincts. So the little Araucana hens will hatch out their eggs. They really don't care whose eggs they are as long as they are eggs.

For example, take the hen to the left. I affectionately call her 'Birdzilla'. There is no more fierce mother hen on the planet! Notice how 'puffy' she is. When I took this picture, she puffed out and started growling at me, telling me I was getting too close. She doesn't realize that I was the one that put 5 heritage eggs in her nest. I wanted her to set. She is pretty comical every day. She is in the corner of the girls side of the barn being protected by them against predators. Normally, a hen wouldn't survive setting 3 weeks on eggs on the ground but the alpaca girls like her.

Anyway, I digress......
I was walking to the barn, heard the peeping, came around the corner of the barn and found 4 chicks by the outside wall. I obviously missed a setting hen! I scooped up 3 black chicks (heritage chicks) and went in the barn following the sound of the mom clucking. There she was on a nest under a hay feeder.
I popped those babies back under her, under a slight protest from her, and went back outside to get the other one. He must have gotten separated earlier and was laying there with his little eyes shut. I picked him up and he was cold. You have to understand how it is around my farm, I never want baby chicks until I find them and then they are MINE. I carried around Little John (yes, I already named him) cupped in my hand for about 20 minutes trying to get him warmed up. He was still breathing. I walked around checking fence, water tanks, the mulberry tree (a soon to be blog) and then I heard a little 'peep' from him! So then I took him back into the barn and got him under his mom.
So here he is! I stayed in the barn for quite a while checking on him. After about an hour, the mom came out and got some cracked corn and water. I must be psychic because yesterday when I was at the farm store, I spotted these green feeders and bought one saying to myself that it was just good property to have. And this morning, here I am using it! (Twilight Zone music playing in background) 

Well, time will tell if Little John will make it. Actually, if he makes it through the night he will be good to go. He is a bit small and weak, but overnight he might catch up. I hope so, I'll keep you posted about him.
Nature has her way of handling such things. The black chicks are the heritage chicks and the little brown and grey mottled and striped ones are Araucana chicks. I'm not sure yet how many she has.

My favorite hen is 'Henny Penny' and is the little grey hen on the right. She is older than dirt, has a toe disorder and is spoiled rotten. In the winter, I have hand fed and watered her every day. The black rooster below is 'Woodstock' or Woody as he is called around here. He is a teddy bear of a rooster.

I hand raised Woody. He live the first couple of months in the house with us. He has been in several films, yes, he is quite the star. He used to ride around on my shoulder at Rendezvous. Ok, I admit it! I do love my chickens. Can't help it.

And my chickens also love alpaca fiber. They prefer to nest in it than hay!

I saved my favorite picture of the day for last. Little John with his mom and sibling. Talk to you soon,  Tammy

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