Well we have reached the one month mark! And we have 25 surviving chickies of the 29 originals. I am starting to let them go outside during the day to enjoy some sunshine and fertilize the lawn. They also have been upgraded into a bigger living space. Now they are in a 5 level powder-coated ferret cage which allows them little opportunity to eat their own poo as it falls through the grate and into the pan below. My mother made a funny comment, “Why I didn’t I think of treating them like small animals when I was doing this?” I have no idea but its working for me and I will soon be putting cat litter in there as I hear this keeps the smell down. I have had to clean them twice a day lately because of the smell. Note: do not use cat litter if the chickens can reach it! They will eat it and die when it expands in their stomach. Fortunately this cage is all grated so they can’t get to it.
They are growing fast and are almost completely feathered. They are wasting less food in this new cage (with a new food dish.) The Buff Orpingtons continually astonish me with their lack of any intelligence. All the chickens use the ramps to get from one level to the next – not the Orpingtons! They walk right off the levels and plummet to the bottom of the cage like a rock. Sometimes its like they don’t realize there’s cliff directly in front of them. Happily none have sustained any injuries from this little lemming-like behavior of theirs. They are the fattest and fastest growing. I still think they’ll probably end up as dinner, if not for me than at least the next hungry raccoon or fox whose mouth they’ll likely jump willingly into.
The largest Brahma I have named Natalie. She has a broken toe. I do not know how she got it or when but it makes her easy to recognize. Her sister who is almost the same size is missing a toe but that appears to be a genetic defect as she still has an extra nail jutting out of her leg. I guess this is why real breeders despise commercial hatcheries – inbreeding? I could care less as these birds are not going to be bred. Should I decide to go in that direction I would get better unrelated stock! That seems unlikely though – at least while I still live here in a neighborhood. One lazy toy-sized rooster is enough noise for my poor neighbors. The smallest chick I have is also a braham who is just getting her wing feathers in… something she should have done more than two weeks ago. I have no explanation for her retarded growth but she’s eating and acts fine. As the other chick’s voices have changed in tone hers is as piercing as it was at day one and is also louder than any one else.
My rocks are all getting so pretty! I had no idea the barring on the Barred Rocks is not because of a mix of black and white feathers but is actually caused by each individual feather having black and white bars. Similarly I had no idea the partridge rocks would grow to have such pretty feathers! I will be gathering any dropped feathers to use for future earrings and jewelery. The mystery chick remains a mystery… I have no idea what she is but she has a brown back and gray wings at the moment with feathered feet. She’s slow growing and mild mannered. My to Cornish are wonderful. Boekal, the one I chose to intensely socialize likes to play games with me. She lets me catch her and then screams bloody murder. She sounds like a hawk. I hold her directly across from my eyes and we just look at each other. She will go quiet and when she’s in a particularly social mood will allow me to scratch her for a minute before she starts wiggling about trying to get out of my hands. Her sister I have purposely not socialized well. I wanted to know if the breed’s aloof nature is inherent or psychological. So far it looks to be psychological. Boekal’s sister, Jurassic Park, runs as fast as she can to get away from me and is never thrilled when I do catch her. She has no interest in humans. Boekal occasionally watches what I’m doing with an intensity not befitting a chicken. If you’re wondering how I can tell Boekal and Jurassic Park apart from each other – well their coloration is actually quite different in hue and even pattern. I find no difficulty in this.
I will be taking more photos soon – probably will make an all photo entry tomorrow as a series of mechanical failures prevented me from getting many good photos of the past few days. SIGH.