Tiny Eggs

Rose has begun to lay eggs. They are the tiniest, cutest eggs.

My grandkids came over the day she laid her first egg. They squealed when they saw it, cupped their hands and begged to hold it. The egg was given due honor and thanks before I cracked it into my smoothie.

Rose has been laying pretty consistently for the past four days. She doesn’t have a time schedule, like first thing in the morning; it’s all over the place. Once it was laid so late, there were two tiny eggs in the nest box in the morning. I thought maybe Ruby had started laying too, but that’s not the case. At any rate, Rose is definitely a girl, big comb and all.

I’m wondering if Ruby is feeling protective about the eggs or if I have a mole on the back of my right leg. Every time I lean into the nest box to clean it out, she takes a big peck on my calf. I’ve had to start holding out the other leg and occasionally swing it to keep her from coming over for a bite.

Won’t be long now before I can gather three eggs a day. That’ll be fabulous.

Thanks girls!

Growing Weeds

I’ve had Ruby and Rose for a week and five days now. The differences in their appearance is drastic! They are now growing body feathers, their tails have filled in and grown an inch and their wings are almost completely covered in “pre-adult” feathers. I say pre-adult because they are still spotted with white and aren’t red. The body feathers, in contrast, are coming in red.

The biggest difference I see, is their legs. No longer the spindly-legged, slender-toed babies – they are now sporting sturdy legs and toes with real claws.

They no longer have the red spot on their beak where the egg tooth came off, and – their wattles are emerging. This is the part I pay close attention to. In my way of thinking –  if there was a mistake made in the sex of the pullet, this will be the telling factor. Please be girls.

Both girls are becoming very friendly and probably a tad bored with their box. They come running toward me now when I sit down by the box and remove the lid to handle them. They readily climb onto my hand to be lifted from the box and placed on a towel in my lap. The towel is my defense from turds that are deposited shortly after release from the box. When this phase is over, the towel is duly disposed of.

Before this weekend, I have to find a taller box. They have almost maxed out the height of their current box. I don’t want them to become stoop-shouldered from having to bend over when they stand up.

My youngest granddaughter came over to meet the chicks today. She’ll be two in a couple of months. While she thought she wanted to hold a chick and give it a kiss, when actually faced with Ruby, she quickly scooted away, saying, “bite me.” No amount of coaxing worked to get her to come close enough to touch Ruby, let alone kiss her. She was happy when the chicks went back home and she could wave at them safely through the top of the box. She was excited to go throw greens through the fence for the big hens outside. She giggled every time a tiny piece of green made it through the chicken wire and one of the hens ate it.

I am always amazed by the rapidly occurring changes of baby chicks.

Birds of a Feather

Ruby and Rose are quickly changing. I just picked them up five days ago. Where I could once pick them both up with one hand, it now takes two. They have real tail feathers and are growing feathers in a V–shape between their wings, in a human it would be between their shoulder blades. They still have a red spot on their beaks where their egg tooth used to be, but it’s getting fainter by the hour.

It makes me giggle to see how feathers grow. The chicks don’t look too shabby yet, but when chicks are covered in down and their big girl feathers start coming in, the new feathers are covered in a sheath, which pushes the downy feathers out, but stuck to the end of the new feathers. This gives the chicks a wild halo of downy feathers sticking out at differing lengths from their bodies. Would you say they look mottled? Scruffy? Covered in dust bunnies? They do look like they could use a good vacuuming.

They still aren’t certain they want to be picked up and held, but the trembling has subsided some. I’m hoping they will be happy to be handled before the grand-kids come over to meet them.

The Roost

Rosie and Charlotte have been roosting on the rope supporting the rain tarp that covers on end of the chicken run since they came out from under the biddy cage and joined  Carol in the larger, more expansive run and this is not a fitting roost for them. I decided it was time to create a better option.

My grandson, Max, was going to spend the afternoon with me and I thought he might like to assist me in the roost building. When I went to school to pick Max up, I discovered he wasn’t at the carpool site. I had to park the car and go inside with “the person in charge” and call his Mom to ask if anyone else might have picked him up while the school staff checked around the school for him. About the time I had his Mom alarmed the school had lost her child, they found him standing in the bus line. Fortunately the bus was still there an it all ended well.

Max changed into work clothes when we arrived at my house. We were ready to proceed with the roost building. First we selected three pallets of about the same height for the sides and a narrower, longer one for the top. We lugged them across the yard and with Max as doorman; I managed to drag them into the into the chicken run without any chicken escapees. We collected three- inch screws, drill and extension cord and set everything up. Once that was arranged, Max came in and watched the process. The first screw never made it through the first pallet and into the second one. I think it would have taken ten-inch screws. The next screw was angled properly and a connection between pallets was made, although it was wobbly and tenuous. I had Max come over to put in the next screw once I had it started. He wasn’t at all keen on the job and as soon as the screw was in declared it was break time. I insisted we had to get the roost stable before we took a break to protect the hens from harm if the contraption collapsed. Max patiently waited while I screwed the other side and brought in the fourth pallet for the roof. I fastened down the top and we took our break, which lasted until his Dad cam to get him.

Alone again, I went out armed with telephone wire, wire cutters and a pair of pliers. Since the screws weren’t adequate for the job of holding the roost together, I thought wire was the answer. I wrapped wire around the various edges of the roost, twisting the wire taut until the structure had just a slight wobble when stressed. I went into the garage and found an old metal weight bar to use as the roost bar for now. Once it gets cold out I think the hens will prefer a wooden bar. The bar was wired into place to keep it from slipping. The final touch to the contraption was a tarp surrounding the top and three sides to make it waterproof. Yes, from the looks of the roost, it’s another “kountry” concoction.

It wasn’t a surprise to see the hens still sitting on their familiar tarp rope “roost” the first night. This new fangled chicken roost was strange for them. A couple of nights later I discovered them on top of the roost, which is where they’ve been roosting ever since, even with rain pouring down their backs from the eave of the garage, which I think says something about the size of a chicken’s brain. I’m hoping when the weather turns cold they will get smart and hunker down in the roost box on the bar. Time will tell.