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Archives for : July2015

{Photo of the Day} 31.07.2015

Well, Damien (I changed his name – he seems more like Damien Scott than Dorian Pavus) was still hanging out in the morning & he stayed all day right by the flock while they were locked up in the main pen. He crushed the Accidental Pumpkin Plants pretty good laying in them to get some shade, I’m guessing. I did pull the mesh cover of the west side of the main pen out to give him more shade while still being close to the flock. I think the dude is just lonely & is looking for a flock because he either paces along the main pen or lays down by it. He did calm down when I let the flock out around 4PM to free range, but the flock still isn’t too sure about him. Odysseus & Memnoch had a few tiffs with him, but mostly everyone tries to stay out of his way. He does have a bit of a fascination with the Polish crests & that is going to be an issue with me if it continues. He’s pulling the feathers out of their head.

I tried to do a little research on him & apparently he’s an India Blue peacock & might be around 2 years old. Surprisingly, he hasn’t been calling since he’s been in my chicken yard. That’s nice. Peacocks calling sounds like someone crying out “help me” & it’s really loud. That might be pushing my luck with that & both Odysseus & Memnoch crowing.

I decided to just take it day-to-day with him right now since I don’t know if he’ll stick around & he’s not letting me catch him. If he sticks around through August, I’ll build him a roosting coop inside the chicken yard since there’s no way he’d fit in the Big House with the chickens & they’re already having flock dynamic shifts. Besides, he needs a high roost (he’s roosted on top of the main pen tonight) to sleep on.

I’m not entirely sure that what I needed around the anniversary of my accident was another male bird dropping out of the sky into my lap. I might need to start selling eggs to help pay for animal supplies.

So. Flock dynamics are shifting as Odysseus & Memnoch jockey for Alpha status & as Lila, Nyx & Sparta start to get closer to egg laying age. Things have been a little rough & im sure the change in sleeping arrangements & Damien showing up aren’t helpful. Chickens aren’t great with change. Everyone put themselves up this evening, which was a great! It took them months to start putting themselves up in the dog house. However, the way they’re arranging themselves kinda causes problems. At bed check, the top roost had Calypso, Memnoch, Athena, Nyx, Mercury. The roost under that had Lila, Nausicaä, Sparta, Penelope. Ava’Dara still uses the top middle nesting box because I keep forgetting to flip the roosts so she fits on them.

The problem here is Mercury not being nestled next to Memnoch & Sparta not being between Lila & Nyx. Mercury was kind of panicking that she wasn’t right next to Memnoch. I moved Lila & Sparta up to the top roost next to each other, but left everyone else where they were. They were already asleep & when I tried to pick up Penelope to move her closer to Nausicaä & Odysseus (she was on the far end next to the window & separated pretty far from them), she got cranky so I didn’t want to stir everyone up.

I know I have to let them figure out their own pecking order & their own dynamics, but it’s hard to sit back & not meddle sometimes.

This bunny hung out around the chickens all day, too. It even let me pet it but didn’t want me picking it up.

{Photo of the Day} 30.07.2015

Well. This evening was interesting. I left work 30mins early due to another concussion migraine hitting me about 10AM this morning. After eating some dinner, I put my wellies on & shambled my way down to the flock to let them out to free range for the evening. I had everyone out before I noticed this:

This dude is HUGE compared to my chickens. Even Ava’Dara looks tiny compared to him. He wouldn’t let me pick him up & I mostly just followed him from the extended pen, to the main pen, into the Big House, out into the field, then back into the extended pen. I have to admit that I kinda wimped out every time I had him cornered because when I touched his train, he flipped out & would fly directly at my head. He has dinosaur feet. I wasn’t about to take that in the eye.

The chickens didn’t really bother with him. He did get a little too close to the 3 Amigas & Ava’Dara for their comfort & they would squawk & run away. Memnoch attempted to start something, but I stopped him. Odysseus did the same thing, but stopped himself. One of the Ithakē ladies started something & finished it.

I left some water & some snacks out for him while the chickens were filling up before going up for the night. He didn’t seem to want to leave the chickens & was just pacing along the main pen’s south wall. I figured by the way he was eating the main feed that he must not have been getting much beyond whatever he had free ranged in his travels & might like some water & seeds. I wasn’t going to let him go up with the chickens for everyone’s safety & because I wasn’t sure he wouldn’t want to return from wherever he came from (although, I think he might be the fellow that’s been hoboing around the neighbourhood all summer).

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When I went back out to do the bed check (& everyone had put themselves in the appropriate spot in the Big House except Calypso), I found him roosted on 1 of the gates to the pony paddock. So, he’s named Dorian for right now & I’ll figure out what to do with him if he’s still around tomorrow.

I’m gonna need a whole new barn if random birds keep just showing up for me to take care of.

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{Photo of the Day} 29.07.2015

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{Photo of the Day} 28.07.2015

Sparta is doing better, but she is getting picked on by Odysseus & Mercury. I think it’s because she’s so small. I also think it has to do with the 3 Amigas finally starting to get the red in the face & comb. Even among themselves, they’re suddenly doing a lot of posturing & flying around each other. If Sparta is heading into sexual maturity, I might need to separate her from the flock for a bit. That wouldn’t be ideal due to eventually re-integrating her, but I don’t want Memnoch hurting her. He’s heading into the hormone crazed teen stage head first right now & he is just slightly smaller than Ava’Dara. So, he’s about 3x the size of Sparta. I don’t want him killing her. If Odysseus tries mating with her, that might would work out better since he’s smaller. She’s my baby. I’m just going to continue to worry until things work themselves out.

The Accidental Pumpkin Plants have a pumpkin the size of my fist growing on it. It’s still green, so pretty safe bet that the plants are for the big pumpkins & not the pumpkin bombs. My wildflowers are so close to blooming & I’m thinking of asking Granny if there’s a way to transplant some of her dahlias next spring because they are huge & I love them. I did talk with her about trying to buy some giant sunflower plants next year instead of planting more seeds (both of our seeds didn’t sprout anything). I might also get a transplant from Grandpa’s grape vines to grow on the north side of the main pen. I think that would look nice.

The other news today was that Delilah had her second litter. I think that poor girl needs a vacation. There are 4 again, but this time they’re all black. So, no telling who the sire is at this point. Her babies are so adorable.

The egg that was in the top nesting box row today was a very tiny one. I’m wondering if Mercury laid it or if Lila or Nyx did. I need to look up what colour eggs Lila & Nyx should lay, but it does look a lot like Mercury’s eggs. Maybe the one yesterday was a double yolk pullet egg?

{Photo of the Day} 27.07.2015

Mercury laid another egg & it wasn’t a pullet egg (the small eggs). It is almost the same size as her mother flock’s eggs, just a little thinner. It also looks like someone is making a nest in one of the other top boxes, so we might get another egg layer in there soon. It would be nice if they’d stop laying in the pen, but baby steps.

3rd night of the entire flock sleeping together. Odysseus put himself up for the night but forgot to bring his ladies with him. They were sleeping out in the main pen. Odysseus even put himself on the top roost were Memnoch & Mercury have been sleeping. M&M bunched up next to Sparta, Lila & Nyx on the other end of the top roost, giving Odysseus more room than he needed. Apparently, no one but the Ithakē ladies wanted to sleep on the lower roosts. It’s a good sign that Odysseus put himself up. If this goes like the dog house went, he’ll get them to follow him into the Big House in a month or so. Not that I mind putting them up every night since I’m going down there for a bed check/head count anyway.

{Flock Updates} Sparta’s First Injury

“First Injury” because I suspect my little sparrow is something of a scrapper & will have more than one throughout her lifespan.

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I stayed home from work today due to a massive migraine that started around 2-3PM yesterday afternoon & got serious around midnight. For anyone who just reads this blog & not my art/personal blog, when I say “serious”, I mean it felt like I had just sustained a concussion. This is a gift from the traumatic brain injury I got in my car accident. Anyhow, it’s a good thing I was home because no one would have noticed she was in distress & brought her in if I were at work.

At first, I thought she was overheating because it was in the mid-90’s with zero air movement & all the chickens looked miserable. Sparta, however, was perched up on the highest roost & did not come down when I called her. She always flies out of the Big House into the main pen & then onto my hand or arm when I come out there. That was a major sign something was wrong with her. I brought her inside with some water & food & made sure she was getting air from the swamp cooler vent right outside my door & the box fan in my room. She slept right near the crate door from around 1PM to about 6:30PM when she got up & started eating, drinking & making her little clucks for Lila, Nyx & Ava’Dara. Toki & Arya kept a close watch on her while she was inside.

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As I was taking her back outside to be with her flock, I noticed that the feathers between her left eye & ear was matted together. It was a little bit of blood. Sometime in between my feeding around 7AM & noon, she got in a scuffle with someone (Odysseus, Memnoch or Mercury are the likely culprits) & she got nailed in the face pretty good. I noticed it by accident because it’s barely visible. It was obviously hurtful enough to make her change her normal activity, but it isn’t a life threatening injury. In truth, if I had seen it to begin with, I would have done the exact same thing I did for possible heat stroke: brought her in & let her chill out by herself until she told me she was ready to go back outside.

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I let her free range a little outside the pen extension while I got everyone else to free range on their own & then put her in the Big House, where she stayed. I don’t think she was in serious pain because she wasn’t acting like she was when I brought her in (not being active & just laying down). I do think she might still be a little shook up by the scuffle & will just need to find her place in the flock again.

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Ava’Dara didn’t leave her the entire evening, even when Lila & Nyx went out to free range with the rest of the flock.

Tomorrow won’t be as hot as it was today & I have a doctor’s appointment that I am leaving work early for, so I think she’ll be okay for the morning & then I can check on her when I get home early. While she is kind of licking her wounds now, so to speak, I don’t think this will change her from being the extroverted scrapper she was before. As long as the injury isn’t deceptively minimal, she should be back to normal in short order.

{Risky Business} The DIY Chicken AC

I saw this idea on a BYC thread last month. It was simple & cheap & I thought I had enough DIY skills to pull it off.

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It was actually really easy to build. I bought a styrofoam cool from 7-11, a fan & AC curved ducts from Home Depot & froze a couple of 2-litre soda bottles of water. I took a pocket knife & cut the holes for the fan & the AC ducts. Once the ducts were fitted into place, I put the frozen bottles in, place the unit on the outside of the pen, put the fan in place on the lid & turned it on.

And it was less than brilliant in action. I figured it was because there was too much open space in the pen for it to do much good, so the next day I tried it in the Big House.

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Again, it did very little to cool the area it was in. And I was extremely discouraged.

Right now, I’m just using the fan by itself in the Big House because we’re on day 2 of 90+ & little to no air movement & the flock is miserable. I actually had to being in Sparta because she looked like she was playing a losing game of chess with Death (this was the first time I was glad I had a debilitating migraine & had stayed home from work – I don’t want to think what would have happened if she had stayed out there all day).

When not attached to the cooler, the fan does a decent job of circulating air. Attached to the cooler, I don’t think the fan is powerful enough to push enough air out through the 2 ducts to do anything helpful. I also don’t think the ducts curved enough to direct the airflow where I wanted it to go.

The originator of the idea used it on the outside of their chicken pen so the chickens wouldn’t eat the styrofoam (which they will totally do once they get used to the sound of the fan). So, it should have worked where I initially put it. However, the ducts didn’t do a 90deg angle & pointed just enough out away from the cooler (instead of straight in front of the cooler) that the little bit of airflow that was being directed out was sort of going into the pen & sort of going out into the wild.

This is why I tried putting it in the Big House yesterday morning. I even closed 1 window to try & keep the cool air mostly inside & down the breezeway. Didn’t matter because the fan definitely doesn’t have a strong enough motor to generate strong airflow. It was only $10, so I got what I paid for.

I’m going to go back to Home Depot to buy some more ducts & a stronger fan to try this again. August into September are the most unbarable here as far as heat goes & I need to have something effective at cooling the flock down in place for during the week while I’m wasting my time at my Day Job. If I’m not here to check on them, no one else will do it for me.

{Photo of the Day} 26.07.2015

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Mercury surprised me today & laid her 3rd egg! I was expecting her to go every other day or more between eggs since she’s just starting out. She’s a quick study. She makes her way into the top row of nesting boxes & leaves her perfect little egg in the same one each time. I don’t know how she knows to do that. I’m still struggling to get the Ithakē ladies to use the nesting boxes & stop digging holes in the corners of the pen. Granted, they do cover the hole back up if they don’t lay an egg there, but I’m afraid they’re going to dig out of the pen one of these days while I’m at work. I need to line the perimeter with rocks.

{Photo of the Day} 25.07.2015

The bunnies have been out in force lately. I think things are getting a lot tense in the rabbit paddock with Ragnar being a giant, raging a-hole. I’m not sure who, but apparently someone is getting moved into the chicken yard. I haven’t seen Runt-Runt (the tiniest of the tiny bunnies) lately. I hope he’s okay.

The garden is finally flowering. I wasn’t expecting any of the wild flowers or lavender to grow back after that last hailstorm, but it did. Also, there are a number of green stage pumpkins growing on the Accidental Pumpkin Plants! I am still super disappointed the giant sunflowers never sprouted, but I’ll try again next spring. I think that would be a really good plant for the chicken yard.

Mercury laid her second egg today! She even let me pick her up! She hasn’t willing let me do that since Zelda attacked her. This was a nice present on the 1 year anniversary of my car accident. I decided since you would need about 5 of her eggs to equal 1 store bought egg that I’m going to save them to decorate the shell. Also, I’m a giant sentimental nerd & don’t want to forget her pullet eggs.

Like I said, a rabbit is going to be moved into the chicken yard at some point, so the dog house was moved out of the main pen & placed out in the extended pen for it. This caused a bit of a stir with the flock. Chickens are really bad at dealing with any kind of change, I’ve discovered through trial & error & research. This also causes a major change of sleeping areas for the flock. Odysseus & his hens had been using the dog house to sleep in since they didn’t have a proper coop until the chicks got old enough to be outside 24/7. It took some time, but they eventually got used to sleeping there & that’s were they would put themselves up for the night every night. Ava’Dara & the chicks use the Big House because that’s where I put them every night before they started putting themselves up there for the night. Tonight, I waited until it was dark enough that everyone was asleep & would remain drowsy while I moved them into the Big House. Like, as soon as it gets to a certain level of darkness, chickens just shut down like robots going into sleep mode. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen an animal do. Even Odysseus lets me pick him up with zero struggle or grief when he’s in this mode. So, I start with Penelope because she’s the easiest to pick up & I put her on a roost in the Big House. As soon as I shut the door, Memnoch hops off his roosting area & tries to hassle her. I just opened the door & gave him a good swat & told him to go back to sleep next to his sister & he did. More on him later. After that, I got Athena & Calypso in next to Penelope & Odysseus & Nausicaä last (those two are pretty much a pair, like Memnoch & Mercury). I still need to get the roosts rotated so Ava’Dara can fit on them, but seeing them all in there I realised they had plenty more room than I thought they did (thanks, TBI, for making my spatial visualisation ability nonexistent!). Since I plan on having the main pen roofed properly before winter, they should only have to use the Big House to sleep in. This means I should have room next spring for at least 2-3 more bantams or 1 more standard size. Maybe next spring, I’ll be able to build another coop & pen on my own for the offspring of my own stock. image Okay. Memnoch made a serious play for the role of Alpha in the flock here. Odysseus was mating with one of his hens & Memnoch knocked him off. Up until this point, I had never seen Memnoch be this bold. This is a move Odysseus would do to Memnoch, as it should be since Odysseus is the established Alpha. This was 1 of 2 rows these dudes had this evening while I had them all free ranging as I got things ready for the night. I’m a little worried about this. As much as I love the not so little anymore cockerel I hatched & hand raised, I do not want him to be usurp his father. That’s my little Shit Lord & I’ll be fiercely protective of him until the day he dies. I’m not entertaining getting rid of Memnoch, that’s not an option at all for me. Even if it were, I wouldn’t consider it since cock fighting is a thing & roosters have it bad in the world of backyard chicken raising. Everyone on BYC is always posting how you just need to kill the roosters because “they serve no purpose”. I don’t get that type of thinking. I understand people in urban areas or with HOAs not being able to have them, but just killing a rooster because it’s not laying eggs daily is stupid to me. I also don’t get the people who get rid of their hens because they don’t push out eggs to their satisfaction, either, but that’s a tangent. So, my option is to keep Memnoch in a bachelor coop if it gets to the point where he & Odysseus are really hurting each other instead of just posturing & chest bumping. Memnoch is heading into his teenage years & those are pretty rough for cockerels. They get kinda crazy with the hormones & you just have to wait it out to see if they calm back down or if they continue to be hyper aggressive. It’s just something I need to watch for since Memnoch is now much bigger than Odysseus & outweighs him. Odysseus does have the advantage of Spurs & his hens being loyal to him (so far). All I can do right now is keep an eye on him & flick him away when he tries to get fresh with any of the ladies when I’m out there. Supposedly, that’s supposed to remind him that I’m Head Alpha of the entire flock. Odysseus never got that memo, as my shins can attest to.

{Photo of the Day} 24.07.2015

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