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Archives for : Flock Updates

{Flock Updates} Name Changes and Expansions

Had some name changes and shuffles with the chicks and peas. Sometimes I’m pretty good at guessing personalities with the animals, and sometimes they prove me wrong and adjustments need to be made so they have a name that fits them. I wish it were that easy to do as a human.

Douma and Irving have had their names changed to Mumbles and One-Two (respectively) because watching them rough house with each other reminded me of Idris Elba and Gerard Butler in the movie RocknRolla. Yes, two more males for sure with these ones. One-Two, in the tradition of his lineage, has really amped up the attempted crowing in the mornings. He still sounds like a mechanical murder dinosaur and it cracks me up.

Mina is still Mina and definitely the only female to hatch from the chicken eggs. She isn’t very much like Sparta, personality wise. She’s very quiet and reserved. She doesn’t have the mohawk that seems to be a strong trait from Memnoch (both One-Two and Mumbles have one), so I’m thinking her sire might be Ronan.

The peachicks just had a slight name shuffle. Mim is now Fin and Fin is now Mim. I am so in love with these three. I think I mentioned this previously, but I didn’t expect them to be so different from the chicken chicks. With the chicks, you basically show them where the food and water is, how to dip there beaks in and eat and drink, and that’s pretty much all they want from you as long as they have other chicks in the brooder with them. Peachicks, on the other hand, imprint on you fast and heavy. They want you to hold them and cuddle them and it is just the most adorable thing on the planet. Fin was really complainy last night, so I took him out and put him on my chest while I rested my legs, and he just went right to sleep. Their wings are getting huge, for the most part. Mim still has some rumbled looking feathers from being in the egg so long and not being able to get out on her own. Syrax is getting some purple/black looking feathers coming in on her shoulders and wings. This was some validation that was almost 2 years in the making. The reason I stopped going to the peafowl section of the Backyardchickens.com boards was because a few of the users were trying to accuse the breeder I got Dalton and Richmond from of lying to me about what kind of peahens they were. The said there was no way Dalton could be a black shoulder (which she isn’t, she’s a spaulding purple black shoulder) and that there was no way Richmond could be a cameo (again, which she isn’t, she’s a spaulding cameo split pied). Anyhow, black shoulders start out looking like they’ll be all white as chicks until the darker feathers start coming in. Always someone that wants to be a know-it-all and try to shit on people they don’t even know.

Personality wise, they’re all very curious but hesitant when you take them out of the brooder. I got them outside in a rabbit cage that has a poop tray under it so they can’t touch the ground – apparently, they can’t touch the ground for the first few months. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with how susceptible they are to catching diseases and parasites. The temps are getting up to the 90s, so it was warm enough for them to be away from the brooder for a half an hour while I worked on the a-frames for the aviary expansion. The Hellblazers came up to check them out, but there’s something about them that all the animals seem to sense distinguishes them from chickens. I’m not sure if they smell different or what it is, but even the dogs seem to know they’re different from the chicks they’ve been watching grow for the past 2 years.

They’ve also already started to try flying around before they were even a week old. They’ve been making really amazing progress at it so far and it just amazes me how they just know how to do things like that and don’t need to be taught it. Having them hatch when they did, I’m glad I wasn’t still working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and having to put up with their disability discrimination and harassment. If I were still having to put up with that and having a constant concussion migraine and cognitive fatigue and all the other symptoms my coworkers and manager made worse with their behavior, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them as much as I am right now. After this month, if I don’t find a job, I’ll be out of health insurance, bills will be difficult to cover, but I’m so glad I get to spend all day with them and my dogs and the other birds.

There has also been a boom in baby buns from the feral rabbits this spring. Charles Bronson (the rabbit that had been digging in and out of the main aviary) turned out to be a female and had a litter in a hole between the fence of the aviary and the peafowl’s greenhouse. They are the most diverse looking babies I’ve seen come out of all the feral rabbits so far. I wanted to keep the one I’m holding in that picture so much, but I put it back in the den with its siblings. There’s been at least 2 litters up near the house. One of the litters is a group of these rollie pollie rabbits that I’ve named Butterball, The Great Hambino, Chunk, and Albert. They are the most adorable bunnies.

{Flock Updates} Things Keep Moving

There’s one thing you can say about Nature: it just keeps doing its thing, day after day. There’s some sense of relief and calming to be around that. The baby chickens are just over a month old now and are spending their days outside. One of them, I suspect Irving (Memnoch and Mercury’s chick), tried to crow the other day and it just sounded like I had a murder dinosaur in my room. Douma (Memnoch and Ava’Dara’s chick) is very much like his dam – has a lot to say every time I pick him up. Mina (Sparta’s chick – still not sure who the sire is) is just like her dam.

Damien’s hormone aggression has steadily gotten more intense towards Dalton and Ava’Dara now. I keep trying the separation thing, but that seems to diffuse the situation for less and less time the more I have to do it. The only thing I can think of to distract him would be to put that mirror back in the aviary with him; however, I don’t want him to injure himself anymore than I want him to injure Dalton or Ava’Dara or any of the other birds.

I’m working on getting the aviary updated with the a-frames and new netting and shade panels right now. After I get that set up, the next thing I’m going to work on is sectioning off part of the aviary for the 2 smaller coops – 1 for Memnoch and Mercury and the other as the grow out coop. From there, I would like to fix up the smaller pen with a partial roof so I’m not wasting so much feed whenever it rains.

Beyond that, I’ve been working on landscaping around both. I picked up a number of perennials and annuals that reseed themselves, along with more vine transplants from Granny. I don’t like how bare it all is, even though I know it’s difficult to grow anything out here between the sandy soil, the rabbits, and the birds themselves. If anything, I’m hoping at least the vines and the peppermint plant take off and spread out.

{Flock Updates} Weathering the Weather

Literally. The weather has been bonkers lately. We actually might get snow on Thursday! It hasn’t snowed this late in spring here for a really long time. I mean, we’ve gotten serious hailstorms that have made it look like it snowed (just a week ago, in fact). I just took down all the winter plastic wrap on the pens, too. Go figure.

The 3 chickpeas are doing great! I called up Dr. Miller after the tiny black one hatched to make sure I knew what to look for in the event that the protruding naval became an issue. So far, has not slowed the tiny nugget down at all. Due to the size difference, it did take that one a little longer to work up the leg muscles to jump on top of the heater like the big grey one and the M&M spawn. They’ve been outside to visit the older birds, where only Mazikeen, Richmond, and Dalton visited them. Ronan and Lucien stopped by their tiny playpen to puff up and act macho and quickly got shooed away. So far, the naming pool for them is: Irving/Thessily (M&M spawn), Douma/Lux (big grey), and Helsing/Mina (little black).

All 8 of Big Momma’s baby buns have moved into the smaller chicken pen since Momma moved them out so she could have 3 more babies. If I hadn’t just quit my job, I’d try to trap her so I could take her in to get spayed. Poor girl needs a break! In addition to that, there was another batch of baby buns that were born near the house and one born out in the barn! Rabbits, man.

Ava’Dara and Sparta have gone broody on me again. I’m half convinced that Sparta is pretending to be broody and is really just hiding in the nesting boxes to avoid Memnoch. I’m not sure what’s going on with him, but this year he decided he needed to start breeding with all the hens and not just Mercury. Unfortunately, none of the other hens are really happy about that. Once I get the netting raised on the aviary part of the poultry compound (Dad built a couple of huge A-frames to create more headroom), I’m going to fix up the 2 small coops I got on CL and move M&M into one of them so tensions will ease up on the flock as a whole, with the other one to be used as a grow out coop for the chicks.

Richmond and Dalton are still laying eggs. Once they got going, they really got going. I have 8 (4 from each) right now that I’m considering putting up for sale on CL before they go bad. I’d hate for them to go to waste when I know they’re viable. 1 peafowl egg can be sold for as much as a dozen chicken eggs you buy at the grocery store, so I don’t really want to use them for food. That just seems like a waste of money to me right now. If I can’t sell them this week, I probably will blow out the eggs to use the shells for art and feed the eggs to the birds and dogs.

{Flock Updates} Spring Is Here

So many new baby buns! I got to give a cuddle to Little Buddha (the brown bunny), there are about 6-7 black, dark grey, and light grey bunnies, and then Big Momma had 8 babies just recently in the hutch next to the smaller chicken pen! They’re so new that their eyes aren’t open yet and they don’t have any fur yet. I’m not sure how Big Momma got herself into that hutch and had babies because she’s not called “Big Momma” for nothing. And she was even bigger before she had the baby buns. They are just so cute and tiny, and I hope they make it.

Nyx has gone broody on me for almost a month now. Epiphany tried being broody for about a day, got pooped on because she decided to move her egg and sit on it directly under the roosting bar, and then decided she didn’t really need to hatch any eggs.

That’s what we have the incubator for! 1 egg is on Day 11, 1 egg is on Day 8, 1 egg is on Day 4, 2 eggs are on Day 2, and all are developing (1 is an egg from Sparta!). I did do a last switch of 2 eggs last night just to see if I could get a full hatch. I don’t want to stagger the hatch any more because that first egg is already so far ahead at this point.

I’m not sure who the other eggs came from, but I’m just super thrilled to have offspring from Sparta even if Memnoch is the sire. That’s going to be the pushiest, snottiest little chicken ever. It’s going to be fantastic.

Still no peahen eggs. Damien keeps trying, though.

{Flock Updates} Hope Springs Eternal

It’s been awhile since my last update here. 2016 was not a great or kind year for the animals and, unfortunately, the beginning of 2017 hasn’t been a great or kind year for me and things are about to get tougher.

While we haven’t had any deaths since Igor and his grandmothers, tensions between Mercury and Memnoch and everyone else have been getting high as the weather has been getting warmer. I was lucky enough to find 2 “rooster coops” on CL for free that I’m going to retrofit into a coop for the Demon Twins and a possible breeding coop or grow out coop. Another non-success was trying to integrate Ronan, Lucien, Epiphany, and Mazikeen with the rest of the flock. For some unknown reason, Richmond and Dalton refused to let them into the aviary/main pen and to make things less stressful on everyone (including me) I’ve kept them in the old rabbit pen for now. My eventual plan is to move that pen into the aviary so that everyone is in the same area and can see each other throughout the day when they aren’t out free ranging. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I’m hoping to get the poles up for the heavier aviary netting soon. This will raise the clearance a few feet, allowing me to stand up straight and give the birds more headroom as well. After that, I’m going to rearrange the extra coops and covered pens so everyone is in one compound area.

The bad news for me, and by extension the animals, is the fact that I have finally gotten tired of silently putting up with the harassment/discrimination I’ve been dealing with at my Day Job since going back to it after the car wreck that left me with lifelong disabilities. Last month, I submitted my official grievance against my manager and most of my coworkers. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, HR is not taking their investigation of my claims seriously (they okay’d my manager to give me a year end job review while the investigation is still going on). While I still have to meet with HR tomorrow, I’ve already decided that I’m quitting because of the harassment, discrimination, and HR’s flippant response to it.

This means finances are going to get tight. I have been applying to jobs for the past 4-5 months, but the job market isn’t great and most people aren’t chomping at the bit to hire someone with disabilities. I’ll most likely have to apply for unemployment, try to apply for SSI, empty my retirement, and put my plans to finish my degree and build my house on hold indefinitely. Again. I just feel very defeated by all this and it’s left me wondering why I survived that car wreck if this was going to be my life after it.

The only thing that’s been keeping my spirits up have been the animals – Toki and Arya are constant mood boosters, watching the birds thrive (Damien has gotten a massive train and Richmond let him breed with her at least once!). I had started incubating chicken eggs and had agreed to take in a straight run of Olandsk Dwarfs prior to my Day Job environment degrading as badly as it has, so baby chicks and possible baby PEAchicks are something to look forward to.

I’ve also been creating art of the animals to sell. Right now, there are various different products available on the Redbubble store (more on that in the next update) that are specific to the animals. I haven’t gotten everyone on a product, yet. I am working on it as much as I can between my school work. Speaking of school work, one of the classes I’m taking is a bookmaking class and I’m hoping to make a number of books about the animals in the near future.

Right now, the animals are still thriving and I’m doing my best to keep it that way.

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{Flock Update} We All Fall Down

This blog has been on a hiatus for the past month. It wasn’t planned and it wasn’t because something amazing had happened. A month ago today, Calypso and Nausicaä had to be euthanized. Calypso in the morning and Nausicaä that evening, for the exact same reasons as Athena and Penelope. The Ithakē Flock is gone.

I haven’t been taking it very well. At all. And that’s the reason I haven’t had a post in a month when I hadn’t missed a daily post since I established the Ithakē Flock. Add to that the incredibly snobbish and condescending chicken people that come out of the woodwork just like any other group of people that think they know everything about a certain topic and it’s their job to look down on everyone else. I’ve just found myself very unenthusiastic about sharing my journey with these animals. I’ve found myself very unenthusiastic about life in general lately, to be honest.

However, today is also the day, 6 years ago, that I adopted Toki. 6 years ago, I saw him at an adoption event and decided we were supposed to be together for however long we’d have. He saved my life.

So, I used that to get up early this morning, let the birds free range while I refilled feeders and cleaned out the main pen, and try to work my way out of this depression. I’m hoping I’ll be able to start posting again next month.

{Flock Update} Igor’s Last Stand

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This morning, I was awake earlier than usual. Arya and her tiny bladder had a mighty need and I was woken up to help take care of it. I decided that since I was up that I might as well let the flock out early as well.

At the door for the Furious Five’s cage, I found Igor laying there lifeless. At first, I had the terrible thought that Ronan had killed him but my brother (who was just leaving for work and thankfully was out there giving pieces of bread to the rabbits when I found Igor’s body) said that it looked like something tried to pull him through the wire of the fencing and couldn’t get him through. It wasn’t until I finished burying Igor that I had the chance to look at the other younglings and notice that there were feathers from all three males everywhere. Whatever it was that attacked them (EDIT: my initial thought was racoon, but it turned out to be 2 huge skunks) had at least gotten a fight from them.

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I loved this little bird. Not just because he was a 3rd generation from Odysseus, but because of how quirky and tenacious he was. He never let his disability hold him back. In fact, he went about his life as if he didn’t have a disability. His hoarse little crow, that had the exact same pattern/melody as Odysseus’s and Memnoch’s, cracked me up. Just like Toki and Arya howling the minute they knew I was home, Igor would start crowing for me the minute I pulled into the driveway every night after work. He had a very unique personality and I already miss him hopping onto my leg so that I could pet the back of his neck.

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This is the picture I submitted to Meyer Hatchery’s cover contest. I’m going to miss him very much.

{Flock Updates} Late Summer Cleaning

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Today, all the adult birds (except Section 20 because, yeah, good luck catching them) got a plunge and a scrub and a lube before the weather started getting cold. This process consists of soaking any birds that need their rear ends cleaned up (this is mostly just Calypso, Nausicaä, and Ava’Dara. No one else seems to have the right amount of under butt feathers to catch and collect poop. After that, I grease up their legs/feet/combs/waddles with Bag Balm. On the legs and feet, it’s supposed to help prevent scaly mites, which I haven’t had a case of in my flock since Odysseus arrived and I started doing this. So, I don’t have any scientific proof it works, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I also put it on their combs and waddles to brighten them up again. I usually want to do the butt clean up while the weather is nice. If not, they have to be cleaned/dried inside and that means bleaching everything afterwards. It’s just easier during the spring and summer when you can soak them in a bucket, and then let them air dry while they go about their business. The last thing I do is dust their bodies and tails with Sevin Dust because the white feathered birds have been getting that mite that eats the white feathers again. Sevin Dust was the only thing that killed them last year on Odysseus, so I went straight for that on all of them when I noticed Memnoch getting the familiar feather damage.

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Calypso

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Memnoch

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Sparta (who refused to stick around to provide photographic proof of being maintained)

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Nyx (who finally stopped being broody!)

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Nausicaä (still the most difficult one to catch)

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Ava’Dara (still very broody)

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Mercury

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Lila

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Odysseus

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Mazikeen jumped into the bucket after it was empty.

{Flock Updates} Toki’s Tummy Troubles, Pt. 2

We are heading back into the ER vet in an hour. I called to ask about the side effects for the meds they put him on (Metronidazole) because he hasn’t had a bowel movement since the bloody diarrhea stopped on Thursday. He’s started eating more, being more active (but not overdoing it), he’s urinating with no issues, and he hasn’t started puking again. I was told by whoever answered the phone at the vet that the side effect for that med is upset stomach (which confused me as to why you’d give that for a dog who is already suffering from upset stomach). I was told I needed to come in today.

I had to apply for CareCredit, since they don’t do payment plans and I don’t get paid again until the 31st, so I could pay for another visit. I don’t know what to expect, but I will do anything to make sure this dog walks out of that building with a good prognoses. I don’t care what I have to do.

UPDATE

Well, we didn’t need to go to the ER and that receptionist had me in tears for no reason. When we saw the ER vet, she was super nice and went through all the motions again, took a fecal sample, checked gums, temp, etc. She told me that Toki probably just hadn’t had enough to eat since his mass internal evacuation on Thursday to form a bowel movement. She also didn’t charge me for the visit since the receptionist could have told me this over the phone. The visit wasn’t a total waste of time since I did get confirmation he was okay and I got some of the i/d Sensitive Stomach food, both wet and dry, to try to get things going again for him. When he gets at least 2 decent poops out, I can slowly start getting him back on the regular dog food.

I didn’t even need to use the CareCredit.

{Flock Update} Toki’s Tummy Troubles

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All day yesterday, Toki was like that guy who get super extra drunk at parties (vomit and diarrhea all over, all day). In the (almost) 6 years of living together with him, we’ve gotten the hang of what and how much of something he can eat because he has a very sensitive stomach. This time around, though, his symptoms weren’t anything like what we’ve had to deal with in the past and it got me really worried. Blood in diarrhea, I think, is something worth getting worried over. So, I took him into the vet for an emergency visit to make sure he didn’t have something more than a bad reaction to something he shouldn’t have eaten going on.

Things didn’t go that smoothly. First off, we get to the vet and find out the receptionist from the night before didn’t schedule us for the emergency visit like she said she was. Thankfully, the day shift was nice enough to squeeze me in anyway (they actually had to turn someone away while Toki and I were waiting because they were so backed up). So, we’re waiting in the waiting room and Toki is very much like me. He’s asocial with both other dogs and humans, and he is especially distrusting of men. What can I say? Either I rubbed off on him or we were just a perfect match. Or both. Anyhow, so I’m nervous about what could be wrong with him and which vet we’re going to get for the visit since you get whichever doctor is on call for emergency rounds that day. Again, like me, he’s not cool with strangers touching him and we’ve been lucky enough to have the same vet since I adopted him and didn’t know what to do with a tiny puppy with kennel cough.

He’s not feeling well at all, he hates being in the waiting room for the vet, I’m giving off waves of anxiety like those ladies in offices that wear too much perfume, and it was a bad combination. That’s when this douchebag with his obnoxious kid come in. Oh, and Toki *really* doesn’t like kids thanks to our neighbor’s obnoxious granddaughter. They don’t know why they’re bringing their dog in for a visit, but once they call the mom to square things out, they make a beeline to where we’re sitting.

I haven’t stood up and moved as fast as I did then since the car accident. That when the douchebag dude says, “You’re okay”. Like, first off, I know *I’m* okay because I’m not the one here for a doctor to check me out. Secondly, you can see my dog is clearly stressed out and you’re kid has been trying to crowd him the entire time. Thirdly, you’re a dick. I just flatly respond, “Yeah, well, he’s not okay”. Didn’t. Sink. In. At. All.

Why are people so obnoxious.

Anyhow, after that, a very nice and understanding vet tech moved us into a room to wait. Once the doctor got in to see Toki, she seemed pretty sure it was just something he eat that didn’t agree with him. His gums still looked good (which I had been checking the night before thanks to Dr. Pol and his show), he had a good heart rate, breathing, temperature was within normal range, everything looked good except he was dehydrated. Which was understandable. They took him to get fluids and an anti-nausea med and took fecal samples (where they found blood – I didn’t know until we got home that he actually had been having bloody diarrhea the day before). We got out of there $200+ lighter and headed home with an anti-inflammatory med for him to take twice daily for about a week. Hopefully by then, he’ll have gotten back to his normal self.

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Arya would really like him to get back to himself soon. She’s been using the giant Pound Puppy squeaker rug as a surrogate to him at night and she’s frustrated she doesn’t have anyone to play with (Winston and Zelda don’t get how to play with her, they play like all dogs are their size).

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By the afternoon, he was at least up and walking around and eating a little big. He even came outside to help me let the birds out to free range. By 6PM, he hadn’t puked in 24 hours. I’m hoping this is a good sign and not a fake out because I’m still not sure what he ate that would have set his insides off like this. The only “new” thing he’s had access to are rabbit poops now that I’ve been working on getting him used to being around rabbits and birds without chasing them. He does get sick if he eats too much horse poops (what is it with dogs eating poops), so I guess it could have been that. I’m usually like helicopter mom with a kid who has food allergies when it comes to him and the not knowing what it was is not something I like being an unknown.

He is getting better, though, and that’s what I have to get my brain to focus on right now.