True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Continued from the previous post:  ROOSTERMAN

An integral member of the flock: Marky.

He was here long before the chickens.
We got him from a shelter nine years ago.  He's part schnauzer, part eskimo.

Marky enjoys a warm summer breeze,

he loves a good run.

And he can do a pretty good imitation of road-kill.

Because he's a terrier, hunting small creatures is his strength.

When the chicks were small, Marky watched them eagerly with quivering, drooling lips.
Once they were big, not much changed.  I didn't hold much hope of his ever being able to view them as anything but prey.

One day I'd left the coop door ajar for only a moment, and Marky squeezed in.  
The birds squawked, feathers flew, Marky spun around in circles snapping his jaws.  I was there, right there.  The chickens were okay.    I looked at Marky and burst into the biggest freakingest shriekingest fit that Marky had ever seen.  

And at that very moment:

Marky's little brain


The chickens are mine, not his.  

With his new firm understanding, 
Marky began to accept his job as flock-leader and protector.

Now when I feed the chickens, Marky gets the first bit of chicken feed,
The first piece of bread-crust.

He barks at hawks and buzzards overhead, and chases foxes out of the yard.

He is careful and respectful of the chickens, and they respect him.

...except for Roosterman.

It was a horrible sight.  Roosterman would ambush Marky and attack from behind...again and again and again. 
Marky would look at me totally confused...    Should he defend himself from this lunatic?

One day Marky couldn't take it anymore.  He swirled around and grabbed Roosterman in mid-attack.   Flung him to the ground.  Flattened him like a feathered pancake.

Marky would have sunk his fangs into Roosterman, but he couldn't figure out where to bite.

Lucky for Roosterman, I was right there.   I traded a biscuit for Roosterman, and assured  Marky that he was a good dog.   Then I put Roosterman in the wire cage, and he has not been a free man since.   

Goodness knows I've tried to find a home for the guy.

But Craigslist has dozens of listings for free roosters.
I've even driven him from farm to farm offering money if they'd just take him.
The farmers laughed.

So the loony rooster still lives with us.  

I had everything under control except his crowing -- which begins at about 4 am.

I came up with a solution for that:

Lucy's little old coop was vacant, so I dragged it into the woods and piled leaves up all around it.   Now he can crow all morning and nobody can hear him.  When I'm pretty sure the neighbors are up, I let him out.

Dilemmas, solutions, reactions... there's always something.

And if there's one thing the critters have taught me it's that things change.  
You can count on dawn and on dusk --  but between the two, nothing is the same.
Lucy's mangled toes have good days and bad days.
Some days there are three eggs in the nestbox, some days there are none.

And when Hatsy's  illness eventually caught up with her,  the flock understood.

I'm the one who had trouble adjusting.

Next blog entry : CHANGE

Sunday, March 21, 2010



As chickie grew 
Lucy shrank.

She spent more time feeding her little guy than feeding herself. 

Her face and comb turned grey.
She went into a molt. Everywhere Lucy went she left a trail of feathers. She lost her entire tail.

Sometimes chickie was reluctant to give up his chickiehood.

That was fine with Lucy.

She adored her little man.

(that's my coffee, not theirs)

He became a fancy, handsome, proud little man.

Lucy changed, too -- her feathers grew back, and so did her health.

For a year, Lucy had been living in her little "special-needs" coop. Her feet had been too mangled to get up the ladder in the big coop, and Lil'White had brutally ostracized her.   But she was now the proud mother and ally of Roosterman, and somehow that changed everything.  
One day while everyone was out and about in the yard,  Lucy walked through the open doorway of the big coop, managed to climb that ladder, and laid an egg in the nesting box.   Lucy was back in the flock, back in position number two.   

That night, Lucy fearlessly roosted with Hatsy and Lil'White, and it was a beautiful thing.

Little Roosterman, however, did not fit in so seamlessly.

Hatsy kept him on his toes.
He moved into the big coop with his mom, but was so terrorized by Hatsy that I had to build him a roost all his own, high up where he couldn't get plucked by her.

Little Roosterman also had some trouble learning dog-etiquette.  

Never stare at an angry dog.
That's really just a basic thing,
but Roosterman didn't get it.

He was also a little too virile and enthusiastic about the ladies.

Once again, that little wire cage I made turned out to be just the right thing.  
Everyone adored Roosterman when he was kept at bay.

Now... There was just one problem...
Roosterman  found his voice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


.  .  .  continued from the previous post: GOOD MORNING

Lucy got right to work teaching and feeding her little one.

The chick learned quickly to stay close,

but not too close.
  Lucy taught it to hunt for sorrel and dandelions, beetles and grubs, and to be respectful of bees, wasps and ants.

Sometimes chickie needed to learn from experience.

Lucy taught chickie to climb stairs..

in order to beg for treats at the front door.

While Hatsy had been just totally in love with Lucy's eggs, she had absolutely no warm feelings for this little chick.  To prevent a violent disaster, I kept Hatsy and Lil'White cooped up while Lucy and her baby were out and about.

And while Marky had learned that big chickens are not prey,

he just couldn't help licking his little black lips when chickie was around.

So he was kept at bay too.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 

Lucy watched out for hawks,
and chickie did its part by being virtually invisible most of the time.


Find chickie in this picture.

I swear chickie's in this picture too.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Lucy was strict about
the chick's bedtime... She required that they turn in way before dusk.

Some evenings, Chickie was just not into that.

Some days Chickie was just not into walking either.

Lucy was a good sport about it.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  

It wasn't long before we realized

chickie was a boy.

I knew he'd have to go, because we have way too many neighbors way too nearby.  We couldn't have a rooster waking the whole neighborhood on Sunday mornings.

But hey... how hard could it be to find a home for a rooster?

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  next episode: ROOSTERMAN!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


...continued from previous post: EGG EMERGENCY

Lucy got straight to work raising her little one.

Hear Lucy?   Budup.. budup..
When she finds a treat in the corner, she has a different sound for that.  the chick knows exactly what she's talking about.

The chick stayed put inside the nestbox for only a day.
Then it toppled off the ledge.   I couldn't figure out how to babyproof Lucy's coop, so I put together a new home for them -- something easy and safe and quick:


becomes this:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

This:                             becomes this:

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

Lucy looked like any new mother..

.....happy and exhausted.

 . . . . . . . . next post:  LESSONS