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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

chicken socks

I would if I could, but I'm not the knittin' type.  So instead, I put some straw, leaves, pine bedding down on the snow and in the run, to protect those delicate little toes.

More ideas :

Winter can get pretty dull for your darling ladies.
While some folks have mentioned the cabbage-on-a-string treat, 
my gals turn up their beaks at cabbage.  
They prefer:

kale-on-a-string... see that little  S-hook?  
You can make 'em yourself:
Always good to have a handful of  S-hooks around,  to hang that kale on the side of the run,  
Apple-on-a-string has become a winter favorite of Lucy and Pigeon (make some little slices in the apple, and sink the twine into them, to hold it tight)...Hanging keeps it out of the dirt and poo.

You'll need your handy  S-hooks for these cups:
I use these soda-bottle-cups for extra water and food.   Easy to take away the dirty ones and put out clean ones.    Chickens need extra water in winter, and having it in several locations ensures that they stay hydrated.
Got some firewood lying about? 
Nothing's more exciting than a new log in the coop!

Molting birds especially benefit from a little extra protein:
Freeze-dried mealworms, cheese, black oil sunflower seeds, cooked oatmeal  (all healthy in moderation)

So treat your flock, and watch them adore you even more!

(Got a good idea to promote chicken-happiness?  Please share!)

Okay. Now back to writing  "Kids and Chickens"....coming soon-

Saturday, January 22, 2011


What are some important leadership qualities ?

Here's Pigeon, the leader of the flock, the day I met her.

Upside down.  

Skinny, bloody...  far from healthy.  
(click here to read more about Pigeon's beginnings)

After a few weeks of tender rehab, she did seem much healthier.  
She joined the flock and slipped herself right into the lead position vacated by our dear-departed-Hatsy.

But Pigeon, our new little leader, followed Lucy around like a puppy.
As it turns out, Pigeon is extremely nearsighted.  

In fact, she's darn near blind.

This explains why she's always underfoot. 
I've nearly stepped on her several times, 
and have to be careful not to chop off her little head 
when I'm working in the garden.
I offer her a tomato, and she pecks to the left of it.

Even when I toss her a wiggling worm, 
she has a tough time finding it... 
she's pecking to the left again.

...but that's okay.  
There's still Bravery and Smarts, right?

O.K.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

At the beginning, Pigeon was afraid of everything. 
She was afraid of worms. 
She was afraid of the sky.

She's still scared of Marky, but  tries not to show it.

So.  Maybe health and bravery aren't that important after all.

As for. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  

Well, she's not the brightest bulb in the coop.
She's got a pretty average little pea-brain beneath that comb.  
I'd rank Daisy and Lucy as the smartest gals...

But hey, we've known leaders who have made it to the top despite even catastrophic stupidity.

So what is Pigeon's strength?

In a chicken?
She shows it in so many ways.

She is very considerate of Lucy's challenges.

Lucy's an older lady who's had some really tough times.  And this year Lucy chose to molt in January....not the best time to be half-naked in New England.
So Pigeon stands beside her and keeps her warm while they nap.

And from her very first encounter with little Fern and Daisy, Pigeon has shown only kindness.

Here she stands near them and preens -- which, in chicken-talk, means "hi there- I'm not going to kill you"... of course, the chicks don't understand that yet. They're cowering in the corner, awaiting a painful death. 

But there's one particular moment of sensitivity that really struck me.....
It was last Fall.
I was offering a piece of clover to Pigeon and the little ones.
Pigeon looked up and saw Lil'White running toward the babies in order to murder them.  
While Pigeon had nothing to fear, she knew that the babies did.
She warned them of impending doom, and little Fern and Daisy fled to the forsythia in the nick of time.

It was a simple gesture.
But a true gesture of compassion.
I haven't seen sensitivity like that among dogs, or cats.... 
or in hundreds of hours of nature shows.     
But here it is -- in Pigeon.

Pigeon, honey, you rock.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Now, I don't know whether it's compassion or curiosity or trust --
but Pigeon tends to be the favorite of all the kids who come to visit.
And that's a story for the next post!
.....Next post:     Chicken Socks