Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chick Love

Our baby chicks are getting bigger every day.  Tomorrow they will be 8 weeks old.  I'm constantly surprised by how smart they are (yes, I know, chickens are supposed to be dumb, but really, they're not) and how quickly they catch on and notice things.  They have amazing eyesight and are always alert. 





They quickly caught on to going back inside their house at nightfall and every time a large bird flies over, even if it's soaring very high in the sky, they all run for cover.  I know that those are instincts, but I find them amazing.  I feel so proud of our little babies.  It wasn't so long ago that we had to teach them how to drink.




They really seem to enjoy being out in their yard and they come and go from their house all day as the fancy strikes them.  Napping beneath the house is another favorite thing.  We're getting to know the birds better as we spend time with them outside and we've been slowly giving them names.  Some of them are still hard to tell apart.  The Rhode Island Red on the left in this picture below is Amelia.  She was the first one brave enough to come out of the house when we first let them go outside. 




It's a little hard to tell in the picture, but she has the lightest coloring of the Reds.  She's also very sweet and likes to sit on your lap.  Hedwig, an Araucana/Americana, (on the right below) was the first of the chicks to jump into my hand when the chicks were still in the basement in their brooder. 
 



It was so thrilling to know that a chick wanted to be handled and enjoyed our attention.  Lots more of the chicks like to jump all over us now, but I still think Hedwig is special.

Our roosters are really quite funny.  We're pretty sure we just have two, both Rhode Island Reds.  They look and act a bit different from the other chicks and we picked them out from the group soon after we got them into their house.  Our guesses seem to be correct.  The boys have been a bit slower to feather out than the hens and their feathers seem a bit coarser.  They also are somewhat standoffish.  Where the hens always come running toward us and like to hop on us, the boys usually stand back.  They are the most timid of our birds and are often the last to come out of the house (in part because they like to have the food dish to themselves while the other birds are outside).  I named the bigger rooster first.  He's John Wayne.  




So far he's not really living up to his name.  Perhaps he'll grow into it.  We certainly lavish him with praise all the time, telling him how handsome and brave and what a good rooster he is.  We're hoping that with plenty of handling we'll have an easier time with him as he gets older and grows into the aggressive and dominant bird he's supposed to be.  The smaller rooster is less easy to handle than John Wayne is, but we try to give him the same lavish praise and handling that we give to John Wayne.  He's easy to tell apart because his coloring is lighter and he hasn't yet grown a tail (John Wayne's is a lovely green).





My mom has been calling him Number One, which is funny because she's not really a sci-fi nerd (that's more my area).  I'm not really a John Wayne fan, either (that's more her area).  I hope he'll grow into a good first officer.  So far it's hard to tell who will be the dominant one.

The sweet little exotic chick, the Silver Laced Polish, doesn't have a name yet.  We just call her Polish, which, thinking about it, might be a little rude.  She doesn't seem to mind.




Her crest keeps growing bigger and bigger.  From the front you can't see her eyes at all.




Which is both silly and cute.  The first day we let the chicks outside she managed to slip through the fence and we couldn't find her.  She spent the night out in in the wild and we spent the night worrying.  I was certain we'd never see her again, but in the morning there she was, being scolded by a bunch of red-winged blackbirds in the meadow.

I took a couple videos of the chicks enjoying climbing on my lap and pecking at some bread (and at me).   In the second one, see if you can spot John Wayne.


video



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Spending time with the chicks is one of my favorite things to do.  I simply can't feel bad when I'm around them.  I call it Chicken Therapy.  Getting to actually know some chickens makes me even sadder about the way that chickens are handled in factory farms.  If you're brave enough, take a look on PETA's website and see for yourself.  I generally don't like to get political on my blog, but I don't think that insisting that animals not be treated cruelly is political, it's just the right thing to do.

4 comments:

  1. I love chick updates! While reading "Silver Laced Polish" I thought it said Posh for some reason...like Posh Spice...that could totally be her name. I also see some Cruella DeVil in there...colorwise, not personality I'm sure!

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  2. Hi Anne,
    i just loved reading your descriptions of the chicks, and the videos are so sweet. Maybe we could all use some chicken therapy!! They are beautiful!
    I just returned from a visit to a lavender farm - I know you love this, and might enjoy the pictures on my blog.

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  3. Wonderful chicken update. I can't believe how quickly they have grown. They don't stay fluffy chicks for long do they? I love the little Polish hen. I think the name Cresta would suit her just fine!

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  4. Polish is starting to look more like Tina Turner - if only she was that amber color of the others . . . .

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