Sunday, April 08, 2012

That Gawky Teenaged Phase, The Chicken Version.


The Penguin -- 5 Days

Remember how adorable our chicks were, when we first got them? Little egg-sized balls of fluff, they were.

The Penguin -- 3 Weeks

Well, right now, they're in an exceptionally awkward phase. I keep thinking about teenaged boys, just starting to sprout mustaches. They may be beautiful some day, but right now, they're particularly scruffy-looking.

The Bantam Menace -- 5 Days

This little one was the first to get any adult feathers. She's the tiniest of our flock, but in some ways the most grown-up. She is, sadly, a real chicken. She's always cowering in the corner when we open the brooder. If she covers up her own eyes, she seems to comfort herself. I know from previous bird handling that covering a bird's eyes minimizes stress, but I'd never seen a bird do this for itself. That whole cliche about ostriches burying their heads in the sand to hide from scary predators must actually have some basis in avian reality. But since so few of us have experience with birds, it has lost much it its meaning.

The Bantam Menace -- 3 Weeks

She is growing some lovely mottled feathers. She's one of our Easter Eggers, and will hopefully lay green or blue eggs.

The Big Blonde -- 5 Days

This bird is our largest chicken. We think she's the other Easter Egger.

The Big Blonde -- 3 Weeks

She's the slowest to mature, despite her size. She's got more baby fluff than any of the others.

The Big Blonde -- 3 Weeks

While the Bantam Menace is starting to sprout chestnut-colored feathers on her breast, this girl is getting white feathers. She also seems to have a lot of feathers around her chin (if chickens can be said to have chins). I suspect that she'll have a prominent beard.

Robb and I had discussed naming the chickens after the Bennet sisters, from Pride and Prejudice. We think we know who Lydia and Lizzie are. But none of our chickens are a good candidate for Jane-ness. Unless something changes, we aren't likely to have a hen who is both serene and beautiful.

The Songbird -- 10 Days

I think this is our Silver Laced Wyandotte. When she grows up, she's going to be a beautiful creature.

The Songbird -- 3 Weeks

Right now, she's the bravest of the birds. She's what people politely call "food motivated" and she's figured out that I almost always am offering some interesting treats. In addition to chicky-chow, our birds now eat finely chopped up swiss chard, dandelion green, beet green and lettuce. They eat uncooked steel cut oats, and boiled eggs. Today they ate some mashed up apple. I really hope that our chickens develop diverse eating habits, because I plan to use then as feathered garbage disposers. I want them to eat my weeds, and all the garden plants that get leaf miners. And I really, really want them to eat snails.

The Songbird -- 3 Weeks

I'm handling the chickens quite a bit, because I don't want skittish hens. I've found that if I sit in a sunbeam and place them on my lap, they'll go into what Dodie Smith called "a coma of bliss." They spread their wings loosely at their sides and slip into nap-mode. It's pretty funny, because they seem to be fighting the urge to sleep. Their heads will sink lower and lower, and just before they're completely unconscious, they'll snap awake for a split-second before they start nodding again.

Kind of like teenager in a boring lecture class, when you come to think if it.


Marmalade said...

speaking of dozing off to sleep... Bueller? Bueller?

Kellyann Brown said...

I think if you want snail-eaters, you're gonna have to get a duck!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Scrub Jays eat snails, as do many other birds. I have no interest at all in keeping ducks. Chickens are little omnivores. Annie's Annuals uses them for snail control.

Anonymous said...

My Amish neighbor had the best strawberries ever grown by humankind. And it was all due to his fertilizing them with aged chicken poop! Please carry on this tradition!


Future Librarian said...

Ha! I named all my "ladies" after characters from Austen novels. I had Lydia, Emma, Jane, Kitty, Marianne, and Lady Catherine (she was the boss!)

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

We're considering swapping the name Jane for Charlotte since Charlotte took solace in her poultry.

Martha said...

Look at the color of their legs. The Easter Eggers legs have a slightly olive hue to them. They are going to be gorgeous!

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I LOVE the names you've chosen. And I'm certain with your diligent handling that even the shy chicks will become social. A fried of mine got chicks last spring and her three year old handled them a lot. Now they are very social and happy hens laying wonderful eggs.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Stefaneener said...

Charlotte seems to be a fine choice. After all, she wasn't overburdened by brains. . . our chicks continue to be 100% freaked out all the time. Fortunately they can go in and out of the coop independently, and I'm training them to eat drone brood. But will they ever come running? Who knows? The other chickens were fairly bold. Maybe my rep as a killer has preceded me. May yours continue in a very happy way.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

It be long now before they enter what I like to call the Einstein period. They get something of a wild hair-do for a couple of days as the last of the fluff falls out on the top of their heads. I'm always amazed how fast they grow. I think they're all beautiful.

Noreen said...

I've never looked this closely at chickens. Your photography, and your chickens, are beautiful.

Anne Norman said...

Amazing photos of gorgeous gawky chicks! Please tell me how you took their pictures -- mine are horrible.

zippiknits said...

Actually, they are still pretty darn cute. Squeeh! And, Excellent names, too!

Our tortoises eat snails - big ones and little ones but not the first year hatchlings who can climb. Those the torts can't get up high enough to retrieve.

Yes, ducks eat snails, too, and they give delicious eggs, our Jemma gave us five big eggs in one day, and then a tiny one last. I didn't know ducks did that.


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