Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fall Favorites

Just wanted to share a few favorite fall photos 

Winnie - 2009

Ray & Little Red -  2009

Stella - 2009




Little Red - 2011


Chirpy - 2012

Redder & Chirpy - 2012


Friday, November 2, 2012

a weekend away


We had a great time driving to Lanesboro and Decorah a few weekends ago.  After a fantastic meal at the Old Village Hall restaurant in Lanesboro, we spent the night at a favorite B&B which is not too gaudy or girly,  and serves simple, tasty breakfasts.  On Saturday morning we walked up to the Lanesboro farmers' market and bought armloads of produce, breads and other goodies from Amish families.  Our next destination was Decorah, just a short drive south of Lanesboro.

Just outside Decorah, the Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm is situated on 890 acres surrounded by limestone bluffs and pine forest.  We were there for their annual Harvest Festival and had a great time touring the farm and visiting with heritage breeds of chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese.



After chatting with the poultry, we hopped on a hay wagon and ventured out to see the herds of Ancient White Park Cattle which make their home on the farm.  These cattle roamed the British Isles before the time of Christ.  During WWI, British royalty feared that the cattle population would be destroyed so they sent some to the U.S. for safe keeping.  Today these beautiful cattle are extremely rare.  There are only 200 in the U.S. (80 at the Heritage Farm) and a total of 800 worldwide.



The festival featured several food events including a heritage bean tasting.  We tried about a dozen dried beans which had been cooked for sampling.  They were all so different looking and tasting!!  Christmas lima beans are swirled with burgundy and white, and Calypso beans sport gorgeous black and white yin/yang patterns. 


We also enjoyed sampling 4 types of roasted garlic and lots of apples.  The farm has a fantastic orchard with about 700 different varieties of apples - a small fraction of the 8000+ varieties that once existed.  We got to taste nearly 30 of them and we were astounded by the range of flavors, textures and appearance.  Some of them look more like potatoes than apples!  We chuckled at the varieties with unusual names such as Red - Seek No Further,  Ye Olde Peasgood, Black Gilliflower, and Wayne.






In the orchard, there are several heritage pigs which dine almost exclusively on fallen apples.  Known as "orchard pigs" these comical floppy eared Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs were fun to watch as they crunched away on apples and squash.  They help control pests by ridding the ground of decaying fruit and leave behind natural fertilizer.   According to British folklore, their large dark spots were actually bruises caused by falling apples. 


While listening to a presentation on making hard cider, we tasted 4 different soups.  Local chefs were asked to create soup using this year's special ingredient - roasted garlic!  We were in garlic heaven!!  Our favorite version was made with a pound of roasted garlic for every gallon of soup.  mmmm!

After eating and strolling, we hit the gift shop.  I could have stayed there for hours!  We ended up with a pile of purchases including garlic and spinach which can both be planted now.  I also bought a type of dried bean which was originally brought to North America on the Mayflower in 1620.  I plan to give them to my sister.  She will probably cry. 

We ended our day with a stop at a taproom and a delicious dinner in Decorah.  It was the perfect ending to a memorable day!!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

mmm, not so pretty

There are clouds of fluffy feathers billowing around the backyard.  Oh yes, it's Molting Time!!  Winnie and Stella are shedding their old feathers, and boy do they look terrible.  Their bodies cannot produce eggs AND new feathers at the same time, so both girls have stopped laying and are now putting all of their energy into feather production.  It's a stressful but necessary process for birds.  Winnie and Stella are moving more slowly and are spending lots of time resting these days.  We make sure they get extra freeze dried mealworms to boost their protein intake.  ooo yummy!

I found this tidbit from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
A feather is a "dead" structure, somewhat analogous to hair or nails in humans. The hardness of a feather is caused by the formation of the protein keratin. Since feathers cannot heal themselves when damaged, they have to be completely replaced. The replacement of all or part of the feathers is called a molt. Molts produce feathers that match the age and sex of the bird, and sometimes the season.
Molting occurs in response to a mixture of hormonal changes brought about by seasonal changes.

In case you don't believe me, here are some "before and after" photos to illustrate just how unattractive the ladies are right now.

Winnie BEFORE
Winnie NOW

Stella BEFORE

Stella NOW

Thursday, October 11, 2012

free birds!!

 
The girls now have the full run of the backyard, and they couldn't be happier about it!  They seem delighted to nibble on grass and weeds, reorganize the mulch in the flower beds, and look for slugs and other tasty bugs among the hostas.  At times, they all hang out under the deck to groom and take naps, and the older girls venture onto the deck to peek in the window and see what we're doing.  I'm sure they're hoping for a raisin or two. 

The only downside is that we now have a poo management issue - it's everywhere.  Although I don't enjoy "running the poo gauntlet"  when walking from the house to the garage, I do love seeing the girls free ranging.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

our little overachiever

Our tiny Chirpy has been on a roll with laying eggs the past few weeks.  She has laid only one thin-shelled egg lately and typically graces us with 5 or 6 of her pretty green peewees each week.  I'm so glad her system is more regulated now.

As for Little Redder, her system is still somewhat out of whack.  Although she hasn't laid any without shells lately, she continues to lay 2 or 3 jumbos each week and small/medium eggs on other days.  The first time I used one of her jumbos I hard boiled it, sliced it in half while it was still warm, spread a little butter on the halves and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.  I was completely oblivious as I was about to cram it in my yapper when Eric notoiced that it had 2 yolks!!  This was a first for us!  Double-yolk eggs are more common as hens first begin laying.  According to Wikipedia (gulp), "Double-yolk eggs occur when ovulation occurs too rapidly, or when one yolk becomes joined with another yolk."  

a "regular" Redder egg and a jumbo Redder egg
This morning for breakfast we treated ourselves to bacon and eggs.  Believe it or not, we don't eat this every day!  Breakfast was especially fun since we each had a double yolker from Redder.  One seemed to have conjoined yolks and the other had distinctly separate yolks. 



We were especially thankful for this unusual breakfast treat!!

my smiley, tasty breakfast

Friday, August 24, 2012

egg update

Well, the babies are getting the hang of laying, but once in a while Chirpy or Redder will lay an egg with a very thin shell or even just a membrane around the white and yolk.  They started laying when they were VERY young and their bodies are still trying to figure the whole thing out.  They are also under a bit of stress.  The big girls still seem to resent their presence and don't always share treats or the nesting boxes very well.  Even if she doesn't have to lay an egg, Stella will strut around outside the run, creating a voluminous protest.  But, we soldier on and so do they.

Winnie enjoying the peace and quiet of the nesting box
It has been a week since Chirpy last laid a fully-developed egg.  I miss her tiny jade gems!!  I also miss the way Redder stands guard outside the nesting box and waits patiently for her to produce something.  I'm sure Chirpy would appreciate some privacy, but Redder rarely leaves her side.

Chirpy enjoying (?) Redder's company while she works on an egg
As we eagerly anticipate Chirpy's next egg, Redder continues to astound us with her growth spurt - body-wise and egg-wise.  She is taller than Ray and her eggs are actually larger than Ray's now!  On Tuesday, Redder graced us with her usual small egg.  On Wednesday she laid a monster - it bottomed out the egg scale which means it is a jumbo!!  On Thursday she laid 2 thin-shelled eggs and again today, Friday, she laid another jumbo.  I hope our girl doesn't burn herself out.  She's only 6 months old!! 
 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

eggs, eggs & more eggs

I know I'm kind of a nerd girl, but I get very excited every time I collect eggs.  If I'm home during the day I check the nesting boxes several times to see the treasures within.  Today I collected 5 of them before noon - busy girls!!

Eggs fascinate me.  I think they're beautiful AND delicious.  Lately we've been enjoying various forms of a simple salad with mixed greens, warm vinaigrette dressing, bacon and a fried egg on top.  It's so satisfying to crack those fresh eggs into a pan and see the gorgeous yellow/orange yolks and viscous whites.  We know our girls are eating well and it shows!!

Eric is also eating well, as you can see!
If you've been following along, you may remember that Stella had some egg-laying issues a few months ago.  She was on antibiotics for a few days which meant we couldn't eat her eggs for a month.  I could NOT bring myself to throw out her beautiful eggs though.  So, I saved them and got a little crafty.  I used onion skins to make a natural dye and scavenged leaves and flowers from plants in the back yard.  I put the leaves and flowers on the surface of each egg, tied them up in old pantyhose then dyed them.  I love how they turned out.





Wednesday, August 1, 2012

so egg-citing!!

A few days ago I was beckoned to the backyard by Stella.  I could hear her cackles inside the house with the windows closed.  It's the sort of noise she makes when she wants to lay an egg and one of the other thoughtless chickens is in her favorite nesting box.  I was confused.  All the other hens were out roaming around looking for bugs and other treats, so I did some detective work to figure out what was stressing her out.  Food? Check.  Water? Check.  Oyster shells? Check.  Shades pulled down in the run? Check.  Stray sparrows evicted from the run?  Check.

After running through the litany of her common complaints, it occurred to me that I hadn't seen the babies for a while.  I looked under the straw bale holder, in the compost bin (a new special place to hang out) and behind the rain barrel.  Finally I peeked in the coop and saw Chirpy in a nesting box with Redder hovering nearby.  That was it!  Stella did not like Chirpy hanging out in there, so I told Chirpy, "Girl!  You are in such big trouble.  Quit messing around and get out of there!"  I tried to shoo her out but she settled back in and started organizing woodchips with her beak.  I told her that I could not be responsible for the trouble that might ensue and left her alone to deal with the wrath of Stella. 

hanging out in the nesting box
An hour or so later I went out and saw Chirpy and Redder outside the run.  Stella was remarkably calm.  When I checked the nesting box, I couldn't believe the lovely sight of a jade green egg nestled in the woodchips.  It was Chirpy's first egg!!   I squealed with delight but was also perplexed.  How did that happen?  Isn't she still a baby?!  Hens usually start laying when they're about 6 months old but our girls were just 20 weeks and 1 day old.  Obviously, our little Chirpy is an overachiever.

Chirpy's first egg!!
Not to be outdone, Redder laid her first sweet little milk chocolate brown egg a few days later.  I was stunned but happy to know that both of our little girls were now productive members of the flock.   The only downside is that Eric missed all the excitement of both of the babies' first eggs.  He was sweating his buns off, biking across Iowa in 100+ degree heat and missed the blessed events.

eggs from Ray, Stella, Winnie, Chirpy & Redder




Tuesday, July 24, 2012

our youngest chicken fan

Jillian, Sam & Angie
Jillian, my niece Angie's daughter, was quite taken with the chickens when she first met them a few months ago.  Even before they were formally introduced, she was obsessed with a video I had posted online.  It was a short clip from the day I brought the chicks home.

Jillian watched it over and over and over again.  2 months after I posted the video, she was still watching it.  Angie wrote, "We just had our nightly chicken viewing. Now as I scroll down looking for the video she says, "chickens where are you?" and after watching the video she says, "bye bye chickens - see you later."

More than 3 months after I had posted the video, Jillian was still charmed by the babies.  Angie sent me a note:  "I wish you had a play count on how many times this video has been watched. We have already watched several times and it's only 7:15 (in the morning!)."  

I would love to know how many times Jillian watched that clip over the past 4 months!!

Recently,  Jillian has shifted her attention from our chicks to her cousin Addison.  Granted, Addison is a beautiful baby, so I understand why poultry might pale in comparison.  Yet, I'm still a little sad that our chicks have lost their biggest fan.  

Here's the clip:


video


 Here's Addison:  


 I guess I can see why Jillian has moved on!


Monday, July 16, 2012

our cuddly girls

The "babies" are growing fast!  They each weigh about 2 1/2 pounds, and judging by the size of Redder's gigantic feet they still have lots more growing to do!


When we open up the run door each morning, Winnie, Stella & Ray charge out and are ready to start their day while Chirpy & Redder hang out on the ledge of the coop for a while.  It's their favorite time to climb up on our arms and shoulders for a little one-on-one time with us.  They also like to fly onto our shoulders later in the day if we bring them leafy green treats.  The big girls are not always good about sharing, so closer proximity to us helps ensure that the babies get their fair share.  I'm not sure how much longer we'll want to have chickens launching themselves at us, but for now we're loving it!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

oh Stella



On Father's Day I tucked a greeting card for Eric in the door of the coop near ground level, as if it were from the chickens.  Stella was NOT pleased about the bright green envelope in HER space.  She paced in front of it and squawked for almost 2 hours until Eric went outside and discovered it.  As soon as he took it out of the door Stella was quiet and went about her business.  It was the funniest thing. 

Stella is always the first to alert us when the waterers or oyster shells need refilling or if she feels that her personal space is being violated.  We've had many visitors over the years and she'll tolerate guests for a while, but when she's had enough she lets us know it.

Here's a story I plucked from our old chicken blog.  This incident happened a few years ago when I actually described Stella as being "mild mannered."  ha!  Read on...

April 15, 2010
Don't fence me in!
A few weeks ago, Eric created a rather large area in the back of the yard for the chickens to romp in.  They've been very happy scratching in the dirt, finding juicy worms and reorganizing the straw.  All was well.  


But...with these amazingly warm spring days, it's time to start thinking about planting our veggie garden.  So, I asked Eric to reduce the chicken playground area to create a space for planting.  When he went out and moved the chicken fence, the girls were visibly upset, especially mild-mannered Stella.  She stood by the fence and squawked VERY loudly for several minutes.  Poor chicken.  How do you explain the situation to a bird with a brain the size of a peanut??



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Chickensitting" - say that 5 times fast!

We are indebted to Pedro, Beth & Ellen - friends who chickensat while we were in Scandinavia.

Pedro is a graduate student from Braga, Portugal who is working with Eric for a few months.  He knows that I'm a nervous nellie and was kind enough to send lighthearted emails to let us know that all was well in chickenland. 

Beth and Ellen are neighbors who have been great chicken cheerleaders over the past 3 years.  They bring the girls treats and shower them with attention, and they happily agreed to relieve Pedro while he was in Bemidji embracing lake life. 

a nice photo of Stella sent by Beth and Ellen
I just have to share a few quotes from emails from Beth and Ellen as they documented chicken antics.

Beth wrote, "Last night I brought a small bit of leftover brown rice and gave the younger birds first peck at it as they were going in.  Both of them jumped on my back and vigorously wiped the rice off their beaks onto my shirt--back and forth, swipe swipe swipe.  I am used to this treatment from the parrot so I know what it is to be taken for granted by a bird. What a blessing."  and  "Herded all into coop at bedtime -- fairly easy to do (after chasing Redder around the coop about six times)."

I appreciate their keen observations of chicken behavior.  Ellen wrote, "Little Redder is almost masculine in her approach to the older ladies--keep well away from them, be calm and silent and all will be well--while Chirpy squawks and dashes wildly in zigzag fashion under the beaks of her elders, just asking to be pecked."  Beth commented, "Stella is striding around declaiming some sort of gallinaceous poetry saga in a loud voice." That's our girl!!

We are glad they share our fascination with chickens.  Ellen asked, "How do you ever get anything done when there are always chickens to observe?"  The truth is, we often don't get stuff done because we are "busy" watching chickens.


 

Monday, June 11, 2012

one big happy family!

This is the first night they have all roosted together.  It's a sight to behold!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

too cranky to die

squawking Stella - a common sight

Stella gave us quite a scare a few weeks ago.  She spent all day in the nesting box attempting to lay an egg.  She worked at it for hours, but was not successful.  Eventually, the contents of an egg did come out, but without a shell.  By the evening, she was very weak and lethargic.  She wasn't pooing, eating or drinking and ignored her favorite treats.  I thought we were going to lose her.  We kept her in the house overnight to keep her calm and quiet. 

Thanks to The Google, I found some information about hens who are eggbound.  This condition sometimes occurs in older hens and means that there is an egg stuck in process.  If an egg or its shell are blocking her vent, the chicken can't poo and usually dies within 2 days.  Needless to say, I was a little freaked out. Many chicken keepers suggest submerging the hen's backside in a hot water bath for about 20 minutes, several times a day.  This can help relax her muscles and help release the egg.

The people who suggested this treatment have obviously never met Stella.  She is our surliest chicken, and because she was picked on and had all her butt feathers plucked out by older mean chickens before we got her, she is incredibly skittish and does NOT like to be touched.  In fact, I have NEVER held Stella, not even for a second.  On the day we brought our girls home from Anoka Ramsey Farm & Garden, I gently lifted Ray, Winnie, and Little Red out of the transport box and placed them in the coop.  When I tried to pick up Stella she flew to the edge of the box and into the coop on her own.  From that moment on she made it very clear that she does not like to be handled.  We do pet her occasionally, usually when she's sleepy, but she doesn't allow much of that nonsense.

tiny tail-less Stella on her first day in the coop
So, the thought of giving Stella a hot water bath was daunting.  But, because she was so weak she actually let me pick her up and hold her in a plastic tub of hot water for 20 minutes.  I gently rested my hand on her back and she stayed put.  After several days and a few more baths, she began to regain her strength and appetite and she seemed to enjoy flapping her wings and spraying me with water. 

After several days she still had not passed an egg.  We were a little worried, especially when we discovered a rather ugly protrusion on her backside near her vent.  It looked like some sort of abscess.  We gave her antibiotics for a few days (another tricky procedure with a chicken who does not like to be handled!!) and eventually the ugly lump disappeared.

2 weeks later, she was not laying eggs but Stella seemed to be back to her old self.  She was making her loud Stella sounds, eating and drinking like normal.  We figured she was going through menopause and that she was retired from egg laying.

We went away for a quick weekend trip and came back to find a Stella egg in the nesting box.  What??!!  We were baffled but happy.  My happiness was interrupted when I realized that our neighbors were chicken sitting for us and may have also retrieved a Stella egg.  Because she was on antibiotics for a few days, her eggs should not be consumed for a month after her last dose.  I wanted to see the eggs our neighbors had collected while we were gone.  They showed me a few of them then confessed that they had thrown one out.  They had hardboiled it and when they cracked it open, the egg was inside out with the yolk outside the white part.  We're guessing this was Stella's first egg after her hiatus.  I'm so glad they tossed out the suspicious looking egg.  I was sorry that we hadn't told our neighbors about the past 2 weeks and all the craziness that was going on at our backyard chicken clinic, but I honestly thought we'd never see another egg from our girl.

a favorite photo of Stella - fall 2009


Well, she has been laying steadily for over a week now and I am saving her eggs for a special non-edible project.  We'll be able to eat her eggs again in a week or so.

We are amazed that Stella recovered so well and is back to her bossy, loud, cranky self.  We're convinced that she was just too cranky to die, and we're quite happy about that!!  Our flock just wouldn't be the same without her. 






Sunday, June 3, 2012

playing by the rules

It has been a wild ride as we've attempted to integrate the chicklets with the big girls.  The chicks are now almost 3 months old and have had their own enclosed area at the back of the run for about a month now.  Eric has built several versions of chick gates to allow them to come and go at will while keeping the big girls away from the chick feed and their refuge.  What would I do without my handy and handsome husband?!

Ray patrols the chicklets' refuge
For the past few weeks we've let the babies co-mingle with Ray, Winnie & Stella for about 45 minutes before sunset.  The fun starts as the big girls go up to roost for the night and the little ones romp around feeling safe and giddy.  When the chicklets are ready to call it a night, they head up the ladder, dodging pecks and ugly stares, and attempt to find a spot to sleep.  For the first few nights the babies ended up sleeping in the doorway of the coop, with Winnie & Stella keeping a close eye on them from above.  Ray, who normally sleeps on the ledge with Winnie & Stella, asserts her Alpha status by going inside the coop and perching on the roost.

the babies sleep under the watchful eyes of Winnie & Stella

The chicklets are feeling more brave now, and often sleep on the roost or on top of the nesting boxes near Ray.  I'm surprised that Ray allows it, but sleepy chickens are pretty mellow and maybe she figures she can keep a better eye on the young whippersnappers if they're close by.

At various times we've let the chicklets have supervised visits with the big girls during the day, but this often ends with me shrieking and flailing my arms as the hens go after Little Redder and proudly strut around with their beaks full of her lovely red feathers.  When things get really bad, the little ones fly up onto our shoulders (or my head) to escape the nastiness.  I know it's the way chickens work out their pecking order to ensure their survival, but it's icky. 

A few weeks ago, Eric saved the day when Redder & Chirpy tried to join Ray in the nesting box.  They wanted to snuggle in there with her, but Ray was not having it!  Eric explained the rules to the babies and relocated them before Ray got too stressed out.  Laying eggs is a private matter, as the young ones will soon learn. 

On Wednesday night, things were rather unpleasant as Redder was cornered a few times and more of her sweet little feathers were extracted by Winnie, Stella and Ray.  Winnie (sweet gentle Winnie!) is the meanest of all.  She's the lowest in the pecking order and has the most to gain or lose with the introduction of new chickens to the flock. She is also awfully fond of chick feed and will squeeze her buxom body through the chick gates to get at it. 

I left the next day for a vacation with a friend and came back yesterday, having spent a few sleepless hours wondering if we would EVER be able to fully integrate our flock.  When I got home I asked Eric if we should try letting the chicklets out.  We did and it was incredibly harmonious.  Hour after hour, the little ones roosted, ate, drank and pecked away at straw, as if this was how it had always been.  The big girls did their own thing and when they got too close to the wee ones, the babies would fly up into the coop and hunker down for a while.  This continued all afternoon and into the evening.  It was amazing!!  It seems that the big girls have finally asserted themselves enough and are now satisfied that the babies understand the rules and how things work in THEIR yard.

Redder & Chirpy enjoy some peace & quiet in the coop
I expect there will be some bumps along the road, but for now we're one big happy family!!

~Peggy


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quirky Chirpy

Chirpy - 8 weeks old
It occurred to me that I hadn't written about Chirpy Easter's name or her breed, so here's the scoop.  She is what's known as an Easter Egger chicken - a mutt breed that carries a blue egg gene.  She sports blue/gray legs, and has a muff or beard of fluffy feathers below her ears and under her chin.  We're excited to see what color eggs she'll lay.  Although she is bred to carry a blue egg gene, her eggs may be green, blue or even pink.  Regardless, she's a keeper.  Her sweet, bold personality has charmed us both!

Her name came to us, thanks to a good friend of ours who works in admissions at a nearby college.  Each fall our friend reads dozens and dozens of application files from prospective students, and each year she tells me about a few of the standouts.  Several years ago she read an essay by a girl who grew up with chickens.  Her chickens were her best friends.  They listened when she had a bad day and comforted and amused her with their antics.  This girl gave her chickens fantastic names like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt and Gloria Steinem.  In addition to all of these powerful women's names, she also had a hen named Chirpy Easter.  When my friend shared this story I laughed pretty hard and the name stuck in my brain.  So, when Eric and I decided to get an Easter Egger chick, I didn't have to think too hard about a name.  We have our very own Chirpy Easter who brightens our days!

Chirpy the bearded lady

~Peggy



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hi, my name is ... Eeek! Run away! Run away!

On Monday we moved the new chickens, Little Redder and Chirpy Easter, outside to live with Ray, Stella, and Winnie. The young ones are quite used to us and perched on our arms as we carried them out. I had Redder and when we got to the lowered chicken fence she lept from my arm and flew down to greet the other chickens. This was not a good idea. Chickens generally don't like other birds descending from the sky in their general direction, something about the fear of hawks and eagles. So when Little Redder landed in between the other three they made a quick showing of their disapproval by surrounding her and puffing up their feathers, standing tall, and getting ready to peck at Little Redder. This, of course, scared Redder pretty good and she made a few laps around the chicken yard with three mad hens behind her before finding shelter in the small spaces behind the rain barrel.

The title of this blog is what I suspect she was thinking as this happened.

 It took some time and effort to convince that little chicken to come out but we were eventually able to get the young ones into the fenced-off area underneath the coop that I had rigged up for them. One idea for integrating new chickens into a flock is to have them in close proximity but in separate enclosures so that they can see each other but no one gets picked on.

After a week of this separation we decided it was time to let them mingle a bit. The big chickens more or less picked up where they left off a week earlier. There was a fair amount of running and chasing and Winnie did end up with a mouthful of Little Redder's feathers. So it looks like this isn't going to be the most joyful experience for the new chickens. In theory, things should settle down once the big ones are convinced that the little ones know their place in the pecking order.

 The little ones apparently see Peggy and I as their protectors from the other chickens. I was outside doing some yard work this afternoon when I heard some visitors by the back fence - a few neighborhood girls feeding Stella and Ray some dandelion greens. Redder was a little frazzled and when I knelt down she was quick to leap into the safety of my arms. It then didn't take long for Chirpy to fly up onto my shoulders. So the girls got to pet Redder and marvel at the strange man with the chickens on him. Later as I walked back there Chirpy ran over and flew up again. It would be nice to think that she was just glad to see me but I think they'd had a rough day and just wanted to get away from the big chickens. We did end up putting them in their haven under the coop for most of the afternoon. Hopefully this procees doesn't last too long and everyone starts getting along a bit better.

Things are calmer at night. The little ones do like to sleep in the door to the coop, just under the big chickens that roost on the ledge above the door. At night the big ones are too tired to have a go at them so everyone seems pretty content. But once the sun comes up at 6:00am I'm sure it will start all over again.

A quieter moment, hopefully we will have more of these...