Monday, March 26, 2012

Easter photo shoot

I was pretty excited to take some photos of the chicks to use for Easter cards this year.  Unfortunately, Chirpy was less than thrilled when I posed her near some marshmallow Peeps.  She freaked out and ran up my arm and onto my shoulder.  Who knew that marshmallow treats could be so terrifying??!!

Redder was much more willing to pose with the Peeps.  She was calm, cool and collected.  She did eventually tread on them and hopped onto my leg when she had had enough of those silent yellow globs though.

The next day I tried again with Chirpy.  I only had time to snap one photo of her and the Peeps before both she and Redder retreated to my shoulder for safety.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

bedtime butt check

It's NOT my favorite part of chicken parenting, that's for sure.  Baby chicks poo constantly, and 'pasting up' is a possibility.  Eric and I take turns checking their little butts every few days to make sure their vents are not blocked.  Now that they're over 2 weeks old, there is less of a chance this will happen.  Thank heavens!  Chirpy does tend to have things build up on her backside and neither Chirpy nor I enjoy the task of clearing the area.  While those fluffy chicken butts are rather cute, they can also be problematic.  Just ask Stella, aka Princess Poopy Pants!

So, that's probably much more than you wanted to know, but it's all part of the adventure!

Princess Poopy Pants in the snow

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicken Appreciation Day

The chicks and the older hens had lots of company on Saturday.   In the morning my friend Michelle stopped by for a visit.  The chicks welcomed her warm hands and gentle nature.

Michelle and Chirpy
Later in the day friends Dave and Patti, my niece Angie, her husband Rick and their 3 kidlets stopped by for a visit.  The chicks were quite charming and seemed to like the extra attention.   True to form, there was a little bit of peeping and lots of pooping.  Sam, Angie's oldest, declared it a Poop Fest!!

Sam with Redder

Jack, Jillian, Sam & Angie with Redder

After spending time with the kids, both chicks headed over to Angie.  She has a way with the wee ones!!

Angie, the chicken whisperer
Jack took a tumble onto our deck and ended up with a nasty scrape on his shin, but was a real trooper as we headed outside to visit Winnie, Stella & Ray.  They loved the chopped carrot tops and freeze-dried meal worms the kids gave them, and Sam was excited to collect eggs from Stella and Winnie.  

After everyone left, I stain sticked the poo schmear on my jeans and declared it a successful chicken appreciation day.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chirpy's Big Day Out

Chirpy camped out on my leg
A few days ago I thought Chirpy might enjoy spending some time in the sun that was streaming in our windows.  I set her on the rug near our French doors and she seemed pretty happy there.  She patiently waited while I ran upstairs to get the camera.  When I sat next to her she climbed onto my leg and up the arm of my shirt.  She tried to fly onto my shoulder, but in her excitement she missed the mark and settled back onto my leg for a little more quality time together.  She did quite well considering it was her first field trip.  I only kept her out of the box for a few minutes as Redder was chirping wildly, missing her fluffy friend.  They are already a united flock of 2. 

The chicks are changing so fast!  The have started to elongate and suddenly have necks.  They have started to sprout tail feathers and Redder's comb is developing.

Eric built them a perch last week.  We tried to introduce the perch when the chicks were only about 4 days old,  but they were terrified of it so I took it out.  I put it back a few days ago and Redder was ready to give it a try.  She now takes naps on it.  Chirpy isn't ready yet though.  She jumps over it and rests her head on it, but hasn't attempted perching on it. 

the perch is now a favorite napping spot
day 5 -  they have changed so much since then!

Friday, March 16, 2012

it's a miracle!

Princess Winifred has not laid an egg since June 17, 2011.  How do I know??  Well, that was the day after we brought the girls back from Scandia and their 9 month stint at Chicken Camp.  I'm sure they  had a fantastic time at camp - they made new friends, had easy access to all the weeds and bugs they could ever want, and were spoiled just a bit by their foster mom Sue.

So, when we brought our four chickens home to Minneapolis, Winnie was probably stressed by the move, missed her new chicken friends, and was situated firmly at the bottom of the pecking order once again.  She displayed her dismay by withholding eggs.  She laid the one that was "in the pipeline" when we brought them home, then shut 'er down.  She has been purely decorative for the past 9 months.

We had recently noticed that her comb and wattles were turning darker red (a sign that hormones are kicking in) but didn't dare hope that she might start producing again.  Well, on Wednesday I saw her camped out in the nesting box.  At first I thought she was just hanging out in there to avoid being around her squawky sisters, but lo and behold, she actually did lay a beautiful, perfect, tiny egg. Yay Winnie! 

Ray has been laying steadily since she finished molting this fall (I'll save that crazy story for another time) and Stella recently started laying again after a winter hiatus.  Now that we have about 12 hours of daylight, we're back in full production.  Each hen is laying fewer eggs, about 1 every 2 days, but we're thrilled!  I hated buying eggs at the grocery store this winter!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

in the past 48 hours...

day 2
Redder enjoys the sunshine and the warmth of Eric's hand

The girls are growing and changing so quickly!  Within a day they started to sprout tiny feathers on their wings.  They now flap their wings as they scurry around and leap off the floor of their box.  They act just like their bigger sisters: they spend lots of time grooming themselves, stretch their legs and wings after a nice nap, and peck at everything in sight.

Yesterday morning I put wood shavings in their box and they just wandered around, not quite sure what to think.  They played keep-away with some of the bigger pieces and chased each other around until they got tired.  By the afternoon they were using their legs to kick up the shavings and pecked around looking for food. We are amazed at how quickly those instincts have kicked in. 

Chirpy is now an accomplished drinker.  When we first got her, she would just dip her beak in the water then lift her head up.  She wasn't actually drinking.  After watching Redder a few times, she figured out how to open her beak, get some water, then lift her head to swallow.   Watching them drink is one of my new favorite hobbies.

It isn't hard to tell who's in charge.  Redder is definitely the leader and Chirpy happily bumbles along after her.  I told Chirpy that it's okay to have her own ideas, but she has yet to assert her independence.

If you can't tell, I spend waaaaay too much time watching these little buggers.  I guess I should get some work done now.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

They're here!

Meet the girls!  So far they've done lots of eating, sleeping, pooping and peeping.  I'm sure this sounds familiar to those of you who have experience with human babies, but it's kind of new to me!

Little Redder is curious and lively
Chirpy Easter is wobbly and adorable

and a good little napper

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the nursery is ready!

We've prepped a cozy home for our new chicks who are due to arrive tomorrow morning.  They will be snuggled up in a box under a heat lamp in our downstairs bathroom.  The heat lamp seems like our best option since Eric refuses to keep the house temp. at 90 degrees for the next 6 weeks. How Scroogy of him!

Stay tuned for updates on the newest additions to our flock!