Baby Chicks Update

A while back, I had baby chicks born. They were adorable, fuzzy little black things. But now they have grown up. The ones Dave picked up from the store have been given to my neighbor, and the fuzzy little black ones were put outside. Unfortunately, one of them did wander away and disappear forever. Rest in peace little guy. But the rest of them are now thriving. Their fuzz fell out and was replaced by colorful feathers. Only one of them stayed black, but now she has stylish white trim on her wings. 

It took a while for them to adjust. At first, they cried a lot and kept to themselves. When we’d come visit, they would run to us, and we would pick them up and give them a cuddle. But sadly, they are chickens, and we are not, and they must live with their own kind.

But then, in a shocking turn of events, one of the adult hens literally adopted these little babies. At first, we thought it was a weird fluke. We went out to close the coop at night, and one of the silkie hens had these half grown, half chicks, half adult chickens nesting under her wings. 

Mother Hen watching over her baby.

When we began letting them into the yard more, it was obvious. They moved together as a little group, the hen and her three little babies. She called to them to stay close to her. They followed her obediently around the yard.

Mother Hen with two of her babies.

It is both one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen, and also shocking. I had no idea hen would adopt little half grown adolescent chicks. I knew you could sneak in babies into their nest and they might adopt it, but she met these chickens when they were much older (8 weeks, maybe?). That seems pretty old to adopt babies – they are self-sufficient chickens at that point. 

All I can imagine is that this little silkie hen heard these poor chicks crying for love, and she took them literally under her wing. Chickens have compassion for other chickens… who would have guessed?

As to why the chicks were still crying at such an old age…well… I guess I raised spoiled little millennial chicks kept in my house, who were cuddled every night and could do no wrong. I failed as a parent to give them the skills needed to succeed in the world. I’m sorry little chicks – at least there was some other parent out there to pick up the slack for me!

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An Explosion of Chicks

In the span of a week, my flock of chickens has doubled. 

It started one warm afternoon when I walked up to my chicken coop. I peeked in to take a look, and I heard little cheeps. My first thought was, that better not be what I think it is. I crawled into the coop, and found a little nesting hen. I lifted her up, and two little chicks tumbled out. 

My first reaction was annoyance. I don’t want more chickens. I’m content with the few that I have. But, I brought them inside, set up the brooder, and placed them in it. The next day, two more chicks hatched. They grew on me pretty fast.

Awwww, who’s a cute little chicken!?

A week later, Dave was at Tractor Supply. He’s checking out the chicks are selling, and he sees some standard chicks with bloody backs that are apparently being abused by the bantam chicks that are in with them. Dave brings it to the attention of employees, and is told that they can’t sell the damaged chicks, so they will be sent back to be destroyed…unless Dave buys them. Dave informs them he is not interested in purchasing the chicks. They ask if he will just take them free. He agrees, and now we have 5 more chicks.

This one has feathery legs!

And also…I agreed to go in on a chick order with my neighbor. I have four more chicks arriving in June. 

I have a chick problem.

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How to Pick Up Chicks

baby chick

The sad chicken update – Y’grette and Twank are both gone too now. The fox kept coming by, and scared them out of the run. I didn’t think that was possible, but there was a hole in the roof of the run, and I’m assuming the two of them flew out of the hole to escape, only to realize they were much less safe up there.

My poor chickens, Y'grette and Twank. My first mistake was naming her Y'grette, but I didn't know Y'grette would die in the show! I thought her and Jon would be perfect together forever!
My poor gone chickens, Y’grette and Twank. My first mistake was naming her Y’grette, but I didn’t know Y’grette would die in the show! I thought her and Jon would be perfect together forever! I guess I’m just a romantic like that…

So now I have just the three hens. Mini Dora, who also left the run with the other two, but once again, escaped certain death somehow. She even lasted overnight, and just came casually strolling up to me the following morning when I went out. “There you are! I’ve been waiting for my breakfast for hours!”

And of course, the other two full sized hens, who have still not moved from their spots trying to hatch those eggs. It really is a good survival strategy for them, they have survived every single fox attack this way.

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In spite of my terrible luck with adult chickens, I’ve been having incredible luck with baby chickens. I’m now up to 12 little chicks, having found the most recent one this morning.

As I’ve now had some experience picking up chicks, the best way to get the chick is to fend off the mother with a stick of wood while carefully snatching up the chick. Yes, I am serious. Those hens are vicious, angry birds. The hen below, Buffalo G. Orphington, will sit perfectly still until you get close. Then she’ll let out a growl and turn into a tiny alligator, snapping at anything in her space. She’s drawn blood. I use a small piece of flat lumber so it has the dual purpose of blocking her vision while I steal her young. Sometimes it works, and other times, I have to retreat back to the house to get reinforcements. I will summon Dave, and he will reach in there and take the chick while completely ignoring the raging hen. He’s a much braver person than I.

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One day, I was coming up from the barn and saw Buffalo laying out in the run. This is incredibly surprising since I haven’t seen her move (other than to viciously attack) in weeks. As I approached, I saw there was a tiny chick hurrying about around her. I guess they had some kind of communication going, because as I came closer, the chick moved to hid in a little nook behind one of the legs of the coop.

In all my experience with chickens, I’ve learned one very valuable thing. Chickens are terrible mothers, or at least mine are. This time around, my hens have been responsible for the death of two chicks. One I found outside the run, all alone, damaged beyond repair, and another one I found with a broken neck, laying right outside the hen’s nest. After that, we determined that all chicks would be removed from the hens and brought inside to the brooder to be raised by responsible parents (us).

Seeing this chick out of the coop, and with its mother in the run was incredible surprising. It’s the most interest any of the hens has shown in their offspring. I was actually tempted for a moment to let them be, but unfortunately, there was no way that chick would be able to make it back up the ladder into the coop, and I had no idea if the mother would end up leaving it there when night came. I had to retrieve it.

I entered the run, and Buffalo didn’t move, just as always. She was directly blocking the chick, and since I am afraid of this vengeful chicken, I hesitated about picking her up to move her. I tried to reach around her, but I couldn’t get close enough to the chick, and I was afraid the chick would get squished in my attempts to grab her. I left the run, went around to the side of it, and could see the chick easily, although it would have been very hidden if I hadn’t known it was there. I didn’t know what else to do, so I took a blade of grass and gave it a poke.

The chick squealed, and ran from it’s hiding place, and started whizzing around the run in a panic. Buffalo got up, and started squawking and rushing with it. They did move to a better spot to grab, but when I went in, the chick took off the other direction, back into the run where I couldn’t get it. Then, it actually went right through the wires of the run and out into the open. I was not expecting that at all.

I went back around, and that started the dance of the chick trying to get back into the run, getting caught in the wire, backing out, me lunging at it to catch it, Buffalo screaming and lunging at me, the chick going back into the wire, me backing off because I didn’t want it hurt, and Buffalo panicking more. This lasted probably ten minutes. Eventually I managed to scoop it up right as it backed out of the wire, and I began to triumphantly carry the chick off, but Buffalo was screeching now, and following me along the inside of the run.

I decided to try to lure her into the coop using the chick, because I wasn’t sure how long a chicken would panic about losing its chick. I went back into the coop, and Buffalo ran at me, clearly with the intent to cause damage. She was frantically doing ninja kicks, but luckily I had on defensive boots. I immediately abandoned the plan of using the chick, and went to plan B, boot the chicken backwards until it goes into the coop. This was a great plan, and I shoved Buffalo back up the ladder and slammed the door. When I checked on her later, she was back to her silent vigil of sitting on eggs.

The chick however, was very upset about this parting. I put it into the brooder with the other chicks, and it spent the next hour cheeping in distress, and trying to jump out of the brooder. The other chicks were all bewildered by this, and they clustered together to watch this incredibly active newcomer.

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The older chicks.

Everyday we search the coop for more chicks. Some days, it’s easier, as we can hear the cheeping. Other days, the chicks are silent. One day, we heard cheeping all day but could not locate a chick. Then, we figured out it was still in the egg cheeping. That one we brought in shortly after hatching, still damp. It spent some time on a towel, sitting on our laps, taking a snooze while it dried.

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One morning, I heard the distress cheeping as I walked down to the coop. Upon opening it up, I found a little chick who was several feet away from the hens, rejected, or just confused. I picked it up, and it spent the day with me, happily sleeping in my lap. Dave took it from me at one point, but it cried until it heard my voice. Dave returned it to me, and it slept on.

I can finally live out my dream of being a mother hen.
I can finally live out my dream of being a mother hen.

We’ve spent time with the others, and they enjoy sleeping in our hands. So far, it’s looking like they will be very friendly chickens, except for the oldest chicken, who spent enough time with her grouchy mother hen that she might have already absorbed her attitude.

The older ones are starting to get too big, so soon they will be back out in the coop. I don’t know how many more will be born, but I’m planning an even split with my neighbor, so that’ll give us each 6 chicks. The hens are running out of eggs at this point, and I’m surprised any of them are still hatching, I feel like they’d be much too old at this point. Although one attempt to get a chick did end with a hen hurling an egg at me, which exploded on my leg, and of course, turned out to be rotten, stinking and absolutely disgusting. I think I have to burn the pants now. The hens didn’t think so though, and they actually got up from their spots to eat the remains of the rotten egg. It was an effective defense though, I ran off crying, smelling like rotten egg, and had Dave retrieve the chick instead.

In all this, the good news is that our little Mini Dora has become super friendly, coming up to chatter with us, easy to pick up and hold. I’m guessing this is purely out of boredom, as I can only imagine how boring it is to hang out all day with two other chickens that barely move.

"The humans are the only interesting thing in my life."
“The humans are the only interesting thing in my life.”
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A Blogger Meetup!

 

The nice thing about meeting other bloggers is you already know what you have in common: (obviously) horses. I’d been following Sarah from A Soft Spot for Stars for some time now, possibly as long as I’ve been blogging, and a few months ago we started talking directly online. One thing to led to another, and she invited me down to visit, and said I could come ride Copper if I wanted. Copper was having a bucking problem in the transition to the canter, and I was very interested in this!

Last weekend, I made the trip down to south west Virginia and it ended up being a whirlwind weekend of horses, exploring, and amazingly delicious dip. Seriously, it was the best dip ever!

We started out by immediately checking out her horses, and I took a ride on Copper. Based on the videos Sarah showed me, I was thinking his issue had to do with being behind the leg, so I worked with him for a little bit on immediately moving forward when I asked. Being a western pleasure gentleman, he was a little confused that I suddenly wanted a very forward trot, but he obliged, moving up into a nice big trot, and then easing back. Once he was responding well to that, I asked him to canter, and off he went, with no bucking. Hurrah!

Sarah got him immediately, and she set off doing transitions. There was also no bucking. She really has an excellent seat, and they looked amazing together.

Sarah also let me ride Highness. Since I love thoroughbreds, I had really been looking forward to this.highness

She feels a bit out of control because of greenness, but she tries hard. It was funny to ride her because she looks so similar to Berry, so from my view, she could almost pass for her, if it wasn’t for our uncertain communication. Still though, she’s such a sweet girl, and we haven’t been communicating for long, so I’ll give her a pass for it.

thoroughbred

Afterward, Sarah introduced me to her sweet little donkeys, henceforth called the Donks. One donk was especially sweet, and made me immediately want one of my own.

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Emma donk, of the overwhelming cuteness!

Although I actually don’t want to care for more animals, so probably not the best fit. But still, I can appreciate how insanely adorable they are!

After that bought of cuteness, it was time for exploring. Sarah took me up into the mountains to an overlook where it is possible to see 4 states. We made it up to the top of the lookout, even thought I had hesitations about the height as we went up.

lookout
From the ground, it doesn’t look so horrible, but once you start going up those stairs, and you peek out at how far below the ground is…

Once we actually made it though, it was pretty nice up there!

Ooooooh, aaaaaaahhh
Lovely view, but impossible to be sure which state is which. They need to install some signs. 

We then did the most logically thing, which was eat and drink wine. Sarah has the most incredible dip recipe that is so delicious, I think it could be a meal in itself. I’m going to be making it back at home soon.

The next day, we returned to the barn, but unfortunately it was raining, forcing us to stay indoors. It was still enjoyable just to sit and watch/talk while Sarah rode Copper around in inside. Definitely a plus of riding indoors, it keeps the conversation flowing!

Unfortunately I had to head off shortly afterward, but I’m really excited for the next visit! Hopefully it will be soon, as we still have much to do together! It was such a fun weekend, and so nice to meet up with another blogger!

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Chicken Drama

I thought my chicken keeping experience couldn’t get any worse after my beloved Fluffers died. But, it turns out that chickens continue to be expendable, and a few weeks ago, some predator came in and killed over half my flock. Killed, and then left their bodies scattered around my property, and my neighbor’s property. So many of the chickens that I loved, and doted on are gone.

There was one survivor that was under attack, Smog, our big white cochin. I guess I came out at the right time, and stopped the attack in progress. Even though she had only lost feathers on the outside, there must have been internal damage, and a few days later, she to succumbed to her injuries.

We were left with five hens, the fewest we’ve had since we started keeping chickens. It was eerily quiet with no rooster crowing. We were paranoid about losing our remaining hens, so they weren’t allowed out of the run anymore. Sometimes, they stayed locked in the coop with their food and water. Since there were so few of them now, being locked in the giant mansion of a coop was no hardship, and sometimes they just stayed in there even when door to the run was open.

Survivors Y'grette and Twank.
Survivors Y’grette and Twank.

There seems to be a common quality over half the survivors had. They are all little bantam chickens with the ability to fly. Y’grette had run over to my neighbor’s house when the attack happened (I got a call from her), and when we came out, she heard me and decided it was safe again and came back to my property. We thought we had lost Twank, but she showed up at dusk to go back in the coop. I have no idea where she hid for several hours.

Teeny, birdlike mini Dora.
Teeny, birdlike mini Dora.

Mini Dora showed up immediately as I was bringing Smog back to the coop. She must have have just flown up in a tree. She’s the best flier of the bunch.

The other two survivors, big, hefty full sized hens, survived because they had decided their life’s ambition was to hatch some eggs. While the slaughter went out outside, mere feet away, the predator did not go into the coop to get these two, and these two were either blissfully unaware, or just way too intent on hatching some eggs.

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Buffalo G. Orphington in the back, and Salmon, who is bald because of the now deceased roosters. Hopefully it will grow back, because she is just scary looking.

But, wait a moment – What’s the little poof of cream next to Salmon?

Egads! It's a chick!
Egads! It’s a chick!

We decided to let them keep the eggs they had been sitting on. Normally, we take them away immediately, and do not have any chicks hatch, but we were feeling very strongly that we loved our flock so much, this was the only way for all our little pets to live on. So we let them keep the eggs, in the hopes of getting the children of our lost flock.

So far, we have three chicks. This silkie cross is the oldest, born about two days ago, and is the most out going and seems to constantly be getting into things. There’s also a little chipmunk looking one, born about a day ago who I only spot occasionally, and then there was another one hatched this morning, who I only saw because I lifted Buffalo G. for a moment. It was all damp and shriveled looking, so I decided it was best not to interfere. The hens get upset when they are messed with, and I’d rather them just concentrate on those babies, and not how to get me away from the nest.

They always look pretty angry to be disturbed.
They always look pretty angry to be disturbed.

Hopefully everyone will survive, and we’ll be able to replenish our flock a bit! Although it’s a bit sad since they will always be locked up now. Part of the fun of having them was having them wander around in the yard, and come up to visit the house. But, they are better alive, so maybe I’ll make a playground for them in their run so they have some amusement.

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Fluffers

silkie chickens

Sometimes I get sappy and emotional. This is one of those days. Prepare yourself for a long, sad chicken post.

Here’s some music to get you in the mood.

My beautiful Fluffers, my sweet little pet chicken, who I have had for three years, was killed by a fox. Belvedere, who was also a favorite was killed, too. I know many people wouldn’t understand why I would get sentimental about a chicken, but they were my pets, and had so much personality.

It’s especially heartbreaking because I know they can’t defend themselves. They are only chickens, with no defenses at all. And I left them defenseless out in the yard. Dave heard all the chickens making noise and went to investigate, and saw Fluffers being carried away. Belvedere was gone too, but he found her body later.

Fluffers, with Belvedere behind her.
Fluffers, with Belvedere behind her.

I wish I could bring them back. They both were friendly, although Fluffers way more so. They’d follow us around, chattering to us. They’d come up to the house to try to find us. Belvedere would walk around the house, tapping on all the doors to get our attention.

Fluffers was part of the first group of chickens we got. Naturally, we took tons of photos of our new pets, so we have way more photos of Fluffers and her flock growing up than any of the other chickens.

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Fluffers always knew how to work the camera.

Fluffers had a sister named Puffers, who died in the first year. We don’t know what caused her death, we just found her dead in the coop one morning. Both Fluffers and Puffers were oversized silkies, so we feel like maybe she had something genetically wrong with her. But Fluffers survived, and flourished.

Fluffers and Puffers
Fluffers and Puffers
Fluffers first day outside, in our original coop.
Fluffers first day outside, in our original coop.

We had 5 little hens to begin with, and possibly because we spent so much time with them, they were the friendlest of all the chickens we have owned since.

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About two months after we got Fluffers, we got Belvedere. I don’t have any pictures of her as a chick, I guess the novelty wore off. Or she just didn’t seem photo worthy.

Baby Belvedere was not nearly so photogenic, and kind of resembled a vulture.
Baby Belvedere couldn’t help that she looked like a tiny vulture.
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But she filled out beautifully.

Fluffers and Belevdere ended up hanging out together a lot, especially when the majority of their original flocks were eaten or carried away. They were close in age, and were together so long, it made sense. Dave and I often debated who was the head hen, because sometimes it seemed like Fluffers was, other times Belvedere.

Belvedere in the front, Fluffers, Puffers, and Spoof in the background.
Belvedere in the front, Fluffers, Puffers, and Spoof in the background.
Fluffers had a second job as a chicken model.
Fluffers had a second job as a chicken model.

She wasn’t cuddly by nature, but she’d allow herself to be picked up and carried around.

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Always wanted to be the center of attention!
Always wanted to be the center of attention!

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We accidentally left eggs in the coop, and for a brief time, she was a mommy. The cooing noises she made at her baby were the most adorable noises I’ve ever heard.

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We didn’t know to separate the baby/mom from the flock so unfortunately the chick was killed when Fluffers abandoned it in the run. Fluffers seemed to move on quickly though.

The last photo I took of Fluffers, three days before her death.
The last photo I took of Fluffers, three days before her death.

Along with Lil’ Cochin, until her disappearance, Fluffers was my favorite chicken. She had so much personality, and truly loved to hang out with humans. Having her made me realize chickens aren’t pea brained idiots, but pea brained little creatures, who must have thoughts and memories. I really let her down when I should have been protecting her. The day she died, she was hanging out in the front yard, and I kept walking up to shoo her back to the back yard. She didn’t want to, despite the bread we were passing out. I don’t know why she didn’t want to, she might have just found the front yard more interesting. Eventually I got her back there though, and then I left her to go back in the house. And that was the last time I saw her. I don’t know what I would have done differently, except just not let the chickens out of the run. I just wish I could have had more time with her.

I’m feeling a bit depressed about my chickens in general. I get attached to them, and then they die so easily. I could leave them in the run all the time to protect them, but they don’t like that. So it’s leave them in the run for them to be depressed, or let them out and risk their deaths.

It’s just too hard to get attached to a pet that can die so easily. I’m seriously considering never getting anymore, and just giving up on them. I just can’t stand their untimely deaths.

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The Assassination of Roopert

bantam rooster

Roopert had ruled over his kingdom for several years. He felt secure in his position but he was always on the lookout for threats to his crown. He made sure that all who entered his kingdom knew his absolute power.

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“NEVER COME HERE AGAIN SHOE!!”

His main political rival had been Red. Red had appeared one day, and by birth, Red was the crown prince, owing to the fact he was the only other rooster there. But Red didn’t have any fight in him. One quick spat, and Red knew his place. Red took his two hens, one of which Roopert suspected was Red’s own daughter, and kept to himself. All the better, as Roopert didn’t want to be reminded that one of his hens had cheated on him. He could take his daughter and stay in the far end of the run. Red did mostly nothing all day, except hang out with his two hens, so Roopert was happy to just keep a distant eye on him.

Life was good. Roopert only demanded complete obedience from his hens, and they provided. When he yelled for them, they came. He gave them treats to appease them, and they were appreciative of the small favor. And when he wanted those treats, they got out of his way. Although he did notice a bit of unease in the ranks. Sometimes the hens seemed to resist his demands. He had to yell several times for them to obey. One hen in particular, Belvedere who was older than Roopert, and thrice  his size, seemed to be the ringleader. He saw her whispering with the other hens.

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The eye of betrayal.

She’d immediately start clucking nonsense when he approached, so he was never quite sure what she had been saying to the others. The thought of losing his crown was horrific, especially with Red in the ready to scoop it up, so he knew he had to get to the bottom of it. Luckily, there was a delicate hen, so gentle and unassertive, he knew he could find out what was going on. He had seen her with Belvedere, she surely knew what was going on.

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“It would be in your best interests to tell me what you know, little cochin….”

She spilled the beans. She told them about the hens being unhappy with his dominating rule, and how much they wished they they were with Red instead, who was a casual rooster and always seemed happy with his hens. Roopert was infuriated. Someone had to be punished. His initial thought was the hen who was formulating the plan, but he quickly abandoned that thought, as she was so much bigger than him, and kind of scary. He considered Red, but since Red was so peaceful and kept to himself, he knew he would would come off as the jerk, instead of Red, who clearly was the jerk. Instead, he picked Lil’ Cochin, the squealer, who was so easy to trick, it was pathetic. And just like magic, he made her disappear.

It was simple enough, really. There was a hole in the mesh around the run that the stupid humans hadn’t noticed. Lil’ Cochin loved to check things out, so he simply told her to take a look. She did, and then couldn’t get back in. She was a sitting duck for the next predator that came by.

He didn’t tell the other chickens how easy it was, just let them believe that he was powerful enough to make them disappear if he wanted. It scared them, and he knew he was triumphant.

There was just one flaw in his plan. The stupid humans were just as devastated about the loss of Lil’ Cochin, perhaps even more so than his hens. Their solution to her loss was to keep bringing in more chickens, which meant either more potential rivals, or more hens to be put in their place. Keeping his crown was going to be a lifelong battle.

They brought a group of silkies.

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Teenage mutant ninja silkies.

Silkies were pushovers. He didn’t need to worry about them. But, as they got older, he started to wonder. 3 of them were roosters, and that was just too many. They reminded him of the raptors in Jurassic World, a movie he had totally seen, in spite of the fact he’s a rooster and doesn’t usually go to the movies. The silkies moved in a pack, and could quickly surrounded and potentially overpower a chicken. They made him uncomfortable.

In a stroke of luck, they seemed to make the humans uncomfortable as well. One day, a silkie rooster was snatched up, and carried away, never to be seen again. The only downside to this was that the humans also took some of his hens, lowering the overall ratio, and making the flock even more of a sausage fest.

He began to pick fights with the silkies. He was older, and way tougher than them, he knew. He even conducted a training montage, just like in Rocky, which he was sure would make him the overall winner in this battle of superiority. Plus, he was way better looking than they were, and had the regal bearing of a king. He was determined to hang onto his crown.

Eeeeeeeeeeeye of the tiger
It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, risin’ up to the challenge of our rival….

At first, he quickly overpowered them, but as the roosters grew up, they turned the tables on him, and started becoming the challengers. A silkie would come up to him, and they would have a bro-down.

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Roopert figured that they were teenage roosters, so maybe once they learned their place all would be well. It certainly worked with Red. After a few bro-downs, it did seem to be working, the silkies stopped challenging him, and an uneasy peace came about.

But he noticed them lurking around, hanging out where they shouldn’t be. Those were his hens, why were they hanging out with them!? It was an outrage.

flock of chickens
“I can see you lurking back there!”

He wondered if he should do something. If they choose to challenge him again, it could be disastrous. Two silkie roosters against just him was a bit too much, even if he had been keeping up with his training montages. Maybe he should look for help from one of his hens. The obvious choice was Fluffers, head hen of all creation. Although she was not part of the Belvedere’s rebellion attempt, she was so independent that she rarely listened to Roopert. She just did her own thing, all the time. She was such a respected figure in the coop, he was sure she would help him.

She listened to his situation and agreed something much be done. She thought those silkies were getting too uppity, too. She said she knew of a Roman garden that would be perfect for scheming, and asked him to meet her there the following day, and they would formulate a plan. He agreed.

As he went to roost that night, another chicken brushed against him. He was shuffling to get comfortable when he heard a soft cluck. “Beware the ides of February.” He jumped, and then looked around. The chicken was gone.

The following day, he approached the garden. It was a bitterly cold morning, and more than anything he wanted to be in the coop with the other chickens, roosted together for warmth. He could distantly hear their soft clucks as they idly gossiped.

As he entered the garden, Fluffers stepped out from behind a column, and there was a moment when they both stood, just looking at each other. But suddenly, he was smashed into from both sides. It was the silkie roosters, who had also just watched Jurassic World, and learned some pretty neat moves from the raptors. Roopert knew he’d been pecked in the back.

From the darkness, a few more chickens stepped out and watched, silently. It was over as quickly as it began. The silkies roosters stepped back, and Roopert had a clear view of Fluffers, watching him.

Warning: Dramatic reenactment of chicken violence. Mature audiences only.

"Et tu, Fluffers?"
“Et tu, Fluffers?”

There was silence. As Roopert closed his eyes, and fell still, the watching hens changed their gaze to the silkie roosters. What could they expect from their new flock leaders? Could two roosters share the role of flock leader? Was this just the start of a chicken civil war?

Only time would tell.

In memory of Roopert, tiny bantam game rooster, who may or may not have been killed in an insurrection, and whose cause of death could also be contributed to a heart attack, brain aneurysm, or ball lightning. 

RIP – You will always be remembered as a tiny prick. 

 

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Berry Opts Out of Showing

All of last week, I was eagerly awaiting my show on Sunday. It would be my first show in a while, my first with my trainer, and my first true hunter show. My trainer thought it was a good idea to enter in the flat classes, school her over the jumps in the warm up, and see how she does. There was no pressure to do a course, it was just about a nice, relaxing experience, getting Berry to jump a few unfamiliar jumps. Basically, exactly what I needed to calm my nerves. Berry would probably be fine.

I took a lesson on Saturday to prepare. As expected, after my trainer saw my latest clip job, I was told to try again. How can this be so hard?! Berry’s coat was compared to having been run through a lawnmower, which was fairly accurate. Lots of lines, missed spots, divets. I tried to use the excuse that it was dark when I did it, but they asked me why I didn’t use a light in my completely electrified barn. Dang it, they are on to me!

After scoffing at how much she dislikes the pleasure classes, my trainer had me practice the pleasure walk, trot and canter. Berry was quite amendable to this, and happily took the long rein and trucked around the ring. Still not sure how she will do in a ring with 20 other horses, but at least she’ll do it when she’s completely alone in a place she’s completely familiar with. So there’s that.

Then we jumped. Started out just doing a simple vertical, then the scary brush line, then the terrifying flower box brush that I had so much trouble with before, and then an entire course. It was terrifying. But thrilling. I did it, and I survived, and I wasn’t just a wooden block on her back. I was steering, getting the majority of distances, releasing, sometimes getting the right leads on landing, All the pieces are fitting together, and I am figuring out how to do this. Hurrah! Now I just need to not be terrified so I can enjoy it a little more. I think that will come with more experience, though. At least I really, really hope so.

After this thrilling lesson, I pointed out to my trainer that Berry had a lump on her leg. She examined it, and even though she hadn’t been lame during the lesson, it was still hot and I needed to not show. Berry needed her leg iced, and some time off. You did this on purpose Berry! I know it!

Poffins and I are both unimpressed with Berry's work ethic.
Poffins and I are both unimpressed with Berry’s work ethic.

Of course, I felt bad that I just rode poor Berry when she had an ouchie. As a gesture of goodwill, I spent the next half hour reclipping her, much to her annoyance. Sure, she had to stand in the wash stall for 30 minutes and be poked and prodded, but I care about her appearance, and don’t want her to be embarrassed. Feeling good on the inside is all about looking good on the outside! (The House Bunny) This time, I had a professional give me some guidance, although apparently after that it still wasn’t good enough, because when I came out, my trainer asked me when I was going to fix her clip job. AHHGG!!!

The next day, she got iced again, and then I sat around wondering what to do. Both of my horses are recovering from leg injuries (riding Vintage unfortunately made her leg flare back up). Pony isn’t here to play with. If I am not riding, what do I do all day!?

So I let out my poor neglected chickens, and planted some trees.

Who's a pretty chicken!? Definitely Fluffers! (the most beautiful one, or the on one the right)
Who’s a pretty chicken!? Definitely Fluffers! (clearly the most beautiful one, or for the more subjective, she’s the one on the right)

I’m kind of terrible at anything involving plants. I think as soon as the plants realize they’ve come to my house, they try to shrivel up and die before they have to suffer living on my property. Poor Albert of the Colorado Spruces, First of his Name, was run over when I mowed the lawn. The point is, I need almost a constant supple of new baby trees to keep up the quota of trees. So I had a backfill of baby trees to plant.

I had decided to plant a hedge around the arena, because I am cheap and fences are expensive. After planting 20 shrubs, Dave and I notice Berry coming closer. It was like one of those horror movies where the figure doesn’t seem to be moving but comes progressively closer every time you look up. I’m guessing she was bored, maybe she was regretting her decision to get injured to get out of showing.

Pictured: A horse in the process of not showing.
Pictured: A horse in the process of not showing.

She came to the edge of the arena where we had already planted, and pretended to be interested in some poop. Then she inched closer to the edge and pretended to be interested in the stone dust. Then, she stuck her nose out and prodded the bush. Then she seized the bush and ripped it out of the ground.

Of course, I screamed at her, flailing a bamboo stick the bushes had come with, and she swirled around, flinging the bush high in the air as she fled. I grumbled, replanted the bush, and we continued planting the rest. Then she started sneaking up again. Dave ended up having to be on Berry watch, letting me know when she started nosing a bush so I could shrill at her again.

Eventually we finished planting and left the area, Berry following us. I’m hoping this feeds into the “Berry was bored and found us entertaining” theory, rather than “Berry is destructive and is going to rip up all the bushes when we aren’t looking” theory. I suppose only time will tell!

But on a good note, Berry’s swelling is almost gone already. Just in time for it to rain for an entire week.

 

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Good of the Last Few Weeks

I have been quiet for a while, and that is partially because I was given new responsibilities at work that consume much of my time. After work, I’m just so tired. I’m making an effort to write regularly again, starting with an overview of the last few weeks. There’s the good, and the not so good, so I am purposely making this two separate posts because I don’t want to be burdened by the negative in a good post, and I know I’m going to sound like a Negative Nancy.

Sliding right into the good, Harris Teeter, which is only two blocks from my office, has been carrying my very favorite apple breed. Now I come into work totting a sack of apples. I distributed them one day, but turns out, most people aren’t really into Rome apples like I am. More for me then! It’s the simple things in life, like having a sack of apples under my desk, that make me happy.

Berry, who is finally abscess free (for now), did some jumps and was such a good girl. She actually picked up her little feet!

I was only brave enough to do small jumps.
I was only brave enough to do small jumps.

Olivia, the mare conquer (I know of two mares she gets along with but I’m sure there’s more), and also of hellomylivia, came over and rode Vintage, and as always, rode her beautifully.

I repurposed the cardboard rolls that came with my geotextile fabric into handy jumps! Since this picture was taken, they have slowly sagged closer and closer to the ground.
Olivia is super classy, so she choose to jump in the dressage saddle.

Berry didn’t refuse or hesitate, and was even happy to follow Olivia and Berry over the jump with cardboard poles (above, but at a smaller height) at one point, just like in lessons as a kid (minus the cardboard). At least that happened in my lessons. But we also had a Christmas party of musical jumps, and when the music turned off, the last person who jumped a single jump in the middle was out. So everyone rushed the jump in the effort to not be last. At 11 years old, that was quite frightening, although now I’m wondering maybe I will feel confident enough to do it someday?

Overall, our tiny cross country course was fun! Berry gave a little buck after the cardboard jump, I think out of excitement, but was otherwise very well  behaved for jumping out in a field.

We attempted a trail ride, only to find the trails had been closed with a DANGER ribbon. The danger makes it all the more intriguing! I want to know what’s dangerous down there! The trail eventually leads to a real (but small) cross country course, so maybe they are preempting that by saying it would be dangerous if we found it?

Also in the good, I’ve been complaining about losing a lot of chickens. Since that post, I lost yet another one, a little jerk of a hen who picks on the babies.

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At first I thought she got stuck in the garage again. If she’s loose, and the garage is open, she goes in there to hang out. I don’t understand the appeal. One time we shut the door without knowing she was in there, and she was in there for 32 hours or so before we realized it. This time though, a thorough search revealed nothing. She was gone.

That was about two weeks ago, and I had wrote her off as eaten by something. Imagine my surprise when I open the big door of the coop to clean it out, and there she is, sitting on about 5 eggs. She’d made a hidden nest, wedged between the chick brooder and the nesting boxes. She seemed to be healthy, so she had been getting food and water, I just hadn’t noticed her (which is not surprising, I don’t stare at the chickens 24/7). She was extremely angry to have been found, and expressed it by hissing and spitting at me. When I tried to remove her eggs, she snapped at me, like a tiny dinasour. I decided just to leave her be. Then, oddly enough, I had a dream last night that I had taken her eggs, and tossed them in the yard, and then a full sized Belvedere spilled out.

Dave named her Belvedere because of her classy nature, and unexplained British accent.
Dave named her Belvedere because of her classy nature, and unexplained British accent.

This would be physically impossible, as all the eggs she had were bantam eggs, and also chickens don’t emerge from eggs fully grown.

I don’t know how long she’s been sitting on them, so I suppose I will let her keep the eggs. I’d feel bad killing partially formed chicks, and it’s a gross image I don’t want in my head. I suppose I will have another batch of chicks soon. Hopefully they will all be hens, because I have 5 roosters now, although oddly enough, they seem to get along well. They have occasional scuffles, but the hens get into those too, so I can hardly blame the arguments on them being male, just on them being chickens that don’t always get along.

Going back to horses, after two weeks of no lessons due to other appointments, I finally managed to get another lesson scheduled. Since it’s going to be cooling down soon, I’ll be riding in the afternoons now instead of the mornings. Once Berry is getting ridden regularly again, I’ll start trailering her back over to keep learning how to be a respectable animal.

Hopefully, we will get back on track, and be able to do a show in September or October!

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The Saddest Face in the World

I have been slow to update, but I don’t have anything to talk about anyway. I didn’t even have a lesson this week because I had to go to a work meeting. Dang work, always interfering with my riding.

So all I have been doing is working on my arena (and sleeping). Last weekend, the arena was finally level enough to begin stage whatever, and I rolled out geotextile fabric, and that’s when Dave found me, covered in dirt and about ready to give up on life.

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Save money on makeup by doing your contouring with dirt!

Before the textile is unrolled, they weigh at least 100lbs. Obviously they get lighter as they go, but let’s be serious, I’m a woman with questionable strength so any weight is pushing it (it could be a pun because I was literally pushing the fabric out!). This was the hardest part of arena building so far, and it was made far, far worse when my stone dust arrived, because when the trucks dumped it, it created wind that blew all the fabric out of place. Womp womp.

Wrinkled fabric now has 50 tons of stone dust on top of it. Don't think it will be smoothed out anytime soon.
Wrinkled fabric now has 50 tons of stone dust on top of it. Don’t think it will be smoothed out anytime soon.

I tried to keep up with the stone dust delivery, but it came so fast that the piles snaked out into my pasture. Then it started raining, so I called off the delivery, as the trucks have to drive through my pasture to get to it, and things have a habit of sliding down my hill. Unfortunately, another truck arrived after I called it off, so they had to dump it in my front yard, where it’s lived for the past few days. I’m feeling pretty redneck right now.

You might be asking why it now lives there (or maybe not, but I’ll tell you anyway.) The bobcat had to be returned on July 29th, so now it’s just me and my seemingly puny tractor, that only has 1/3 the capacity to hold stuff in it’s bucket. It’s going to take a while to move all that stone dust, and I just haven’t felt up to it yet. So I guess what it comes down to, I’m really lazy. And really, every day, sleep just seems so much better.

In other news, I lost three chickens in the past two weeks. I think the universe heard me saying I had too many chickens and decided the best course of action was to rid me of some lovely hens instead of the excessive amount of roosters I have. A moment of silence for three sweet hens:

She's a casual chicken though, you can just call her Dora.
Dora, gentle hen that was always in the mood, if you get my drift. Hopefully this is not what caused her death.
Respoof, a silkie I never really made friends with because she's too shy. But she was always with her rooster love, and now he wanders alone and it's the saddest thing ever.
Re-Spoof, a silkie I never really made friends with because she’s too shy. But she was always with her rooster love, and now he wanders alone and it’s the saddest thing ever. Her name was ironically from another silkie I had that was killed named Spoof, so she was the new Spoof. It’s time to official retire Spoof and all variations of Spoof.
Nessie, who is missing feathers here because she used to have an abusive jerk of a rooster, but we got rid of him. Alternately friendly, and then scared of life. Behind her, the late Dora's fluffy little butt.
Nessie, who is missing feathers here because she used to have an abusive jerk of a rooster, but we got rid of him. Alternately friendly, and then scared of life. Behind her, the late Dora’s fluffy little butt.

And now a moments anger for my tiny jerk rooster who should have sacrificed himself for any one of these hens but did not, and instead chooses to attack my shoe.

IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU!!
IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU!!

And to give it a positive spin, Fluffers is still reigning Champion of Living, and is still the oldest hen I have, from the first group of chickens I ever owned.

I'm also pretty sure she could make it as a chicken model. There must be someone somewhere that needs to advertise something chicken related.
I’m pretty sure she could make it as a chicken model. There must be someone somewhere that needs to advertise something chicken related that’s not chicken flesh. Or she could do editorial!
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