Friday, March 28, 2008

Some call them chicks, I call them my girlfriends...

I love my girls. There are no two ways about it. Chickens ROCK.

My twelve little ladies entertain me in ways I never dreamed of and every day I grow more attached. I can't help it. I can sit for hours in my spare downstairs bedroom, leaning over their brooder box, observing them, whispering to them, and chuckling quietly to myself at their antics. Yes, I have become the crazy chicken lady.

Physically, these chicks are growing and changing every day. There is some weight to their bodies now and the most interesting markings on their feathers are developing. I noticed yesterday that the little combs on their foreheads are all beginning to grow and are no longer flush with their heads.

Another thing that has changed recently is how they interact with me. When I go into their room now and say "Hello, girls!", they will all start chirping, peeping and running around their box.

If I sit down in the chair and lower the side lid, within 10 seconds, there are four or five warm, little bodies perched on the edge, waiting to jump into my lap:

Another four are running back and forth below, eyeballing me, and I can see them "thinking" about how to get up to where their sisters are.

Hmmmm, you say....five plus four equals nine. What about the other three? two Rhode Island Reds are quite shy and stand-offish. They are not reaching out to me the way the others have. They will run to my outstretched hand in the box as long as it is holding a tempting treat, but they are showing no interest in sitting on me or getting to know me better.

And then there's Dot. She's my twelfth chick and one of the little puffball-headed chicks that, I think, may be a rooster. As near as I can tell, Dot, sadly, has absolutely no people skills. She's also a big chicken, as in easily frightened. Whenever there's a commotion in the box and a chicken pile-up results, Dot will consistently be the one cowering at the bottom of the pile. If I put my hand into the box holding, say, tasty cut-up grass or a juicy worm, all the chickens will run to me, except Dot, who will run to the nearest corner and face it. AWAY from me. Almost like she's been put into a time-out. What is up with that? See if you can you find Dot in the picture below:

Here is a better shot of both of my White-Crested Black Polish chicks. They've grown and changed so much:

Beautiful wings are developing:

If chickens do such a thing as imprinting, then many of these babes have definitely imprinted on me. The five that routinely come out to be with me make these funny, quiet little peeping sounds at me that are completely different from what they do in the box with their sisters. Once on me, they'll settle right down, sink onto their haunches, and peacefully observe what's going on around them.

On my leg below is my #1 girl, my Silver-Laced Wyandotte. I sure wish I had a name for her, but I've been yet to be inspired. You know how those things go, right? She was the very first chick to seek me out and jump out of the box to be with me. These days, she frequently insists on sitting on my head. She is also the largest and heaviest of all my chicks:

The little chick below is my Araucana, "Sparrow". Aptly named because, to me, she looks just like a little bird that would show up outside at one of my feeders. She is the SWEETEST chick in the bunch and she *really* loves to cuddle. She'll choose cuddling with me over a handful of oatmeal or cut grass. Isn't she beautiful?:

Do you remember the "devil chick" I posted about a couple weeks ago who kept pecking my Black Star chicks? C' remember...I drew all those big red circles and arrows around her head in the picture to point out the bad bird. This is her. She's a good girl now, and a really pretty little Barred Rock. She loves me (and all her sisters). Her name is Lacey:

Here are both the Barred Rock girls (one in mid-flight to my knee) and Sparrow. Check out Dot in the background, wall-staring again:

Below is the newest chick to join the jumping-out club. She's one of the Black Sex Link/Black Star chicks. She has the most beautiful reddish gold streaks running through the feathers on her back and wings. You can tell by the look on her face that she was pretty impressed with herself that she could perch on top of the feeder on her way out of the box:

The girls are quickly outgrowing their 2' wide by 2'high by 4' long brooder box and the dust and feathers are being redistributed throughout the house. I'm guessing within the next week or so, they'll be making a move to a bigger box or fenced pen in one of the garages. They'll still be secure and have access to their heatlamp, but they'll be in a spot more appropriate for young hens than my spare bedroom. My girls are growing up!


  1. They're really getting big! It only seems like 5 minutes ago that they were diddy little bits.

  2. They are really growing fast! It's because of the good care and interaction they are getting. Lovely ladies.

  3. I can't believe how jealous I am! I want chicks...I want chickens...I want eggs!!!!

  4. The girls are just beautiful!!! You...are a very good mom!!!
    Pecks from me!!

  5. That just cracked me up to see Dot in the corner like that.
    I love seeing your chicks....they look just like mine:)

  6. They are so cute.... I am totally chick sick. I want more chicks!


  7. Hah! Chicks on timeout! Sounds right up Graysons alley. I am sure they would get along just swell!

  8. They are getting big! 3 weeks old now? Better get that hen house finished soon!

    I doubt that Dot is a rooster. Her behavior is submissive, as in "last in the pecking order". That's not usual rooster behavior. I had a surprise rooster in my very first group of chicks. You can usually tell the chick that is a rooster by how heavy they are, how tall they get and how big their legs and feet are. Also by a more aggressive behavior. You can weigh your chicks on a postage or food scale to see who is really the heaviest. Roosters tend to get taller faster and also grow bigger feet and legs. Look for those signs. Dot is probably just a little backward and shy. That happens somtimes.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like a chicken text book. You already know what you're doing. I guess since I am currently dealing with healing a sick hen, I really want you to have a good healthy flock. Your girls are beautiful. It's so cool when they bond with you and sit on your lap.

  9. hi solomon - it's true - their 'babyhood' is going by so fast. they will change significantly just overnight (as in the case of their combs)!

    Aw, fay, nice of you to say so! How are things with you?

    hi judy, if you come here to get them, i'll give you my first dozen! :-)

    hey eve - thanks for always asking about the girls. i'm having such fun.

    hi goatgirl - dot just cracks me up. did you see farmer jen's comment below? maybe dot isn't a roo?

    hi ali - will there be new chicks in your future any time soon?

    hey frugalmom - how is my pal Grayson, anyway? has he moved on from the chick movies? :-)

    hi farmer jen - REALLY?!! wow, this totally changes my impression of this little chick. well, if she's not a roo, then she's developmentally disabled, because she just does the weirdest things.
    worse yet...if it's generally the biggest and heaviest bird that is the roo, then this means my "#1 girl" may be a rooster. that will make me sad. :-(

    pls don't apologize for sharing your's wonderful for me and i devour every word. And, despite what you say, i really do not know what i'm doing and i really appreciate the words of experience you share!! :-)

  10. They are pretty cute and changing everyday...

    Big Sloppy Kisses
    Gus and Louie

  11. You are the crazy chicken lady. Chicks in your spare bedroom? WACKO! I had our second batch in an old camper, yes I am a hick, before I got my second coop (huge 7' crate). We then donated the camper, poop and all to a charity who willingly took it???? I even told them on the phone all about it. Amazing what we do for those little darlins'.

  12. Awwwwww! They're getting so big and they're feathering out so fast! I couldn't help but laugh at the Puffballs. Everytime I see that breed I can't help but think "Einstein"! Can't wait to get ours...

  13. They are getting big! What sweet, beautiful chicks you have. We have a black sex link who turned out to be a very big bird (she lays Xtra large eggs) and she also has red streaks through her feathers...Poor Dot, what a sad chicken. :-(...we have a few chickens kind of like her, but they don't face the wall all day. They're just kind of shy, and don't come out when people are around...
    White-Crested Black Polish are funny birds!
    You really have very pretty chicks. Sparrow is so cute looking!

    oh, btw, I turned out my light for earthday! ;-)

  14. You're so funny! We crazy chicken ladies all act the same, don't we?

    I remember my total infatuation with my little feathery babies when they first arrived, and the many weeks following their arrival, just gazing over their cuteness and amusing antics.
    For us Crazy Chicken Ladies, our chickens are never boring or mundanne, are they?

    I have to admit, they are all cute, but my favorite is your Araucana. She is just lovely!

    I'm also oohing and aaahing over your polish girls. They will make a humorous addition to your coop...even the one that likes to stare at walls! hehe

    Keep an eye on those chicks which grow really fast as I've been told by many sources that quick growth, especially on the combs and feet may signal "rooster". ack!

    But don't worry too much about it. I suspected several of my chickies as being roos, but none turned out to be one after all.

    Funny thing about that, though. My girlfriend and I went in on an order of chicks through our local Privett's Hatchery. We both got 13 chicks.
    She went through and separated all the chicks and split them into two 'flocks' for both of us.

    In the end, I got no roosters.

    She got THREE!


    At least I wasn't to blame! (giggle)

  15. Hi,
    you left a comment on my blog (chickens at Zaltana), thanks, don't know how to answer questions on my blog, so if you want to send me a private e-mail that would be easier, love your blog by the way, those chicks are too cute, have to take some time to look at the rest of your blog.

  16. Oh I love them! They are getting so big! What happy girls you have. Thanks for sending updates so that I can virtually follow along in their progress.

    Mike is leaving his job on Tuesday - so we may have the opportunity for chicks this year!! Cross your fingers for me.

  17. PS. I love your puff-ball heads.

  18. Oh, I'm so jealous! I can't wait to have chicks to cuddle. I'm glad to know if you spend a lot of time with chicks they'll get friendly, well except for Dot.

  19. What great photo's of you and your "chicks" Looks like you guys have done some major bonding as any good mother would!!!

  20. Hi there, I have been enjoying reading your blog and decided to come out of hiding and say hi. We just moved to a more rural lifestyle (near Yosemite, CA) after living my whole life in the city. We are getting our chicks in the beginning of June. (Thanks for the previous heads up that the larger hatcheries were running low on females). I have always wanted hens, coop, fresh eggs, etc. my whole life so am very excited! I love how they are becoming attached to you that is very sweet. I saw in your previous post that you have read quite a few books on raising chickens. Do you recommend one over another?

    Thanks again for the great posts and I love seeing your coop being built as we are starting ours in a couple of weeks!

  21. Hi sugarcreekstuff - a 7' crate, huh? Where did you get that? I'm seriously brooder-challenged at the moment - it's too damn cold to put them in a pen in the garage but I'm going a bit looney from having them in the house. I've gone to all the major stores (Costco, Home Depot, appliance stores) asking for bigger boxes, but nobody has any (?) - apparently they cut them down and destroy them immediately after receiving them. sigh.

    Hi cathy (maternalgardens) - It will be fun to read about your new chick adventures, too!

    Hi mellimaus (abby) - I know...poor Dot. She did, however, fly out of the brooder last night (and seemed quite surprised by her own actions - lol). Maybe there's hope for her/him yet? ;-)

    Hi twinville - Yes, my "Sparrow" (Araucana) really is a beauty, I think. I'm watching those quick growers very carefully, you better believe it! I've started checking feet for spurs and faces for wattles. lol. I just have a feeling that I have one, if not two, roosters. You really lucked out - 13 chickens and not a rooster among them! It's funny to read your older posts now and see how you worried about this one or that one being a roo! :-)

    Hi zaltanaanatolians - thanks for all the info you sent me on your fencing - I really appreciate it. Glad you like my blog - yours is fun, too!!

    Hi Mindi (in-between) - Mike is what??? Wow, this is big news. Hope you get your chickens! :-)

    Hi christy, your time is coming. No jealousy necessary - I can totally envision all the critter posts coming from your blog shortly! :-D

    Hi ranch mommy - awww, thanks for the really nice compliment! Will your family be getting any chickens or critters beyond the big boys and girls (cattle) that you have now?

    Hi jennavar - I'm so glad you commented! And congratulations on your recent move!! Will I get to read about your June chicks on your blog? :-) How many chicks will you be getting? I'd love to hear more about your new property. Aren't you just loving it? It is quite a transition, though...

    Regarding chicken books, my favorite is: "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens". But I have a number of others that I will cross-reference all the time, too. I recommend going to your local library and checking out every single chicken book they have. :-) This is what I did. You'll quickly find the type/style that you respond to and the one(s) that make(s) the most sense to you. Information is giving in a lot of different ways and, for new subject matter, if it's too advanced, technical, confusing or doesn't have enough pictures, it doesn't appeal to me. :-)

  22. Jennavar - one more thing that might be helpful to you. I've joined a local chicken raisers group online on Yahoo Groups (PDX Backyard Chix) as well as the national chicken Yahoo Group (Chickens-101) to provide further chicken information. I like these forums very much because I can post questions and get almost immediate input from more experienced chicken-keepers!

  23. Hey farmgirl,
    One of my brothers-in-law works for Visteon and they get huge deliveries, the 7' was a small crate. I built one wall on the open side, added a window and a door (scrounged). I cut out a hole and added another window opposite side. Added roof guard to the top to keep the water out. It looks ugly right now but I am planning a facelift this summer. I just needed another coop for the big girls and one for the new peeps and you know me, Cheap Cheap!

  24. Chanting to myself "I don't need chicks, I don't need chicks, I don't need chicks, I don't need chicks..." For heaven's sake girl, please post about how stinky they are and how they jump out of the box at the most inopportune time, or how they poop in the water, or spill their feed.
    Well, I'll settle down now. Maybe I'll just live vicariously through you.
    Something that will make their little lives wonderful and a great photo op for you---a bit chunk of dirt and grass. First they eat the grass (cut it short so they don't choke on the long pieces), then they scratch and scratch for bugs, and then when it's demolished, they take a tiny chicken bathes in the dirt. It's way less of a mess if you put all this in a short box first and then into the brooder.
    Have fun for me. ;)


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