Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chicken farming, Chapter 3

Having chickens has certainly not been boring.

Tonight, since both girls were still very involved in homework, I decided to go look for any eggs and see what else might be going on.

As I stood outside the fence to the chicken yard, I had to stop and do a quick assessment. OK, so we have 3 different sizes of chickens, in a variety of colors, but do we have one really small one that is blue?

The answer, of course, was no, and I realized that just as the mother blue jay made a quick sweep for my head!

Inside the chicken yard was a fairly small blue jay mingling with our chickens. Thankfully Gogh Gogh was not tormenting it as much as she does the teenagers, or maybe if she had, the mother blue jay had already set her straight.

As usual I went straight to mom and dad's and interrupted another of their meals, looking for dad to come up with the best way to handle this mini crisis. He braved the mother blue jay attack and dove into the shed and came out with food for the chicks while Annabel ducked in and looked for eggs.

We all tried to decide if there was a better place to put the baby blue jay but knew dogs or a cat would get it anywhere else, so we left it alone.

We have never seen the baby possum since the early morning visit about a month ago but either the chickens attract a lot of unwelcome guests or because I am in the yard more frequently, am actually seeing who else visits our yard.

The morning of the possum visit, I thought it might be a good enough time to just put the babies out with the old ladies and the teenagers. Boy was I wrong. They appeared to be fair game to both groups and would have been bald, or worse, within a brief time, if left out.

But with almost a month more of growth, much less a month more of me cleaning out a cage, I decided it was time for them to leave the nest, so to speak.

They did pretty well during the day and I made sure everyone had more than enough to eat, which seems to be the issue for the old ladies, but when it came time to shut everyone up for the night, the babies, Swanlea and Piper, were still roaming around the yard. They acted like it was their first chance to get to the food bowls.

But you could almost hear the grumbling of the old ladies who were ready to call it quits for the day. The teenagers were also quite vocal, sounding off as if their precious sleep time was also being interrupted.

We tried shooing them into the shop/shed, but they would just run, very fast, and take cover under a very low growing redbud tree.

I tried sprinkling a path of food to their cage, but they acted like they were wanting to party all night and NEVER go back into their cage.

About the time I was giving up, all of a sudden they were in the shop and I closed the door.

I had propped open the door to their cage, just sure they would want to retreat there for safety like the teenagers did after their first days of freedom.

One thing about weekends, the chickens have learned to bypass my "secure" door, and let themselves out if we are too late to open it for them, so since we don't get up at 6:00 on Sunday morning, they were already out. I have no idea where they slept, but they were still alive with most of their feathers, so I did not worry.

Tonight I waited for it to get dark before going out to close the door to the shop. (I think I switch from calling it the shop to the shed but either term actually represents it in a better light than what the structure really is). Since I went without my glasses, I could not see the blue jay and because there is no light in the shed, I wasn't sure where the babies were, but since they were not in the yard or in their cage, I hope it was them roosting on the nesting box, otherwise, baby possum was back!

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