The Weather Report for Chickens

Day 89 of 100

I was going to write tonight about corn and give a crop report. It’s fascinating to me what Ron has managed to do in the garden despite the water and temperature struggles this summer. Some things have failed–but not many things. But I will have to give more detail tomorrow because I have a joyful story to tell, and I feel like, right now, if you have a joyful story to tell, I want to hear it. I hope you feel the same.

This is Juliet’s baby, who is on her own with her brother since last week. Oh, Juliet! She has no name yet because I have to know her a little before I can name her well. Today, I learned something about her. I was giving watermelon to the big chickens first, and this tiny hen squeezed under the fence, ran out there with the grownups and stole some watermelon. That’s bold. There’s an order in chicken culture, and this would be punished with a good peck if she were to be caught. She surely knows this, but that baby ran out there anyway while the other babies watched in awe and stole some watermelon. This is fantastically bold.

I always give my chickens the weather report to try to help them through the bad days. I am so sensitive to how they feel that, when they are struggling with extreme weather like we are, I worry extra. I try to make their lives reasonable during tough times, I mean, the watermelon rinds are piling up out there. Still, hot and miserable weather is hot and miserable weather for everybody. Generally, in the summers, I can say, “just a few days, and we’ll get a little break,” but it became apparent last month that we were in for a long heat wave and dry spell the likes of which I have not seen in Maine. I did not want to tell my chickens the bad news, so I just laid low.

But, today, as I delivered another round of watermelon and checked all of the waterers, I got to to deliver the good news as well–one more bad day! The cooler temperatures are coming for us on Monday. The high tomorrow is supposed to be 95. The high on Monday is supposed to be 70–and the rain is coming too! All the animals, including some very old hens who I was really worried about in this heat, seem to be going to make it!

Mary Jane is still alive. I gave that old girl a pep talk today. She is doing much better than I thought, so I told her to hang in there a little longer. If she can make it just one more day, she can live to see another glorious fall around here. Chickens LOVE the Fall. The cooler temps, the leaves, the bugs on the leaves. Even if they take turns molting, overall, fall is a fun time for our pasture-raised chickens. The pasture gets extra fun.

I was feeling so good about sharing the good news with all the animals tonight when I tucked everyone in for their bedtime. Shortly after, I came inside after wrapping up the duck game. While outside, I could hear music coming from the house, as, of course, all of the windows are open. When I came inside, I found Ron and our son dancing in the kitchen with the music so loud I am sure the neighbors could hear it. It was 7 Nation Army by the White Stripes, and they both looked so quirky and adorable. Our son was wearing his sunglasses and dancing around with his “old da.” The best part was that Boudica was joining in and jumping and playing in between the two of them.

I smiled so big my face literally hurt.

There is joy in the air on our little homestead. The rain is coming. The heat will break. Ron has kept the crops alive, and I have kept even Mary Jane alive. It’s been tough. I am so thankful rain and cool are coming.

The weather report looks good.

P.S. If you are a farmer or homesteader reading this post and you are struggling with heat and drought, my heart goes out to you. I hope with all of my might that you get some rain soon, too.

Hen or Roo?

Day 87 of 365

There is a little game chicken people play every spring and summer. Overall, I have gotten pretty good at it, but sometimes, I am wrong. Generally, I can tell if a chicken is a hen or a rooster fairly early on. There are clues even when they are very young–thickness of their legs, tails, behavior, and in some situations, the comb can be a tell.

The last time I was thrown way off was years ago with one of Poe’s babies. That little boy had no comb and did not crow until he was 15 weeks old. I have seen roosters crow at 5 or 6 weeks. It’s the cutest thing ever! When I heard Poe’s baby crowing and realized I would not be getting a hen from my Poe, oh my goodness, my heart broke.

That was the last time I was way wrong on guessing in the hen or roo game, but I have a tricky one now. It’s Rostropovich.

When that chicken was little, I was pretty sure she was a she with an overall smaller size and thinner legs. I could tell quite early on that Dvorak was a boy, and Rostropovich definitely looked different from Dvorak. However, in the last few weeks, Rostropovich’s comb has gotten big enough that I am worried a bit.

Still, there has been no crowing at all from her (please be a her), and we have a Buff Orpington hen (Rostropovich is a Lavender Orpington) with a giant comb. So I try to be hopeful, but I worry my bias in hoping for a hen is influencing my ability to fairly assess the situation.

I took pictures tonight to share the dilemma.

This is Piatigorsky, definitely a girl and the sweetest
chicken in the history of ever.
This is Dvorak, definitely a rooster.
And this is Rostropovich. You can see the dilemma, right?
Also, I think she’s wondering why someone pooped in the
watermelon.
One of my greatest struggles is that I can’t tell anything by
the tails. Usually, the tail is a tell. But this is Dvorak with like
no tail yet. Piatigorsky also has like no tail. And then
Rostropovich has a pretty big tail. I could not get a picture
though. Still, it’s no help when the known hen and known
rooster of the same breed have the exact same tail at this point.
This is Emily, our Buff Orpington hen with a comb as big as
our rooster’s comb.

So what do you think? Is Rostropovich a hen or a roo?

Home Again, Home Again

Day 82 of 365

We are home, and I am with my Boudica again! Just now, I was outside freshening the duck water, and Boudica came up to me with a big smile on her face. She, apparently, did a great job with the sitter, but she’s happy we’re home.

I experienced a lot of mixed emotions being home. I was happy to be here, but things had changed more than I thought they would in just three days. Mainly, I missed the departure of my tiny neighbor’s second and last brood of babies. I had a bad feeling I was going to miss it, and I did.

I took this picture the day we left. There were four babies, and there was simply no more room in that nest. I hate that I missed them go. Last time, I was able to witness it. Thankfully, I got this picture right near the end of things. I had read you have to be careful getting too close to the nest right when they are about to fly. You can scare them into trying too soon and cause problems.

I approached the nest so tentatively and pretty soon realized this little gang of wide-mouthed baby Eastern Phoebes was only going to watch me with mild interest–and I do mean mild. Yes, I am thankful for this photograph.

Interestingly, when we got home Ruby was out with the flock!

I could not believe this, but there she was, acting like a normal chicken. Kate, who has officially dumped her baby was also out with the flock, as was Bianca. Everyone was behaving so well and so orderly like. How could these be my chickens?

But it didn’t take long for the quirkiness to reappear. As I was out saying hello to my babies, who grew so much I almost cried when I saw them, I watched as, one by one, all of my quirky chickens flew over the fence and came my direction.

At first, Ron was like, “Well, you spoil those chickens too much.”

But, later, he said, “I’m sure there’s just a certain comfort level with mom being home. It can’t be easy on them to be cared for by a stranger.” I agree with this wholeheartedly. I am amazed at how differently my chickens behave when people they do not know come around.

Our little vacation was the first one we have taken since becoming homesteaders. There’s just too much work to leave to other people for very long, but we did it thanks to a fantastic farm sitter. I am so glad to be home, but I don’t want to wait so long before we do it again.

And I am hoping with all of my might that, tomorrow morning, I hear “fee-bee, fee-bee” outside of our bedroom window.

I’m worried about Mary Jane.

Day 75 of 365

I have much work to do on the annual tonight, but I am happy to report that progress has been made. Spring is finished completely, and Summer is well underway. And I have lots of bits and pieces on Fall and Winter. This is good news. It’s work I love but work that is hard for me. I want it to be so beautiful, and that creates anxiety. And it’s never easy for me to do creative work when I am feeling anxious. It’s also very time consuming work. I am a little bit tech savvy but not nearly as much as I would like to be.

Anyway, I just had to share a quick update related to the heat and our flock. It’s easy to lose old chickens in heat like this. It’s very hot, and though I do everything I can in terms of fresh water, shade, and fresh treats at lease once a day. But once a day doesn’t last long. It’s so hot and so dry. It makes for a very tough day for some of my old girls, especially Mary Jane.

This Mary Jane and our sweet Rooster the day they met. They are both so young. This was five years ago. They are both getting so old. Rooster is super stoic, but I can tell he’s not doing super well in the heat either. I feel so badly for our birds. eat e

She is our pardoned meat bird, and when she got sick with the respiratory illness in 2019, we bonded. I love her to the moon and back, and she’s been living on borrowed time for at least a year. Her color looks good, but she’s walking very, very slowly, even to the treats. Usually, she’s right there when treats are being given. In the last few days, she has started to move more and more slowly.

I sure hope this heat breaks soon. I sure hope Mary Jane makes it.

Everybody Loves Watermelon–A Photo Essay

Day 72 of 365

It’s so hot. It’s hot everywhere. Last night, I saw the Tweet going viral that shows a map of the global temperature now compared to global temperature in June of 1976 when, apparently, there was another global heatwave. Truly, there was no comparison. The current map looked how it feels–like the world is on fire. Of course, below the maps, I read the arguments for and against climate change. People were arguing whether or not it’s real. People were arguing whether or not humans have played a role in it. Some people were arguing with NASA.

I mean sure. NASA scientists were able to take a telescope on its last run and use the gravity of Jupiter to sling shot the telescope around to reach Pluto. But I am sure NASA scientists have no idea what they’re talking about. The guy on Twitter knows all though. Sigh.

It’s so hot that I worry about our chickens and ducks, especially the older folks. Today, I did a grocery store pick up and bought a bunch of watermelon. These watermelon were not cheap. In fact, I cannot believe how much watermelon cost now, and since it’s so darn hot here, I am going to make the case for a watermelon patch in the garden next year. We tried to grow a watermelon about five or six years ago, and it almost made it. Ron said it needed to be just a little bit hotter here. Well, it’s hotter here now, and watermelons are like $7 each. I bought six today. I watched the kind young man loading the watermelons. He asked me if I wanted them in the back of the car in any certain way, and I told him to just roll them in there. I told him they were for the chickens. He laughed. I don’t know if he thought I was lying or just truly a strange chicken lady. I think the latter.

I swear, it was worth it. Everybody around here loves watermelon, and everyone was so thankful for it. I thought I would just tell the story of today’s watermelon feast in pictures. I hope the sweet chickens getting some sweet and juicy relief from the heat makes you smile.

There is so much anticipation when I am cutting up the watermelon. Rooster (our rooster) starts calling everyone. Ron came over to see why Rooster was carrying on. “It’s the watermelon,” I said.
Here, the big group is enjoying the watermelon. In this picture, you can see Rooster and his lovely tail, Saint Saens, and that’s Bertha in the front. You can also see the back of Mary Jane.
This is Mary Jane in all of her glory. Notice how she has a piece of watermelon all to herself? This is because everybody knows Mary Jane is epic. She is a miracle of a chicken. She is a pardoned meat bird (a freedom ranger) who was pardoned the day Tom Petty died in 2017. That’s why she’s named Mary Jane. She is now over five years old (I expected she might live two or three years). She LOVES watermelon the most!
The babies get some watermelon too, only they’re not really babies anymore. These are two from Ruby’s crew. Aren’t they gorgeous? They look like little muppets to me. We finally have names for the four girls from Ruby’s clutch. We named them after girls in Beatles’ songs–Eleanor, Prudence, Lil, and Molly. Right now, I do not know these four well enough to tell them apart, but I can see one is always dissatisfied at everything. I think she’ll be Lil.
Here, you can see another of Ruby’s crew along with my babies. That’s Piatigorsky in the center (the sweetest chicken in the history of the world), Rostropovich on the right front, Hector is the black hen on the right, and the little rooster in the back is Dvorak. He’s still very sweet so far. I hope he stays so. As an aside, Rostropovich seems to have learned her lesson and no longer runs from me at night. However, when I squat down and hold out my hands for her, she still attacks my hands before she jumps in. I have no idea exactly what this is about, but it seems like she resents needing my help.
And this is Kate and her miracle baby! I have named her Beatrice, and she’s very sweet. Kate has also turned out to be a better mama than I thought she might be originally. She has settled down a lot and does a really good job. I’m proud of her, and I am so thankful that little miracle chick made it. She’s a bit small for her age but not much. She’s mostly caught up.

Very Difficult Chickens

Day 70 of 365

I had planned to write about other things today–muffins, flowers, gifts, and amazing women. Instead, I feel compelled to tell you the story of difficult chickens.

Handling teenage chickens seems to be just as difficult as handling teenage humans. Sometimes, they’re babies. Sometimes, they’re all grown up. And, figuring out this in between can be challenging. When I went out tonight, in the rain, I might add, to put up my baby chickens and Ruby’s baby chickens, most of my babies were ready to go. Dvorak (the little rooster) and the girls–Piatigorsky, Faure, and Hector–were waiting for me and crying to go to bed. I have been trying to teach them to go to the crate, but they’re not having it. Thankfully, they are either very easy to catch or will literally just jump into my hands.

I have one more baby chicken though. Her name is Rostropovich, and she’s pretty difficult. Every single night, she makes me chase her down. I am too old to be diving into the dirt to catch a tiny chicken. Tonight, I decided we would not be playing that game. I kept squatting down and calling for her. She would come close and then take off.

“Fine,” I told her. And I went about the rest of my chores. She continued to cry and cry but continued to refuse my help. I went to the crate to double check Ruby’s babies and was pretty sure I saw just three chickens. There should have been four.

Suddenly, the events from this morning all made sense. This morning, Ron made it to the garage first and opened the doors. I came behind him shortly and started working toward moving the baby chickens out of the garage and into their fenced area for the day. But one chicken was missing. I asked Ron if he saw her fly out of the garage. He said he hadn’t, and I started to panic. I had not checked the crate super closely last night. Did I forget one of Ruby’s babies somehow?

I started searching our yard in a panic. I couldn’t find her anywhere. I couldn’t believe she would not have gone to the crate last night. She always did before, and I couldn’t imagine any other place she could have hidden from me. But after about five or ten minutes of searching, suddenly, she appeared. I concluded she must have flown out of the garage and Ron just missed it.

I realized tonight, she must be going somewhere else. I went and got the flashlight and started looking everywhere in the fenced area and saw nothing. Then, it occurred to me to start looking up. I shined the flashlight upward and found her way up high on top of the remnants of a wooden playground structure. This tiny bird was way up high, and I was not happy about having to climb up to get her in the rain. But, of course, that’s what I did.

When I made it up there, I gave her a good talk. She’s a creamy white chicken. “You know it’s a miracle an owl didn’t eat you last night?” She seemed uninterested. I scooped her up and managed to make my way down with just one arm to hang on and one arm for her. I put her into the crate and started, finally, wrapping up chicken chores for the night.

All this time, Rostropovich was still running around crying. It was quite dark and quite rainy at this point, I squatted down and called her to me. I held out my hands for her. She got really close to me, attacked my fingers, and then jumped into my arms.

I guess, when you’re a teenager, it’s hard to admit you need mom’s help.

Black Bear

Day 69 of 365

In a strange kind of way, I have a long history with bears. When I was a kid, my reoccurring nightmare was being mauled by a bear. I had it over and over and over. As a result, I am really scared of bears. Ridiculously so, I think. Over the years, we have had enough black bear visits around here that I am not quite so skittish as I used to be. Still, I have to tell you I am NEVER going camping in Yellowstone. Ron is from Montana and has done this, which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

photo credit: John Thomas, Unsplash

We have had bears visit our property several times. Once, it was in the middle of the afternoon. Boudica was a puppy and never even saw it, but Ron and I looked up one day while we were eating lunch on the deck, and there, inside the mobile chicken coop, was a young black bear. He was not eating the chickens, thankfully. He just had his big paws in the chicken food and was scooping it up and into his mouth as quickly as he could. Poor bear!

Ron chased him away, and we called the game warden, just to be safe. The game warden said it was the time of year when young bears were hungry and that, as soon as the berries came ripe, the bear probably wouldn’t be taking such chances.

A more recent bear visit was a visit we didn’t witness; we just saw the aftermath. We were going about our chores one morning when Ron discovered the fence was down. “Only a bear could take down that fence,” he said. Sure enough, as I walked around the chicken coop, I saw two giant muddy bear prints right next to the window in the chicken coop. It was like the bear was peeking in the window to see what was inside. That must have given the chickens quite the fright. Ron repaired the fence, and that was the last bear visit until now.

This afternoon, I got a message from the neighbor who lives directly behind us through the woods that they had a bear right in front of their house last night. It was like 10 feet from their front door. She asked me if we had seen it, but I had not. However, last night, very late, Boudica started acting like a wild dog. She was freaking out, and I didn’t want to let her out because, a couple of weeks ago, she was desperate to go outside and got sprayed by a skunk. Ron and Ronan say she still stinks a bit. I have no sense of smell, so she smells fine to me.

In hindsight, I should have let her out last night, as she is the best bear deterrent there is. I sure wish she still had Gus though. Those two together were the fiercest things I had ever seen. Tonight, however, I knew to let her out and do her barking work.

But when I went out tonight, I forgot.

I went out to play the duck game and put up the ducks and for some reason left Boudica inside. I took the flashlight because Ron said the two of the chickens at the back of our property, right near the woods, didn’t want to go up this evening. He said we needed to remember to close them up later, especially with a bear in the area.

So I got the ducks tucked in and took the flashlight out to close the door on the mobile chicken coop and make sure everyone was tucked in out there too. I decided to shine the flashlight into the woods to see if I could see anything.

I cannot tell you how many times I have shined the flashlight into those woods, half scared because of my imagination, never to see a single thing. Tonight, about thirty feet from me, there were eyes looking back.

I froze, and the goosebumps came. I realized it was the height of a bear and the eye shape made me think bear. They were shining a yellow-green. They were so still and there for so long that I started to second guess myself. Maybe it was a reflection of something, I thought. But then they moved. Then, they were gone.

I ran to the chicken coop door. One rooster was still sitting in the door way. I shoved him into the coop, told him it was for his own good, closed the door, and ran to get Boudica.

“Do your work, Boudica!” I said. And so she did. With gusto.

I came in and Googled pictures of bear eyes at night, and yes, that’s exactly what I saw. Tonight, I am extra, extra thankful for Boudica.

Free to Good Home

Day 68 of 365

About 8 and 1/2 years ago, we got our son an aquarium and some fish for his room. He loved nature documentaries when he was little and just loved fish and ocean programs especially. When we went to the local pet shop chain, we met a fish expert who really was a fish expert. Most of the people we encountered in the chain pet shops were not. While we were looking for a light for the aquarium, I asked him about getting one with the blue light to leave on at night.

“Why do you want to leave a light on the fish at night?” he asked me.

“Well, I wanted it to be a night light for our son,” I said. It was true. We were getting the aquarium, in part, with hopes that it would help our son sleep in his own bed at night. He had a long history of real night terrors and couldn’t sleep alone very well. He had really big trouble waking up from nightmares. He would be stuck in limbo for such a long time that it was scary. He used to speak in what I thought might be another language. I had never seen anything like it. So, in an effort to make him feel safer at night, I was willing to try anything. Maybe fish could help comfort him. I didn’t know that it was bad to keep a light on for fish all night, that they need dark to sleep too.

“Well, whatever is good for your kid. Who cares about what’s good for the fish,” he said with a tone that shamed me to my core.

It made me realize that he was right, that we were buying these fish without nearly enough education about what fish need to thrive. I had no idea how intelligent they are, especially certain types of fish, like angelfish. We bought two angelfish the size of quarters and an array of other fish that would be compatible with the angels. Eight and 1/2 years later, our angelfish died. During that 8 and 1/2 years, I learned a lot about fish. I mainly learned that they need and deserve a lot of good care. I learned I never wanted to have fish again. It’s a lot of work to do it well. It’s very time consuming.

I loved my angelfish. They grew to be the size of my hand. The first one passed away at about 5 years old, but the second girl, named Michael, made it to 8 and 1/2. I mourned that fish for sure, but I knew I was done with the fish game. I had just one other fish left in the tank, a lone Khuli loach–and Khuli loaches should not be alone.

I took myself back to the pet shop chain, hoping against hope, that the fish expert who so rightly shamed me would still be there. By some miracle, he was. Much like mine, his hair was much grayer than the last time I had seen him, but I knew this was the guy. He didn’t remember me, of course, but I told him the story and asked for his advice.

He told me he was impressed I had an angel make it to 8 and 1/2 . “Are you sure you don’t want to start a new tank?” he asked. I told him no, that we have a farm and a busy kiddo and that I couldn’t give fish the attention they deserved.

“I respect that,” he said. And, then, he said he would adopt my Khuli loach! I was so happy. Over the years, I had come to greatly appreciate those little fish, and I wanted this last little loach to have a good home. It was going to the best home! He told me to bring it in the next day and that he would take it.

When I took that little fish to the pet shop the next day, I didn’t see my guy at first. I started to worry. I waited for a bit, and finally, he came out from the back. I guess he was on break, but he saw me and came straight to me. He had a line of people, but he came and took the fish right away. He looked me in the eye and said, “I will give it a good home.” I nodded my head in a slow, deep thanks and told him I was so grateful. He nodded back and was off to help the next people.

When I got home, Ron said, “You did right by that little fish.”

Today, I did right by three little roosters, and I am even more grateful. We had four roosters in our summer round of baby chicks. We were very fortunate. Out of 12 babies, we had 8 girls and 4 boys. We are keeping one boy, named Dvorak by my son. For the rest, I really wanted to find good homes for them because they seem to be very good roosters so far.

And a good rooster is hard to find.

This is one of Ruby’s babies. He’s a very pretty boy and went to a good home today. I hope he’s doing well. The first day is always tough.

So I told their story on Facebook. They are of a great breed that is docile, so I knew, surely, someone would want them, at least some of them. It’s very hard to find homes for roosters. This is Maine. Everyone has chickens, and everyone who hatches chicks has too many roosters. In the early fall, you can drive down the road and see signs “free roosters.”

I have a rule for the roosters I raise. If they seem to be bad roosters, we keep them and make soup out of them when they are older. If they seem to be good roosters, I do everything in my power to find them a good home.

Today, I got really lucky. I delivered roosters to some really kind people. The little super sweet boy went to a woman who lives on the coast and was wonderfully kind. She asked about paying for him, and I said he was free to a good home. So she brought a gift instead–seaweed for the garden. Yeah, she was awesome!

She later messaged me and said she was going to skip a meeting she had today and just watch the “cute little dude.” He was staying in a crate in her house for a few weeks while he was in quarantine. This made my heart so happy. When I caught him today for his trip, he was very upset and cried and cried, but when I snuggled him, he leaned in and just put his little head on my shoulder. He’s that sweet. I am so glad he went to such a fantastic home. I think he hit the rooster jackpot, and I over the moon for him.

Two roosters went to another woman, who also seemed just awesome. “Oh, I’m the chicken lady,” she said. I thought this was excellent. My people for sure. She told me she has four different coops, and the chickens can choose which one to sleep in at night, based on who they want to be with. So the chickens get to choose their people! This is the best and so wonderful for chickens. I have thought many times about how my animals who don’t like each other get stuck living with people they don’t like. I feel so sorry for them and try to help make the best of it. Lots of space helps, but truly, having four coops is the best. Ron told me not to get any ideas.

So it was a good day for roosters and a good week for me for finding good homes for some deserving animals. My work here is done…until tomorrow, of course, when I have to teach my babies and the rest of Ruby’s babies how to get along and live together. They are pretty young. This should go fairly well. I mean, I hope so.

They Missed Me

Day 63 of 365

I’ve usually been able to win all of our chickens over, even the ones who are skeptical, skittish, and overall just cautious of me for the longest time. I would say that most of my chickens love me, but most of them love me for the snacks. I have had a few who just really seemed to like me–Poe and Broody hen have both passed away, but Mary Jane likes me, as does Penelope.

But I have never had a group of chicks who loved me the way the little group of five I adopted seem to love me. They are not even food driven. They don’t yet really care for snacks. They just are genuinely happy to see me when I come to see them. Today, I was gone most of the day. My son is another music camp on the coast, and the drive is so long that I just stayed in the little town while he was at camp all morning and into the early afternoon.

It was late afternoon when we got home, and before I even came into the house, I went out to see my chicks. I missed them. I turns out, they missed me! I have have had this experience before. These chicks ran up to see me–cheeping the whole way. They jumped in my lap, and three of them jumped up on my shoulders and head. Little Hector, who just so happens to be a girl, sat on my shoulder and complained in my ear about what a terrible day it was without me. I’m pretty sure that’s what she’s saying.

There is a little rooster from Ruby’s bunch of kiddos that’s pretty darn aggressive. He’s pretty mean to Hector. He really needs to go, but it’s hard because he’s gorgeous–a gorgeous jerk.

Bit, for real, I think she was also telling me she was just really excited to see me.

Anyway, I’ll deal with that little rooster later. Right now, I’m just going to treasure having these chicks love me so much. I swear, I wasn’t even a very good mama. I didn’t give them enough attention on far too many days. They are just very sweet-natured birds. I have to highly recommend their breeds: Black Copper Maran, Blue Copper Maran, and Lavender Orpington. If you are interested in any of these breeds and are in Maine, I highly recommend Why Not Farms.

***

And I have to give a quick Ruby update. Ruby has finally settled down a bit and no longer steals the crate from her children, but she has refused to go back into the coop. She has taken to roosting at night on some stuff in the garage and hanging around the driveway all day. Ron was complaining a bit about this arrangement because she poops in the garage, of course, but Ruby talked to him this morning and, apparently, won him over. “I guess Ruby’s moved into the garage for awhile,” he said. I guess so.

Ruby’s Back in the Coop

Day 59 of 365

When I started this journey, Ruby started her journey with me. Right as I started this blog, Ruby got her eggs. For the last nearly 60 days, I have observed Ruby’s journey. I loved watching her be a great mom. The last few days, I have been watching her have a really hard time coming out of motherhood. Her hormones have made her a wreck. I can empathize.

Tonight, as we were wrapping up dinner, I heard a baby chick screaming in the garage. They scream big for even the smallest things, but, of course, you have to go check on all of it. I found Ruby in the crate, and as her babies tried to join her, she was giving them a good, hard peck on the head.

There were seven baby chicks in hysterics running around the garage.

I reached in and pulled Ruby out of the crate. Immediately, a few babies piled in. I held Ruby a long time trying to decide what to do with her. I talked to her and gave her lots of pets. She even let me hug her. I decided to walk her to the coop and see how she did. Everyone else was on the roosts for the night.

I sat her down, and she ate some food and walked around looking a little lost. But then…she hesitantly hopped on the roost and looked up, longing for a higher roost but so hesitant. Ruby never fit in with the flock very well even before becoming a mama. I worry about her trying to find her place in the pecking order again.

She seemed like she was going to settle herself with the bottom roost, but there was plenty of room on the second highest roost. I reached down and scooped her up. She fussed about it a little bit.

As I held her, I talked to Mary Jane, who would be above Ruby (Mary Jane is a meat bird we pardoned and just so happens to be one of the smartest chickens I have ever met), and told her to NOT peck Ruby on the head. I touched her feet and told her to be sweet. Then, I told Betty, who would be next to Ruby, to be nice to Ruby.

I sat Ruby on the roost, put my hands on her feet, and leaned my head onto her back. I thanked her for her hard work being a mama.

No one pecked her on the head.