June 15, 2009

The Tale of Little Chicky

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 7:13 pm by czygyny

April 18. My niece, Stephanie, ran into the house, breathless and excited. It took a minute or two to get the story straight, something about chicks, eggs and murderous hens. I finally stitched together the story: she had gone to the chicken coop to check on the chickens, as she does every day. She brings me back eggs or tells me they are out of food, but today she exclaimed that an egg had hatched and the hens were pecking it and carrying it around!chicky_05

I followed her back to the coop to find a tiny, wet, fuzzy lump, bloodied by the attacks of the senseless hens. I scooped it up and also took the eggs that the broody hen had been sitting on, just in case.

While I didn’t really need any other chickens, I let one persistent hen gather a clutch to herself. She did only a fair job, she was so small she often left eggs sitting around her.

Once inside and under a heat lamp and equipped with a heating pad, we anxiously waited to see if the chick would survive and if the other eggs would hatch.

Days went by. No other egg hatched. Chicky (now named) was listless, but alive. I finally discarded the other eggs, and Chicky chicky_08gathered strength and awareness.

Living in a box in the kitchen, Chicky became the center of attention. Oohs and ahs from the children that came through my house, with the common plea, “Oh, can I hold him?”. Chicky became the star and became quite tame from the handling.

The only permanent damage that seemed to have occured was a scarred and deformed beak, but it didn’t seem to bother him (her?) much.

I didn’t have any chick starter food, so Chicky’s first couple of weeks was a diet of ground dog food and pecans! He thrived on the rich grub. I was pleased to find that our local feed store had chick starter food in 5lb bags, so his diet shifted to a more conventional fare.

Once again, I was blessed to have the sweet cheeping of a baby in the house. I’ve grown to love that little voice. There is a content chatter, a hungry rattle, a introspective tittering, so much communication from such a ball of fuzz.

As he grew larger and stronger, Chicky began to take outdoor trips to the vegetable and wildflower gardens. He began the hilarious routine of ‘dusting’ himself, digging down and throwing dust all over himself.  It is amazing to me how this behavior is instinctual. What a mess!chicky_09

He quickly outgrew his box and I had to press into duty an unused birdcage, complete with his mirror in which he likes to cuddle next to and gaze. Soon the tiny fuzzy chickymommachick began to look like a real chicken.

It is no guess as to who his momma is! Chicky looks just like Kiwi, my super tame black bantam hen…I sure hope ‘he’ is a ‘she’ when all is said and done.

We’ve had a lot of fun times, sitting out in the wildflochicky_07wers while Chicky roams about, or hiding in the broccoli and digging around for earwigs in the strawberries. Watching  him fly to find me is a kick.

He gets the run of the house on occasion, when the dogs are outside…we just have to watch and quickly clean up any ‘accidents’.




Wearing chickens is not a good idea, not only do you have to worry about ‘deposits’, he will also peck you in the eye and mouth. Ouch!chicky_04

Chicky is getting big, now. All his black feathers are in and all the down is gone. He spends more and more time outside, whenever I am out in the garden for any length of time. 

Since we have many hawks of different sorts, and the big rooster attacks him, his days of roaming around on his own may never come, but I will continue to enjoy his company out in the garden whenever I can.chicky_01 (1)

So, Chicky, despite a bad beginning, ended up being a very lucky little chicken, after all. Except for a slightly mangled beak, he is a pampered, happy little Gallus gallus being, whatever sex he ends up being.

I guess when I hear a crowing or see an egg, I’ll know for sure.



April 23, 2008

Oh, they grow up so fast!

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , at 6:27 pm by czygyny

Eighteen days ago, we brought home six little cuddly, fuzzy bantam chicks. They have recently started staying out in the chicken coop during the days, but still stay in the 55 gallon fish tank at night, since our nights are still getting below freezing. They love getting out into the larger area of the coop, they run and fly with their stubby wings when I lift them out of the carrier. They mill about, picking off the unfortunate spiders that are within reach, while the dogs look on hungrily from outside the wire enclosure. I can get in and right down next to them to take pictures, they aren’t bothered a bit. They are starting to react to the feeding call, which is important to call them in for the night.

Today I am going to give you a slide show of how they have changed, in the same order as the first post. It is amazing how they change as their first true feathers displace the downy baby feathers. 


The first one is Blue. I am going to predict this one is going to be a boy. Look at the emerging waddles and comb. He is an all over blue-grey color.




The real surprise is Frazz, shown below. Look at those feathers! Frazz is either a Frizzle or a Silkie, a mutant gene causes the feathers to lack the tiny comb structures that hold the sections of feathers together smoothly, and just an overall twisted growth. I am hoping Frazz is a pullet (young female), I have read that they make great mother hens. She also has extra toes, and feathers all down each leg, whereas most chicken breeds have unfeathered legs.



Next one is Kiwi. This pullet hopeful is so named for its uncanny appearance to my shoe polish applicator. It is one of the smallest chicks, and most unremarkable in color or markings. 


This brown one looks like he is crowing already. He is the biggest of the bunch, and Jason has named him Racer, because he had racing stripes, which are quickly changing into speckled and mottled browns.


The second largest, and most likely a cockerel (young rooster), as well. Jason has named him Rally. He looks like he will have some beautiful markings when he is mature.


 The last one is the smallest, endearing and most likely the prettiest one of the bunch. This one I have named Lucille, to replace my other favorite hen of the past. She will be a lovely black and white speckled cutie. She looks embarrassed, but it is just the red light from the heat lamp that must stay on, day and night.


So, there it is, another installment of Chicky-cam. When I need a lift, I go and sit in the coop and watch them scratch in the shavings, run and fly (sometimes in to each other!) and listen to their soft cheeps. I will miss listening to their tiny voices when they are big enough to stay outside all night, it is so soothing, but I won’t miss the cat-litter dust all over my house from their scratching and dust baths!


April 9, 2008


Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , at 10:44 am by czygyny


‘The Awww factor’ was a popular post, so I want to bring you up to date on the serious business of raising six bantam chicks (nothing but serious fun). They are now taking up residence in a 55 gallon fish tank on the kitchen floor. A perfect setup, actually. They can interact with the world around them, I can keep the air warm, and it keeps Jewel, the rottie, from making them in to snacks.

If I can get a film clip of them reacting to my singing to them, I will post it. They shake their little heads. I guess I am off key.


They wake up at intervals all night and run along that metal feeder and practice ‘flying’. My house is very small and I can hear them scramble about. Their little wing and tail feathers are coming in and they’re so cute!

April 4, 2008

The ‘Awww’ factor

Posted in photography tagged , , , , , , , at 4:57 pm by czygyny


There are few things cuter and more endearing than baby chicks! Perhaps this is why we came home with six little fluff balls, instead of fencing material, when we went to the Tractor Supply Store, yesterday.

Of course it just didn’t stop at the chicks, then came the 25 lb. sack of feed, a waterer and feeder. $29.95 out the door, thank you. I ‘really’ need six more animals to care for! *sigh* 


These chicks are bantam chicks. They are miniature chickens that can lay blue, green or brown eggs. Tiny little eggs, sort of a 3 to 1 ratio for an omelet. But, these chickens are an amiable, friendly and hardy breed.


These chicks are ‘straight-run’, which means a 50/50 ratio of male and female. I am hoping for more girls than boys! Too many roosters are trouble, and we have a big black one, already. And, eating them would be too much trouble for such a small meal. Yes, I could kill and eat them, if I had to, but they end up being too much of a pet.



They are temporarily living in a box with a heat-lamp on my kitchen counter. I have had guinea pigs in the bathtub, cows in the swimming pool, and sheep in my car, so I guess it is business as usual for me. (I had a hummingbird in my freezer, once, but that is a story for another day).


Part of the joy of raising chicks, especially mixed colors like this, is waiting to see how they’ll look when they’re mature. There is no telling what we’ll end up with.

The last time I raised chicks I started with 25 straight-run Aracaunas. They can lay pink, brown, green and blue eggs, too, but full sized. I used to sit on the bales of hay, early in the morning, and sing to my chickens while I fed them. They would sit on my knees and sometimes try to get on my shoulder, but since they ‘drop the goods’ wherever they are, I stopped the ‘shoulder thing’ very quickly! Sadly, only one of those chickens remains, Ol’ Rusty, and the rooster, Victor, son of another hen.


Now, tell me, don’t lie, don’t you just want to pick those little fuzzy, puffy chicks up in your hands and just cuddle them? You know you want to do it!


I had one hen from that earlier batch I called ‘Lucille’ and would sing a corny country-western song to her every morning

“You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

Four hungry children and a crop in the field.

I’ve had some sad times, lived through some bad times, but this time your hurtin’ won’t heal.

You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille!”


It never failed to make me smile, even if I was sitting there in tears, which I often was at that time. It was during the last awful years of my marriage, when I was weary, frightened and full of anxiety, everything was spiraling out of control. Ah, but that too, is another story for another time. Now, I choose to remember the silly songs with the sun streaming low through the barn door,  the narrow beam of morning light swirled with golden dust motes, chickens milling around my feet, the sweet smell of hay and a hope for tomorrow.

I am quite sure one of my new chickens will be called ‘Lucille’.

I have a silly song to sing to her.