Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The chicks have their day

My pretty friend Katie who doubles as a chicken perch in her spare time

As I posted a few days ago, I introduced the chicks to Ruby.  I guess I should say that the chicks took it upon themselves to do the introduction.  They kept sneaking under the chicken fabric that separated them, despite my best efforts to tack the fabric down.  I was pretty sure they had already been exposed to whatever the hens had so we let nature take it's course. 
The chicks seem ecstatic to have the run of the yard. They flit around madly, running and flapping their wings, staying clear of Ruby who struts around like shes queen of the yard. She eats their chick starter food and drinks from their water and gives a sharp peck to any chick in range.  She does not however chase the chicks and they seem happy to tag along a safe distance behind her. 
I grew up in a rather urban setting and never even saw a chicken before we got or first three chicks several years ago.  We had their little red barn coop my husband had built, all ready and when they were finally old enough to spend their first night outside, I was worried.  How would we catch them each night to put them in the coop?  I pictured us running madly around the yard trying to catch our hens.  At dusk that night, I was pleasantly surprised to see the 13 week girls hop knowingly into the coop and up onto the roosting posts. No chasing hens around the yard at all.   
Now since we have the chicks out in the yard, Ruby hops into the coop as usual, and the little chicks huddle together in a corner of the yard or in the cardboard box I leave out for them.  I thought maybe they would try and follow Ruby, but they seem to know instinctively that queen Ruby would not be happy with that arrangement.
But yesterday, I was weeding in the garden when I heard a raucous, cackling that sounded like the hens alarm call.  "Help there's a hawk flying overhead,"
I ran to the coop with my dog Casey, hot on my heels.
Casey the dog, can't you just feel his energy?

Ruby was pacing back and forth in front of the coop raising a racket.
I heard peeping coming from inside the coop and peeked in.
 There they were the four of them, having a good old time, chirping and hopping from roosting pole to roosting pole, in the nesting box and above. Ruby was in a tizzy and it took me digging up some earthworms for her to quiet her down. 
In the evening though, the girls let Ruby have the coop and they huddled together and seemed happy to come inside for the night.  I am looking forward to them being big enough and brave enough to hop into the coop beside Ruby.
They are getting more difficult to wrangle into the box I use to carry them into the house.  When I go out at night they are all too happy to hop into my lap, sometimes all four of them, but once I snatch one up and put her into the box the others scatter like dust and all of them chirping in distress. "Run for your lives" the one inside calls, and they do.  The last one has been almost impossible to catch.


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