The Little Chickens Aren’t so Little Any More

I have to stop calling the young ones the Little Chickens. They have grown so much that Mr Bingley is very nearly as big as Legolas, if a little more gangley. They grow up so fast! They are 14 weeks old now. After recent events (a sick Jane and a broody Frodo) the flock is all back together playing happy families in the orchard. The feijoa tree trunk is the new main hangout spot for resting and preening, and sometimes the youngies, especially Lizzie, will sit on the thick lower branches.

Jane chills out and pecks at bugs in the new hangout spot.

Wee Jane is doing better than ever after her illness and has finally got some colour in her comb and wattles. Considering how well she bounced back after a few days in the Hospital Cage with Berocca water, and Frodo’s recent illness and prompt recovery, plus perhaps Half Pie’s leg problem too, I suspect that the issue is most likely either a vitamin deficiency or a toxicity issue of some kind. For now, I am putting a low dose of Berocca in their water and will see how they go on that for a while.  If it’s an issue with the pullet pellets (I’m sure there’s a good limerick in there somewhere) it wouldn’t be so bad, as I can stop feeding them out very soon anyway and have just the layer pellets available to all the chickens. They are doing really well on fresh ground anyway.

Jane reintegrated well. I wasn’t sure how they would all react after she had been off in the garage for a few days. After the most part of two days in the temporary pen beside the others, I let Jane in with them and watched. She was chased briefly by Frodo, twice, but she was content on minding her own business foraging. Mr Bingley was extremely interested in her and followed her around closely for a while, trying to figure out what to do with her. She didn’t pay too much attention to him. Trying to mind her own business was helpful, and they all seemed to accept Jane back very well. Good chickens. I checked on her during the evening coop-entering spectacle. She was sitting up on the gate to the run while Mr Bingley loitered around. The others were inside. Jane climbed onto my arm as I put it next to her. She did this the last night she was in the Hospital Cage. She didn’t want to be alone, but I think she was a bit scared to go into the coop. I helped her down and towards the coop. Then Frodo popped out of the coop and scared her off for a bit. Frodo! Once Frodo had alighted onto the roost Jane made a quick entry in, followed by Mr Bingley, and that was that.

Jane is starting to look rather pretty.

The bonus is that Jane will now feed out of my hand. She was a hard nut to crack. She still doesn’t hand-feed as readily as Mr Bingley and Lizzie. Mr Bingley is so eager to eat from my hand. He’s a special one. I hope he stays that way. I find it interesting that my two favourites have turned out to be the friendliest. I don’t think I’ve handled them any more than the others, so did I subconsciously develop a liking for the ones with nice personalities or was it just random? It was probably random with Mr Bingley, as I was really smitten with his looks to start with, but perhaps I subconsciously picked up on the friendliness in Lizzie, as she always seemed pleasant somehow. Lizzie and Lydia have become even more difficult to tell apart. I didn’t think Lydia’s lighter points would lighten up so much, although her legs still aren’t as dark as Lizzie’s. It appears Lydia has busted a move and is now top female of the youngies. I think Jane may have even busted a move on Lizzie, as Jane has become bolder with having a go at the treats bowl while Lizzie hangs back more. This is all starting to sound like a story I know…

Mr Bingley has feathers coming through all over the place.
Mr Bingley or Mr Gangley?
Jane keeps her eye on Mr Bingley.
Lydia (front) has some big ideas. She has a slightly bigger comb than Lizzie and lighter legs.
Lizzie has nice black legs and a finer head than Lydia.
Two black chickens, but who is who? I think the top one’s Lizzie…

Frodo got herself into a half broody state, with on-again-off-again eggs for a few days in the chaotic pre-birthday week before succumbing to full broodiness just after The Little Fulla’s big birthday. If things hadn’t been so crazy I would have got her into the broody breaker sooner (I won’t be hatching any eggs until I can get a handle on my chicken issues), but, well, last week was nuts. Somewhere in her sitting Frodo picked up scaly leg mites again. Ugh. They are so annoying to treat without using Ivermectin, as I want to keep eating the eggs! At least Frodo was easy to treat whilst in the cage, but I had to get all the others out of the coop one night to treat them too and will do it again tomorrow to try and break the cycle. Legolas is so easy and calm to treat, I just love her for it.

Fortunately, I had just done a full coop clean and sprayed the coop with Miss Muffet’s Revenge anyway. That is a spider killer, or more accurately an Arachnid killer, and mites are in the class Arachnida too so hopefully it keeps any mites at bay for a little while. I was worried that I might have a red mite issue as the chickens seemed to be preening a lot and there were a lot of feathers around, but that settled down before I sprayed the coop and while looking after Jane I noted that she had a lot of new feathers coming through, so I think it was just the youngies getting a flush of new feathers. Mr Bingley has more red coming through, but he’s still going to be very pretty anyway. He has suddenly gotten rather gangley-looking with his long legs.

The feather children come running for some treats: Legolas and Frodo, followed by Jane and Lizzie.
Legolas and Frodo, queens of the treats bowl. I usually use two dishes for treats to help the others get some, but today I was in a hurry and just threw some for the youngies.

‘Tis lovely spring weather at the moment and as I walk out to release and feed the chickens in the lightly frosted mornings I am greeted with light and animal noises; the mooing of the neighbour’s calves in the paddock next to us, the baaing of the neighbour’s sheep, the distant crowing of the rooster two houses over and the rather polite crowing of Mr Bingley. To walk out of the door to all this is just marvelous. And equally as marvelous, on the walk back to the house after treating the chickens at night I am treated with stars. The sky is beautiful out here on a clear night. Countless wee stars shine out from the dark expanse above my head and I can see the Milky Way from just outside my back door. Country life is the best.

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