"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, October 29, 2010

We Got Chicks

Left to right: Bo-Peep, Peep, and Blondie
After the previous post, we return to the "Awww, How CUTE!"  stuff.

We just can't help ourselves.  We like the idea of having more chickens and more eggs in the future.  Since we are pretty convinced that there are at least two more roosters in this brood, we figure we'll be hatching more chicks to become dinner down the road.  The three little chicks you see in the first pic are still being mothered by Pretty Face.  It is fascinating to see the daily changes in color and growth.

Since Pretty Face wouldn't adopt six of the seven newbies, we listen to a lot of cheep, cheep, cheep in the morning and in the evening, or when the weather isn't suitable for the chicks to be out on the front deck.  As I said before, we put the cage on a card table in the office/computer room, and when the chicks get loud, wanting attention, we take them out and hold them.

Fluffy, Sophia, Goldie, Cogburn
It's funny how these little birds have imprinted on us.  If we are elsewhere in the house and they hear us talking, they get REALLY loud with the chirping. As if to say, "Hey, we are in here. You've lost track of us!"   Which makes sense to a little chick mind.  When we watch Pretty Face being a broody hen this makes sense.  Her whole purpose for existence during this time is to be a mommy and constantly fret over her chicks.  This in turn allows them to run about the cage being happy-go-lucky, without a care in the world. The chicks seem relatively happy during time we can sit in the office doing stuff on the computers and they just do that happy, quiet little chirping noise.

Sophia checking out my desk
The times when they are most happy and content to the point of silence is when we hold them.

The two that we believe to be roosters are Cogburn and Blackburn.  Cogburn is demonstrating the most dominance by far.  Twyla named the one with the prettiest eyes Sophia.  She is just about as adventurous, if not more, than Cogburn.  When we are lying on the floor watching "24," she will often be the first one to decide to fly from Twyla to me, or vice-versa.  Yep, they've got enough flight feathers to do that now.  In fact, for a few of the oldest ones (two days makes a huge difference) flying three to five feet is not that difficult.  Cogburn, Sophia, and Blackburn will fly between Twyla and myself when we are sitting at our respective keyboards, which is no easy thing since we sit at right angles facing adjacent walls.  I don't just mean to the desks, either, I mean from arm to arm.

Cogburn and his flight feathers
If you are wondering why we are convinced so early on about which chicks are male, let me explain. When we got the second set of six chicks back in March, Twyla had done research on the web, and discovered that among the Black Sexlinks breed, a white crown on the top of the head usually signified a male.  Now, even though the feed store folk's supplier prides themselves on selling only hens for laying, someone is bound to make a mistake in sexing the chicks.  Although, I have to tell you, the people who do that stuff for a living fascinate me.  In case you didn't know, there is only about a 24 -36 hour window when it is easiest to detect the sex of a newly hatched chick.  The pro's who do it are usually latino immigrants who only get paid about $10 an hour.  You pick up a chick, turn it upside down and squeeze the cloaca so that it distends out, identify the male appendage or lack thereof, and toss the chick into the appropriate bin.  Examining each chick takes only 1 - 2 seconds max.

This is how we watch "24" on Netflix
Moxie loves her "chickie babies"
Even with chicks barely a week old, there are other signs that indicate sex, and of course, they are behavioral.  Cogburn immediately displayed such behavior.  Much more fearless than the others.  Wants to be up high as much as possible. Much noisier.  He doesn't make so much of the softer cheeping noises.  It's the same kind of behavior that we saw in Brewster, only more so.  Because these chicks came from other free-range chickens, they are not so pure-bred.  But we like that. Trying to maintain pure breed lines for maximum egg production is what leads to deteriorating genetic stock.  I'd rather have a little less egg production but have healthier chickens.  I look forward to the day when we no longer have to buy any more chickens from the supermarket.

Twyla recently posted on her blog about Moxie the Wonderdog.  If you haven't read it yet, be sure to do so. Perhaps Moxie's happiest time is when she is laying between us on the office floor while we watch Netflix and  have the chicks there.  She acts like any bitch that I've ever seen with puppies.  She just wants to nuzzle them and lick them.  The chicks show no fear at all.  When the sun is out and it's over 60° F outside, I put the chicks on the picnic table on the front deck. Moxie has to jump up there and act like the grand protector of the realm.  By the time these chickens are fully grown, they will be thinking of Moxie as just an odd four-legged sister.

I don't really have that much patience for staging photos.  I have always thought the best pictures happen naturally.  I didn't know, until we started raising chickens, that baby chicks love to hop up on their mother's back.  I've seen the three little ones outside do it with Pretty Face quite a bit.  Last night as I'm focusing on the finale to season eight of "24," Twyla softly says, "Do you still have the camera?"
Goldie on Moxie's head

And I look over to see that Goldie has decided to hop onto Moxie's head, and she stayed there long enough for me to get the picture.  Actually about six or seven pictures, but this is the best one.

I think when I get the third coup built outside, I'm going to miss them a little bit.  I know I won't miss the little chick turds and having to have plastic sheeting on the card table, and hearing them cheep loudly when I leave the room.  The great thing about farm life is that it's always changing and it's never boring.  Nothing worth having is ever really easy.

Shalom,   Moshe

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