Home with the birds

Today was a lovely Sunday at home with the chickens and turkeys.  Well, the cats, too.  And the husband, Jeff.  Not necessarily in that order.

I let the chickens out of the enclosure. With all the predators around, and having lost some rare breeds to one or all of them (we’ve only seen feathers from one lost bird), the girls and boys only get to come out under supervision.  I check on them from time to time and do head counts.  With the turkeys as an early warning system, too, the birds are better protected.  While the predators decide whether Tweedle Dum, my tom, is worth a fight, enough time can be bought for me to come out with the shotgun and make sure everyone is okay.

So the girls and Azrael, my Rhode Island Red rooster, were out.  A couple of the girls stayed in.  Einstein, my buff Naked Neck, really doesn’t care if she goes outside again.  She’s more than happy to stay in the enclosure and feel safe.  She’s the last of the original four.

Scarlett, on the other hand, the last of the second set of four, is an inquistitive Red Star who likes to be the last one in at night, if she can help it.

Amy, the buff Orpington who is mothering the now nearly five week old chick I’ve named BAMF Snowflake (as a fuck you to fascists everywhere and also because she’s white as urban snow and yes, that stands for what you think it stands for), really wanted to go with them, but she’s not allowed.  Not until BAMF is fully fledged AND big enough to escape a crow.  When BAMF is six and a half weeks old, she and Amy will be released from the brooder pen and allowed to roam the enclosure. Outside time will be negotiated later.

At least, that was the plan.

Until I went to check on the girls and found BAMF running frantically around the outside of the brooder pen.  I called out that I was on the way to rescue her, and wrestled with the baling wire that holds the door shut, got inside….and found BAMF sitting placidly behind Amy in the brooder pen.  So she’s perfectly fine getting in or out on her own, thank you, and doesn’t need my help.

Well, that’s not happening.  I found the exits, two of them, just small enough for a five week old chick to slip through, and I had Jeff round me up some plywood to cover them.  Meanwhile, BAMF escaped again and there was a mad chase all over the enclosure.  I wouldn’t freak out except she’s not fully fledged yet, and it’s very easy for her to get chilled and die.  After five weeks of keeping this baby alive in the snow, rain and ice of North Idaho weather, to have it all go to hell because the little shit is an escape artist would suck.

Finally I caught her, put her back in the brooder pen and sealed off the exits.  Then, since dark was coming, I started letting the girls back in the enclosure.  I have to let them file in one at a time, because the turkeys want to come in, too, and I can’t have them in there knocking everything over and then stepping on poor BAMF.  The girls all try to follow Azrael in if they can, because Az gets really pissed at stragglers.  He and Castiel, the beta rooster (and a gorgeous partridge cochin), will wingslap and nip anyone who slips in the door after everyone else is in.

Naturally, Scarlett got a whooping, as usual.  And I went in the house and sat down to let Twitter depress the hell out of me.  Then I looked up and noticed Mikey, one of the partridge cochins, trying to quietly find a way back in the enclosure.  So back I go, outside, to try to help poor Mikey sneak in without getting wingslapped.  Timing is everything.  We both waited until both roosters had mounted someone else and then I quickly opened the door and Mikey dashed in.  I think she got away clean.

Later on, as I read about more corruption and bullshit and obvious lying, I looked out again and saw that Tweedle Dum, the turkey tom, was trying out his new moves on one of the Bourbon Red hens.  As in, climbing on, splaying the poor girl’s wings on the ground and biting her head.  I don’t ever want to be reincarnated as a turkey hen.  Ever. I said something to Jeff about it, and he came out to watch.  Grimly, he joked, “Yeah, baby, I love it when your wings are all splayed out in the mud and shit.” Dummy held her down a long time, because I’m really sure he has no idea what he’s doing.  I’ve watched him before, and I’ve never seen him get past the girls’ tails, which they cleverly spread on the ground, covering the cloaca. It’s sad, really.

Then I heard meowing from above, and noticed Castor, the nine month old boycat, was on the deck and had no idea how to get down.  I should have left him there, but I knew he’d just cry in front of the slider up there and beg to be let in, rather than find his way down.  He’s not allowed upstairs, so that wasn’t happening.  (Kitties that go upstairs in my mother’s domain get tossed outside.)

I held up the sled for him to run down.  I put it on my shoulder, so that he could run down past me if he liked.  He decided to try it.  First one paw, then another.  Then he picked up one of his back paws and WHOOSH! Flew right past my head, over my shoulder and onto the snow.

He’ll probably never do that again.

Well, now everyone is tucked in for the night.  Kitties are in the house and fed (and staying downstairs.)  BAMF’s under Amy–last I saw her tonight her head was poking up out from under Amy’s wing–and the chickens have all gone in to roost.

The only one still making noise is Dummy, who is upset that one of his hens is missing.  He’s gobbling and fluffing and gobbling and fluffing up there on the roost, and the sneaky little hen is hiding around the corner, roosting quietly on the rack next to my office window.  She keeps looking at me as if to say, “Please!  Don’t rat me out!”

I bet I know which one she is.

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