A Demonstration of True Love, Chick-Chick Style

Oh, how one of our Barred Rock chickens, “Chick-Chick,”  loves her man.

Her human man. So in this video, you’ll see Chick-Chick hustling across the farm for some TLC.

I can’t say that I blame her; I think Matt’s pretty irresistible, too.

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The Teenagers Strike Out on Their Own

Letting go is hard.

You can’t help but think back to when they were babies with sweet innocent faces. How they relied on you for food and warmth and love.

But part of raising young is allowing them to spread their wings and leave the nest, so you swallow your fears and smile and encourage them to step out into the world, all the while doing what you can to make sure they stay safe.

chick

Oh what a difference two months make. Here’s one of the Barred Rock chickens at one day old.

chicken coop

It’s time to let them roam, so we’ve started propping open the big door to the chicken coop.

In other words, we’re finally starting to let the teenage chickens range out of the coop. Which is scary because we’ve heard so many cautionary tales from other chicken owners about eagles, hawks and even ravens swooping in and carrying off young birds. There’s also raccoons and minks and otters who pose a threat to chickens in general, although we’ve not seen any. For us, the biggest danger we can see is there is that fox who still lurks nearby–just today, Neela, our broodmare, again came snorting out of the barn, head held high, scanning the area for the threat she could smell before she could see. I followed her gaze and sure enough, there he was, the same small, black fox. He has cute roundish ears and a pert black nose. But he’s after the chickens, who we’ve raised since they were one day old, so I regard him with a hardened heart.

chickens

The black-and-white chickens are the Barred Rocks. Clearly, they love Matt.

For now, the girls, as we call them, are only allowed out under close supervision. Which is fine with them–they love Matt, and hover close to him, cooing happily. The Barred Rock chickens are friendlier than the Australorps; I’m not sure if it’s a breed character trait or we simply spent more timing handling the Barred Rock because they were our firstborns, so to speak.

chickens-smileSo far, so good. Six Barred Rock plus six Australorp = twelve chickens.

And one fox. 

Wish us luck!

black fox

I have’t been fast enough to snap his picture, so this is what our fox looks like. According to the wiki page the photo is from, it’s a red fox in a black color phase. The photo is of a fox on San Juan Island, where we live. Here’s the wiki page: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black_fox.JPG

Chiko and the Chickens

Our 10-year-old Australian Terrier, Chiko, has a new mission in life: Watcher of the Chickens.

chicksFor the first two weeks of their lives, we kept our six baby Barred Rocks, followed quickly by six Australorps, in the house inside a large Rubbermaid bin in the guest room. We kept them warm with a heat lamp (which we adjusted several times a day, depending on whether they were huddling or evading it), kept them fed and watered and handled them every day.

chicks-closer

chick-single

The dogs and the cats hovered near the guest room doors, intrigued by the chirps and cheeps they heard, but we shooed them all away (especially the cats). Finally the chicks had enough feathers to where they could graduate to the coop outside (with the heat lamp still on at night at first). After a few days inside the coop we opened the little hatch door so they could wander into the enclosed yard, and that’s when Chiko got his first look at “the girls,” as we call them.

They're growing up! The Barred Rock chickens are now teenagers.

They’re growing up! The Barred Rock chickens are now teenagers.

It was love at first sight.

chiko-springingOr, maybe, blood lust. I’m still not sure what exactly Chiko would do if he had access to the chickens, but whatever his interest, he has made it clear he’s not sharing. Because shortly after we put the chickens in their coop we had our first fox sighting on the farm.

Actually Neela, the mare, alerted to the fox first. Ever the protective mom, she was in the stall in the barn hovering over Wilhelmina while the filly slept when I suddenly saw Neela pop outside the stall, head high, staring intently in the direction of the hen house. I followed her gaze, and my eyes alighted on the fox at the same time Chiko did.

I’ve never seen that little dog spring into action so fast. He didn’t bark, he didn’t growl, he simply dug into the ground with his short, sturdy legs and made a beeline for that fox, who gave one look of alarm before turning its bushy tail to run.

Chiko chased that fox all the way across the east pasture and then into the nearby woods, with me close behind trying in vain to call him back. No Chiko. On the other side of those woods is a gravel road, and it leads to a busy paved one, so I was getting worried about how this was all going to turn out when finally Chiko emerged from the woods, with what I can only describe as a big grin.

Since then I’ve seen the fox in the distance, but he’s never gotten close to the coop again. Not while Chiko’s on the job.

chiko-watching