The last several months I have been focused on just getting through it, and trying to avoid distraction.
TRYING being the operative word there.
It is done though, and all I can do now, in regards to my new education, is wait for my certification to come through in the next few days and polish up my resume. I have to complete a year of internship before I can call myself a full fledged coder, but the hard part is over. Now I can get back to normal life and start paying more attention to some things I have been neglecting, lately.
The Poo-Princesses turned 1 year old in May. They have filled out wonderfully, and seem to be happy with their routine of bug chasing, garden digging and treat begging.
Doodle even enjoyed some shoulder sitting on occasion.
Looking beautiful for pictures has also been a pass- time.
My husband and I were proud of ourselves! We managed to keep the girls happy and healthy for an entire year. In return for all our efforts the girls kept our yard bug free, and also kept our compost pile nicely turned.
The fresh eggs arrived daily. We had many 3 egg days, which were always good days.
Once, we even had a 2 and 1/4 egg day. Fairy eggs are so weird.
June and July brought the intense heat and humidity we always expect here. My husband and I made efforts to keep the Poo-Princesses cool by giving them a pool to splash in, which seemed to help keep them comfortable.
They also spent time lounging and napping with the dogs on the patio, in front of a big fan during the most hot afternoons.
The only real trouble we had experienced up until this point was keeping the dogs out of the chicken feed. We had been propping the door to the coop slightly open to with a milk crate, trying to block access to greedy dogs, while allowing the girls free access to the coop, their food, water and egg box. This was unsuccessful. We were going through layer feed at an astounding rate, and the dogs were not eating their dog chow, but still getting fat.
We then started using the egg door for the girls to gain access to the coop, intend of the big doors. They found this confusing at first, but soon got the hang if it. Using the milk crate as a step, they would hop up into the coop, lay eggs, drink and eat, while the greedy, fat dogs were denied the chicken chow. This worked really well, and we were proud of how clever we were.
Then tragedy struck.
One especially hot afternoon, our beloved Easter Egger, Cookie, fell to a freak accident. She managed to trap herself beneath the milk crate in the sun. It is a terrible mystery to us how she overturned the crate, got beneath it, and then turned it back over onto herself. I discovered her there while doing my afternoon chicken check. I was too late, however, as she was already suffering the effects of heat stroke. My beautiful girl died in my arms as I desperately tried to cool her.
It was an awful moment. My husband buried her in the yard, as I could not bear the thought of throwing her away or turning her to soup. As one of the original members of the Egg-cellent Egg-speriment, she deserved better. I spent that entire next weekend terribly sad. Thinking of it still, now a month later, makes my heart wrench a little. The remaining girls, Jewel and Doodle, seemed lost in the yard, also. They acted like they weren’t sure what to do without bossy Cookie directing the flock.
We almost immediately did away with the cursed milk crate. My husband quickly fashioned a sturdy ladder that hooks securely onto the lip of the egg door, so the girls can access the coop safely. They weren’t quite sure about it at first, but got the gist of it in short order.
We had our first experience with chicken math through subtraction of one. This was such a blow to me that I was content with keeping only my two remaining girls. My husband and family encouraged me to try and find a replacement for Cookie, though. After a few days of mourning my sweet pet, I set upon the task of finding another princess for my little flock.
It didn’t take long before I found a highly rated chicken farm selling young pullets, about an hour and a half away from us. The knowlegable owner was extremely helpful and friendly in our selection of two new birds. We knew we were pressing our luck with our town codes with the addition of two, but it is not good for a chicken to be a singleton. We couldn’t expect our new girl to live out quarantine alone for 30 days, and then try and blend with our older girls successfuly.
We chose a beautiful 3 month old dark brahma pullet, now named Checkers, and an adorable 9 week old grey splash silkie, whom we named Mokey. I had always wanted a silkie hen. They are just so fluffy and cute with their extra toes, purple skin and tiny, fluffy bodies. Even though they were differnet sizes and ages, the two new princesses got along fabulously, having been together in the baby pens on the farm. So, having made our selections, we brought them home and settled them into a modified giant dog crate for the duration of their quarantine.
Chicken math again, now plus 2.
The resident Poo-Princesses seemed a bit confused and very interested in the new arrivals. We tried bribery with watermelon slices and meal worms to distract from the new girls sitting on a table on our patio area. For the moment, all seemed well.
Three days into quarantine, we lost sweet Mokey to a river snake. The offending reptile was nearly 4-1/2 feet long, but no bigger around than my thumb. He snuck through the bars of the crate in the night and killed my new silkie baby. Hearing the commotion, my father quickly alerted us to something going on outside, but we were too late. We killed the snake, and quickly secured the crate, and poor, scared Checkers, in our workshop.
Once again, chicken math, minus one.
Traumatized Checkers spent the next day in my husbands lap, or following us around the patio during her yard time.
We couldn’t let Checkers stay alone, however. The day after losing little Mokey, we made the trip once again to see the friendly chicken farm to select another bird. The wonderful lady farmer was understanding of our situation. Although we were new to the pitfalls of chicken keeping, she was an old hand at it, and sympathized with our sad situation.
Somehow we managed to come home with not one but TWO new silkie chicks. I blame this on my mother, who said if we were getting silkie chicks we might as well get two. I, of course, was not hard to convince that this was a great idea. After all, silkies are so small and so odd looking, do they even count as chickens? As the lady didn’t have any more older silkies to choose from, so we selected some 4 week old babies.
Chicken math, plus 2.
We now have a partridge silkie, named Bella, and a black silkie, named Stormy. We hope they are hens, though it is too early to tell. We also think Stormy may be younger than 4 weeks, but she (?) Is by far the bossiest. She may very well be the new top hen for this new part of the flock. We will see.
Checkers has taken to the new babies very well. She has been a great mom to them, despite being just a baby herself. She has also decided she likes being a lap chicken, often hopping up and making herself comfortable whenever we are sitting outside on the patio during their outside time.
We try and let them outside during the cooler parts of the day for some bug hunting and exercise. They like stretching their wings and legs with what we have been calling the “zoomies”. They dash about, play fighting, hopping and jumping, squeaking and squawking, and just being happy healthy girls, before falling to into a feathery pile for a quick power nap.
Jewel and Doodle are not impressed. We have begun to call them the evil step sisters. For a week we moved the big coop into the workshop while our temperatures soared over 100°F. The coop and crate facing eachother, so the girls can see one another. The Evil Step Sisters have been very vocal of their disapproval of these new interlopers. Often rushing the babies and trying to peck.
This situation, compounded by the heat, has lead to Jewel being stressed out. She has been laying shell-less and rubber eggs this last week. Despite being on layer feed, having free choice oyster shell, and some additional supplimets, she struggles with her usual laying. She continues to eat, drink and be active, but we keep an eye on her health a little more closely.
We will have to watch this situation, as in another few weeks we will begin to integrate the two flocks. We hope for the best, and also hope, for the moment, our chicken mathematics lessons are done.