Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The not so perfect name ideas.....

1. Loretta, Dolly, Tammy, Emmy Lou, Patsy and Wynonna

2. Stephanie, Lula, Joyce, Connie, ....(couldn't come up with two more names from the Stephanie Plum novels)
    What is Grandma Mazer's name, anyway? And Mrs. Plum?

3. Ann, Nancy, Grace, Janis, Stevie and Pat

4. Kiev, Cordon Bleu, Pastry, Fried Steak, Salad and Tenders (not really, but I couldn't resist)

5. Amy, Haley, Sandy, Donna, Kate and Nettie (Section 318)

6. Ruth, Clara, Dorothy, Arlene, Tootsie and Linda

Wonder why we went to Jane Austen for inspiration?

blissfully unaware of how close they came to being named after chicken dishes! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

The boy and Lydia

The boy has not been thrilled with the girls. He grudgingly helped with the coop construction but was not at all interested in getting to know them. So it came as a bit of a shock when he came out to the coop a few days ago and announced that he wanted to hold a chicken. He stepped into the yard and checked them out, pointed to Lydia and said "I want to hold her, she's pretty". Well, good luck dude! Lydia is not a fan of being held and does not like being approached. If she's in the mood she will initiate contact, otherwise see-ya!

Guess it was just us, because not only did the boy get his hands on her, but held her for quite a while. She didn't try to get away or protest....nothing, nada, zilch!

Maybe he has a future as a chicken whisperer.......

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You've heard of the 5th Beatle? Meet the 7th chicken.....

 Oscar the cat spends much of his day hanging out by the chicken coop. They don't even react anymore when he comes walking up. It took him a few weeks after we fenced in an uncovered yard for them to drop in for a visit. His first attempt he simply jumped up on the gate and sat a spell.

 I finally decided to just open the gate and invite him in as I was curious as to how they would react to finally not having wire between them. Oscar just found a spot to get comfy in and the girls just kept on keeping on.

No worries here- no one is out to harsh any one's mellow. Oscar and Kitty (how apropos!) have come close to touching, but both of them backed out at the same time. He's an odd duck!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Chickens? Not enough room for a camel!

I think that I shall one day own a camel if the opportunity (and finances) presents itself. I think they are beautiful and I would love to have one as a friend. But since we don't have the room or the $30,000.00 to buy one (there is a licensed breeder in Franklinton, one of only two in the US- there's my sign!) chickens seemed the next best choice.

I grew up on the stories my mom told about her pet chickens, especially a rooster who never grew all his adult feathers and her cousin Bobby named "Double Ugly". Despite her propensity for violence and  willingness to fight anyone who called him that, the name stuck. My grandparents failed to realize just how attached to him little Linda was until he met his maker and found his way to the dinner table. No dummy she, little Linda put 2 and 2 together and raised such a fuss and cried so hard that Double Ugly got buried rather than eaten. Another senseless death....don't worry, our girls are safe!

Fast forward many decades and I became enamored with the idea of having chickens. I've always liked birds and except for a few years here and there have always had birds- parakeets, cockatiels, finches. Our last bird, Rudy, died about 4 years ago. Will was willing to talk about it and soon could be found searching the Internet for different breeds of chickens, looking at houses, runs and chicken tractors. We planned on getting chicks in April, but our plans were derailed by two separate events.

Our friends and neighbors decided to put their house on the market and we felt that having a chicken coop (which is the house and the run) next door might discourage prospective buyers. So we put off getting chicks for a few months. In April my mom died and life as I knew it ended. Then in early May there was an article in the N&O about the annual "Henside the Beltline Tour de Coop" and I remembered how much I was looking forward to having my own coop before the world went pear-shaped. So Will and I went on the tour and by the end of the afternoon we were hooked and making plans.

By June 5th we had 6 chicks and here we are in August, only a week or two away from the comets laying eggs. We can't wait!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lydia, oh Lydia, have you met Lydia....

Lydia is hands (or wings) down the most beautiful of the girls- she always has been. Although she was named for Elizabeth Bennett's spoiled, selfish, vain and stupid younger sister I picked "Lydia" for her because of the song, "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady". As a young chick she looked like she had tattooed eye liner.

While everyone else went thru an awkward phase, looks wise, Lydia never did.

She looks like she got into mascara in this photo.

Lydia, hatched 5/9/10, at 13 weeks old

Lydia is a bit of an alarmist and will run for cover if she so much as gets a silhouette of a swallow from the corner of her eye. She also likes having her picture taken, especially if the flash is involved- it hiskimitizes her (hey, if cows can climb up a ladder and misspell words on a billboard Lydia can misspell hypnotize!).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4zRe_wvJw8     will take you to Groucho Marx singing "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hello, Kitty!

I am Kitty's favorite. When we first brought them home she would come sit on my foot and look up at me as if to say "hey, don't I look cute? Don't you want to pick me up?" She was the ice breaker, because with chickens its pretty much monkey see, monkey do (only with feathers)....

Here she is trying to find out what is in the coffee cup. For the record I did not let her try- love her, but not drinking after her!

It's nice to be loved! Is it me or the green faux crocs?

Kitty's comb and cheeks are coming along nicely. She's a sweet girl and even when no one else pays me any attention Kitty can always spare me a few minutes to cuddle.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We might be chicken people, but Harriet is no people chicken.....

Beginning with the first day we met her, Harriet has not been so impressed with us non-feathered folks.

She has never liked to be held and refuses to be hand fed. She loves noodles, but will watch everyone else get their share by hand and will stand back....you can tell she wants to join in, she just can't. Don't feel too bad for her- I always give her some. This is the most common view of Harriet:
Doesn't Harriet have a beautiful head?

She does sometimes relent and will come sit on the arm of the chair we are sitting in (she sat with Will briefly last night) but once the camera comes out she ducks her head or just jumps down and walks away. I was determined to get a few good photos of her last night and with much patience (not my strong suit) I actually got some decent shots. Harriet is very handsome and her black beard just came out over night. She has an Honest Abe look about her. Wonder if I could get her to wear a little stove-pipe hat?

And while she will get on the arm of a chair we are sitting in, she prefers one all to herself.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sun up and sun down....

I came out to visit before the girls were even off their roost this morning. They are usually up first, waiting to be let out into their yard. Lydia, Kitty and Elinor are on the first bar. Then Emma moved forward, leaving Harriet and Fanny in the back. The back roost bar is actually a branch from a tree that I thought would serve well, and so far it has.

Please excuse the zip ties that didn't get cut back- they do an excellent job of holding the layers of chicken wire together.

As interesting as their morning routine can be (especially when they fly from the roost out into the yard one by one), their evening routine is more drawn out and quite soothing to us. We like staying out while they sort themselves out and go to bed.
Emma, Kitty and Elinor getting settled in the grass.

Emma making a bed in the grass, with her eyes mostly shut and kinda listing to one side.

Harriet and Emma- it looks all snuggly and warm, but actually Emma kept getting up and moving to lay on Harriet. Harriet would move and get settled down and look....here comes Emma!

After about 20 minutes of getting comfy in the grass it gets dark enough for someone, usually Harriet or Emma, to call bedtime. Harriet, Emma and Lydia are always the first to go into the house. Then the comets take their time and will go in and come out several times. Harriet or Emma will come back out to give 'em a talking to about staying out too late- usually multiple times before she gets results. Emma is usually the last to actually get on a roost. Someone  usually gets knocked off by someone else trying to occupy the same spot on the roost, but eventually they all have a spot.

And then the sun comes up and it starts all over again.....

Fanny, Fanny Banana, Fan Belt....She who has the most nicknames wins

For whatever reason, Fanny has collected the most nicknames from me. She is also the chicken most likely to end up on my head or to play with my earrings. Fanny will suddenly stop what she's doing and rush over to my chair, stare intently for a few seconds...then run off back to what she was doing or jump in my lap, onto my shoulder and then on my head. So far she hasn't left anything behind!

Fanny is the Comet with the most pronounced comb and cheeks. They all should have them, but Fanny is ahead of the other two (and all poor Elinor has is a comb).

Fanny, hatched 5/5/10

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet Emma.... Michelle's favorite

Emma started out as the smallest, and dare I admit it, the homeliest of the six. She was a motley mix of brown, gray and slate blue.

 She was pretty determined and didn't let her small stature define her. Emma went toe to toe with the big girls when necesssary. Our neighbor Michelle took one look at her and declared that Emma was her favorite.

But fast forward two months and you'd never know anyone ever thought Emma was homely!

Emma, hatched 5/9/10

Monday, August 9, 2010

Elinor strikes out...or she would have if I let her

Elinor is the largest of the Comets (red and white) and has been the largest of the six for most of their lives. Right now she, Harriet and Lydia are about the same size, but Elinor has the biggest personality. She is the first to try something and usually the last to go to bed.

Tonight she flew up onto the gate and looked up into the maple tree, judging it for roosting worthiness. I let her look for a few seconds and then picked her up and put her back on the ground. She has been walking around their yard for several days now, looking up at the tree so I wasn't suprised.

Meanwhile Emma, who is beside Elinor in the photo, had trouble getting the spot she wanted on the roost tonight and it didn't help that Will and I laughed at her. She finally made it, but not without ruffling a few feathers.

Let's get this party started!

June 5, 2010 is when we officially became chicken people. We brought home from Sumner-Byrd Farms 6 chicks to live in the coop we built in the back yard. There are 3 Golden Comets (Elinor, Fanny and Kitty) and 3 Americaunas (Emma, Harriet and Lydia). All named for characters in Jane Austen books.

I've been flooding facebook with photos of the girls ever since, but decided to try a blog. So if you want to catch up with the hen party please join in!