Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Pecking Order Or When Doves Cry

Since childhood I think I have understood the very basics of the Pecking Order.  It seems pretty self-explanatory.  Pecking is involved which, in turn, creates some time of order.  At least this is what I believe my 7 yr old self would have agreed to.  Now in my 40's, I'm still pretty sure that holds true.

As baby chicks there doesn't seems to be any pecking order.  As baby chicks they barely knew how to peck, let alone take that skill out on a sibling for a more advanced status in the flock.  In the first few weeks it seemed everyone was on the same level playing field.

Time marched on for the chicks and in the process a new sense of self for each of my feathered babies.  While there still was no "pecking" order among the Buff's, there did seem to be a hierarchy of sorts.  Felicia was the brave chicken willing to explore.  Fran and Marie would follow never straying from the flock.

At three weeks of age we upset the delicate chick balance and bring in two day old Dominiques, Lois and Deolores.  At week four, in comes two day old Bard Rock Betty.  This is where we see the beginning of a Pecking Order or just plain sibling rivalry.  Either way, the Buffs were quite content tormenting their younger peeps, forcing the "newbies" to take up residence in their own customized incubator.  (And yes, each group was housed in my home office for six weeks while their coop was being constructed)

Once all six ladies made their move into the outside world there was a bit of scuffling and posing for their place in the flock.  There was chasing and posturing.  Squawking and flapping.  It was all pretty short lived.  We breathed a sigh of relief and wrongly assumed it was over. 

Here we are at weeks 21, 18 & 17.

The apple cart has turned over yet again and we are establishing yet a New Order.    Big no longer means best.  Our quiet little buff, Marie has taken charge.

Marie has established her voice.  Literally.  She clucks.  She clucks and she means it and if you are in the flock you darn well better listen.  She clucks.  She flaps her wings.  She half runs, half flies to let everyone know who is boss.  Everyone, including the neighborhood doves who occasionally stop by at the feeder.  Heaven forbid they land in the grass or they get a piece of Marie's mind and the flailing, flapping spectacle we have come to love.
Marie, top dog

So Marie is on top for now.  Felicia and Fran fall next in the pecking line.  Surprisingly, the youngest, Betty is in that center mix.  She doesn't challenge but she is not afraid to muscle in during treat time and get her share of the goods.  At the bottom of the chicken pile are the sweet little Lois and Dolores.  Neither girl is willing to get in anyone's way or fight for a treat.  They wait their turn in the back, hoping for an opening.  I always make sure they get in.  No chicken left behind.

On a side note, last night, after the treats had been doled out and the ladies went about their pecking and bug excavating, Dolores came over to me.  bottom of the pecking order, Dolores.  She let me pick her up and she sat on my lap.  She just sat.  There is something about the underdog.  The underchicken.  My heart melted.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Meet The Ladies

It seems I have been remiss in properly introducing the ladies of our lives.  For that I apologize.

The Buffs are now at week 21 and we are hoping for eggs in the very near future but we shall see.  Though I try for the "no pressure" approach, I am trying to encourage through opening up the nesting boxes and "hinting" with a few faux plastic eggs.
The 21 week old Buff Orpintons.
Fran, Marie and Felicia

Bard Rock Betty (18 weeks) enjoying some yogurt while Lois and Marie wait for a peck.

Delores fanning her tail feathers. 

Marie LOVES her yogurt snack

Delores and Lois interrupted from bug hunting.  They are now 19 weeks.

Betty enjoying the garden

Marie has really grown into that lovely comb

Everyday these ladies surprise and delight me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Week 21 - Our First Cluck

It happened tonight.  
My precious little buff orpington, Marie, clucked!!!

It was a real cluck!  She meant it! 

It IS the little things...

Miss Marie.  First to cluck

Monday, August 13, 2012

And POOF they were chickens

My first batch of chicks came home at the beginning of April.  Easter weekend.  My Easter Peeps were cute and yellow and fluffy. Three weeks later their siblings arrived.  They were cute and black and fluffy with little yellow butts.

Over the months we have had our brood of chicks we have watched them grow.  The early days were lightening fast.  Every morning's peek into the incubator brought a new size chick.  Sometimes it seemed in the blink of an eye they grew.

As of late, the chicks (now teenage chickens) have been in a holding pattern.  Day after day I greet them each morning and free range them each night and I see no change.  The Buffs are the Buffs, the Dominques remain demure and Betty the Bard Rock is unchanged.  Would they EVER get big?  Would they EVER become chickens?

A few weeks ago my husband and I went on a long awaited pilgrimage/vacation to where I was born.  A long weekend to celebrate his birthday, my class reunion, a family reunion and our first wedding anniversary.  Apparently, when you jam-pack that much into a four day weekend the chickens decide to pack on the pounds.

We left on a Thursday.  I told the ladies to be good...  I told our teenager he was on high alert as Chicken Guardian.

We returned on a Monday night.  We returned to CHICKENS.  In the span of just five days my chickens went on an eating/growing frenzy!  Thank goodness for the color coded ankle bracelets we gave the ladies the week before or I would not have known my girls.  They were bigger.  They were taller.  And just as anxious to be set free and free range.

They each have their little combs.  Their tail feathers are a bit bigger.  They stand a bit more proud.  My girls are growing up nicely and, while I miss their little peeps, I love what they have become.

Fran & Marie on the patio