Thursday, July 01, 2010

Chick Magnet ... It's A Curse

It's not easy being a chick magnet.

It may sound exciting to have hordes of chicks following you around, but a guy needs some peace and quiet once in a while.

It is still true that the way to a chick's heart is through her stomach.
Just watch the video below if you don't believe that.




These are Laya's chicks that I introduced you to months ago when they were tiny, fluffy, biddies.
I kept them caged until they were feathered out enough to fly away from danger. About two weeks ago, I opened the cage door and stepped back.

Nobody did anything for about ten minutes, and then a few cautiously explored the open doorway. The cage was perched atop two very tall sawhorses and after a little door exploring, two chicks stepped out on to the sawhorse.

The four foot drop must have looked pretty scary, because they spent a lot of time looking down.

Finally, one brave soul, we'll call him "Orville", made the leap with much frightened squawking and flapping.
After that, one by one, each chick leaped screaming from the precipice. It had not occurred to them yet that they were birds and capable of flight.

My big concern that first day was actually the night. That is when predators emerge from the surrounding woods to patrol closer to PFHQ. Raccoons, cats, and opossums have picked off unlucky or foolish chickens here in the past, so I was a little concerned.



After dark, I went out to see where the chicks had roosted.
The older chickens roost high up in the live oak behind the house. They have learned over time to do this and those who did not "get it" have long been eaten by night prowlers.

Would the new chicks follow their lead?

Nope.

They were all nestled on the ground beneath the live oak.

So, I hunted them down, gathered them up, and put them in the cage for the night.

The next day I let them out.

That night, when I went out, they were again nestled on the ground. So, again, I hunted them down with the flashlight and caged them.

On the third night, they were all nestled together about midway up the oak tree on a fat limb.
They have made great progress since then and have the roosting thing down.

Since that night, they have been free ranging all over the place under the watchful eye of "SON OF HOOT" who is obviously their father ... he's also their brother, but who are we to judge chicken morals?

What's interesting to me is how the original flock of 12 banties, purchased several years ago, has evolved. The 12 original birds were "mixed" banty chicks. As they matured, it became obvious that we had some fancy pudgy fluffy feather footed banties, a single well muscled rock bird (HOOT), a snow white basic chicken shaped chicken, and a handful of game birdy, pheasanty birds.

Over several years and generations of chicks, the flock has been honed by predation. Those who were weak flyers or slow, were picked off.
Left to breed were the gamebird style chickens and the muscular, in your face rooster, HOOT.

Today, All the birds are lean, flying machines that look much like a wild jungle fowl ... and they ALL have coloration that smacks of HOOT Sr's genes and Laya (the best hen ever).

Laya, (the best hen ever,... did I mention that?) is currently missing. She is the mother of every chicken at PFHQ ... that would be 3 older roosters and the current chick flock of 8.

Every time she has gone missing in the past, it's been due to her brooding a clutch of eggs somewhere on the property.

Being an optimist, and a great admirer of Laya, I believe that is what she is doing now.

I will keep you posted on her walkabout status.

13 comments:

Sayre said...

When I saw the title of this post, I thought you were going to write about Junior.... So I laughed when it turned out to be chickens instead!

I hope Layla's walkabout is a good one!

Cathy S. said...

I hope it is simply a walk about. She really deserved a vacation not an incubation.

Miz S said...

I wonder how they figured out the roosting thing. Is it instinct or do you think they watched the other chickens do it? 'Splain their little bird brains to me, please.

Caroline said...

Having become acquainted with your tricky headlines, I suspected Laya was somehow involved.

I have heard of being nibbled to death by ducks, but toe-tickled by chickens is rather funky too.

I did hear the "teacher voice" in there.....
(^_^)

Anonymous said...

Awww... my Dad would have loved the fact that you have one named Orville! In fact he would claimed you named it after even tho the two of you never met! Hey, I got deployed to the Gulf coast! I'm heading down on Monday to do what we do!
Lightnin

threecollie said...

I hope Laya is all right! Your birds are lovely, and have grown up so quickly

Dani said...

They have such great coloring!

Anonymous said...

Note to the barefooted in the chicken yard: Careful - all that green stuff between your toes may not be grass.....

Dani said...

If any of those pawpaws go to seed could I have a few? I lost mine back when Hurricane Frances rolled through a few years ago.

jojo said...

check under the house, under the shed, in the garage, on the fridge, and in the chimenea. works for me!

:)

your grasp of the chicken breed language is astounding. especially the game birdy pheasanty ones. lol but can you take a pic of the fancy pudgy fluffy feather footed one?

LaDivaCucina said...

Haha! The guy can't help it! I love your little nature stories. Have a great Fourth of July weekend with your brood, both feathered and family!

MadelineTheWriter said...

Hi there!

Okay I'm jumping with joy - you know the kinda joy you get when you run into people out of the blue who think about things (things like Florida, Chickens, saving plants from mowers, and Cracker cattle...) like you do?

Well, perhaps it's my joy, or my jumping, but I can't seem to subscribe or follow you...

So - Let me introduce myself -
"MadelineHere"
of
http://www.HorseNPonyOnline.com and
http://www.twitter.com/HorseNPony.

Maybe you could contact us (that would be the royal or internet blogging kind of us) there?

Nice stumbling on your place,

Hope you have a great 4th weekend!

-- " MadelineHere "

p.s. You might like a Google Search video I did --

http://www.bit.ly/FlHorsesRock


p.p.s. My little hen Rosemary liked to hide - I mean nest - under low (very low) sprawling lantana flowers. But she would eventually come when you called her. (You'd see the flowers suddenly lift up like the door on a tornado shelter and she's pop out all perky and come a running.)

Floridacracker said...

Sayre,
The chickens do not seem attracted to him.

Cathy,
Clever!

Miz S,
It's learning. They didn't get it the first few nights, but watching the older chickens go high in the trees did the trick.


Caroline,
Tricky? Moi?
Teacher voice LOL!


Lightnin,
Neat! I suppose Dave will be taking some leave now. LOL!


Dani,
If I can get to the ripe pawpaw before the critters do I'll try for some seeds for ya.


JOJO,
Great search advice!
Um, the fluffy footed one is one of the unlucky birds who was not suited for freeranging.
Eaten some time ago.


La Diva,
Thanks! You too! I'm sure there will be something good cooking for the 4th in your kitchen!


Madeline,
Welcome to Pure Florida! Glad you found PF and that it meets with your approval!
I will be checking your site today.