Even Emo Chickens Need to Crow

Editor’s note: this post was drafted and lost for a long time.  It was found nearly five years later and published as a matter of record in it’s draft form. It’s not a finished product.

Our fake redcap (or real Americauna) chicken has started crowing in the last day or two. And in our humble opinion, it’s one of the funniest thing that has yet happened on the farm. Join us as we foray into video, turn up your speakers, and enjoy an awkward crow.

It’s as though he’s saying “I’m sad that I’m crowing,” and he does it almost every time he crows.

Now, a crow is an interesting thing, and we shouldn’t be overly harsh on the fake redcap. As we’ve seen before, Little Dick sure pulls an awkward face, too.

Little Dick
Little Dick Lets One Loose

In fact, as most of the roosters were first starting to crow, they all looked . . . possessed. Their eyes bulge a little, they get a really planted stance. Their neck goes taut, the beak parts, and then . . . a sound that you wouldn’t think lungs that small could produce. And apparently a sound that they didn’t think they could produce either, judging by the looks on their faces.

So crow on, fake redcap! Nevermind that we’ve labelled you a fake.

Or maybe that’s why you’re so sad.

Well, whatever the cause, cheer up, emo kid!

Snowy close out

Cabin in snow
First snow of the year: October 27

Well, here we are at the end of the season. It’s been a great run, and it’s a little exciting to end on a snowcapped note.

The first snow of the season officially came on October 27, but the bigger guns were pulled out yesterday, on October 29. We got about six inches of snow, enough to flicker the power a few times but not cause any serious damage. Continue reading “Snowy close out”

Somewhere to Lay

New Laying Boxes
New Laying Boxes

Today we put together some brand new laying boxes for the hens. If you’ve got a similar eye to me, you’ll immediately notice that they’re just a little bit slanty. That’s because the two support beams were made from scrap wood, so they aren’t exactly the same height. Hopefully the hens won’t mind one or two degrees of incline. Continue reading “Somewhere to Lay”

Of markets and melons

Ceci n'est pas un honeydew
First melon of the season!

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’

We’ll talk of many things today. The farm’s been busy, and this tardy post will cover melons, markets, and chickens all in one fell swoop. (Incidentally, has anyone ever done something in two fell swoops? Continue reading “Of markets and melons”

Days of Our Chickens

Pencilled Rock Rooster
HAVE YOU SEEN ME? We couldn't get his picture on a milk carton, but this silver-pencilled rock's twin has gone missing.

As promised, here’s the much-anticipated chicken update. First off, the current count: 23. We had 24 birds as of about a week ago, but we’ve recently gone down by one. We do know who’s gone: a silver pencilled rock rooster. We do not know how he disappeared. He’s either been eaten by something that wasn’t us, or (and this is my preferred theory) he’s gone feral and will eventually return with stories of fame, glory, and fortunes won and lost. Either way, it’s a shame that one of the better looking birds has gone missing.

Fake Campine
Real breed: modern game bird. Previously believed to be: campine. Currently called: Fake campine.

In the picture above, you can see one of our fake campines, so called because they are not actually campines but convinced us that they were for the first many weeks of their feathered lives. Campines are fairly useful birds, scrawny but good layers. Modern game birds, their rather unimaginative real breed, were raised purely for their looks, making them some of the less-useful birds that we’ve got. Note the longer legs and slim body. If aliens were going to impersonate a barnyard animal and take over the world, it would probably be a modern game bird. We’re keeping an eye on them.

Cochin and Americauna Roosters
Little Dick and the Cochin


Little Dick
Little Dick Lets One Loose

In the center/bottom of top picture is Little Dick, so named because of his resemblance to a certain former Vice President early on in his life. The pointed nose and close set eyes made him look like a long-lost feathered brother. He also picked on the other chicks quite a bit, so the name was a nice little double entendre. Little Dick’s one of the more attractive roosters, which will probably keep him off the chopping block for a bit.

Above Little Dick is the cochin, a Chinese breed which should be good and meaty. He’s got feathered legs, making it look like he’s wearing chaps when he gallops. Yes, gallops. He doesn’t seem quite capable of a normal chicken run, but he does seem terribly capable of being delicious.

Cuckoo Maran Rooster
Cock of the walk. Ruler of the roost. Other alliterative/rhyming chicken phrases.

I mentioned previously that there was some drama in the hen house, and this guy is the culprit. The cuckoo maran rooster has really taken over the joint. He patrols the roosts at night, making sure everyone’s in their spot, pecking at chickens that he thinks need to move. By day, he beats up on other troublemakers. If you hear *SQUAWKSQUAWK* during the day, it’s very probably this guy trying to maintain order by latching on to someone else’s neck.

White Polish Chicken
Who has two thumbs and causes a lot of problems? THIS GUY. (note: this guy doesn't really have thumbs.)

The drama comes in around night time. The cuckoo maran has a penchant for kicking people out of the coop, namely the white polish rooster, who can be a little aggressive with the ladies. (I always visualize him running around a la Benny Hill.) The white polish has spent a number of nights outside the coop, either in various trees or under the deck.

(HEADS UP: Vegetarians should skip the rest of this and leave a comment on how cute the chickens are.)

The upside to the polish chicken drama is that it pretty quickly solved a conundrum that we were trying to solve: who gets eaten first? At first we thought the cuckoo maran should go, but then we realized he’s got the traits you want in a good rooster. Or at least we think so, with all of three months of chicken rearing experience under our belts. He keeps eyes on everyone, keeps the other roosters in line, and doesn’t hesitate to protect the hens. But he’s also gentle towards people.

So that leaves an obvious choice: the white polish. He’s got a crow that sounds more like a velociraptor screech, he is constantly in trouble, and the big white mop top makes him an easy target for something else to eat. We figure that means we should get to him first.

That wraps up this week’s chicken soap opera. If anyone’s got experience offing chickens, your advice would be welcome. If you would like to be around for the festivities this week, drop us a line. And if you’ve got any thoughts about whether the cuckoo maran’s behavior makes for a good rooster or a bad one, leave a comment and let us know.

Chicken Hat

Chicken Hat
Nick wears the chicken hat

We were taking care of the chickens a few days ago, right around dusk. This little black bird decided it really wanted to be (a) out of the pen and (b) right on Nick. If you’ve never had a chicken flap directly at your head, let me tell you, you are missing out on quite an experience.

Anyway, chickens are doing good. We recently free ranged them, opening up the fence and letting them roam around. Look out for a post with some ranging chickens soon!