Tag Archives: Poultry

The Survivors

The title of this post was going to be a cheerful “Chicken Update!” I was going to write something light about how I hadn’t been taking any pictures of the babies to spare them the humiliation of having their awkward adolescent weeks immortalized on the internet, etc.. That was until the events of this past Wednesday night wiped out half of our hens.

Spared all the roosters. Sigh.

It was 2:30 am and our dog Bonny was demanding to be let out. Bonny is not a dog to waste any time not sleeping, so when she didn’t trot right back in B went bravely out to investigate. He discovered the unmistakeable sight of an erect skunk tail running frantic laps around the run of our chicken house. An occasional chicken flapped through the air with much squawking to punctuate the sad peeping of the confused flock huddled at ground level. Also, there was the stench. B only has one pair of pj pants and needed them for a pending trip, so he ran back in the house to strip down before confronting certain doom again in his briefs. Yes. He was going back out to confront a skunk. This time in his underwear.

Fortunately this wardrobe change gave the skunk some time to escape back through the 2″x4″ openings in the fencing around the outdoor part of our chicken house. Sadly the skunk killed three of our tiny ladies in the mayhem. I would have felt so much better if it had at least been a creature that wanted to eat them. They were just senseless collateral damage.

This is the chicken I was most worried about losing:

Note the crooked beak. If I were a real chicken fancier it would have been cull city for this hen, but look at her beard! Too good! Her behavior is also terribly endearing. B says she and her manly counterpart (both Bearded D’Anvers bantams) are the Golden Retrievers of the chicken world. They do stuff like this:

You don’t even need a food lure!

I’m so glad they both made it through the attack.

The rest are merely pretty friendly.

None have names yet. Initially I wasn’t naming them because half were going to be roosters and therefore not for keeping here in Oakland. This last incident reminded me that it might be wise to wait until full maturity to really help lessen the blow of the random, surprise chicken slaughter. Indeed, this was not our first night of losses over the years. Unfortunately O had named one of the hens before she died. RIP Rainbow. I waited until O was engrossed in a Busytown Mystery before breaking him the news. After an initial “but I WANT Rainbow!” he decided it would be okay. Okay as long as we rename all the big chickens Rainbow.

The head count is now as follows:

3 baby hens

3 baby roosters

5 big chickens (Rainbow 1, Rainbow 2…)

1 dog

1 cat

2 horses

assorted fat squirrels and other garden vermin



Just minutes after publishing that last post our goldendoodle Bonny started boofing to announce the arrival of the postman inside our front gate. He was carrying this:

It was very loud! Chock full of hungry, thirsty babes peeping vigorously for their first meal.

I gave each chick the obligatory beak dunk, so they knew where the water was, and they were off!

The best thing about little chickens is how very much they act like big chickens- they scratch, they do the wing/leg combo stretch, they peck leftovers off one another’s beaks, and they pick up tiny sticks and run like hell until it is plain to every other chicken anywhere in the vicinity that a prize has been found.

One thing particular to the tiny guys is their cat naps. Frequently as they walk into the range of the brooder light and warm up they do clumsy, slow-motion face plants and pass out instantly in the bedding. They nap until they are stepped on enough times by the others, and then get back to the important work of growing up. One little one tumbled and capsized right under the light. After an unsuccessful attempt at righting himself he got so cozy he fell asleep with wings splayed out, toes in the air. I think it has been a long 3 days for this brood.

I could watch these babies constantly. It’s going to be hard to do much else!

Waiting for The Stork


I am writing as a means of quelling my anxiety. As I type, somewhere in Oakland a box of baby chickens is accompanying a USPS worker on his rounds. Last week I ordered 25 chicks (+ 1 free! Rare Exotic Breed) from McMurray Hatchery and according to my tracking info they will arrive sometime today. Hopefully sooner than later, as their window of possible survival is closing soon. Before they are born baby chicks absorb the nutrients from the egg yolk and can live for 3 days after hatching without food or water.

Today is the 9th. The babies shipped on the 6th.  Everybody cross your fingers for a box of *live* babies.