We are reaching the end of the fourth day in the new coop and things are going quite well. Today I mostly got pictures of sleeping because every time I remembered my camera, that’s (of course) what they all happened to be doing. And the interesting thing to me is that they’ve decided to form color cliques, at least for today. So whatever happened to “it don’t matter if you’re black or white?” I guess Michael Jackson was before their time. And, as they say – those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. The above pic was from around 5 pm today when I went out after work to check on them. As usual, the sun was headed down and they were settling in for sleeping. Closest to the door, my three Orpingtons were snuggled up in a line, separate from everyone else. At the feeder was the lone buff Ameraucana, and toward the back of the coop all by her(him)self was little Mystery Chick. In the middle, snuggled up under the lights was everyone else – all the darker-colored chicks. Then, just now at about 9pm I went to snap a few more shots and check on them before bed and I found that they were doing it again. Right now, all the dark-colored chicks are in a pile in the middle under the lights, and in a little yellow clump in the back are all the light-colored chicks. No exceptions. Of course I write all that and now I check and did I get any pictures of this phenomenon? No. Of course not. Why would I? I wasn’t trying to tell a story or anything. ::sigh:: Moving on.
My, That’s Quite a Tail You’ve Got There, Granny
At this point, the most noticeable physical changes in most of the chicks are their tails. Most of them are getting quite long and some even have two layers of feathers and they hold them up and strut around. One of the Marans is winning this race. He/she is now very clearly the largest of all the chickens and has the most pronounced physiscal development – a long, almost curving tail, nearly fully-feathered wings, and even some back and neck feathers. I got a good picture of him/her next to another Marans that is one of the ones that is behind in the feather growth department.
At this point we still have two Marans with no tail feathers at all. But, I have given up thinking that means anything. I am going to stop guessing until I hear some crowing or see some egg-laying, because clearly I have no clue.
New Things to Explore
My favorite time to visit them is first thing in the morning. At that time, they are super-perky and are running around playing games and doing lots of flying and peeping, etc. Now, whereas the most physically developed chick is one of the Marans… the most mentally advanced is our friend Cool the Ameraucana, insofar as I can tell. She is still our A#1 flier and is also the most curious about me and is generally quite crafty all around. She is often the first to come over to check me out and will hang out near me longer and more often than anyone else. That’s right, my friends, I am playing favorites. If she keeps this up, I may just declare her the smartest darn chicken in the coop. SHE LIKES ME! Ok, she doesn’t like me THAT much since she still won’t let me touch her, but we’re really getting somewhere I think. We have a bond, the two of us.
ANYWAY, this morning she was very cute… after coming over to say hi to me and then gracefully (sort of) flying onto and off of each feeder and waterer, she went over to the ramps attached to the divider wall and stood up on her tippy-toes and stretched her neck all the way up as far as it would go, trying to see the top of the lowest ledge. She went back and forth under the ramp a couple of times and then she took a couple of practice hops and then went for it – she leapt straight up in the air, wings flapping, in an attempt to get up on the ramp. She was about four inches short, but it won’t be long. After her failed attempt, she went underneath the nesting boxes and did the same thing. Again, chickens aren’t supposed to be interested in perching until at least 4 weeks, but what can I say? She’s advanced for her age :)
This, combined with the fact that there was poop running down the sides of one of the waterers made me decide that it was time to install a baby perch.
So, I marched inside and told Brian about Cool’s determination to perch on things and asked him if he had any ideas for a baby perch. He told me he would build something from the scrap lumber left over from building the coop. So, this evening he built this, which I think is awesome:
It’s way better than what I had pictured because it has steps up one side for our less-advanced chickies, plus it is high enough and positioned so that Cool can make it up onto the ramp if she so desires! Brian took it out to them after he made it while I was inside cooking and he stayed out there for a really long time. When I went to check to make sure they hadn’t eaten him or anything, I found him in there, watching them. He had “put a trail of food up the steps to entice them up.” He’s pretty funny sometimes :) Anyway, he said one of them made it to the second to last step, which is pretty good. I predict that by morning, Cool will have hopped right up there, skipping the steps.
You will also notice the cylinder that is hanging in front of the perch. That is called a BabyCake and I bought it from the hatchery when I ordered the chicks. You are supposed to hang it for the chicks starting at 14 days old. It provides entertainment and discourages feather-picking and cannibalism (apparently that’s a bad habit chicks can pick up while confined together in their earliest days. gross.)… and “brings the free-range to the brooder,” whatever that means. Anyway, it’s been in there for two days now and I’ve seen one chick disinterestedly peck at it once. That’s it. So, maybe it’s a bust, but I’m leaving it there in case they change their minds.
Oh, and speaking of advanced and intelligent, today when I brought their worm treats I decided to actually watch what an individual does with a worm rather than trying to watch the larger, chaotic picture. And, not to disappoint, Cool came through again. While the other chicks grabbed worms and ran toward the other chicks, dropping the worms, getting them stolen, getting them back, and tearing them to pieces, Cool quitely took one and went over by my legs and quickly slurpped it down in one gulp. Then, as the pandemonium continued, she quietly surveyed the scene and when she noticed that one dropped worm had been forgotten in the fray, she stealthily went over and grabbed it and took it back to her hiding spot and slurpped that one down too. Six worms for fifteen chicks and she got two whole ones. How do you like THEM apples?
Mystery Chick – The Mystery Deepens
Because I’m not a loser or anything, I have spent a decent amount of time on the McMurray site, trying to figure out what Mysery Chick could possibly be. It seems to me like he/she is going to be white. At least, the feathers that have grown in so far are pretty white and he down looks like the down of chicks of white breeds that I have seen. But, I have checked the white breeds that McMurray has and either the chicks look totally different than Mystery Chick, or they look exactly the same, but with one notable exception – leg color. Mystery Chick’s legs are decidedly blue. Again, I have no picture of this right now, but I’ll get you one, I promise. The leg color really seems to narrow it down quite a bit and I now have a solid guess. I think that he/she might be a Blue Andalusian. Here is the picture from teh McMurray site of the adults:
Apparently the blue gene is rather tricky and only half of the babies are born blue. The other 50% is composed of white, black, and black-and-white babies. I still can’t figure out from what I read if a white baby will grow up to be white or blue, but they do say that they all carry the blue gene and will breed blue babies, for what that’s worth.
Anyway, that’s the only breed I can find that could be a white baby with blue legs AND McMurray carries it. So there you go. Again, I have no real clue but the guessing game is kinda fun. Many of the hatcheries also do random assortment “surprise” packages of chicks where you have no clue what you’re getting and you just have to guess until they get older. If you don’t have specific plans to get specific breeds, I think that might be kind of fun someday :)