Guess Who?

Lady Banks and Daisy Mae on the doorstep to freedom

Daisy Mae and Lady Banks on the doorstep to freedom

That’s right, the star of our show, Lady Banks, and her comrade-in-arms, Daisy Mae, have been at it again.  This started a couple of days ago when I opened the door into their part of the coop as usual, steped in, turned around, and the two of them immediately hopped up on the doorstep.  As I’ve mentioned, Lady B has been eyeing that other half of the shed for some time now and I knew it was only a matter of time.  I really didn’t want to play catch-the-chicky, though, so I tried to encourage them back inside.  At first this worked as Lady Banks jumped down and came over to see me.  But, Daisy Mae stayed up there and less than a minute later, Lady B jumped right back up and squarely into Daisy Mae, and knocked her off the other side into the non-chicken half of the shed.  This didn’t suit Daisy Mae at all.  She immediately began running back and forth, throwing herself at the wire wall, trying to get back in with her friends.  At this point, I put my camera away so I could help her, and she was so distressed, she let me catch her without any issue and I tossed back in with her friends.  It all happened so fast, I didn’t get any more pics, but that first one was just moments before.

Well, since then, it’s been a flurry of new happenings.  Every morning, the two of them are up to some new exploring.  One morning I came in and the two of them had made it to the third and top ramp, which had got to be at least 4 feet off the floor.  Then the next morning, I came in and they were both up on the top ramp again and upon seeing me, they went together onto the perch bar in front of the top row of nesting boxes.

more adventures

more adventures

A few seconds later, they came back to the top ramp and both hopped up to one of the perch bars ABOVE that top ramp.  This bar is at about the height of my shoulder, so it’s about 5 feet off the ground and sticks out over the open middle of the coop!  As you’ve probably guessed by now, this was one of the early morning visits where I wasn’t yet awake enough to remember my camera.  Maybe one of these days I’ll learn.  Anyway, they both hung out there for a couple of minutes and then Daisy Mae decided to FLY DOWN.  This from a bird who can get about 12-18 inches of air on her own.  I could see she was thinking about it and I thought, “Oh no… she can’t fly that well yet… she’ll be going pretty fast when she hits the ground… this could be ugly…”  But boy did she prove me wrong.  She flew down no problem… went all the way across the coop in the process and landed quite nicely.  I wouldn’t call it graceful, exactly, but it was way better than I expected.

It’s interesting to me because Lady B is clearly the leader and innovator, but Daisy Mae is right there with her… she tries everything soon after Lady B does and is just as brave about it, if not braver.  But, their big difference is in how they behave around me.  Lady Banks comes running to see me at this point and hops up and down off my lap and arms even takes naps on my knee.  Daisy Mae stays as far away from me as possible.  They most definitely have distinct personalities.

Lady B on my knee

Lady B on my knee

Treats

I have been reading and posting on an online chicken forum on the website www.backyardchickens.com, and I have been learning all kinds of cool things.  The best thing so far is yogurt.  Holy cow, chickens are crazy for yogurt!  I read suggestions to feed it as a treat to chicks and chickens of all ages and that they love it and it’s good for their digestion, just like it is for ours.  Well, I tried it and it’s a HUGE hit.  I drizzle it over the top of some of their regular feed in the little treat ramekin and they eat it SO fast that by the time the crowd clears, there’s never any left for a picture.  So, here’s  picture of right after they’ve eaten it all.

yogurt all gone

yogurt all gone

it’s pretty funny, though, because they shove their beaks and faces in it because they are so excited and they get it up their noses with makes them sneeze and shake their heads and fling it everywhere, and then there are chicks with food stuck to their faces for a while.

"Do I have something on my face?  Got anymore yogurt?"

"Do I have something on my face?"

"Got any more yogurt?"

"Got any more yogurt?"

And, speaking of treats and Lady B – I will tell you again, she’s got to be the smartest chick in the coop.  Whenever I bring worms in, I bring 6 or 8 of them, and out of 15 chicks, only some ever get any worms because they others aren’t pushy enough.  This evening, I dug up 8 worms in the dirt outside the coop and took them in.  I put them down for them and the usual suspects came for the first worms… mostly Buff Orps.  But, as usual, they took them and started running around with them, playing keep-away instead of just eating them.  In the meantime, Lady B had casually waltzed over and gotten a worm and taken it into a corner to eat it.

Lady B with her worm

Lady B with her worm

Sorry the pic is blurry, but you get the point.  Anyway, she then walked over and picked up another one, took it to the corner, ate it.  And THEN she went and found a dropped one and grabbed it and ate it too… all in relative peace, while the others were running around frantically trying to grab the worms from each other.  She got 3 out of 8 worms and was competing with 14 other chicks.  Sorry… do I talk too much about her?  She’s a star, what can I say?

The New Arrangement

In other news, yesterday we made some upgrades to the coop setup.  For three days in a row, they had knocked over one of their chick feeders, and yesterday they knocked over a waterer as well.  This means that they’re getting too big and strong to use the chick feeders.  Also, several of the babies have taken a liking to sleeping up on the baby perch that Brian built.  However, this doesn’t work at night when the temps get too low and they need to be under the lights for heat.

Keeping these things in mind, I did some rearranging.

the reason

the reason

The other reason

The other reason

The new arrangement

The new arrangement

They have been upgraded to an adult hanging feeder, which minimizes food wastage (they were getting really bad about scooping all the food out of the chick feeders onto the floor too), and can be adjusted for height as they grow – plus they can’t knock it over.  I am leaving the chick feeders in there until they empty them and I’m sure they’re all using the new feeder.  I have also raised one of the heat lamps so that it provides the right temperature for them up on the baby perch, should they choose to sleep there.

using the new feeder

using the new feeder

Ever the innovator, Lady B is the only one to use the feeder from the ground... not on the wooden blocks.

Ever the innovator, Lady B is the only one to use the feeder from the ground... not on the wooden blocks.

Generally alone and in last place... Mystery Chick still uses the baby feeders.

Generally alone and in last place... Mystery Chick still uses the baby feeders.

Falling asleep...

Falling asleep...

on the...

on the...

perch.

perch.

Breeds and Sexes

I have been talking to people on the Backyard Chickens forum and have been trying to get some opinions about Mystery Chick and also the sexes of the Marans.  As you know, the Marans came straight run and we have potential for having too many roosters on our hands.  While I do have a person who wants my extra roos, I’d rather keep all my babies!  Also, we run the risk of having ALL roos, which would defeat the purpose of purchasing the breed, since what I want is nice, DARK brown eggs (Marans are known as “chocolate eggers”).  One guy scared me with pics of his chicks at 11 weeks old and he has 2 girls and one boy and the girls have no combs yet whatsoever.  I went out and checked my birds and all six have definite comb growth.  For a while I was SURE I had all boys!  But then I talked to more people and I found out that it’s actually more common for both boys and girls to get combs early in Marans, so not to worry.  I posted pics and still going by the color thing, I got two votes for five girls, one boy (that would be perfect!  but, probably too much to hope for, realistically) and one vote for three girls, three boys (statistically likely).

The one thing on which everyone agrees is that this guy is a “little roo.”

Giant Marans chick on my knee

Giant Marans chick on my knee

I agree with this assessment.  In light of this, I have decided to name him Johnny Bravo.  It seems to match his look and personality… kind of a big, oafy, macho, tough guy, but not the sharpest tool in the shed and actually kind of a weeny :)  If you are not familiar with the cartoon, here is a taste:

Johnny Bravo, the cartoon

Johnny Bravo, the cartoon

As for the others, I still can’t tell and clearly it’s not that obvious to anyone else either.  I do feel like at least one of them is a girl as she is mostly black with only light white spots at the very tips of her feathers, which is characteristic of a female.

Hopefully a girl

Hopefully a girl

She is extremely shy and stays far away from me and runs when she sees the camera, so it’s dang hard to get a pic of her at all, let alone a good one, but I think you get a good sense of her coloring in this one.  You can see she’s way darker than Johnny Bravo.

As for Mystery Chick, we’re in a dead heat for Andalusian (which was my earlier guess – see here) or Ameraucana/Easter Egger, which would make her the same breed as Lady B, the future Amy Winehouse, Daisy Mae, etc.  I guess it’s possible.  She’s SO different, though, and so much smaller and unlike them that it’s hard to believe.  But, EEs come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, so who knows.  The people who think this are saying that her legs look more green than blue, and green legs are a dead giveaway for EE.  Other say “Andalusian” like it’s a sure thing, and one guy said that she looks exactly like a splash Andy he got from MM last year (like my chicken shorthand lingo?  I’m very cool.)  “Splash” is a color which is all white except for blue on the very tips of only some feathers; apparently 25% of all Andalusians from McMurray (MM) are splash.  Pic of adult splash Andy here.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

And to all a goodnight

As I am inclined to do, I will leave you with a few good pics.

yogurt-025

marans-pics-018

marans-pics-022

marans-pics-035

marans-pics-036

marans-pics-0451

marans-pics-0481

escape-023

escape-0331

yogurt-036

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