I have much to cover in this post, but please know ahead of time that I am loopy on allergy medication so I might miss a few points or say something goofy. I can’t be held responsible. You see, growing up, I never had so much as an allergic sniffle. Then I went to college on the East Coast. WHAMO. Allergies up the wahzoo. So, naturally I assumed that I was allergic to some East-Coasty plant. Wrong-o. I came back to the West Coast and had them there too. Awesome. And now here’s the kicker – it turns out that there is something that blooms late May/early June here in SW Washington that kocks me on my arse way worse than anything else anywhere else I’ve ever been. Our one-year anniversary of closing on our house here was May 31st. My one-year anniversary of arriving to stay here in Vancouver is just a few days from now. And my one-year anniversary of having the worst seasonal allergies known to man also happens to be the same day. Blech. Moving on…
Lately, JB has been showing the more charming side of his rooster personality. Until now, it’s mostly been lots of crowing, feather-fluffing, wing-flapping, pullet-grabbing, head-pecking machismo. Not so charming. But about a week ago, he started making the strangest noise – it sounds exactlylike the Predator noise (as in Predator, Predator 2, Alien vs. Predator… etc.). I soon realized that it means “hawk!” Everyone is still working on learning about this noise. Sometimes he makes it and it works perfectly – everyone runs directly back to the safety of the coop. Sometimes he makes it and all the boys, including JB, run to the coop, ignoring the girls. Sometimes he makes it and no one does anything. And sometimes, most head for the coop and JB does his job of protector and stays out to round up the last girls before going in himself, last. Luckily, he most often makes the noise for an airplane (hey, it could be a hawk)… so when it doesn’t work as intended, no harm done. Also, I am always there with them to help get them inside if a hawk does show up. But, point is – they are learning and JB is starting to fill his role as leader and protector quite nicely.
Another thing that he just started doing, I have to admit I didn’t think would happen. I had read that some roosters do this, but JB seemed like such a self-concerned oaf that I didn’t think he could be this awesome. Turns out I was wrong. Yesterday morning, I brought out a bowl of strawberry hulls for the chickens, because I had a ton from making strawberry jam (more on this later) the night before. They all happily picked them up, dropped, them, ate them, teased each other with them, etc. The norm. Then, I put the chickens away. Later that day, I let them out again and a few minutes later I heard, “Buck. Buck. Buck. Buck. BUCK. BUCK. BUCK. BUCK.” I looked aroung and found that it was JB who was making the noise. He had found a strawberry hull in the grass and was picking it up, putting it down, and clucking each time, over and over again. As I watched, one of the other boys go the hint and dashed over and gobbled up the hull. I don’t think that was JB’s intention. When he found another one, he tried it again. Again, Soup came over to take it. JB pecked him on the head and chased him away, and then resumed his picking up and dropping and clucking.
Then, the CUTEST thing happened. Daisy Mae headed over to him and he picked up the strawberry and HANDED IT TO HER! She took it and ate it happily. Then a couple of other girls got the idea and came and stood around JB who proceeded to hand out a few more pieces of berry as he found them. Amazing! What a gentleman! Then, of course, he proceeded to do his little song and dance (whistling, as he drops his outside wing and tippy-toes in a circle around the lady) for the girls and then tried to grab and mount Daisy Mae. Well, he can’t grow up all at once, I guess. Besides, this behavior used to bother me but then someone on BYC put it into perspective for me – at least he ASKS before he takes! For a rooster, that’s pretty cordial! And that made sense to me, so now it doesn’t bother me so much.
Boys II Men
With all this talk about JB and with so many pictures of him, you may have forgotten that there are three more roosters in my coop! Well, they don’t get so much attention because they don’t do so many interesting things (though it is still hilarious whenever one of them tries to crow) and they’re certainly not as handsome. Still, they are not to be forgotten.
We’ve got Scruffy, with his crooked, floppy comb, and funky curly tail:
Scruff is bigger, broader, and beefier than JB these days, but is seriously behind in comb, wattle, hackle, saddle, and tail development. He also seems to be at the bottom of the boys’ pecking order. Poor Scruff!
Then there is Chicken Soup, our biggest chicken in the coop, our second-most-frequent crower, and seemingly second-incommand these days:
As you can see, he is also going through the mysterious tail-moolt where he keeps two long ones on top and the rest fall out.
Third, we have No Name. He has still yet to prove that he has much personality. He is ranked third among the boys and likes to challenge Soup for the #2 spot. He is the scrawniest of the boys with the longest tail:
And lastly, in the number one spot, in all his roosterly glory, JB:
Many of you are wondering how Dorothy is doing. Well, the truth is that there hasn’t been much change. She still pants on and off even when it’s not that hot and when no one else is panting. But, it’s not all the time. She also spends a lot of time crammed, face-first into a corner of the coop, and she is still coming out to free-range less often than normal. But, she does come out. And she does eat. The other change is that she is now friendly. She hops up on the bench and hangs out with me and lets me pet her and even pick her up. This is a big change from a girl who would never even allow a touch before the other day.
So, though it’s possibly silly of me, I still have my hopes up just a little that she could be getting close to laying her first egg. Today, those hopes were boosted some more. This evening when I let them out, 14 chickens came out and Dorothy stayed inside. A few minutes later, I hear, coming from the coop, “BUCK buckbuckbuckbuckbuckbuck buhGAWK!! buckbuckbuck buhGAWK!! buck buhGAWK!! buhGAWK!!” It was really loud. Like, SUPER loud. All the other chickens ran together in a clump and froze, while looking at the coop.
Then, suddenly JB stepped forward and started answering her –
“BUUUCK buckbuckbuck buhGAWK!!! buck buck buhGAWK!!”
And, Dorothy started up again and back and forth they went for a few minutes. Then, as suddenly as it started, the noise stopped and Dorthy came hopping out of the coop and joined the rest of the flock for some grass.
At this point, I will say that, even though I’d never heard it before, that buckbuckbuhGAWKing sounded familiar to me. I’d read descriptions of “the egg song,” that seemed very similar. Apparantly, many hens are very vocal about laying an egg and do the egg song (buckbuckbuhGAWK) before and after laying an egg. What with all the other signs from Big D (Dorothy is way bigger than the other Orpington girls), I admit I was thinking that just maybe there would be an egg waiting for me in the coop. When Brian came out to join me, I left him with the chickens and went and did a thorough search of the coop. Nada. Dorothy is a tease. Then, as Brian and I stood in the grass with them, Dorothy came strutting across the grass from behind the Flower House, buckbuckbuhGAWKing at the to top her lungs. JB immediately joined it. Like a dope, I dashed behing the Flower House to look for an egg. Nothing.
So, I wrote it off as a misinterpretation on my part. I’m just too dang hopeful. How would I know what the egg song sounds like, anyway? I’ve certainly never heard it. So, to get an expert translation, I asked the folks at BYC what all that racket meant. I didn’t mention anything about eggs or my suspicions. I layed out the story with just the facts. And guess what? All responders came back immediately with, “sounds like the egg song,” “sounds like she’s getting ready to lay!,” and “I think you’d better go check for eggs!” YAYYEEE!!! I’m not a dope! And, more importantly, we’re getting close to eggs! Earlier than I expected, but all signs point that way! At least, I hope. I promise you all that you’ll be the first to know if it’s an egg or anything else.
Easter Egger chickens have what are called “pea combs,” which are small, thick, low-lying combs with little bumps or “peas” on them. When young, EEs show little or no comb growth at all, especially pullets. If you have an EE with early comb growth, it’s almost certainly a roo. Anyway, all of a sudden, some of my EE ladies have gone from no comb to highly-visible combs, seemingly overnight. I just started noticing them today and yesterday, and I am with the girls everyday, close up and personal. So far, Laby B is the leader (is anyone surprised?) and Pippin and one other EE are close behind. Daisy Mae, Pol Pot, and the other EE (I know, I know, the rest of my chickens need names. I’m working on it.) still have basically nothing.
Sorry for the lack of pictures. It took me three photosessions and about nine million years to get a decent one of Lady B’s and I totally gave up on the others. you can maybe see it a little in this pic of Pippin:
I took this pic because she was so dirty. I guess white chickens aren’t like white cars – they don’t always look clean.
Spurs (not the San Antonio ones)
On a last note, today I started to notice that JB’s spur bump has started to grow a little. All chickensm, females included, have little bumps on their legs where spurs could form. They usually only form on the males, though. Rarely, a hen will grow spurs, but it is not common. Anyway, I’ll keep you apprised of JB’s spur-growth.
I was going to do a whole section on the garden, but it is super late and I am super sleepy from the medicine and it’s way past my bedtime anyway… so I’ll leave the gardening stuff to tomorrow. I’ll do my best to actually do it tomorrow, too. Nighty night :)