Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#16 8 Months Later ....

Yes, I know, it has been a ridiculously long time since I have written anything.  For better or for worse, nothing earth shattering has happened around the Zen House.  Rachel has gotten herself into quite the groove now.  During the summer months she hangs out in the barn after the horses and dogs go out.  She has her little routine of first checking out the cats food dishes to see if there are any tasty morsels left.  I allow her a few kibbles, but not too many.  Then she makes her rounds to the horses' stalls to scratch around for anything interesting.  Because it gets so hot in the barn in the afternoon, she gets to go outside in the chicken tractor (preferably after she has laid her egg).  Now, during the winter months she just spends her time inside doing whatever it is that chickens do.

During the arctic blast times it can get really cold, so we have her set up pretty cozy. 

This was a particularly cold day.  She came out of her kennel for a few minutes then went right back in and snuggled under the heat lamps.  Pretty smart girl.

 Even Molly figured out the wonders of Rachel's heat lamps.  She would only use them when Rachel wasn't around.  They are still fussing at each other on a daily basis.  Molly grumps and growls at Rachel often, even if she has to hunt her down to do it and Rachel just gives her the "What me?  I'm precious, I never do anything wrong" look.  Uh huh, I have seen her in action.  She will chase Molly down the aisle-way.  Every once in a while she will try to get in a peck if she thinks she can get by with it.  Molly gets pretty paranoid and will sometimes lash out at her even if Rachel really is being good.  This does not fluster Rachel one bit though. She just flaps her wings a little and goes right back to whatever it was that was interesting at that moment.

Sometimes it's nice enough to be able to put her outside.  She is much like her "mom" and doesn't care too much for the wind, so I only put her out on warm, calm days.  

The first part of the winter we only had very cloudy days.  Even if it wasn't horribly cold, it was always cloudy.  This was a day of full sunshine.  The sun came in through the barn window and Rachel took full advantage of it.  She so enjoyed being able to sit on the hay bales and preen herself.

That pretty much sums up the doings of Rachel.  The Zen House girls have been pretty quiet.  They went through their molt without much trouble.  Some days it looked like they had had a pillow fight in the coop with all the feathers strewn everywhere.  Everyone, except poor Ebony, looks so much better.  Even Ivy got all her butt feathers back, finally.  I'm not sure what's up with Ebony.  She never really grew back her missing feathers.  Consequently, she is still wearing her super-chicken cape.

She doesn't seem to mind it at all. She's as feisty as ever.  She is one of my best layers too.

Enjoy the lovely warmer days, especially if you live in the Midwest.  I hear we are in for another arctic blast in a week or two.  I really hate those, but it is winter after all.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#15 No More Playpen for Rachel (she says)

My normal day with Rachel begins by getting all of her necessities ready for a day in her playpen; fresh water, her food, and pick up any droppings from the day before.  Then I get her out of the kennel and turn her loose in the playpen.  At night, when everyone is ready for bed, I put her back in the kennel so she can feel safe and sleep well.

This routine had been going on quite smoothly ... until it didn't. One day she jumped out of her playpen.  Well, you know, once that happens, there is no going back. 

 Oh crap!  This thing is slippery.
 I'm coming to see you, mom. See how I can tightrope walk?

So, okay, let's see what happens.  John was concerned that the barn cats would hurt her, I was not.  I saw the look of terror in the cat’s eyes whenever she came near them.  I could see they did not trust her and were not interested in eating her.

What I found worked really well was to let her escape in the morning and run around the barn all day (after the horses were let out, of course) and then put her back in the playpen during afternoon feeding.  I would bring her her apple as a snack in the afternoon and she would follow me into her playpen.  Miraculously, she would stay there until bedtime.  I guess she had had enough of playing and poking around and was content to just be in the playpen the rest of the afternoon.  Until she wasn’t.

One day, maybe 3 weeks later, I came out to put everybody to bed and lo and behold, there was Miss Rachel running around the barn.  Oh darn.  This is not acceptable.  With the horses inside now, it was too much of a risk of her getting stepped on or scaring the begeezus out of Romeo.

Now at afternoon feeding, Rachel has to go back into her kennel.  I was, at first, doing this after I brought the dogs over to eat.  However, one day Rachel decided to get up close and personal with Max and say hi and Max almost had a very fresh lunch!  Feathers brushed his muzzle.  That was too close for comfort.  So now I put her up before I bring the dogs over.  She doesn’t seem to mind, she gets her apple and more fresh water (she loves to drink out of the bottle as I pour it into her dish).  She seems quite content.  Thank goodness.

Sorry I got a little behind in the girls’ escapades.  There is more to share very soon.
Namaste and Aho!