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Who Will Be The Chosen One?

In my books, four roosters is four too many. But that is what we ended up with after Tweedle Mum recently hatched five chicks. After losing sweet Peeps to a dog mauling last winter, we learned the hard way that the lack of a rooster can endanger the lives of free-ranging hens. So we intend to keep one of these Roos and probably eat the rest. (Life on the Queendom is not for the faint of heart)

When you suddenly have four boys all coming to maturity at once, you have to carefully analyze their ‘chicken-alities’ and groom one to be your man. Here are the candidates:

Meriadoc – As a chick, Meriadoc was very social and didn’t mind being scooped up. He would nestle down in your hand and peep contentedly. Now, he is our biggest rooster and avoids both of us, analysing our every move. He has become very cautious around us but in a sly way. I’m sure that he is scheming to launch onto my forehead at any given moment. He is covered in black feathers which shine an iridescent green or purple in the sunlight and recently he has developed white streaks in his cape feathers. He is quite taken with Chip, the queen of our coop, but he is very rough on her, chasing her to exhaustion and plucking out beakfuls of feathers. He crows occasionally but only if someone else starts it. He will make a hearty meal.

Named after one of the famous hobbits, Meriadoc sport feathered legs and feet. Initially we were able to hold him and he had great potential socially.

Named after one of the famous hobbits, Meriadoc sports feathered legs and feet

Sly and scheming, Meri's dark chicken-ality outweighs his beautiful plumage.

Sly and scheming, but kind of pretty

Pingu – This is our smallest rooster and our most timid. He was the first to crow but has not crowed for the past three weeks, leaving that job to the others. Being the smallest (perhaps a bantam), he also seems to be the lowest rooster in the pecking order. I haven’t seen anyone pick on him but he is submissive to all the others. He has taken a shine to little Sunnyside and is her constant companion, much to her dismay. He has a beautiful, droopy green-feathered tail and prominent ear tufts. He is easy-going, quiet and enjoys sleeping alone on the outdoor roost, avoiding the chaos inside. He might be a keeper if we decide to keep two.

Pingu is named after a British clay-mation character from the 1990s. As a chick, he looked just like a little penguin.

Pingu is named after a British clay-mation character from the 1990s

The only one with a true rooster tail, Pingu also sports ear tufts which restrict his peripheral vision.

Pingu is the only one with a true rooster tail

Devilled – This little guy has been standoff-ish since the beginning. He was the first to hatch and was always a step ahead of the other chicks. Now as a rooster, he is Satanic. He crows constantly, starting at 5:14 am and about 483 other times during the day. He is completely black with two long tail feathers that stick up like an antenna. He has a small patch of orange on his chest – a sprinkle of paprika on his devilled egg. He is the horniest rooster I have ever met and is on the hunt for some hen-action at all times. Anytime that one of the two Tweedle sisters is near, he does his little mating dance, which they manage to deflect. At that point, he begins a 5 acre chase around the Queendom, making the girls flee in panic. Moments after he mates with one of them, he is after her again. It never ends. But really it is his constant crowing that has put him on the chopping block.

Devilled refers to a delicious egg dish that we hoped he would provide. But Devilled is a rooster who has proved to be very satanic in his ways. His crowing begins at 5:38 each morning and goes on and on and on and on all day.

Devilled refers to a delicious egg dish that we hoped he would provide. (sigh)

Probably crowing here

Probably crowing here

Skana – Skana has been social with us since day one. He is always curious about our clothes, our trips across the yard, our food and anything else human. He enjoyed a scritch when he was a chick and still enjoys it now. He is the only one of the brood to hop up on our chairs or laps for a visit. He can often been seen wandering off to new places in the yard in  search of good eats or simply sightseeing. He is friendly with all the other chickens and is the only new chick who has been allowed to flock near the adult hens. His downsides are twofold. 1) He isn’t a great protector since he is often wandering off on his own rather than watching out for the girls 2) His crow sounds like a bagpipe as it deflates at the end of a tune but luckily he does not crow often.  He is very interested in Chip but only once a day. He has silver and charcoal grey coloured feathers, a fluffy bunny tail and vibrant red wattles and comb. His eyebrows are wild and unruly above his huge black eyes. He is The Chosen One.

Named after the Orca whale of Vancouver Aquarium, Skana is a bright-eyed social fellow who is curious and liked by everyone.

With his white eye-markings, Skana is named after the female Orca whale of Vancouver Aquarium

Sleek, silver and sweet

Sleek, silver and sweet

Now that The Choosing Ceremony is done, chicken dinner will be served at about 7:30 pm. Anyone interested in some moist, tender, free-range chicken is welcome to join us.

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Tweedle Dum is a Mum!!

After only a month of laying eggs, Tweedle Dum got the worst case of Baby Fever ever recorded!

It started with her taking her sweet time in the nesting box. She would loll around while laying her daily egg, spending an hour or two hiding away. Then her nesting box stints moved into the four-hour range. Soon, she seemed to be in a panic whenever she came outside, racing around to find food, have a dust bath, do a quick preen before heading back to the nesting box. Finally, she sat. And nothing we did could get her up.

A Broody Hen is what they call it and it caused a complete change in her. She went to being the most vocal and happiest of our hens to being a growly grouch. She stopped enjoying a scritch under her chin and began pecking your hand if you came close. She would sit all day long and only get up once a day to briefly poop, eat and drink before getting back on the nest.

From what we read, our hens are a bit too young to hatch chicks. Supposedly, young hens (under a year old) lose interest in sitting after a week, so we continued collecting her eggs each day. But after we saw her determination, we thought “Why not? Why not let her try??” From then on, we let her sit undisturbed on three eggs. We simply chose that day’s eggs laid by three different hens, so they were not necessarily her eggs. We marked the shells with happy faces so we could keep track of them.

This is how Tweedle Dum sat for almost six weeks.

This is how Tweedle Dum sat for almost six weeks.

But, we started noticing a problem. When she would get up for her daily chores, she had a 50/50 chance of hopping back into the wrong nest box. Some mornings, we would come in the coop to find that she had switched boxes in the night and now her week-old clutch would be stone cold.

At this point, she had been broody for about three weeks. She was barely eating and drinking, but she still had another 21 days of sitting to do if she was going to hatch some babies. So we reorganized our garden shed to accommodate her, with a temporary fence around it and a dark, private nest box with access to her own food and water. One night, we moved her out into the garden shed with three newly-laid eggs.

And there she sat. It was amazing to see that she would only get off her eggs once every five days! She barely ate that whole time. There was one evening where she flew out of the enclosure and didn’t show any intention of going back, but we were quick to place a hot water bottle and blanket on the nest. That night, we carried her from the regular coop back to the nest. Another day, she seemed confused by her surroundings and began flying all around the garden shed, but we managed that catastrophe as well.

Then, exactly 21 days after moving to the garden shed, two of the three eggs hatched! Tweedle Dum has beaten the odds, shown steadfast determination and brought some new life into our flock. It is amazing to see her teach the new ones where to find food. The best part is when they peek out at us through her wing feathers!

With Chantecler Roo as the father and Welsummer Peeps and Chip as the mothers, it is a bit of surprise to see that both chicks are white, black and grey. It seems that the milkman may have fathered these two! We named them both after our favourite egg dishes.

Two day old Florentine!

Week old Florentine! She wears a black mask and a yellow hairband.

Two day old Benedict!

Week old Benedict! She has a yellow cap and tail

First family photo

First family photo (two days old)

A quick snooze under her wings!

A quick snooze under her wings!

The aunties come for a visit (little does Chip know that she is actually the mother of one of them!)

The aunties come for a visit
(little does Chip know that she is actually the mother of one of them!)

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