Holy God, Thank you for work that comes in many forms. May my hands and mind keep busy; may my heart remain pure. In all I do, may I serve only you. And, when the work is through, may I rest in you. Amen.
A new Connexional year has begun for the Methodist Church. That means I have been retired for a full year. Wow.
I have enjoyed allowing my body to set my schedule, giving in to the need to rest as and when. I have enjoyed spending lots of time outside, watching our garden grow, and doing volunteer work for the RSPCA and, to a lesser extend, Exmoor National Park.
I do not really need the money I was making before, but planning holidays on a serious budget has made me glad that the one-year restriction on earning has come to an end. I am now able to sell eggs (though we are currently only getting one egg per day), and honey next year, and perhaps take the odd funeral if it comes my way.
Cinnamon, Titch, Thyme (on top), and Sage
So, the chicks are growing well. Mama Cinnamon is just as dedicated to them as ever, aggressively protecting them from Clover and Ginger and Kelpie when they get too close.
The flock seems to have divided itself into two. Hutch, Ginger and Clover are one group; Starsky, Cinnamon and the babies are the other. The two groups mingle, but when left to themselves, Starsky stays near the chicks and Cinnamon, and Hutch follows Clover and Ginger.
When they are allowed to go into the garden, the threesome quickly make their way there, but Starsky hangs back with the babies for a bit. If Hutch starts crowing Starsky gets agitated and wants to join the threesome in the garden. I think he wants to make sure Hutch knows that Starsky is still number one.
Parsley is developing, as they all are, into an awkward-looking adolescent. The fluff is almost all gone. All the body feathers are in place, but the the black head feathers are still coming in. She has lovely grey legs, and a nicely developing comb (and wattles – just a pink line under the base of her beak). I need to keep an eye on the colour development as early pinkness may be a sign that this bird is a cockerel. Temperament-wise, this is an independent bird, often on her own or perching on something above the others.
Sage’s development is a little behind Parsley’s, feather-wise. Size-wise, they are identical. They are both big, sturdy birds. Sage has a pale comb and wattles, as hens do at this age. Her ear is clearly visible in this photo. It is behind her eye, round and pale and flat. Her ears will become bright white as she develops. Ear colour is indicative of egg shell colour. I don’t know why.
This one also keeps to herself and enjoys flying and perching. I am afraid she will be the ‘middle child’ who doesn’t get much attention unless she acts out.
Titch is growing, but still the smallest. His/her feathers are coming in well, and s/he is alert and eats and drinks well. The ear is also visible, behind and below the eye. S/He is calmer now when I pick him up: no shivering, and just today, s/he took the time to have a good look around before struggling to get loose.
One concern: Titch has been sneezing for over a week. Chickens are prone to respiratory illnesses and for a couple of days s/he clearly did not feel well – dozing and hunched, keeping to himself, and he felt warm when I picked him up. S/He never stopped eating and drinking, and the sneeze has been dry. I added a multi-vitamin to their water, hoping that might help, and s/he does seem to have gotten through the worst of it.
But, as none of the others have developed a sneeze, or looked anything other than healthy, I have wondered if it may be more of an allergy, or if s/he – being a runt – will just be more prone to illness than the others, or have some kind of an underlying problem like a respiratory malformation. I will have to wait and watch.
Thyme is the most beautiful and outgoing girl. She has a lovely personality and bright eyes, always taking in what is going on around her. Neither she nor Titch have the same development of comb and wattles, but I am sure this is normal for their breed. She is definitely fluffier than all the others and developing the curved breast that is a feature of the Pekin. Her colouration, and that of Titch, is called Millie Fleur. She makes me smile.
Last, but not least: Chickpea. She is definitely turning into a mini-me of Cinnamon, Ginger, and Clover – check out those reddish-brown breast feathers. She still has white feathers on her wings, so she will be a mottled brown, I guess. It was the mottling and colour variation in the first 4 that allowed me to tell them apart – Cinnamon had the richest, glossiest feathers; Nutmeg was similarly dark but not glossy; Ginger was paler with some white feathers peeking through; and Clover was dark with a paler patch on her saddle. Chickpea has little comb or wattle development and no tail feathers. She doesn’t like to picked up, but she is happy to perch on my shoulder. This was something she was taught at the RSPCA.
One thing that has kept Phil and I busy is trying to contain all of these birds. The chicks are small enough to fit through the holes in the fence wire, so we have – at least for now – managed to block the gaps that they were going through to get into field.
The cockerels, on the other hand, are just clever. And a bad influence on the hens. It has taken us some sneaky observation to figure out how they were getting out, but I think we have fixed this, too.
We weren’t sure if they were hopping over the short panels in the chicken pen, which had random bits of chicken wire over the top, so we covered the whole area with green agricultural fabric. This has kept them all in, and it protects the chicks from overhead predators. It also frustrates the ground-based nuisances, who are hard-wired to round sheep!
Next week is a big one for all the birds: they are going for holidays at a hen-ery – a hen boarding farm. We have used this place several times in the past, but it will be the first time for this group. I am sure they will be well looked after.