I'm spending a lot of time handling the chickens at the moment.  My favourite, a half bantam, half something else speckled red hen named Grace has come down with scaly leg mites.  We noticed a limp about a week or so ago.  By today she could hardly walk at all.  I've put her in a cage and coated her legs in vaseline.  I'll keep doing this every day, and dip her legs in rubbing alcohol once a week, until she gets better.  She hates being caged, my Grace.  She's a stubborn, independent, intelligent chook, which is probably why I love her so much.  I'm glad her injury has turned out to be something fairly simple and treatable.

We have 3 hatchlings at the moment, mixed Orpingtons, being mothered by Grace's sister, Pippa.  Pippa is such a marvelous mother, taking great care of those babies.  Every evening when I go to feed them, I hold each of them for a few moments, trying to condition them to being cuddled.  We'll see.  I've been checking their "vents" trying to see if I can tell if they're boys or girls.  There are surprisingly few photos for comparison on the internets.  Frustrating.

Of my other 4 hens, 3 are my actual layers: two pure bantams, Elizabeth and Victoria, and a red shaver that was hatched and mothered by Elizabeth.  Her name is Kate.  The three of them are still a very close family unit.  They sleep side by side on a branch in the pear tree.  But they've stopped laying in their usual nesting box, and I can't find their eggs.  So I'm pulling them out of their tree every evening and locking them in a chook tractor.  The bantams escaped this morning before laying, but I've repositioned the tractor and now I'm pretty sure they can't get out.  I will retrain them to lay where I want! 

And then there's Munty.  She's the last of 4 brown shavers we were given last year.  Juliet died of a mysterious illness in the winter.  My husband backed over Lightbulb in the driveway.  I miss her, even if she was noisy and always getting underfoot.  We chopped Ophelia's head off for hogging the nest, being aggressive, and failing to lay eggs.  Munty is more agreeable than Ophelia, but equally unable to reliably lay good eggs.  But we suffer her to live because she is our most pet-like, friendly chook.  She likes to be handled.  I feel sorry for the poor thing.  We'll see how she goes.

Thanks to Oooooby for providing me with a place where I can obsess about my chickens unashamedly.  I certainly wouldn't ramble on like this on Facebook.

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Comment by Kali on January 22, 2012 at 11:02pm

Hi jenine, lovely to hear about such loved chooks :)

I had 6 black chicks hatch yesterday, a black hen (sorry I don't name my hens) was sitting on those eggs who had hatched a previous brood early this season. stoats ( I assume) killed off all but one of those chicks, and there is only one male left. [ our cat puddy kindly eliminated a stoat and left it on the path outside yesterday, serves it right] Funny thing is a white hen decided to go broody last week and sat in the adjacent empty nest but the  day before the eggs hatched bossed blackie off the eggs and took on the clutch. so black mummy went back to mothering her half grown boy who had been so dejected up on the perch by himself the past three weeks.  Whitey is happily mothering the little black chicks now, but one egg was slow to hatch, I noticed this morning it had pipped, and when I looked in later in the day there was a good sized hole in the egg but she had moved off and let it get cold. Not for the first time in my career I adopted the hatching egg and stuck it up my jumper to warm up as I could see the chick breathing inside. soon it was warm and peeping away, and not long after finally heaved its way out of the shell into my hand. Its a brown chick. Well I didn't trust white mummy who has already bonded with her black brood, there was a chance of rejection there. So this evening I took a chance and put the little fluff ball in with black mummy. I waited with bated breath to see what would happen, would she peck it to death? No she inspected it in the torchlight  and eventually made way for it to snuggle in under her breast. I asked her nicely to look after my little foster chick, so fingers crossed.

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