…are worth four in the bush?
after we sent the last flock to a nice amish family we thought we’d get some new chickens soon but then frida came into our lives and we decided a new puppy and new chickens was a bit too much to take on at the same time.
so we decided to wait until spring had sprung knowing the down side of waiting until frida was older was it would be that much more difficult to teach her the chicks were not actually food, despite what all of her instincts were telling her.
the local tractor supply store had some chicks for sale this weekend and we thought it was as good a time as any to pick up a few and start her training.
i have to admit i was not very optimistic we’d have much success, since malamutes have a strong prey instinct. the chicks are spending their first couple of weeks in a bin on our dining room table under a heat lamp and while frida hasn’t jumped up on table, she hears their peeping and looks at me like she’s wondering when i’m going to give her a snack.
basic training at this stage involves getting frida used to the chicks by putting them next to her snout and telling her “no bites”. when she doesn’t attempt to bite, she gets a treat! odin is a big helper and after years of training knows how to make the chicks feel safe. or at least as safe as they’re going to feel when put next to the snout of a canine!
we got the chickens yesterday and when we tried the training after they first came home friday tried to chomp their heads off 🙂
but today she’s doing much better and she’s really, really, really trying to overcome her instincts. her tongue is a “tell” to what she’s really like to be doing.
after a looooooong 30 seconds or so of doing a great job of not attempting the eat the chicken, frida finally got a treat.
i think it took a lot of effort on her part.
odin is doing a tremendous job here as well, calming both the chick and frida. if he were to let the chick start flapping her wings or wiggle just a bit too much it would probably set frida into a bit of a frenzy. he’s both a dog and chicken “whisperer” 🙂
a super successful day of training! no harm, no foul. ahem.
i’m amazed that frida has come so far so quickly. we’ll see how she does after a few weeks when they’re running around on the floor
with the early warm weather greening everything up, The Girls are out happily foraging around the yard looking for Anything That Moves. it’s really amazing to sit and watch them scratch and peck with what appears to be incredible specificity as they look for bugs and ticks and whatnot where the whatnot is most likely something creepy and crawly ( ’cause, you know, chickens are not vegetarians, right? ).
while guineafowl are often cited as the premier pest controllers, i think any poultry is going to do a great job at reducing all manner of pests in the yard and garden, including dreaded deer ticks which carry lyme disease which has a high prevelance in southwest wisconsin.
with the mild winter and and warm spring i’ve been hearing a lot of reports of people finding deer ticks in town on their animals so i like to imagine The Girls are eating every last one of them as they excitedly run here and there through the yard.
in fact, if you’re in an area with a lot of deer ticks, i think it’s your duty to keep backyard chickens. i think someone should update the uncle sam expects you to keep hens and raise chickens poster to say “two hens in the back yard for each person in the house will keep a family in fresh eggs and keep the deer ticks away!”
and so, after moving 3 yards of dirt from one place to another i thought it’d be nice to take a rest on the lawn and say hello to The Girls who are normally a little wary of The Big Man, but are willing to abandon The Raspberry Patch to investigate when he has A Bit of Food.
being well-versed in The Way of The Chicken, i do believe they are thinking, “WHATCHADOING? WHATCHADOING? WHATCHADOING? GOTSOMEFOOD? GOTSOMEFOOD? GOTSOMEFOOD?”
and more, “WHATCHADOING? WHATCHADOING? WHATCHADOING? GOTSOMEFOOD? GOTSOMEFOOD? GOTSOMEFOOD?”
being The Great Defender of All Members of The Pack, pushkin decides it’s time to investigate The Situation.
without being too anthropomorphic, i recognize well the slight furrowing of his brow indicating Worry that Someone or Something May Be In Distress.
all is Right As Rain, though, with a good scratch behind the ears.
ever since The Dude Who Looked Like a Lady left for a nice home in the country, The Girls have totally taken a liking to me. while they used be so skittish around me i found it hard to believe anyone could have a career in poultry portraiture, nowadays they’ll follow me around the yard and curiously check out whatever i’m doing.
which is all well and fine, except when it involves jumping up on the chopping blocks when i want to split some sauna wood! or maybe this barred rock has a death wish now that her man left.
more seriously, it makes me wonder how flock dynamics change when a rooster leaves. i assume they have to re-establish their pecking order but we haven’t seen any signs of conflict. but do they also become friendlier and more outgoing without a rooster to keep them in check?