Flock Friday for July 19

This week the chicks got to go outside for the first time. So let’s start with that.

First tentative step out the pop door of the coop, unsurprisingly by the bravest of the chicks, the Exchequer Leghorn, who we’ve named Moana (after the Disney princess):

First tentative step out the door

On the ramp:

On the ramp

On the ground:

On the ground

Via the run cam, the chicks exploring. Since the run has been vacant since we kicked out the older chickens shortly before getting the chicks, the weeds have taken over:

Exploring

The chicks will enjoy grazing on the forest of weeds, and no doubt they’ll all be gone in a few weeks time. We did identify each of the weeds, and check that they are safe for chickens to eat.

More exploring:

Chicks outside

Moana on the grazing box, which will provide ongoing grazing once they’ve mowed down all of the weeds:

Chick on grazing box

If you look back at the chicken run cam picture above, you may notice a very straight edge of the weeds on the left side, about a foot from the fence. That fence separates the old and new runs. Here you can see why, on the right side of this picture: one of the older chickens poking her head through fence to eat the weeds within reach:

Chicken reaching through fence

I’ve seen several of them do that. And today I pushed some of the weeds to be closer for them. No reason why the chicks should have all the fun.

Some more pictures of the older chickens, enjoying treats from our veggie garden:

Chickens with treats

Chickens

Chickens with treats

Fluffy chicken butt:

Chickens with treats

On to the ducklings and their treats:

Ducklings

Water on the face:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

The wings are getting quite big:

Ducklings

Eating from the feeder tube:

Ducklings

I’ll make a ramp for the ducklings soon (maybe Sunday?), so they’ll be able to go out into the pond. That’ll be very interesting; I wonder if the non-swimming one will brave it? Stay tuned for the next update!

Flock Friday for July 12

Let’s start Flock Friday with the ducklings:

Ducklings

I’m still not completely sure of the duckling genders, but the left Buff is now quacking, and the right one is making a much quieter vocalization. Fun fact: generally only female ducks quack, which suggests that the left one is female. So I am fairly confident that the left Buff is Gert, the female, and the right one is Bert, the male:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Treats:

Ducklings

Here are the Cayuga ducklings:

Ducklings

And some sad news: the little one died Monday evening. I’m not sure of the cause; the size could be a factor, since it hasn’t grown as much as the others, perhaps due to some health issue, or something else. It wasn’t as active as the others, and looking at the video footage, it just sat in a corner for some time, then keeled over. Very unfortunate, especially after losing some chicks a few weeks ago. All part of the experience of keeping animals, though. I just hope we don’t lose any more any time soon.

Anyway, it was time to install a feeder tube for the ducks. So I removed the barrier closing off the nesting boxes:

Removing nesting boxes barrier

The ducklings were excited to explore their expanded accommodations:

Ducklings in nesting boxes

A duckling in a nesting box, as seen from outside — there’s a gap below the cupboard shelf, to reach in to eventually collect eggs, if they deign to lay them in a box (ducks lay anywhere):

Duckling in nesting box

In the cupboard, a jug of food tops the feeder tube, providing several days capacity:

Jug of food for dispenser

The tube goes through the shelf on the edge of a nesting box, resting on a support:

Food tube

The tube in the duck house, and a duckling eating from it. The yellow cap on the end can be removed to clean out the tube:

Duckling eating from food tube

Ducklings hoovering up rice:

Ducklings hoovering up rice

I also added a feeder tube in the chick coop. I was going to make a new — larger diameter — one like in the duck house, but decided to re-install the old tube for now. I might redo it later, when the chicks are bigger:

Chick feeder tube

The chicks didn’t take long to figure out the feeder tube:

Chicks eating from feeder tube

Chicks eating rice from my hand:

Chicks eating rice from my hand

Chicks:

Chicks

A chick in the hand:

A chick in the hand

On top of the nesting boxes:

Chick

On the nesting boxes center bar (the nesting boxes are still closed off, till they’re ready to lay eggs):

Chick

Synchronized chicks on the bar, and others eating from the tube:

Syncronized chicks

Finally, on to the older chickens. Here they’re watching Jenn work in the veggie garden:

Chickens watching Jenn

Me adding some dirt to a tire, for them to use as a dust bath:

David adding dirt to a tire

Camilla the escape chicken; she has always been the best flyer of the chickens, and flew onto the chicken coop, and out, then spent the night outside, and met me on the path to the coop in the morning:

Camilla the escape chicken

Flock Friday for July 5

It’s Friday, that means it’s time for a flock update.

Let’s start with the chicks this time:

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chick

Chicks

A chick pecking the camera (probably the green light below the lens):

Chick pecking camera

On to the big girls. A chicken laid a surprise egg in the middle of the coop floor; probably thought it was a large poop (yes, they both come out the same hole):

Chickens with a surprise egg

All the other chickens rushed over to look at it:

Chickens with a surprise egg

Chickens out in the run:

Chickens outside

Me topping up the pine shavings bedding; I just toss rough piles, and the chickens scratch through it, spreading it around:

David adding pine shavings

Quacker time. Literally; one of the ducklings has started a proto-quack, while the others are still peeping. They’re growing up!

We’ve also chosen provisional names for the ducks: Bill for the male Cayuga, Gilly (Gill) for the female Cayuga, Bert for the male Buff, and Gertrude (Gert) for the female Buff. We’re still not sure which is male and which is female, though.

Here are Bert and Gert checking the temperature:

Ducklings checking temperature

I replaced the waterer with the big duck one. This can be heated, to avoid it freezing in winter, though it isn’t plugged in yet. It is designed for ducks, with nice deep bowls, but small enough that the ducks can’t climb inside, removable filters to make it easier to clean, and a larger capacity reservoir:

Big duck waterer

Ducklings splashing:

Ducklings splashing

The little Cayuga duckling, covered in water droplets:

Duckling

The big Cayuga; look at those wings!

Duckling wings

Ducklings are very messy, including when eating:

Duckling messy eating

Duckling treat:

Duckling treat

The Buffs watching me:

Ducklings

A view of the duck house across the pond; they should be ready to go out there in a few weeks time:

Duck house across pond

Finally, a token picture of the wild birds, with a deer munching on the tall grass by their feeders:

Deer by bird feeders

Flock Friday for June 28

Welcome to the third Flock Friday!  (Did you see the bonus ducklings on Monday?)

Firstly, a bird flying to the pole the camera is on. Not sure what kind… I want to say woodpecker, since I often see them on poles, but may not be (if you know, please tell me):

Bird

The bird flying away. Notice also a pigeon on the red feeder, with the roost folded down under its weight, which closes access:

Birds

On to the chicks; roosting together on the upper bar:

Chicks roosting

An assortment of chick pics; look at those feathers coming in!

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

The chicks discovered the roosting bars above the (blocked off) nesting boxes. Their first view outside, too:

Chicks

Moving to the older chickens, a three-headed chicken dust bath:

Chickens dust bath

A bunch of chickens in their run, watching me as I approached:

Chickens in the run

Some closer pictures of the chickens:

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Merida on my lap:

Merida on my lap

Finally to the ducklings:

Duckling peeking

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

They’re getting so big!

I’m now leaving the paint tray pool in the duck house during the day, only removing it at night, so they can swim throughout the day. Next week, I’ll leave it there all the time, where it’ll remain until they can go outside (in about 3-4 weeks time).

Flock Friday for June 21

Welcome to the second Flock Friday!

Okay, sure, I cheated with the bonus Flock Monday… but a good thing too, as I have 147 photos since then. I have managed to cull them down to just 30 for this post.

Let’s start with the Ducklings. They have definitely learned that I provide treats when I visit them in each morning:

Duckling treats

They love swim time:

Ducklings

Water flowing off the duckling’s head after dunking:

Ducklings

The buff ones like to keep an eye on me, hoping for more treats:

Ducklings

Water everywhere:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

The brown-billed buff duckling still hasn’t been swimming, so I decided to show it (and wash it) by grabbing it and dunking it in the water… which of course it wasn’t too thrilled about, but I think worthwhile:

Dunking duckling

No hard feelings:

Ducklings

A quick look at the wild birds. I temporarily mounted my mobile cam on a post by the bird feeders, so I could watch them with the new feeders. I’m pleased to say that they are effective against the pigeons, that swarm in and clear out the feeders, leaving little for other birds. The pigeons can still eat the dropped seed on the ground:

Pigeons

Pigeons

Birds on feeders

On to the chicks:

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Me in the coop, with a chick on my hand:

David with a chick on the hand

Chick on the hand

Back to the ducklings:

Ducklings

Duckling

Little duckling wings:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Finally, a look at the older chickens. Here they are hanging out in the run:

Chickens

There was some excitement yesterday; it appears a chicken broke an egg, hopefully accidentally (it happens sometimes), then ran away with the shell (which is unusual). Others chased her, and there was some fun for a while. I hope they don’t get in the habit of that, though:

Chickens

Here I’m turning over some logs in the chicken run, to expose the tasty bugs hiding underneath:

David in chicken run

And me in the chicken coop, collecting eggs. The girls are hunting for dried mealworms that I scattered on the floor, their evening treat:

David in chicken coop

Sunset by the chicken run:

Sunset by chicken run

Chickens settling down for the night on the roosting bars, as the pop door automatically closes when it gets dark:

Chickens

In the morning, chickens squeezing out the pop door as it opens:

Chickens

I hope you enjoyed this flock update!

Flock Monday? Bonus chicks & ducks

I’ve been taking so many pictures of the chicks and ducklings each day, I can’t save them up for #FlockFriday. So here’s a bonus post to help your Monday!

Some chicks:

Chicks

Chicks

The ducklings are very messy (as expected), so I’ll need to muck out the duck house probably weekly, at least until they are able to go outside. I use a plastic container to collect the old straw using a small rake:

Mucking out duck house

Mostly cleared out; once they can go outside, I’ll probably hose it out. The duck house was designed to be fairly waterproof for a reason:

Mucking out duck house

Fresh straw:

Mucking out duck house

The two buff (light-colored) ducklings can be told apart by the color of their bill. One has a more brown bill, the other is more pink. Their description says “The female has a brownish orange bill with a dark bean and the male has a yellow bill.” I’m not sure that clarifies it for me; is “brownish orange” what I think of as pink, or brown? “Yellow” seems more like brown to me. Perhaps time will tell; certainly once their feathers come in it should be more obvious.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that the brown-billed duckling doesn’t seem to be as much of a fan of swimming; I’ve seen it drinking from the water, and wade in to the shallow end, but not actually immersing itself like the others do, or at least not as enthusiastically:

Brown-billed duckling

Here’s the pink-billed duckling in the water:

Pink-billed duckling

Intermission for a chick on top of the waterer:

Chick on waterer

Back to the ducklings:

Ducklings

Duckling treats:

Duckling treats

So cute:

Ducklings

There’s an expression “like water off a duck’s back” for a reason! Their waterproofing oils seem to be getting nicely established:

Ducklings swimming

Head shake:

Ducklings swimming

Ducklings waiting for swim time, as I fill the paint tray from a water jug:

Ducklings waiting for swim time

The jug is then refilled from the tap by the chicken coop, and stored in the duck house cupboard to come to room temperature for next time. Wouldn’t want them swimming in water directly from the tap, as it’s quite cold as it comes out of the well.

Once they get closer to being able to swim in the pond, I’ll mix in pond water, so they can get used to that.

A duckling stretching their wings:

Duckling stretching wings

Sleepy chicks; it amuses me how they fall asleep on the roosting bars and go limp:

Sleepy chicks

A couple of chicks roosting on the grit dispenser (grit is sand-sized chunks of granite, which they store in their crop to help eat treats, since chickens don’t have teeth… another expression):

Roosting on grit dispenser

Roosting on grit dispenser

The chicks are getting better at flying; I recently saw them on the nesting box bar (the nesting boxes are temporarily blocked off, until they are old enough to start laying, since I don’t want them sleeping in there):

Chicks on nesting box bar

Fortunately, the ducklings can’t fly (or even jump very high), so the half door is plenty to contain them. Good thing, or they’d jump out to get to the treats:

Duckling treats

Duckling treats

I’ll try to save subsequent pictures for Flock Friday. Or do I need a Flock Wednesday too?! They’re just so cute and fun to watch.

Introducing #FlockFriday

I thought I’d experiment with a new weekly feature on this blog: Flock Friday. I will try to post a selection of photos related to the assortment of avians around the homestead each Friday. Can’t let the cats have all the fun of a weekly feature!

For now, I’m just adding the pictures in chronological order. In the future, I might group by kind or something.

Let’s start with the chicks; one flew onto the waterer:

Chicks

Better seen animated; here’s a GIF:

Chick flying GIF

We just got a couple of new feeders for the wild birds (the second from the left, and the rightmost); both are squirrel-proof, so they close when a weight is on them, which will hopefully also stop the pigeons from cleaning them out:

Bird feeders

On to the ducklings; I got a new paint roller tray that seems to work better; easier access, and more capacity for swimming:

Ducklings swimming

Ducklings swimming

Here’s a pond cam shot of me spending time with the ducklings:

David with the ducklings

Big enough for all of them for now… but not for long!

Ducklings swimming

Another wild bird (swallow, I think) drinking from the pond by swooping low over it, dipping its beak in:

Bird & fish

It’s nice to be able to spend time with the ducklings and feed the fish at the same time:

Fish

Another visitor to the pond, the heron:

Heron

Last night the heat lamp in the duck house burnt out just after this:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Fortunately, the ducklings were all fine; they’re old enough now, and it wasn’t excessively cold last night, that it wasn’t too cold for them.

I changed the lamp with a spare as soon as I saw it was out (and have ordered more spares):

Changing heat lamp

Back to the chicks:

Chick with treat

Chicks

Chicks

Let’s not forget the older chickens, too:

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Finally, let’s wrap up with more of the ducklings:

Ducklings swimming

Ducklings swimming

Hand-feeding treats:

Treats

Treats

Treats

Any more treats?

Any more treats?

More swimming:

Ducklings swimming

Ducklings swimming

I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know what you think in the comments on the blog, Micro.blog, Twitter, etc.

Chicks & ducklings two days in a row?!

I know I posted a bunch of pictures of the chicks and ducklings yesterday, but I can’t help myself; I just have to post more cute pictures.

Yesterday and today the temperature is in the 90°s F (32° C), so I had the vent wide open, and the heat lamp off. I also gave them more swimming time to cool off:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Rapid exit:

Ducklings

Once the sun set, I turned the heat lamp back on, and mostly closed the vent, since it’d cool off a bit more than they’re used to overnight. Here’s a shot from the pond cam of the pond and duck house in the dark:

Pond and duck house in the dark

This morning, I took some more pictures while spending time with the chicks and ducklings. Here’s how I found the chicks when I arrived; they’ve really taken to the roosting bars:

Roosting chicks

A bunch more photos of the chicks:

Chick

Chicks

Chicks

Chick

Chick

A chick in the hand:

A chick in the hand

Heading over to the duck house, I gave them some more swimming time:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

A treat in the water is the best kind of treat:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Watching the ducklings from the chair next to the duck house… dripping sweat in the heat, slightly tempted to cool off in the pond (not at all hygienic):

Duck house

I know I said the ducklings should only have short supervised swims for the next couple of weeks, but I decided to leave the tray in the duck house this afternoon, since it’s so hot, so they can cool off as needed. I am still supervising, just from the air-conditioned comfort of my home office, via the duck house cam. It’s a risk, that I hope I don’t regret, but the water is room-temperature, shallow, easy for them to get in and out, and they haven’t shown an inclination to stay in for too long at a time:

Duck house cam

Chicks & ducklings first treats & swim

The chicks and ducklings are two weeks old today, so I gave them a few bits of kale as their first treat.  (It’s generally recommended to stick to the starter feed at first, so they get used to eating that, then slowly introducing small quantities of treats.)

But first, here’s a shot from the chick cam of them exploring the roosting bars. A little surprising that they can reach the upper bar; it’s a long way for a little chick:

Chicks

Chicks sleeping on the lower bar yesterday afternoon (when the coop was warm enough to not need to be under the heat lamp):

Chicks

A shot from the duck house cam of a duckling stretching its tiny wings:

Ducklings

Overnight, the chicks snuggled together under the heat lamp:

Chicks

And ducklings under their lamp:

Ducklings

It took the chicks a few minutes to figure out that the kale was edible. Here’s the first chick to take a treat:

First chick treat

A couple of others chased her; what will become a normal behavior for them:

Chicks chasing

They soon figured out the treats:

Chick treats

A couple checking me out:

Chicks

Chicks

Roosting chicks:

Roosting chicks

I also gave kale treats to the ducklings, which they figured out immediately:

Ducklings

Duckling treats

I also temporarily put a paint tray with water in the duck house, so the ducklings could have their first supervised swim:

Duckling first swim

Ducklings don’t have the waterproofing oil when first hatched, so they can get chilled or even drown if left in water. So they can only have short supervised swims from two to five weeks old. Not only is this good training for them and their leg muscles, it helps encourage them to preen, which distributes their oil glands (or so I read; since ducks are a new thing for us, I’ve read guides to raising them; they are similar to chicks, but have some differences).

Why a paint tray? It has a gentle slope, making it easier for ducklings to walk in and out of the water. This tray isn’t ideal, though, as the lip too high for them to easily climb over. So I’ve ordered another from Amazon.

Here a duckling is dipping its bill in the water, which helps clean it:

Duckling swim

Found another treat:

Ducklings

Drinking from the tray:

Ducklings

More wading:

Ducklings

I removed the tray when I left the duck house. We’ll give them brief supervised swims each day till about five weeks old. After that, the tray will be left in there until they are old enough to go outside, once they are fully feathered, which might be around eight weeks old.

Ducklings & chicks update for June 9

The ducklings and chicks are about 1.5 weeks old now. I wasn’t able to post an update on them while away, but now that I’m back you can expect more updates.

Here’s an amusing shot from the duck house cam from before I left for San Jose:

Ducklings

They were so small:

Ducklings

An ominously glowing chicken coop, from the red heat lamp:

Chicken coop

The ducklings snuggling under the heat lamp:

Ducklings

Ducklings

So tiny:

Ducklings

The chicks:

Chicks

We had a catastrophe with the chicks: on my last night in San Jose, the chicken coops lost power, due to the GFCI outlet popping, probably caused by heavy rain. This doesn’t affect the adult chickens, but is a disaster for baby chicks, that need 90° F heat. When Jenn checked them in the morning, she was horrified to find three dead chicks. So we are now down to five.

I’ve added tests to my Dejal Simon app to watch the cameras, and alert me if they lose connection, which should help prevent another disaster like that. I also looked into other power loss alarms, but the few options had various drawbacks.

It was very sad to lose chicks like this; that was the first time that has occurred, and we’ll do what we can to avoid it again.

The surviving chicks are definitely getting bigger, able to reach the lower roosting bar now, via the mini practice roosts below:

Chicks

Chicks

Me spending time with the chicks:

David with chicks

They really like the roosting bar:

Chicks

In the duck house, I had paper and shelf liner on the floor to give traction while the ducklings were very young. But it had become rather soiled with spilled food and waste:

Ducklings

So as planned, I remove half of it, and added straw bedding, to transition to that:

Straw bedding

It was impressive how much the ducklings grew in a week:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

This morning, I added some bricks under their waterer, to raise it up a bit, and added a cat dish with a bit of water in it:

Ducklings

The ducklings can drink from the dish if desired:

Ducklings

Or step in it, as a preamble to swimming, which they’ll be able to start next week (in a very limited, supervised capacity):

Ducklings