Brr, how the weather's changed! The hens awoke to January-ish temps of -12 C / 10 F with a wind chill of -18 C / 0 F and are huddled together with their feather suits poofed to basketball-size for maximum warmth. Though I don't have a feather suit myself, nowadays I'd be wearing this stylized-feather-and-floral print dress with a sweater or jacket. I figured it was high time to post some outfits so Butane Anvil can at least sort of stay in season.
If you're curious what kinds of care chickens need in winter, see Terry Golson of HenCam's post here. Terry also just did a 10-post series on her collection of vintage aprons - gorgeous! I could almost reconsider my default at-home gear of old concert t-shirts and ratty pajamas.
|dress: Leota, My Habit|
wrap belt: thrifted at the The Kitty Cat Store, worn here
old shorty cowboy boots: WalM*rt men's section clearance, worn here
Further to time marching on, I realize I haven't shown you the chickens since they were teeny-tiny day-old peepers, here. And now they are grown-up ladies:
If y'all would like to meet them, I'll introduce you below the jump, and tell about the latest addition to the farm. Keep cosy, everyone!
At 2.5 years old, Henny and Glo are the last survivors of our original flock of seven. I hate that hens have been bred for egg production at such great expense to longevity - saying goodbye to five of our girls in the past year was so hard. At some point when we're more experienced we may be able to adopt unwanted birds and roosters or help preserve heritage breeds - it's all a big learning if you haven't grown up with it.
|Gloria (Leghorn) and Big Henrietta Lou Hoover Boombalatty Lou (Rhode Island Red - Columbian Rock Cross)|
Gloria is exceedingly proud of her brand-new tail, freshly re-grown with this year's moult. Without it, she looked like an adorable little duck. Our dear old battle-axe, Big Hen, that majestic creature, still has new feathers coming in - you can see how her old ones are frayed. Her tail will always be fabulously stubby rather than a tall, elegant sail like Gloria's.
|Attila the Hen and Dracarys Hönker Dü (both named by Beary) (Black Sex Link)|
Attila was the first of our new girls to lay an egg, which happened July 25, the same day that that the old flock's leader, Starr (of Travelling Yellow Skirt Freak Show fame) died. That was a tough one - I wore gifts from Megan Mae and Gracey for strength to help me get through it, but was crying too much in my outfit photos to post them! We are amazed by how beautiful these glossy black hens are, with purple and green iridescent feathers in places shot through with gold. Attila is cautious but kind, and Dracarys especially curious, though now without the distinctive honk she had early on.
Betty Lou lays the cutest round eggs, and has curly toes. When she's excited, which is reasonably often, she can't run or fly in a straight line. Both of the Barred Rocks are wonderfully roly-poly:
|Betty Lou and Beatrice Angelina (Barred Rock)|
Beatrice is the most calm and gentle hen, and was at the bottom of the pecking order even before she developed the problem with her left leg which earned her Angelina as a middle name. We've had her to the vet and nothing's broken, she's not otherwise ill - she eats, drinks, and burbles away with enthusiasm - but she became weak on that one side as if she'd had a stroke.
Because of her mobility issues and to keep her safe from the other hens (who by instinct will attack a bird who is sufficiently sick or disabled that they'd attract even greater predator attention to the flock), Beatrice mostly lives in our coop's luxuriously-appointed "granny flat." With care always for fairness around quality and enjoyment of life, we do range-of-motion and strengthening exercises, and she has the amazing ability to make me bring her hulled sunflower seeds with her mind.
|Heidi Hunter the Turkey Lurkey and Arlie (Columbian Rock)|
Heidi Hunter quickly outgrew the rest of the hens, she is enormous! Fortunately she also outgrew her initial tendency to be a terror to the others at roosting time and has settled in well. Arlie is friendly yet intense, she's incredibly athletic and has already had a stint of going broody. She is the leader of the younger hens, and recently duked it out with the Big Hen for the #2 spot overall under Gloria. Though Henny really liked having the best sunny spots and first crack at food, treats, and dust-bathing, pecking order for its own sake was never a big slice of her pie chart, and since sorting things out with Arlie, she is holding her own as Gloria's special friend and steady at #3.
|Beasley (Old English, means "from the meadow where peas are grown, from the bee keeper's meadow")|
Who's this? A kitten-hen?! Driving home from work on Halloween, a brutally blustery afternoon of high winds and cold rain, I came upon a van stopped out of sight of any farmhouses. It sped away as I pulled up, leaving this little guy to dash into the ditch. I have to say it offends me mightily when people don't spay or neuter their animals and then dump their pets' offspring in rural areas to fend for themselves.
Just like when people dump their garbage out of town, other people will still have to deal with it. Beasers was well-socialized and litter-trained, but by his behaviour and very thin fur clearly hadn't spent much time outdoors. I wonder if they thought at all of his chances among the feral population and through the winter. We found an adult cat in December a couple of years ago who had a similarly sparse coat - and was declawed besides. Nice, eh?
We couldn't keep Mr. Clawless due to our allergies - it was sheer luck that we were able to find him a home, because everyone who can have a cat already has too many. With all of his sharp bits intact, The Bease is young enough to adjust to a semi-outdoor life here, and, in a remarkable coincidence, was also just old enough for his first $200 (due to FeLV testing) vet visit. He certainly keeps things lively in the flock, and is a "great help" with my morning chicken chores. I'm headed out to the coop now to check that the waterers aren't icing up, and on my way back will stop by the woodstove in the detached garage to, as we like to say, "get Beasled" for a while.