October 12, 2006

Chickens: Week 2

Ramón and Ramona

Things are going pretty well on the chicken front. They will eat out of my hand now even though they don't quite trust me yet. Sometimes they figure that I'm safer than the dogs and will run to hide behind me if they feel threatened by one of the dogs. It is amazing how fast they can move on those little feet.

They stay in the pen at night but have been spending more and more time running free. Three of the last four days, they have voluntarily returned to their pen in the afternoon or evening. That's really good, because those little birds are hard to catch. They've had me running around in a circle for 15 minutes at a time as we three circle around and around a plant pot or the pen while I'm trying to catch them. They know exactly how far to stay to be just out of reach.

Right now their favorite spots are in two jardineras (raised concrete flower boxes) off the terraza. I think they like being able to hide under and behind the Dracaenas. This is the mess that they made in the small jardinera.

Before they go to the jardineras, though, they stop off for a dust bath in this almost empty pot. They peck and peck all day. I have no idea what they are finding to eat. They have eaten some leaves, but nothing important.
We had some overripe plantains and discovered that the birds just love it. They are also eating some sort of chicken mash that is sold here and ground up rice.

Then they go down to one or the other of the jardineras and pretty much stay there all day, unless one of the dogs starts to bother them. The first day we kept the dogs inside the whole time the chicks were loose. We've gradually increased the dog-chicken time until now we can leave the dogs out unsupervised.

Ramón is becoming very rooster-like. He struts around and rushes to protect Ramona if he thinks she's in danger. I think he's even grown because when we got them, he was a little smaller than Ramona and now he's definitely bigger than she is.

Chloe the Good

Last night an interesting thing happened. I was inside and Chloe was sleeping at my feet. I heard a noise that sounded like something banging against the chicken's pen. Chloe's head popped up, her ears perked up, she growled and we both ran for the back door at the same time. When I opened the door, Chloe ran out to the pen, looked (counting one, two), sniffed (as if to say, "They're okay."), and, satisfied, turned around to come back inside. This makes me think that she would protect them if some animal tried to get them at night.

Chloe the Bad

Today Chloe had her bath. A bath turns her into a maniac. Her favorite game is to come running into the house, shaking water everywhere. Apparently her new fresh smell is some sort of danger signal to the chihuahuas, so they ferociously charge at her, stiff-legged, barking in the 100-decibel range the whole time while they bravely chase her out of the house. Once outside, Chloe turns around and chases the chihuahuas back inside, where the whole game starts all over again.

Today I put a stop to that game very quickly, so Chloe decided to play with the chickens instead. Ramona flew all the way down to the second level and was, she thought, hiding in a hole. The problem was that only her head was in the hole and Chloe was apparently trying to pull her out by her tail. This is the result.

Poor Ramona. Her beautiful full-feathered tail! All she has left are two big feathers. Will they grow back? Oh, I hope so. A girl has to look her best. By the way, Chloe got a good spanking for this.

Even though this was bad, I know that had she wanted to, Chloe could have easily eaten her by the time El Jefe got down there to rescue Ramona. Hopefully, this shows that she doesn't have dinner in mind and only got over-exuberant in her playing.
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