Those Awkward Teenage Years


These chickens have grown so stinking fast, I cannot believe my eyes.

Less than a month ago, they were tiny little balls of fluff like this:

At two to three weeks of age, they were absolutely gawky – fuzz and feathers poking up everywhere, all gangly and weird-looking:

Today, they are fully-formed and feathered miniature chickens… only not so miniature anymore.

They still have a bunch of growing to do, and combs and wattles to produce, but wowsers. FAST. Activities which were once cause for great alarm and panic are now completely commonplace – roosting on the perch, hopping up to the top edge of the crate, flying very short distances, jumping on top of the water bottle. No big deal at all.

They each have their own personalities, some more distinct than others. Without further ado, I give you their names – silly as they are:

Gia – The therapy chicken, the favorite:

One day, about a week and a half ago, I picked Gia up expecting the usual screaming and freaking out, only to find she settled right down into my hand, cuddled up to my chest and half-closed her eyes as I was petting her. She loves cuddling. When I pick her up, she immediately nestles down and practically purrs. I secretly think she’s the prettiest, too, but don’t tell the other girls that. If it weren’t for all the pooping, I’d absolutely carry her around with me all the time.

Nox – The nibbly, the bold:

Nox was the first to boldly jump onto my hands and shoulders whenever she felt like it, but she’s not yet big on cuddling or being petted. She really like to try to yank my nose- and earrings out.

Henry – The butch, the frightful. That’s Henry up there, perched on my leg. Henry is the biggest and has been from the beginning. She is also somewhat fearful and clumsy.

I’m not entirely convinced Henry & Cricket are actually black australorps. They have so much more brown streaking than the other three; I suspect a rogue rooster got into that henhouse.

Cricket – The chirpy, the adventurous:

When she was much smaller, her little chirps sounded much like a cricket’s. They still kind of do. 🙂 She likes to fly onto the tops of things whenever possible, and is not overly-fond of being petted. Yet.

Chickenhead – The gawky, the vulture-like:

“Chickenhead” is perhaps the most apt name ever for, y’know, a chicken, but it’s an homage to Denis Leary, too. If you haven’t seen that bit from one of his HBO specials, you’re missing out, mans. Chickenhead was almost called “Vultureneck,” but that just seemed a little mean. She’s had neck feather issues from the word go, but I think she’ll turn out quite lovely when she’s all finished. She’s also the girl in the second photo up top.

They are swiftly outgrowing the dog crate, and we’ll need to get their house outside secured soon. Until they start laying, I think they can stay in the doghouse just fine with some minor modificiations (roosts, closing doors, venting,) but I need to make sure they’re safe by updating the fencing before they can live out there full-time. I don’t want them becoming dinner for any opportunistic passers-by.

As you can perhaps tell from the photos, I’ve been taking them outside to the chicken yard for brief stints, and they love it. They love it so much – except when the wind blows. When the wind hits them, it’s all “OH MY GOD SOMETHING IS TOUCHING ME AND I CAN’T SEE IT!!!” and they will scurry either into my lap or into the cat carrier I’ve been using to transport them to and from the basement.

They dig up bugs and seeds and eat the clover and the grass. They nibble on my toes and groom their probably itchy incoming feathers. They tentatively explore, and they hunker down whenever anything flies nearby or makes a noise. Passing Harleys are cause for panic.

I am completely obsessed with their amazing feet.

They’re so perfectly adapted for everything they need to do. They’re flexible and bendy in directions one wouldn’t expect.  Imagine if those claws were about ten times bigger. Yikes.

As mini-grown-up as they appear, they still make very baby-like noises and are busy-busy-busy. Today, during our Outside Time, we learned that Cricket (the adventurous) can indeed fit through standard chain-link fencing holes.  Mind you, she cannot figure out how to fit through again to get back inside once she’s realized she’s not quite in the right place.

Fencing. More of it. Soon.

Today, they decided it was time to explore the really tall grass in the corner of the pen. As they moved through the grass ever so much taller than they were, I was floored by the resemblance to the cornfield/velociraptor scene in the Jurassic Park series. Honestly, these birds are so incredibly reptilian in every way. The way they move, the way they seem to think – it’s like watching prehistoric times right at my feet.

Luckily for me (and us all,) they are not ten times larger – they would absolutely tear me to bits and not think twice about it. As it stands, however, they still seek out my protection and are happy to see me (because I’m usually bringing something yummy for them.)

I’ve finally decided I really dislike beets. To me, they taste like intensified and condensed dirt. They smell like dirt. I really want to love beets, because they’re so pretty and healthy and just right in line with being in touch with the earth, right? Man. I cannot pull off the eating of them. Maybe I’m cooking them all wrong, maybe it’s just my tastebuds not realizing something that’s good for them.

I hate the beets.

This is somewhat sad, because here I am with a bunch of beet seeds. The greens, though – those I will devour. Shame to let the beets go to waste… so I gave the girls a shot at a cooked beet. At first, they wanted nothing to do with it. Later, though, I came back and there were beet-red poops all over the place looking almost exactly like raspberry jam.

The second beet the next day was attacked with ferocity.

Beets? You betcha.

Kale? More, please. Cabbage? We’re not too sure about that one yet. Onion seedlings? Devoured. Collards? Yes. Bananas? Ask again next week. Turnips? Maybe.

On the whole, they are easily fed.

They’re ridiculously difficult to get good photos of because they refuse to hold still for two seconds. They’re always after something, poking, overturning, eating, pecking, running, flapping, perching, unperching – it’s very busy business, being a chicken.

It’s very easy to get photos of their adorable chicken butts up in the air.

The chicken cam is still up and running, but the girls like to rearrange it, knock it over, bump the focus and so forth. It’s hit or miss most times.

That’s about all I have in me for tonight. The kombucha project is going really well, and will update there soon.

Posts at least a little bit like this one:

Chickens, Feeding, First Weeks, Photos

3 responses to Those Awkward Teenage Years

  1. Joshua G. Pope

    I did not know about this blog. Thanks for posting it on facebook.

  2. Sarah

    I love their teenage weeks! So CUTE! AAAAAHHHHH!

    I agree with you in that your birds are not purebred Australorps. Even if they’re part Australorp, though, you’ll still have some good laying hens with great personalities. Looks like all that time you spend handling them has paid off if they’re enjoying your company now and wanting to cuddle. BTW, chickens are great for your feet when it’s chilly outside. 🙂

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