Friday, September 04, 2009

They've flown the coop!

Wednesday morning when I opened the henhouse door, I was startled by all the flapping below and above. I quickly realized that the barn swallow babies had fledged, as one youngster fluttered at the henhouse window instead of flying out the open doorway over my head. With a little encouragement, it went the right way. Couldn't quite clear the chain-link chickenyard fence, but made it through an opening and on over to the maple tree by the sheepfold. I breathed a big sigh of relief; I was so worried the fledgling swallows would end up on the coop floor and be killed by chicken-monsters. As I did chores, I noticed a chirping family of four on the top arena rail, so the swallow parents have successfully replaced themselves in the world. I don't know if this is the same pair of barn swallows that built a nest earlier in the barn; one of the babies from that nest did end up on the floor. We rescued it only to discover something was wrong with its feet, and it had to be humanly destroyed.

Yesterday morning the swallow family repeated their departure from the chickenhouse when I opened the coop door; I didn't realize they would come back to roost at the nest once the babies fledged. Later, when I checked for eggs, I caught two babies perched on the light cord (their nest can be seen at the far right):This morning there were five swallows perched on the cord when I opened the henhouse door, so that's even better!

Wild birds of all kinds seem scarcer this year; I haven't seen any violet-green swallows in a long time, and the black oil sunflower seed isn't getting eaten very fast. One of our neighbors noted the same thing; it's worrisome indeed.

As for the chickens themselves, all nine hens are more or less integrated again. I was keeping Lucille isolated in an inner pen until her broken toe healed and she hopefully stopped limping. But last week she started escaping her quarters to roost with the other hens before I could move her pen inside at night. In the morning I'd catch her and put her back in protective custody. Finally, I just let nature take its course and left her with the others during the day, too. Often she would retreat to the plywood covering part of her isolation pen (still inside the chickenyarn), making me rest easier knowing she could get away from any henpecking if need be. One day she even went into the isolation pen - and left again when she chose!

Yesterday she laid an egg while up on the plywood, and it rolled down into the isolation pen below and broke. So I removed the plywood and piece of hog panel that had covered the pen, leaving only the x-pen for a place of refuge. Here is Lucy resting on the top edge, with Lucille on the ground inside:Believe it or not, Lucille-the-lame is dominant over Lucy-the-latecomer. Lucy still regards me as her guardian, and I regard her as my "special" hen, not unlike the pair of banties I had as a teenager.

The girls are not quite keeping up with demand, now that I have three regular clients plus the occasional additional request for eggs. Sometimes I have to go out and squeeze a hen or two to get an order filled in time!Welsie's new feathers are coming in, so maybe she'll be back in the nest box again soon.

This morning's sunrise was stunning. A front is moving in, and the resulting clouds added drama. It's supposed to be a wet, cold weekend here, with summer returning next week. Should give the garden a good late-season boost.

That's it for now at . . .

13 comments:

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

That is a beautiful sunrise picture!

Are you going to OFFF?

Michelle said...

Yes Becky, I'll be there on Sunday showing Shetlands and seeing as much as I can in the vendors. Are you going to be there? If so, we must meet!

Christine said...

Wow, that sunrise is awesome! I've often said the same about squeezing my hens. lol

Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Glad to see someone besides me uses ex pens for livestock!

MaskedMan said...

X-Pens cover a multitude of uses...

I've always admired barn swallows. Yeah, they can leave a big mess, and their nests can be a real nuisance, but the lovely, incredibly rapid sweeping and swooping of the swallows has always seemed more than adequte compensation for the mess.

Heidi said...

What a fabulous sunrise. Beautiful photo.

Michelle said...

I agree, Masked Man; and anything that eats flies and mosquitoes is to be praised!

Mom L said...

We had swarms of gnats here last week accompanied by swarms of sparrows - love those tails! My cat sat in the window avidly watching the aerial ballet and feeding frenzy.

I love your chicken stories, and the sunrise is awesome - probably the only way I'll ever see sunrise! No morning person here.

Nancy in Iowa

Shula said...

I like my swallows in the barn although I always get sad if I find a baby dead on the floor. And what a beautiful sunrise you had. Worth getting up for.

Tina T-P said...

Arent baby swallows just the sweetest things?

I realized tonight as John & I were heading towards our dinner out that my friend has sorrel Percherons, not Beligians. Oops. T.

A wildlife gardener said...

Stunning sunrise indeed :)

Great to know the swallows have survived and will soon be migrating all the way to Africa... :)

Fancy watching my butterfly videos?

http://ourlittlecornerofparadise.blogspot.com/2009/09/blog-post.html

Deborah said...

I had no idea you could get more eggs out of the chicken by squeezing them! What a great tip!

BTW, I nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Head on over to Antiquity Oaks to pick it up!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Wow - what a gorgeous sunrise!!!