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Posts Tagged ‘Buckeye’

P1150777Sesame’s unusually small egg this week.

This is one of the eggs that my one-year old Ameracauna, Sesame, laid for us this week. It could be a complete fluke of course; I think we may have gotten one miniature egg last year when the girls were just starting to lay. However, given the fact that we just brought two new chickens into our fold – a pair of one-year-old Brahma sisters – things have been a little unsettled for poor Sesame, who was already the last in the pecking order. I noticed her getting picked on a bit more severely than usual by the Buckeye, Tipsy (who was perhaps trying to establish herself as the boss to all other parties, since the newcomers probably pose a legitimate challenge – they’re not small chickens!), and I also noticed her avoiding the new girls almost in a panic, rushing out of their way whenever they came near her for any reason. And to top off her erratic new behavior, she started laying eggs under the coop and on the floor inside the coop instead of in the nest box she usually uses. And one of them looked like this. Tomas called it a “sample size egg;” that’s one of her regular ones next to it.

Sesame and her endlessly cute cheek muffs.

Sesame and her endlessly cute cheek muffs.

All things considered, though, the Brahma sisters are settling in well and everyone seems to be getting along splendidly; I haven’t heard a single altercation and only seen a little bit of posturing between Tipsy and Sesame. It will take me a while to figure out the new pecking order, but I think Tipsy has positioned herself near the top. And Sesame is laying normal eggs again, though still frequently far out of reach under the coop. I tried to get one out with a pitchfork the other day – not a good idea – but the girls enjoyed the surprise egg-yolk snack while I hastily removed any shells from their reach.

Finally, here are couple of photos of the new Brahma sisters, named Tandoori and Pot Pie. And their lovely eggs. Happy chicken-keeping!

Pot Pie scratching at something yummy. Note the feathered feet, characteristic of the Brahma breed.

Pot Pie scratching at something yummy. Note the feathered feet, characteristic of the Brahma breed.

The Brahma sisters, Tandoori and Pot Pie. Tandoori has more dark markings on her back, a really pretty girl. Pot Pie (right) is quite the little renegade; she refuses to go into the pen in the evening and always gives us a run for our money. Perhaps a better name would have been Houdini...

The Brahma sisters, Tandoori and Pot Pie. Tandoori has more dark markings on her back, a really pretty girl. Pot Pie (right) is quite the little renegade; she refuses to go into the pen in the evening and always gives us a run for our money. Perhaps a better name would have been Houdini...

New eggs in the collection. The speckled one and the pinkish colored one on the right are the new colors; interesting to me that two birds of the same breed can lay such different looking eggs, but it turns out we don't get speckles all the time! The large buff colored ones on the left are from Curry, our Australorp; still the most consistently large, beautiful eggs of the lot, but these new Brahma eggs are quite wonderful as well!

New eggs in the collection. The speckled one and the pinkish colored one on the right are the new colors; interesting that two birds of the same breed can lay such different looking eggs, but it turns out we don't get speckles all the time. The large buff colored ones on the left are from Curry, our Australorp; still the most consistently large, beautiful eggs of the lot, but these new Brahma eggs are quite wonderful as well.

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Tipsy

Tipsy has a drinking problem. It’s getting better now, but when we first noticed it (at about 2 days of age), we were a little concerned. Would she survive with such a severe behavioral defect? Would it compromise her ability to function like a normal chicken, especially in stressful situations where quick reflexes are needed?

I’m not giving my chickens beer, I promise… Tipsy just appears to be a little bit “special.” While all the other chicks quickly learned to sip a bit of water and tilt their heads back just a smidge to swallow, Tipsy would take a sip, sit back on her haunches (do chickens have haunches?), tip her head WAAAAY back over her back until she was looking backwards, and swallow that way. Except that half the time she lost her balance and fell over onto her back, causing a big commotion because she’d have to scramble and flap wildly to get herself upright again, inevitably disturbing some other chick’s peaceful moment.

At first we laughed heartily at this, thinking she’d figure it out in an hour or two. Then a day or two. She didn’t. This went on for days, and when I tried to gauge the normalcy of this behavior by asking more experienced “chicken people” about it, they frowned and said “that doesn’t sound right.” Great. It so happened that Tipsy was also significantly smaller than the other chicks. I decided she was a runt, and instantly felt something between despair for her and anger at the hatchery that would pick out a runt and ship it to me. Conventional wisdom dictates that runts won’t make it, and it’s better to put them out of their misery right away than let them suffer the overwhelming cruelties of life.

But after a bit of thought, I realized that if someone had to inherit a runt, it may as well be me. Here in her spacious run, with only 4 other chickens to contend with and plenty of daily personal attention (not to mention food), she could be as special as she wanted or needed to be, truthfully. And she is just too cute. Besides, I was a runt of sorts when I was younger. I know what it means to be smaller and skinnier than the other kids, and to be picked on endlessly because of it. I turned out ok. So I resigned myself to the fact that I have a runt, and resolved to pay special attention to her.

Well, she doesn’t really need it. Tipsy is tipping less, though I still catch her doing it once in a while. She’s still smaller than the others, with lots of fluff left and not much of a tail while the others are practically 100% feathered out by now. But this is one quick, tenacious little chicken. She chases down bugs with total precision, and often is the first to jump up and snatch a treat out of my fingers and take off with it (though her ensuing high-decibel, excited cheeping gets her in trouble immediately and she usually loses the prize). She protests vocally when pushed around, so I can’t be convinced that she’s on the bottom of any emerging pecking order. I think this girl is a survivor.

Tipsy is a Buckeye, a ‘critically endangered’ rare breed of chicken developed in Ohio (where else) long ago by an enterprising woman who wanted a docile, cold tolerant egg laying breed. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy describes Buckeyes as having “a personality all their own. They are a very active fowl and are noted for being especially vigilant in the pursuit of mice, some breeders comparing them to cats in regard to this ability. They tend to have very little fear of humans and are possibly too friendly.” Well, little Tipsy is quite fearful at this stage in her life. Perhaps she’ll grow out of it, but she screams bloody murder when I try to turn the light out, so the girls are still sleeping with a lamp on at night which I guess is normal for now. She’s flighty and the least easy to handle, screaming bloody murder (again) when caught. But as with all chicks, her personality is evolving quickly. She is eyeing my lap more curiously, and she steps readily into an open hand – just fights like a banshee when grabbed. It’s truly impossible to contain her and I end up carrying her perched on my hand and flapping rather than ensconced in any secure way. Her agility when chasing bugs makes me think that the bit about catching mice may yet turn out to be true, and quite handy too because we have those now, after the resident cats moved out a few months ago. The only thing I doubt is that she will be six and a half pounds. But we shall see. She’s certainly proved herself to be a unique and uniquely keep-able girl.

Tipsy at one week of age; a tiny, dainty little thing.

Tipsy at one week of age; a tiny, dainty little thing.

Tipsy is the smaller yellow chick with the brown spot on her head.

Tipsy is the smaller yellow chick with the brown spot on her head.

Miss Tipsy at 4 weeks of age, about a week ago. She's getting browner.

Miss Tipsy at 4 weeks of age, about a week ago. She's getting browner.

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