Friday, September 12, 2008

New Chicks!!!

Well, the friendly folks down at Pittsboro Feed and Garden decided to order baby chicks for the fall, and, well...

We've got 10 baby Ameraucanas. These are very pretty chickens when they their feathers come in, and of course chicks are always cute. These are the chickens that lay light blue or green eggs, so sometimes they're called "Easter Egg Chickens," but the breed name is Ameraucana. They're related to the South American breed, Araucana, and look similiar. Araucanas also lay colored eggs and have bright, jungle-fowl-ish plumage. They have ear tufts and are rumpless, that is, they don't have tails. Ameraucanas are a breed that came from crossing American breeds with Aracaunas, which are rare in North America. The result is that Ameraucanas have tails, and no ear tufts. Some do have ear muffs and beards, which are feathers around the sides of the eyes and on their upper throats.

These are so freshly hatched, most of them still have their egg teeth, that little bump on the end of the beak that they use to break out of their shells. Left over from the dinosaur days. The egg tooth falls off a day or two after hatching, so obviously these babies are fresh!

In case you are wondering, yes, the USPS does ship live baby chicks through the regular mail. We ordered some last year and, boy, were the people at the Post Office excited about that package!

Buck really likes watching all the chicks cheeping and scratching around in the brooder. This one looks like it might have ear muffs.

We've had a lot of heavy rain this week and last, with the result being that mushrooms are popping up everywhere. Last year the drought was so bad I don't think I saw a mushroom all year. When a bunch popped up after a rain it was like I was seeing them for the first time-- I'd forgotten that they just spring up overnight! These are some of a large crop growing in the dog pen by the doghouses.

And here's some pretty blooms on Buck's swamp sunflower. I bought this one at the NC Botanical Gardens about a week before he was born. It was just three or four inches tall. You can see it's thriving just like Buck! We planted it in a spot where it can spread. Now that we have this one, I've been noticing them everywhere along the roads.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Too many pictures?

Well, I filled up the computer's hard drive. It took about a year and a half, but I finally did it. So I spent this morning selectively deleting pictures. Not to worry, they are all backed up on the external hard drive, so those fifteen fuzzy, out-of-focus pictures of Ladybird sitting on the computer desk are still there. So relax. Even with having deleted probably 50-100 pictures, it won't take me long to fill it back up.

"Mom, quit taking pictures and PLAY WITH ME!!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Buck's First Swing

Buck and I took a trip to Manteo last week, coinciding with Keely and her kids being down there, too. We had a great time. One afternoon, Keely and I took all the kids over to the ol' swimming hole by the old ferry dock, beside the aquarium. I didn't get any pictures of Buck "swimming" in the sound, but did these great ones of him swinging for the first time. He loved it!! The older kids had fun on the swings, too, and I think they enjoyed the swimming hole being a little calmer and easier to manage than the ocean.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fun Things To Do With Baby

This is about the funnest thing Buck knows. Now, everyone, just calm down. In many peaceful, loving cultures, part of growing up is being tossed up in the air and caught. Caught. Not dropped, caught. Babies find the sensation irresistible. Buck is no exception.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chicken Feet, Part II

So Phoenix's feet are looking better. Our internet service was out the last week and a half or so, so this update is actually from the first week.
Can't really tell, but his feet look a little better to me. He also seems to not be quite as freaked out by being cornered and grabbed out of the flock. He's a wily little guy, don't get me wrong. He's still doing his best not to be caught. He just doesn't seem as panicked about it.
I actually think he might even enjoy it a bit. It's like a chicken spa. I've put in some pictures to show the process, and also to compare with the first pictures. His feet are still red most of the way up, but the areas closer to his hock (the leg joint, roughly correlating to our ankle) look less irritated. His toes still look pretty bad, but they don't look as "angry" to me. We'll just have to wait and see if they start healing. The pictures aren't the best. It's hard to tell what's going on when you're holding a chicken in one hand and trying to photograph it's feet with the other.
I'm keeping an eye on the hens' legs and feet, and they all look fine. Not sure why Phoenix is more susceptible to whatever this is-- skin infection? Whatever it is, I hope it is actually getting better.

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

The other morning I woke up to a strange 'chirrup'-ing sound. I hopped up quickly, thinking the cats had dragged a bird in the house and were holding it hostage. I'm pretty familiar with this sound, as, at least once a season, the cats kidnap birds. They rarely get to actual killing, because I will usually intercept them before then.
Well, I walked out into the hall and all the cats were sitting there, looking very innocent. They all meowed and started darting over to the food bowl-- their normal morning ritual.
No bird.
So I figured I must have misheard and it was just one of the finches throwing its voice or something.
You may have already figured out there was indeed a bird in the house. Murdock the dog actually pointed it out to me. A very pretty little Carolina Wren, one of my favorites. She was in the bathroom, cleverly hiding in between the bathroom sink and the wall, where the cats couldn't reach her. I, however, have longer limbs than the cats and make quick work of scooping her up. She seemed fine, if startled, so while the cats were busy breakfasting, I took her out to the porch and opened my hand. She spread her wings and undulated to the neighbor's porch, where she sat, apparently collecting herself.
Well, the next day, I was folding laundry in the living room when I heard a familiar little 'chirrup.' I looked outside and saw the cats huddled under the bird feeders looking very intent. I investigated and found that once again, they had a little Carolina Wren, this time she was just sitting on the ground, looking around at all the cats, as if hypnotized by them. I can't be sure it was the same bird, but I think it was. She didn't seem as startled when I picked her up this time, and struggled hardly at all. Got some nice pictures of her. She was content to just perch on my hand.
I decided that since she was acting awful dazed, and this was possible the second time in as many days that she'd been nabbed by the cats, that if she were going to live, she was going to need some help. So I looked to the wonderful, non-profit, free to the public services of Piedmont Wildlife Center ( They will take in injured wildlife and rehabilitate them when possible, at no cost to the rescuer. They have had some pretty cool cases brought in from all over the state. Check out their website.
They were closed for the day but I found helpful instructions on their site (put the bird in a small cardboard box, no food or water, keep in a quiet, dark place away from other animals) and Adam ended up taking her in for me the next morning. I will check her status this week and let you know.
This makes the second bird in two weeks that cats have attempted to kidnap. The other was a young female cardinal that I caught under the porch with El Sucio. She wasn't as sweet as the wren and tried to take a chunk out of my pinky. Those seed-cracking beaks are strong!!
I'm guessing that this sudden outburst of bird hostages has to do with young birds starting out on their own for the first time. Hopefully this will be the last of the bird captives for awhile...although, with this crew:
...who knows.