Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yearly Nursery Trip With Mom

Above is my Eastern Redbud in full bloom. Every year, my mother-in-law and I make a trip to our favorite local nursery, Brubaker's Acres. We spend a few hours looking over all the plants and have a good time enabling each other's gardening habits. But we exhibited great self-control today and didn't drive away with a truckload of plants! I finally got to shop for plants to put in my large cast iron kettle out front. My grandma used it to make apple butter when I was growing up. Now it decorates the approach next to the garage. I am going with a purple and yellow color scheme and the kettle is now filled with chartreuse colored potato vines, vibrant purple pansies and burgundy coleus. The center plant was tough to choose. I wanted something that would grow tall but I didn't want to buy the typical spike plant. I chose to plant a dill in the center instead and it looks really nice! The frilly foliage is light and delicate. My mother-in-law thought the white flowers would look really nice in the summer. I'll post a photo in a few weeks after the plants have begun to fill in.

Before I left this morning I went to check on the chooks. I went into the coop and saw the chicks divided into two groups. I immediately felt something was wrong because it was very cold this morning and all of the chicks should have been near the heat lamp. I looked at the birds that were huddled away from the lamp and sure enough, one of them had its vent bloodied by pecking! I was heart sick as this was something I was hoping I wouldn't have to deal with. The really surprising part was that it was one of the Barred Rocks, which aren't near the bottom of the pecking order by any means. Thank goodness I caught it in time before she was seriously injured. I washed her vent and applied some ointment.

I was in a hurry to get going so I asked Jim to get the cat carrier to separate the chick from the flock. I gave her a bowl of water, a handful of feed and some bedding and latched the door. She didn't seem to mind being confined at all so I left for my mother-in-law's, still worried. When I got home I checked her and she was doing just fine. I feel confident that this little girl will heal up in a few days. I'll let her rejoin the flock when she's better. In the meantime, you can be sure I will spoil her. She gets a handful of fresh grass a few times a day and she got to join three other chicks for "yard time" while I planted my new plants this afternoon.

Why do birds do this to each other? It seems such a cruel behavior to me. But the more I learn about chickens, the more I realize how much we are like them. We are cruel to each other for no reason at all, but when we are threatened in any way we run to each other for safety in a panic. The flock mentality doesn't just exist in birds, it exists in our society as well.


  1. Oh, I hate that so bad Amy. The batch we ordered last year started that too and it was tough to break them from it. I'd never had any chicks do that before, so it was very frustrating. Keep a close watch (I know you will) and keep the ointment handy!

  2. Thanks Paula! I am lucky I caught it so quickly or I fear they'd have pecked her to death. I do check them frequently, as new mothers do! LOL Anyway, while we were at the store picking up supplies for the chicken's fenced run, I picked up a bottle of "Blu-Kote". I sprayed the picked chick (much to her protest) and another Barred Rock who had a red vent. Both have blue backsides and neither one is being picked on at all! WHEW!!! That stuff works pretty good.

    I wondered why it was the BRs who were being picked at and when I looked at their vents, their bright pink skin was showing through because their rump feathers aren't quite in just yet. They grow so quickly I'm sure they'll have feathers covering the area very soon.

    BTW, the bullied chick earned her name today: Sweet Pea

  3. Hi, Amy. It's funny, I've thought the same thing while observing our chicks and their behavior - "people are chickens." My wife doesn't like that theory. But people do tend to peck each other mercilessly, then want to lay down together and enjoy the comfort of companionship. It's a funny sort of conflict. I enjoyed your post... I thought I might be the only one to draw parallels between people and chickens. :)


  4. Thanks for stopping by for some chicken coop philosophy, Ron! I'm glad you enjoyed your visit.


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