And yes, finally we are BACK to blogging!! And as you can see, with a tonne of feathered creatures.
The chicks that were raised indoors with us have now all grown up into adults and are producing free range organic eggs for us everyday. Even Rummy and I get to eat them, boiled, fried and raw.
Mum celebrated her 35th birthday last month, and we bought a walnut cake from Costco. Ironically, the humans didn't eat the cake and it ended up on the yard floor, for the chickens and us. That's me, Kimi, digging into the cake, together with the chickens, while Rummy hangs back, waiting for the chickens to have their share first. Rummy spoils the chickens, but not me.
Mum has bought us birds, more chickens, can you believe that?
We now have about 45 chickens, and only half of them are not chicks. That means in a couple of months, we're going to have so many eggs, we won't know what to do with them.
The chickens were raised with us watching over them, so they naturally have no fear of us. We can all share a nice nutty cake together and eat it at the same time with no hesitation. Some people have said it is impossible for us Airedales to do this, given that us terriers were meant to kill vermin, rodents, birds, small furry creatures and feathered beings. We were used in flushing out these very same birds that we're tolerating and sharing our cake with.
But yes, we have done the impossible. Rummy and I both do not see the birds as prey, we see them as our pack members. We were intimately involved with raising them right from when they were wee teeny chicks, and it has taken a long time and lot of effort to ensure peace and harmony in our corner of the world.
We have many types of chickens now, functional ones and ornamental ones too. A bit more about them later.
This bird's name is SengKnet. That means crooked in Malay.
She was suffering from a bird illness called Crook Neck, some have theorized it is due to vitamin deficiency, some say it is due to injury, but with a lot of care and additional supplements, SengKnet is no longer seng knet. She has somewhat recovered with spells of doing the "stevie wonder", rolling her head about. As you can see from the above pic, she is the boldest bird, staying around and eating with us longer than any other chicken. It is because she spent many nights indoors with us. She knows us best.
For the last few months, Mum went into a deep depression. Her nightmares and feeling ill spells were not making her better, so her mum and papa, our grandparents had to come visit, all the way from Singapore. When grandma and grandpa came by to stay, Mum began to feel so much better and could smile and be normal again. I think the presence of her loved ones and support meant a lot to her and it gave her something else to think about.
Grandma and Grandpa loved us both a lot. Rummy and I both relished having more attention, hugs and love. The chickens also loved getting extra treats every morning and evening, just like our normal routine, except that now, there was more loving to go around.
Grandma carries Smokey on her lap, and examines his beautiful grey feathers. They are shaded with different hues of grey and black, hence his name, he was named for the smoke color of his feathers.
Smokey is also very special because Rummy adores him to bits. From the very first moment they laid eyes on each other, Rummy and this blue Cochin chick has been bound together with a special thread that transcends our difference in species.
Rummy allows Smokey to do anything to him, peck at him, climb on him, eat his food etc. He follows Smokey around slowly, just like a lost puppy, but Rummy is not like this normally if he wasn't with his chickens. He is the resident hunter in our pack, so it is very abnormal for him to love the chickens so much, especially Smokey.
Take for instance, banana is one of Rummy's favorite things to eat. If there was banana being given out, Rummy would allow the chickens to eat it first, he would watch them gently, and let them have a go. He would just hang back, while they ate his favorite fruit.
When the chickens are out playing, pecking around, foraging for bugs and worms, Rummy spends a lot of his time, watching over them, and hanging out with them. For me, I'd rather play or chase a ball or something. Watching chickens is not a great past time of mine.
But yes, I do make sure everything is alright. That's me, sniffing Mr Frizzles butt.
We play an important role in our pack. We act as guard dogs, not just for the property, but also for the chickens. There are hawks that fly overhead, but when they see us, they do not dare attack any of our chickens. We've lost one chick, a gold laced polish to a hawk some months ago, that was when both Rummy and I were indoors, and no one expected that the hawk would actually attack, but it did. Our property is all fenced in, so no other predators can get to us easily. But it is still hard to deter air borne predators.
At feeding time, the chickens get special treats such as shredded carrots, and we put our several feeding stations for them. Heck, would you believe it, even the chickens have a pecking order, just like us dogs. There are top alpha chickens, just as there are top alpha dogs. If we only had one feeding plate, the more dominant birds would stop and block the subordinate birds from getting any, hence the multiple feeding stations, and why Rummy and I are there to keep law and order.
Rummy watches over the birds at feeding time to ensure there is no chaos and fighting among the birds.
We know this is bird food, although if we were given the chance, we would try to eat it too, but Mum said to "leave it" and so we do as we're told.
That's me, watching over the Silkie chicks. They are only 5 weeks old in this photo, very young, and would be bullied if they did not have their own feeding plate.
I am very gentle with them.
After the chicken coop and sheltered enclosure had been built, the humans decided that they needed to build an expansion to house all the birds in preparation for winter.
The above pic shows the fancy chicken house and shelter. There is some empty space behind the enclosure and a large tree stump in the middle of it. The humans decided to build the enclosure behind here, with the tree stump in the center as a show piece. They wanted to add a fun feature I suppose. Or perhaps, they didn't have a way to remove it.
Naturally, I am in the middle of it, inspecting the grounds before the work began.
I also marked the tree several times, to make sure, all the critters knew I was in charge of it all.
There was a tonne of blackberry shrubs to get rid of, and other than that, a lot of work was still necessary. They had to dig out the roots, shrubs and debris, and also level out the plot as much as possible.
During the entire process, Rummy and I were supervising the humans to make sure nothing got left out.
While Rob worked hard at making sure everything was in place, the rest of us peeps went on life as usual. We dug holes around, and even made it easier for the chicks to look for earthworms and bugs. Because we dug holes, the chickens could get to them much easier. Life was good for us dogs and chickens, but not so for worms and bugs.
By this time, the Silkie chicks were already used to loud noises and banging and hammering. They had been flooded with loud noises since they were chicks indoors. The vacuum cleaner and other loud noises like Rummy and I play fighting was a common thing, so by the time they had been moved outside, they were not afraid of the nail gun and work that was going on right next to their chick brooder. The chick brooder is actually my old crate, turned upside down.
Mum is very much a good chicken care taker. She hunts for earthworms to feed the birds, and takes care of their needs well. Who would have ever imagined the changes our human has gone through? She was a city girl, who loved the niceties, but now she's often seen wearing muck boots, digging for worms, and finding contentment in the simplest of things. Mum has changed a lot in the last few years.
You can often see Rummy right in the middle of things. There he is, right where the chickens are as usual.
Mum holds us a blue Silkie chick for me, while I examine it with my nose. I love my chickens too, but not as much as Rummy does.
I even go as far as licking the chicks.
Smokey on Rummy's back.
They really are special.
Stay tuned for more tales from furry and feathered creatures.
Kimi and Rummy