Picture day. C3.0 on Day 26.

It seemed as though the rain would never stop and the sun would never shine, but it has and it has. Halleluia! I’ve been looking for a day that wasn’t so very cold to take C3.0 out of the brooder and out from under the heat lamp for updated photos. Spreading and preserving the cute, yes, but also informative; I am impatient to know how many hens I have.

(By the way, it might amuse you to know that, in my head, C3.0 is C3PO.)

The sexing is foregone for many of C3.0 (See? You’re doing it now, too.). I am as certain as I can be without pissing off Mother Nature that I have a minimum of two Blue Copper Marans roos. My beloved Big Blue, the biggest, the fastest, the most precocious, who I had hoped would be a hen, crowed on Day 19, dashing my hopes. That his wattles are now a rather spectacular cherry red is just salt in the wound.

1305 Big Blue leRoo

Ladies and gentlechickens, I give you…Big Blue leRoo. If all continues on its current course, Big Blue leRoo will be my Marans rooster. He hatched first, easiest, healthiest, strongest, and biggest. (Wendy, he might well be #37.) I’d be a fool not to use him as the foundation of my breeding program, modest as it is.

Recall that I am naming the Marans after Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters, and the Ameraucanas after Angel characters…my Marans rooster will be named Spike. As I try not to tempt fate whenever possible, he remains Big Blue leRoo for the foreseeable future. How ’bout them wattles, huh? Here he is, at left, with Blue Roo Two:

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Not hard to see who the alpha is, is it? Big Blue leRoo has already begun to peck at me when I clean the brooder, and, thanks to the invaluable guidance of Justine at Les Farms, I know now to ping him when he does so, and force him to recognise my physical superiority. I am the alpha.

That said, Blue Roo Two will be kept as my backup until the fall, at which time, if all goes according to plan (ha!) he will make a fine Marans rooster in someone else’s flock.

Then there are the blue girls, which is to say, what I hope are the blue girls:

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A dramatic difference in combs and wattles, you’ll agree. Although there is likely a slight age difference, it can’t be more than one day, so I don’t think it’s a factor at this point. I will need a blue rooster and blue hens if I’m ever to breed the elusive splash.

Then there are my two blacks. Both of these chicks required help hatching. Medium Black was born 25 days ago, and Scrappy 24. Medium Black may have needed help getting from the shell, but was completely independent thereafter, and never required my help again. That said, she is significantly smaller than the blues.

Scrappy, as you’ll recall, was very high maintenance. She pipped when I had given up hope of any other hatchings, and needed quite a bit of my help, including an after-hatch bath and and elaborate leg bracing to correct weak toes and an inturned left ankle:

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Here they are today:

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They were the wiggliest of the bunch and this shot is the most in focus of all the shots I took. Scrappy, at left, may be tiny, but she is undaunted. She was the only one of the nine who tried to fly off the 3.5 foot roost on which they were perched. As you can see, she is still behind developmentally, but is now making progress.

I believe both of these blacks to be girls, and await the thoughts of more learned chickeneers.

Which brings us to the Lavender Ameraucana trio. I think I lucked out and got a proper breeding trio, one rooster and two hens. I base this conclusion not on combs and wattles, but on the rate of feathering, as I’m told this is a reliable method of sexing in Ameraucanas. From the outset, two of the LAs feathered in quickly, and one slowly.

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Although the roolet, at center, is blurry in this shot, you can see how his feather development differs from that of the pullets on either side of him. He and the girl to the right were born on the first day, making them 26 days old; the pullet to the left is none other than Light Preemie, who has blossomed.

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Assuming I am right (and that’s always dangerous), I am going ahead and giving them their adult names. The roo will be Angel. The larger, more glamourous hen, at right, will be Cordelia, and the perky, come-up-from-behind hen will be Fred. Yes, Fred. Innit she sweet? In the shot above, you can also get a good look at Cordelia’s beard coming in.

So, there you have it: the kids of C3.0, on Day 26. Coming later this week, the babies of T1.0, and the embryos of C3.1.

Paging Doctor Chickeneer…

Now that the last weak chick is out of the NICU, and it seems unlikely that there will be any more hatching, I can pause to reflect on my very first hatching experience, which was much more operatic than I had anticipated…

This hatching chicks thing is way harder than anyone let on. I certainly set myself up for success when I chose the Hovabator Genesis 1588. This thing truly is plug and go. What impresses me the most is how it is holding its heat and humidity as I open the ‘bator during lockdown over and over. I mean, it’s been busier than a Dunkin Donuts drive-through window in there. I know, I know. Das ist verboten!! And yet, the ‘bator has held its temperature and humidity remarkably well. Miraculously well.

No one told me that, as the chicks began to hatch, the incubator would quickly become filled with shell debris, and rowdy, fluffy chicks (and how ’bout that smell, folks?!). Well, they did, but they didn’t say the situation would quickly become untenable as the stronger first-hatchers pecked at the still-hatching and sat on the heads of the more newly-hatched. I can not imagine leaving them in there undisturbed for 72 or even 48 hours. It would have been Escape From New York in there.

And no one told me I was going to need to help. In fact, I was told quite the opposite, that I should, under no circumstances, help. Emerging chicks need the fight; the fight makes them strong. If you take away the fight in a misguided desire to help, you take away the workout that sets them up for a healthy, strong chickhood.

CAVEAT: Unless they won’t make it to chickhood. That’s the criteria: help only if the chick will die if you do not. It’s not an easy call, especially for this virgin hatcher. (Virgin no longer!)

Fortunately, I was not alone; Justine of Les Farms has been my constant mentor, my Mr. Miyagi, my Ova Wan Kenobi, if you will, available pretty much day or night via email, to guide me, to encourage me, to give her opinion on the photos and video I sent in panic. This is as much her hatch as it is mine.

Thursday morning, technically still Day 20, I awoke to three chicks, just like that. BAM. Here’s yer chicks. Easy peasey. The rest of the day was equally smooth. I went to bed Thursday night knowing there were two Marans on the move, one halfway zipped and another pipped, working since that afternoon.

I was not happy to find them in exactly the same condition early Friday morning. The chicks inside were alive; I could see their beaks gaping with breath. I sent Justine this pic of the zipped chick:

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I was unprepared for Justine’s reply: “If it were me, I’d help.”

Following her instructions to the letter, I placed the egg in the lap of Stepdaughter the Elder and carefully (terrified, mind) moistened the dried membrane at the zip site with warm sterile water and a Q-tip, ensuring there was no dried membrane glued to the chick, preventing hatch.

It was a multi-tiered process, and, in the end, I zipped the shell all the way around and put the chick back in the ‘bator to pull itself out of the shell. S/he had a little help from early-hatching siblings (if torment can be called help) and was up and padding about in short order. (This whole process if well documented on video on the Dúagwyn Facebook Page.) I was thrilled to see s/he is a splash, the only one of the entire hatch, and here’s what s/he looks like now, only 48 hours later:

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We decided to give the other Maran a few more hours, as its progress was much less advanced:

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S/he turned out to be a Cesarean, as well, in the end, and our first Black Copper Marans emerged, safe and well.

There were two zipping Lavender Ameraucanas through all this, and I was thrilled. Only two had hatched the day before, and I had been concerned that was all we’d get. As the day passed, I became re-concerned, as the zipping hadn’t progressed. At all.

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This was the shell of #4, aka Light Preemie, who did not look good when s/he got out:

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Dark preemie had zipped even less, and seemed even more listless upon exit. It was a long, silly story, involving, but not limited to, me bathing both preemies when it became apparent that they were encased in an armour of dried egg. Both chicks fared much better (and certainly looked better) after they’d had a bath:

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Light preemie was off to the races, after a power nap. I never worried about him/her again. Dark preemie was experiencing balance issue severe enough that s/he needed help to stand. For an hour and a half on Saturday, I held him/her to my chest, doing some form of rudimentary, improvised chicken physiotherapy.

And s/he strengthened rapidly. By dinner time Saturday, s/he was standing and walking with confidence, if still a little wobbly at times, and both preemies entered gen pop in the brooder for the night. Here they are today, just 24 hours later:

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Quite the little success story.

In less happy news, a Blue Copper Marans chick hatched (without assistance) that could not get upright. I tries shoes, I tried hobbling, but nothing helped. Here is the chick having shoes installed, to keep the toes spread and the feet flat during a critical period where the bones harden:

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Even with the shoes, the chick was only able to push itself along with floor using its feet and wings as paddles; with the hobble it couldn’t even do that. In the end, I was forced to accept that the issues were not fixable; the hips were badly malformed. And so, I experienced my first cull. It was a brutal experience.

Nietsche said what doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger, but I beg to differ. If culling will be easier next time (and I’m pretty sure it will), then what doesn’t destroy me doesn’t make me stronger, it just snips the connections to empathy. What doesn’t destroy me makes me harder. And that sucks.

As if all that weren’t enough, there was a late-hatching BlackCopper Marans Saturday evening, and it needed help, and it has issues, too. (This doctoring stuff gets old fast. I’m being honest with you, here.) When I took Little Black Copper Marans out of the incubator this morning, it became immediately apparent that there were foot and leg issues. This is probably why s/he was unable to get out of the shell independently, even with a great deal of help.

Darwinism would suggest that all these chicks should have been left to die. I can see both sides of the issue. Certainly, these weaker, problematic chicks should not be used for breeding, even though it’s entirely possible their problems may not be genetic. Because…they might be. Had they been born in a hatchery, they would never have seen the light of day.

I put shoes on LBCM this morning, but I knew there was an issue with the ankle as well; the left ankle was turning inward. Chicken Debbie to the rescue! She concurred that shoes were in order, as well as a brace for the left leg to hold the foot straight. All of that looks like this:

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Poor little guy/girl. What a rough way to start life! It remains to be seen if this chick will be sufficiently independent to grow to full chickhood; I really, really hope I don’t have another “call” to make.

All this to say, in the past 48 hours, I have performed one euthanisation, and five egg surgeries. Four of those have happy endings, and one is too soon to tell, but looks promising. I have performed orthopaedic services, preemie care and physiotherapy.

I am exhausted.

The MacGyver Terrace. Baby edition.

2.1 has been enjoying their time outside in the pink gazebo (once they’re there, that is), but they are getting a tad large to be enclosed in there all day. Now that 2.0 has graduated to free ranging with 1.0, I had that green plastic fencing free to rig up something for the babies.

The current configuration is much less porous than its predecessors; the barn wall makes for cleaner seams than Junk Jungle.

I’m hoping this new space will encourage 2.1 to explore the rest of the farm, and give them a more harmonious (read: bored) relationship with their older sisters. There have been good signs already: not hours after Stepdaughter the Elder and I set up The Terrace, three 2.0s had broken in to The New MacGyver Terrace and were peacefully foraging with 2.1…

The gazebo itself makes a wonderful stabilising corner:

2.1 spends the hottest hours inside the gazebo:

The Charlie’s Angels shot:

And Ava poses for her pin-up calendar:

(They’ll photoshop the poop out in post-production…)

Big girl bed. The reality show.

Here are words, it turns out, that one should never say: “The new normal has finally arrived.” The second one says these words, the gods laugh and decide to mess with one.

Remember The Plan? All my hard work to set up the next stage of integration in my little flock? Ha, I say. HA!

Right off the bat yesterday, 2.0 made it very clear that they were no longer interested in keeping themselves restricted to The MacGyver Terrace. I knew that they knew how to get out, and they knew that I knew that they knew. But we had an agreement that they would stay there anyway, because it was safe and fun.

There have been a few breakouts, but the re-incarcerations were sufficiently traumatic that breakouts were kept to once daily. Until yesterday.

I gave up. They had seen Paris, and I could no longer keep them down on the farm. The members 2.0 are now part of the free-ranging flock, full time. It’s nerve wracking, and, I’m sure, ill advised. They are still so very portable.

And yet, their instincts are sound. They’ve been sticking to the sides of the barn where the grass is long, Junk Jungle, and the old garden, which hasn’t been ploughed under yet and is its own jungle. They spent the whole afternoon yesterday inside the coop, dustbathing.

I’m trying not to panic about it. They’re smart and they’re fast and maybe the hawks will think they’re crows. The Man and I discussed it, and we came back to the philosophy we agreed upon when Angelina was taken by the fox last summer: let’s let chickens be chickens, and we’ll let the chips fall where they may. Until we suffer significant losses, we will operate under this credo. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

That’s how the day went. But what about the night?

I was so interested to see how this next phase of integration would go that I actually parked myself in front of the open coop door at 7:30pm to watch them all settle in for the night, camera at the ready.

That cute little training roost I set up for 2.0? The one they used in the run and in the coop all during the day? Completely ignored. It became clear early on that 2.0 intended to sleep on the real roost in their first night of freedom, thank you very much. They carved a space out for themselves by the screen door while 1.0 was still eating and drinking. See the Heedley’s Hens Facebook Page for video (“Integration roulette.”)

In the end? There were fourteen chickens on the roosts, two more than were ever intended when it was constructed, with a huge space between the two generations:

This is temporary. This can’t endure, for two reasons: a) the roost was missing two big girls last night, the two broodies, and they will eventually come back to the roosts (they’ll come back, right? RIGHT??!!), and; b) 2.0 will grow. It’s one thing for them to cram together at one end of the roosts, now, but in two or three weeks?

Now, as this was all happening (and I found it fascinating to watch), 2.1 was having their own little drama. They were screaming to get out of the crate, trying to push themselves between the bars. What the?! It was a little disturbing to watch. They cried and ran around hysterically. Was it being left out of all the roosting? Was it because night was falling and their night light has been removed?

I left the coop to the sounds of their screams feeling like one very bad chicken mommy. I came back an hour later to listen and was greatly relieved to find the coop silent.

This morning, I was greeted, not by 1.0, as usual, but by 2.0, waiting to be let out of the run. Ha!

The 15 Puzzle made another move, and now it’s 2.1 that is hanging out in the run today, for the first time. It’s going to be a very, very hot day, and I’ll post later about how we’ll be handling that at Heedley’s Hens…

Big girl bed.

Today’s the day. Today’s the day 2.0 gets a big girl bed. Well, a placeholder, anyway, until The Man can find time to build their real big girl bed.

We’ve fallen into an easy, predictable rhythm here; the new normal has finally arrived. In the morning, Billie in tow, I let 1.0 out of the closed run, the pop door having opened automatically at 6:30am. They rush out to pasture for the day.

I take Billie to pee, then let her off leash. (She is going through a thing where she’ll only do her business if we take her on leash. Off leash, she’ll just play and forget all about her bladder.) I then set up the perimeter of the MacGyver Terrace. We’ve had nights in the 50s lately, so the outer coop door has stayed open all night, and 2.0 gets very excited as I set up the fencing, calling to me from inside the gazebo to let them out.

I walk around through the front door of the barn, and enter the coop from the inside. I quickly scoop poop, then let the clambering 2.0 out of the gazebo. They know the drill by now; they scoot out the open pop door, through the open run, and begin their own day of pasture in Junk Jungle.

2.1 has been peeping all this time. They’re excited because they get to go outside, too, but they dread the actual transportation part. We’ve had a breakthrough lately; if I open the crate door slowly and wait a bit before moving, Ava will calm down enough that I can slowly put my hand under her without any resultant hysteria.

I carry the three out with varying degrees of struggle, and plop them into the found crate for the day. They begin to forage immediately.

I pull the two broodies out for their morning walk, and put down scratch for 1.0. Voilà! Everyone is happy, safe, fed, and taken care of. The cats watch me work, Billie now comes to me when I call for her, and responds appropriately to the command “house!”. Life is predictable. Life is good.

At around 6pm, 1.0 begins to congregate around the coop and run, slowly readying themselves for the night. I roll back the fencing for The MacGyver Terrace, and 2.0 gets an hour or so to forage with the big girls, which has been going very well. Only Haley and Maisie, low girls in the pecking order, seem inclined to punish 2.0 for being yet lower.

2.1 is placed into their crate for the night, and immediately set to blissful dustbathing in the sand floor. Abby grumbles that they are back, right next to her nest.

And, then…something amazing happens.

At the appointed hour, 1.0 and 2.0 re-enter the open run, together, and begin filing into the coop to settle in for the night. I’ve noticed that 2.0 will huddle in a far corner of the run, allowing 1.0 to ascend first. This is respectful, and, more important, judicious.

Once 1.0 has made their way in, had their fill of feed and water, and settled onto their roosts. 2.0 will cautiously creep into the coop and find a place to sleep. Some nights they file right into the gazebo and make their momma ridiculously happy; other nights…not so much. I’ve found them settled in on the edge of the poop pit, on top of the gazebo (in defiance of the carefully-strung netting), and on the roosts. With 1.0. Staring at them.

I wish I could capture that moment where 1.0, standing on their roost, circles and stares at the 2.0 encroacher with a look of “What the HELL do you think you’re doing?”, and the 2.0 encroacher, comfortably snuggled in for the night, eyes closed, is all…”What? I’m not moving. Deal.”

2.0, you see, is ready for a big girl bed. It’s time for the gazebo to go bye-bye. Today’s the day.

This wasn’t going to be easy. Netting down. Heating appliances all stored away for the season, the only electrical appliance left…the all-important fan. Battling dust, flies and the feathers of six moulting chicks, I disassembled the current setup. The gazebo came out and was hosed down thoroughly. The 2.1 crate moved to the corner with new sand, and the little ladder from the run was set next to the crate.

2.0 has been roosting on this little ladder in the run; it’s the perfect training roost. The tray that is intended for the bottom of the dog crate is now on the top, protecting 2.1 from the, umm, by-product of the inevitable upstairs neighbours. Yes, I could have set up yet more netting, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of it. That stuff is a pain in the butt. Enough, already.

Please note Abby crouching in her nest to the left, unhappy that I have exposed her broody nest by moving things around. And, at far left, I placed a branch under the nipple waterer, hopeful that 2.0 will figure them out. They already have the PVC feeder down pat. (I’ve switched the flock to organic grower crumbles, by the way, so 1.0 and 2.0 are now on the same feed.)

2.1 got new digs, too. After the gazebo was cleaned and its bottom removed (oh my), it became 2.1’s new outdoor home. The found crate will be hosed down and stored in the barn until it’s time for the poults in the spring (she said). The gazebo offers 2.1 more forage space, and it’s much more portable.

Here they are on alert (Oliver was right next to me):

And more relaxed:

Tonight should be fun. I’ll be watching to see if 2.0 takes to the baby roost naturally, and how 2.1, now 4.5 weeks old, will react to life without heat. We’re to have nights in the 60s for the next few days, so…no heat for you!

And tomorrow morning, I’ll be watching to see if 1.0 and 2.0 have managed to get through the night without loss of life.

2.0, meet 2.1. 2.1, meet 2.0.

Today was our first dry day in a while. Well, “dry” being relative. It was one of those days that feels pleasant enough until you do a minute and a half of light physical work, and then you’re drenched in sweat and you realise there was no point in showering.

I decided that today would be the day, Mr. Gorbachev, to take down that wall. The pegboard wall inside the pink gazebo, that is.

When I divided the brooder for my spontaneous Easter Egger love children, it was in great haste. It seemed wise to have a solid divider between the two groups at first, the babies being to very tiny, and that might have been the correct decision. Or, maybe, I was over protective. It’s been known to happen.

In any event, I’m thinking the first step to a peaceful integration is (say it with me)…boredom. They need find each other utterly tedious. With 2.0 in the run for the day, and 2.1 in the found crate for the day (they discovered grass for the first time today!), I took an hour this morning to complete the transformation.

I had to take everything out, and take the gazebo back down to canvas and sand, then rebuild it using two layers of garden netting, weighted with bricks, as the dividing wall. This afforded me the opportunity to give the sand a thorough cleaning, and pare down my heating appliances to two.

Here’s how it looked, pre-occupation, from above:

From the 2.0 side:

And from the 2.1 side:

We just returned home from a family dinner, and I headed up to the barn to get both generations into their renovated home. The babies are still quite easy to corral at this point; the kids are a nightmare. I can’t wait until they figure out the concept of walking up a ramp.

Once they were all zipped up in their respective compartments, it looked like this from the 2.0 side:

And like this from the 2.1 side:

I have a couple of Australorps pacing back and forth, testing the netting with their beaks, but I’m not seeing any overt hostility at this point. The two generations seem quite interested in each other, and I’m hoping they will get to know each other, and integrate peacefully when they are more of a size.

Or I could wake up tomorrow morning to a matted tangle of black netting, clothespins, and chick guts.

It could go either way.

The 15 puzzle.

You’ve played this, right?

Today, I learned that this game is called “The 15 Puzzle” for reasons which are self-evident from the photo above. Why did I go searching for the name of this game? Because The 15 Puzzle best exemplifies life with Heedley’s Hens these days, and I wanted to be sure we were on the same page.

This is my first year with more than one generation, made all the more complex by the addition of 2.1 (my unplanned “love children”). We have always had more than sufficient space and housing for 1.0, but keeping 1.0 separate from 2.0 requires some juggling. Throw in 2.1…you get the picture.

At the moment, 2.1 is the infant in the crib. They need attention and extra care, but they’re contained and easy to manage. 2.0 is the six-year old, full of energy, in need of space in which to expend energy and the hiding of matches and knives. Up to now, keeping them in check has been straightforward, if increasingly hectic.

But what happens in, say, two weeks, when it’s 2.1’s turn to run rampant in the coop, or spend a sunny day outside in the found crate? As if that weren’t enough, I need to look ahead to the second week of June when, should the turkey gods smile upon me, I will have new poults to shelter and tend, as well.

(Yes, I’m insane. We’ve covered this. Catch up.)

The answer is: it’s time to bring the run into play. Yes, we have a run. Quite a large one. Our original, fervid intent was that 1.0 would be in the coop and run at all times, unless closely supervised. Needless to say, things didn’t work out that way; I don’t even know where they are right now. But this does not in any way detract from the fact that The Man built a gorgeous run, a modified hoop coop, a demi hoop coop, if you will:

It is an elegant bit of work that extracted much swearing, blood, and the throwing of tools from both of us. The Man even drilled a hole through my left thumbnail in the doing. (Sorry, baby; it’s too good a story not to tell. It was an accident.) That our relationship survived its building is a very strong sign for the future.

In my narrow, stubborn mind, I’ve been “saving” the run for the turkeys. Remember, gentle reader, that we were to get our poults April 6; I had been planning on them spending their days in the spacious, largely-unused run. So, I’ve been going crazy moving 1.0 and 2.0 around from day to night positions, from rain to sunny positions, open coop, closed coop, zipped brooder, open brooder, just like The 15 Puzzle, when a voice in my head said “use the run, Luke”. It was Alec Guinness’ voice, which is weird.

So, yesterday, 2.0 was introduced to the run. They were terrified of the hole in the coop wall, of course, the one that leads outside, and I had a merry time getting them out the pop door. I had pre-strewn the ramp with dandelion petals, so, what gravity didn’t accomplish, the dandelions did, and 2.0 was soon inside the secure run.

They have a feed and water station:

Cool stuff to hang out on and climb:

And even their first glimpses at themselves:

And their larger world:

The run is, by design, large enough for human occupation, and I’m hoping that spending time with them in there will lessen their fear of me. At present, the bravest is…Gidget. Gidget the Brave.

Getting them back in the coop? That was another matter entirely. I had forgotten that 1.0 didn’t just “get” the ramp; they had to be taught, and it was excruciating. I returned to the run, dressed up for an evening out, with the task to accomplish of getting 2.0 up the ramp, into the coop, and in their brooder for the night.

They are at the age where they are old enough to be fast, but small enough to be slippery. Rather than the pretty, ordered march up the ramp I had envisioned, I ended up corralling them, terrified (again!), grabbing them a handful at a time and tossing them through the open pop door. Actual tossing. When I just placed them gently at the top of the ramp, they came back down again. I’m glad no one was there to witness the mayhem; let’s leave it at that.

So, 2.1 is still ensconced in the crib, right? They’re only a week old, so no outside time yet, right?

Not so fast, sister.

The found crate has been lying empty for quite a while now. I plan to use it as the poult brooder (turkey gods willing), inside the barn, once it has been secured. But I see no reason it shouldn’t serve as the outside pen for 2.1 in the meantime. I could have left them in the brooder, but they are so damned camera shy I haven’t been able to get any pics of them, and it was pissing me off.

In transferring them to the found crate, I was finally able to pull out the remaining green goo from the blue chick’s butt, so, she’s not very happy with me right now. An involuntary Brazilian wax at one week of age is a little hard to forgive, but, hey…her bum’s finally clean and she won’t die of pasty butt.

The pics suck, but we’re working on it. Here is 2.1, in their first outing, at one week of age:

(Please note the multi-level blankie action under the Brinsea. They get to choose how close they want to be to the heat. I’m just that good.)

And the names have settled, it seems. Marilyn (at left), Ava (at right), and Audrey (middle), who, if I’m not careful, I will end up calling Kate Jackson. I really hope Marilyn and Ava turn out to be some flavour of blue. That’s what led me to choose them.

All of this juggling now means that the coop is open all day, and, Abby notwithstanding, 1.0 can return to some semblance of their normal routine. Which is good, because they’re laying is way off and I believe the stress is to blame.

It’s not easy being the eldest.