Category Archives: Pecky Greenleg

Xavier Feathersworth: Chapter 2

This is a continuation of the story about Pecky Greenleg and Xavier Feathersworth.  Click here to read chapter 1.

This is based in fact. We really did lose one of our new roosters to an unknown assailant. 

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“Murder! There’s been a murder!”

“Who was it?” peeped Esther.

“Who did it?” cheeped Hilda.

“Who’s next?” asked a calm and unusually confident Pecky.

The hens fell silent. Pecky had never spoken with such authority before…and the hens didn’t like it one bit.

“Well, it won’t be me,” said Mildred.

“Oh it won’t be any of us,” snapped Esther. “It happened in the other coop, not ours.”

“That doesn’t mean it can’t happen in this one,” said Pecky.

Puffing out their feathers, they all turned their backs to Pecky and continued speculating, a bit unnerved by Pecky’s question.

They should be nervous.

He and Xavier Feathersworth had come up with a plan to eliminate all the roosters in the smaller flock.

You see, Xavier was just as miserable as Pecky. Just as picked on. Just as fed up. Last night, Xavier had carried out step one in the plan.

Sir Hubert McFeatherington, the former leader of Xavier’s flock, had disappeared without a trace.

Only a pile of feathers and 7 nervous chickens remained.

As Pecky paced the run, he saw Xavier approaching.

“Well?” said Pecky.

“It’s done.”

Pecky sighed.

“How are the others in your flock taking it?” he asked.

“They saw the attack on Sir Hubert so they’re are nervous and scared,” said Xavier.

“How did it…how did you do it?” asked Pecky.

“I made a deal.”

“A deal?!”

“I couldn’t very well do it myself,” he said defensively.

“No, I suppose not,” said Pecky. “So…what attacked him?”

“An opossum.”

“That was quite a risk,” said Pecky, eying him with shock. He’d never heard of any chicken making a deal with a predator.

Pecky was a little in awe of Xavier.

Xavier was a bit worried about “the deal”.

“Wh-what was the deal?”

Xavier turned his head and picked at a few feathers before answering.

“You.”

To be continued…

 

 

Xavier Feathersworth

Sir Hubert McFeatherington is the leader of his flock.

The hens adore him and the other three roosters fear him.

Xavier Feathersworth was his faithful follower.

He’s the lieutenant and Sir Hubert is the general.

Yet, as they’ve grown together, Xavier has started to become…resentful.

Resentful because the other roosters pick on him while Sir Hubert just laughs.

And with this growing resentment, Xavier has started to become…disloyal to Sir Hubert…and his own flock.

One day, after a particularly painful pecking, Xavier quietly escaped through a gap in the run and darted over to the older flock to talk with their leader.

Pecky Greenleg.

 

Pecky and a few of his hens were out in the pen. They turned toward him when he cleared his throat.

“Hmmm,” said one of the hens. “What do we have here?”

“Looks like a little rooster,” said another hen.

Pecky eyed Xavier warily. The hens, who had no respect for Pecky gave a few sharp pecks and wandered up the ramp to eat.

Xavier’s heart fell. A henpecked rooster would not be able to help him.

“What do you want?” Pecky asked, embarrassed by the hen’s treatment of him.

“Well, I had hoped…but nevermind,” mumbled Xavier as he turned to go.

“Wait! Why did you came all this way?”

Xavier turned back and saw a desperate yet hopeful gleam in his eyes.

“I was hoping to find a new leader for my flock. A leader big and strong enough to put the other roosters to shame.”

Pecky looked at Xavier thoughtfully, then turned and looked at his raw, red back and his lack of tail feathers.

Maybe, this was his chance to start over with a new flock.

“Tell me more,” Pecky said, smiling as much as a henpecked rooster could smile.

To be continued…

Crazy Chick Growth

We let the chicks out the other day and in only 4 days, they’ve grown and are losing their fuzz and getting their feathers.

April 1

They shed the fuzz and the feathers are slowly coming in so they are starting to look a bit bedraggled.

April 4

It is amazing how quickly they grow. In just under 2 weeks, they are easily double the size they were when we moved them from the incubator to their new home.

At 15-22 weeks they become pullets until they start laying eggs. Then, they graduate to hens.

March 23

We aren’t sure if these girls will be good layers or not. Their Pearl White Leghorn mom(s) are one of the best laying breeds. But they also have DNA from Pecky who is a Blue Cochin.

Cochins are really more of a show bird and lay around 1…per week. Yikes.

I came in the school room the other day and one of the chicks was walking around outside the tote.

At first, I thought that it had jumped on top of the waterer to get out. But when I looked in the tote, I saw the chicks jumping on each other and then trying to jump out. I guess they were giving each other a boost up.

Teamwork at its finest.

Go team chicken go!
Give each other a boost up!
Don’t poop on the floor!

Hatching Our Own: Step 1

This week, we will start incubating the fertilized eggs we’ve been collecting.

Pecky and 5 hens have been separated for just 2 weeks. We gave them about a week to get settled and then started to collect the eggs for incubation rather than eating.

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Once we have 12 and I’ve tested the incubator, we will be ready to start the process.

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The incubator I ordered holds 9-12 eggs, automatically turns the eggs and keeps the temperature and humidity at the right spot…at least that is what is advertised. I’ll have to report back on the success.

The boys and I are very excited to get this started. Every time I collect the eggs from “Pecky’s Girls”, they ask if there are baby chicks in them yet.

We’ve talked about the life-cycle of a chicken, but we will delve deeper as we go through the process.

Pecky and his girls
Separated from the flock
A science project

Crisp

Sparkling in the sunlight
The frosty, glittering ground
The chickens now are ready
For cold and wind to sound

They moved into the garden
To do their very best
They scratch and shuffle all around
Eating weeds and pests

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They’re now outside our window
And each and every morn
Pecky has confused our light
And crows before the dawn

The cats both like their new spot
As guardians of the flock
They bask in warm, soft sunlight
Ignoring ruffled bawks

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The sky is bright and blue now
But soon it will be gray
And snow will fall so softly
Crisp winter’s here to stay


Switch-a-roo

Yesterday, we switched coops.

The old birds were moved to the strawberry bed. Their new coop, an upside down rubbermaid tote with a hole cut in it. The new girls were given access to the chicken tractor.

Our Red Stars laid two eggs today and looked at me with reproach when I collected them. I guess they don’t like their new digs.

The day finally came
We’d been planning so long
It won’t be the same
But they’re where they belong

The old gals are cast out
From their snug little coop
They’re angry and they pout
Their red feathers droop

Pecky keeps crowing
All day and at night
And each day he’s growing
More ready to fight

Why don’t they like it?
Their new living place
You’d think they’d have more wit
But that isn’t the case

Blue, she still wanders
From one place to the next
It seems that she ponders
Why her flock’s so vexed

They may refuse laying
For a week or for days
And then we’ll start slaying
Until every hen lays

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The Flock(s)

The weather has been SO hot and humid lately. This coldish front coming in is a welcome break for all on the homestead.

Especially the girls…and Pecky.

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We lost an older gal last week. I came out to check on them in the early evening and found her in the run.

No sign of foul play.

No pile of feathers.

No visible reason for her death.

So now, we have 3 reds and a blonde left of the old flock, and 14 girls and Pecky in the new.

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Poor Blue is still segregated from the rest of the flock. Each night she tries to roost on top of their run, and every morning she escapes her dog kennel and races to the big pen, wandering ’round and ’round trying to figure out a way to get in.

When she gets bored with that, she roams the yard, pecking at bugs and eating seed heads in the yard and swale.

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She seems to enjoy the amaranth the other girls spread for us.

It had overgrown so I threw a few cuttings in with the ladies and there is an amaranth trail where the run has been.

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Her own eggs are another “treat” she seems to enjoy.

Ray found her toting an empty eggshell in her mouth the other day. It made us wonder if the others attacked her because they knew she was an egg eater.

They certainly seem to give her the cold shoulder now.

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We thought to send her to the freezer, but she may be useful in the garden. She could eat pests and keep the weeds down in the paths.

We are probably going to make some chicken tunnels to keep her from eating all the veggies.

Since it has been so hot, we’ve been giving the girls frozen treats. Bananas, grapes and a block of frozen grain leftover from brewing beer.

Although they were reluctant to try it at first…

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…they soon swarmed and attacked it with vigor.

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Frozen treats for birds
Cool snacks in this humid heat
Spoiled little chickens

Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 11

In chapter 1 Jake and his mom just got new chicks. One of the chicks is grey with hairy green legs. Jake names her Pecky Greenleg and then finds out that ‘she’ is a ‘he’…and can talk.

In chapter 2 Jake and Pecky decide to try and learn where Pecky came from as none of the other chicks can talk. Jake promises to start at the hatchery.

In chapter 3 Jake tells Pecky he had no luck at the hatchery but that the man he talked to seemed nervous and uncomfortable talking about the gray chicks so they decide they need to go to the post office to find out more about the delivery.

In chapter 4 Jake and Pecky visit the local post office where they learn that the delivery man from McDougal Hatchery came back after the delivery and swapped the package with another box. 

In chapter 5 Pecky and Jake decide that they need to take a trip back to the hatchery to confront Gilbert. 

In chapter 6 Jake takes Pecky back to the hatchery to confront Gilbert and they discover that Gilbert can hear Pecky too. 

In chapter 7 Gilbert tells Pecky and Jake how Pecky came to the hatchery and what happened to the others like him. 

In chapter 8 Pecky realizes that he will have to be the bait to catch whoever is after him. 

In chapter 9 Pecky, Joe and Gilbert come up with a plan to lure the people who are after Pecky back to the hatchery. 

In chapter 10 Joe returns to the hatchery to find out that the plan worked but who they caught was a surprise.

Chapter 11

Jake was shocked.

“Children? But, how…children!?”

Yes.

“Well, what did they say? Why were they getting rid of all the chicks like Pecky? How could you let them get away after what they’d done!?”

“Like I said,” said Gilbert, shrugging. “We had no choice.”

And they didn’t get rid of the others. They took them. 

“Took them where?” asked Jake.

Somewhere safe.

Jake let out a loud huff and sat down.

“Explain.”

“The kids said they were asked to come to the hatchery and get all of the gray chicks with green legs, but when they got here…Pecky was missing,” said Gilbert.

“So why didn’t they buy the rest? Why steal them and make it look like an accident?”

They were afraid that if they bought them, whoever took me would track them down. They didn’t know that Gilbert picked me as the free ‘rare’ breed for you. 

“I don’t understand. The note that came with the birds said they were special and to be protected. Why didn’t you protect them?”

“Well, we didn’t really believe the note. We thought it was a joke until the chicks started to disappear,” Gilbert snapped, lifting his chin.

Jake stood and started pacing the room. Worry and annoyance rolled off of him in waves, filling the room. He scratched his head then stopped and crossed his arms.

“But, the accidents. I thought they were fatal.”

The chicks disappeared so everyone here just thought they were fatal. 

Jake sighed and turned to Gilbert.

“That still doesn’t explain why the kids were here.”

They didn’t tell us.

“But they said they would tell us if we met them tonight,” said Gilbert quickly, impatiently shuffling papers on his desk.

“Where?”

“Behind the hatchery at 9pm.”

“But…I can’t stay that late and I would feel a lot better if Pecky came home with me.”

I can’t Jake. I have to be there. It’s the only way they’ll tell us what’s going on.

“I really don’t know how I’ll get back here tomorrow. I’m running out of excuses.”

“You don’t really need to come back. I can, can advertise free chick feed again. Or we can figure something else out,” said Gilbert trying, and failing to look Jake in the eye.

We can try the coupon again. Tell your mom that there wasn’t any chick feed left and more is coming in tomorrow. 

“Ok,” he said doubtfully. “I’ll try to convince her.”

Jake left the hatchery and waited for his mom out front. Something about the way Gilbert was behaving was bothering him, niggling at his brain and making him feel…uncomfortable.

Why couldn’t he look Jake in the eye? Was he hiding something? Did he know more than he was letting on?

“No,” he murmured to himself. “I’m just worrying over nothing.”

But the worry continued on the ride home and stayed with him through dinner.

Something wasn’t right.

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Instinct

The sound of the mower droned on.

Grass clippings whirled through the air.

White-feathered birds scuttled around the pen squawking.

Pecky crowed.

“Head count!”

Only 15?

Pecky crowed.

I counted again, then a third time but no more hens appeared.

I opened the hatch slowly and stepped in. I was careful to don my garden boots this time to avoid the inevitable toe pecking.

Pecky’s ladies twittered around my legs, hoping for scraps.

Pecky stood apart from the rest. A stoic, sad look in his eyes.

Something was wrong.

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I started counting again, knowing I’d have to lift the little blue houses to do a thorough check.

Then I found her.

A sad, little bundle of bedraggled muddy feathers. She was huddled under one of the blue totes we are using as temporary hen houses. A few of the meaner hens were plucking feathers out of her tail.

Her head was bare and raw…no feathers remained.

We’d noticed some scabbing on her head the day before and had treated it with Blu-Kote. It seemed to help a little bit, but not enough to stop the bullying.

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I pulled her out of the pen and let her roam around, alone and free from the aggression that filled every corner of the pen.

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Why is this happening? What possible reason could these normally sweet docile hens have to turn on each other?

The victim could be sick.

Chickens are vicious. Like other animals, they can sense weakness among the flock…and weakness they cannot abide.

Or, maybe they are bored and picking on the poor dear for sport. Maybe they are molting and cranky and taking it out on each other.

But, perhaps the most logical and likely reason for this brutality is nutrition.

The pullets have become hens and all are laying eggs…rather thin-shelled eggs.

We still have them on the chick starter feed so it is time to switch them to layer feed, which is higher in protein. We may even need to throw some feather fixer feed in with it.

Chickens are a selfish lot. They aren’t caring or nurturing creatures. There are no kind old hens willing to tend to the sick until they recover from whatever malady afflicts them.

No, chickens are not tender-hearted or compassionate.

While we may view this brutality as unkind, a, possibly evil, instinct tells them to eradicate the weak.

For them, it’s survival of the fittest.

A poor little hen
Bullied by cranky ladies
Head raw, red and blue

Male Call

My husband, while out feeding the chickens, heard the crow of a rooster.

It did not come from the farm across the road. It came from our own dear flock.

Pecky has finally declared himself. He’s staked his claim. He’s found his calling.

With the confirmation of my gut feeling, I was able to finally figure out what breed of bird we have on our hands.

A Blue Cochin.

Cochins come in many colors. The hatchery we ordered from reports that  50% of cochins will hatch blue while the other 50% will be a black, white or black/white combo.

Our own Pecky Greenleg was blue and is now bluish/gray with dark gray specks.

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Cochins also have big fuzzy feathers…a lot of them.

Feathers on their feet and legs.

Feathers jutting out the sides of their bodies.

Feathers sprouting from their heads.

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Even though their feathers are blue, black, white or speckled, the skin beneath is yellow so the eggs will be light brown…just like our dear Red Star’s eggs.

Pecky has always been much calmer than the others, which is in line with the standard personalities of all cochins. They make good pets, they are great for the garden and considered one of the most friendly chicken breeds.

They’re quiet and calm.

Unless of course, you mess with one of their ladies.

Then you get a loud ‘growl’ and a dirty look.

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The roosters can get as heavy as 11 pounds. The standard chicken is 4-6 pounds.

Now that we know he’s a ‘he’, we are taking steps to stop the bantams from pecking hands and toes when we feed them or get too close. If we handle Pecky and he starts to be calm and friendly around us, the ladies will follow his lead.

With time their angry, hostile and defensive pecking will turn into nips of affection…we hope.

Pecky Greenleg you’re a boy!
You will bring us so much joy
We will play and we will chat
The other hens will all like that

When you like us, you will see
Just how happy you could be
Let’s start now and get to know
The ways that friends like us can grow