Category Archives: Pecky Greenleg

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

Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 10

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. 

Chapter 10

 Jake was quiet on the drive home from the hatchery.

“Is there anything wrong sweetie?” his mom asked.

Jake shook his head.

“No, just thinking about the story. I don’t know how it’s going to end.”

“Hmm. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.”

Jake wasn’t so sure.

Gilbert said he would send a postcard advertising a free bag of chicken feed once they’d captured the culprits. Then Jake would know to come in.

After three long days, the postcard came. Jake could hardly wait to get to the hatchery. It took some convincing, but his mom finally agreed to take him when he showed her the coupon.

“See, it expires tomorrow so we have to go.”

“Alright, we’ll head there in the morning.”

Jake was torn between relief that he’d convinced his mom to go, and impatience to get there as soon as possible.

The next morning, they were on their way. Jake was wondering how he was going to get his mom to go somewhere else when she pulled into the parking lot.

“Can you get the feed on your own? I need to run to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner tonight.”

He nodded and sighed in relief as he hopped out of the car.

“I’ll be back in a half hour.”

Jake pushed through the doors and walked to front desk.

“Hello, my mom and I got this coupon in the mail for a free bag of feed. I’m here to pick it up.”

“Well hello again dear! Yes, Gilbert told me to be on the lookout for you. You can just head right down to his office. You remember where it is?”

“Y-yes. Thank you.”

He fairly raced down the hall and knocked on the office door.

“Come in!”

Jake quickly opened the door and walked in the room.

“Hello Jake,” said Gilbert.

“Well,” Jake began after closing the door. “Did you catch them?”

Gilbert rubbed his sleepy eyes.

“Yes. There are two of them.”

“Two? Who are they? What do they want with Pecky?” Jake looked around the room. “And, where is Pecky? Is he ok?”

“Whoa,” said Gilbert putting his hands up. “Slow down. Pecky is fine. I’ll take you to him so we can fill you in.”

Gilbert led Jake down the hall and into another room.

Jake.

Relief washed over Jake when he looked at Pecky and saw for himself that he was unharmed. He looked around the room, expecting to see the villains tied up in the corner or at least in a cage.

“Where are they? I thought you said you caught them?”

We caught someone, it just wasn’t who we expected.

“There were two of them,” said Gilbert. “It worked out just as we hoped.”

Then where are they?”

Pecky seemed to sigh and shuffle his feet.

They are gone.

“GONE!? What do you mean they are gone?”

“We had to let them go Jake. We didn’t have a choice.”

You see, they were only children. 

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Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 9

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. 

Chapter 9

“No, absolutely not! Pecky will not be used as bait!” Jake exclaimed.

We don’t have any other options,” said Gilbert. “Whoever is behind this can easily find out where Pecky has gone. It’s only a matter of time.”

“But–“

No Jake. It’s the only way.

Jake looked at Pecky and then turned and glared at Gilbert.

I have to do this. I don’t want to put you or your family in any more danger than I already have. 

Gilbert nodded in silent agreement.

Jake scowled.

It’s a risk, but we have to take it. 

Jake’s shoulders slumped and sadness filled his face. He knew they were right. Setting a trap was a sure way to catch the people bent on capturing Pecky.

“It’s getting late,” Jake sighed, looking at the clock. “We’d better figure out how this trap will work before my mom comes back to get me.”

For the next half hour they talked. Gilbert discarded in all of Pecky’s suggestions and Jake poked holes in all of Gilbert’s ideas.

Finally, they decided that Jake’s plan was the best they could come up with.

Don’t worry Jake. The plan is a good one.

“Yes,” said Gilbert. “Pecky will be protected at every step.”

“Ok, let’s go through it one more time before I go.”

“We will put it out that we have a rare, exotic bird at the hatchery,” began Gilbert.

When people start coming to see me, I’ll try talking to them. Gilbert will be watching their faces for a sign that they can understand me.

“Once we know who can hear Pecky, we’ll watch his pen at night, waiting for them to come back.”

When they come back, Gilbert and his men will catch them, tie them up and put them in one of the pens.

“Then we’ll be able to question them and find out why they’ve been after these gray chickens with green legs.”

“And if they don’t come back?” asked Jake.

Oh, they’ll come back. They’ve put too much effort into finding me to give up.  

Pecky turned to Jake with determination in his eyes.

Go home Jake. Gilbert will let you know what happens. 

Jake felt chilled. He knew that he may be seeing Pecky for the last time.

As though reading his mind, Pecky ruffled his feathers and gave Jake an affectionate peck on the hand.

Go home.

With one last look at Pecky, Jake turned and walked out the door.

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Pecky Greenleg: Chapter 8

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. 

Chapter 8

“What do you mean he’s the only one left?” asked Jake.

Pecky looked as shocked as a chicken could look and was, for once, speechless.

“I mean…they didn’t make it. They had…accidents.”

The accidents. They were…fatal?

Gilbert simply nodded.

All three were silent for a few minutes. Even though Pecky could not remember his fellow chicks, he felt a sadness at their loss.

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Jake reread the note he still held.

“Wait a minute, did you see this?”

Jake held the note and read ‘Danger awaits them outside your doors’.

“So?” Gilbert shrugged.

“So, it says that danger awaits them outside the hatchery.”

But the real danger was inside!

“Exactly,” Gilbert said grimly.

“That still doesn’t explain why you gave Pecky to us,” said Jake.

“You were the last to place such a large order. We needed to get Pecky out of the hatchery as quickly as possible.”

Pecky nodded, but Jake still looked doubtful.

“How could you be sure that we could be trusted? You could have been sending Pecky into danger.”

“It was a risk, but we had to take it.”

A loud silence filled the room.

So now what do we do?

“We…wait,” said Gilbert.

Jake scowled at Gilbert.

“We can’t just wait around for someone to come after Pecky.”

No. I’m not the only one who would be hurt. I can’t put Jake at risk.

“There is something else we could do.”

Well, what is it?

“You’re not going to like it.”

“Just spit it out already,” Jake said rolling his eyes.

“We could set a trap.”

“A trap? What would we use as…oh,” said Jake turning to Pecky.

Me. I would be the bait.

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