Monday, March 19, 2018

Chickens in junior high... plus a pretty important request

Our chicks and ducklings have been hatched for about two weeks now. They are both much bigger, the ducklings in particular. The funny thing about the ducklings is that while they are bigger, they are still very fluffy, not having grown any adult feathers yet. It is a little silly to see these 6-7 inch tall birds with these little, itty-bitty, teeny-tiny wings. We still cannot tell them apart either, well, except for the duckling that is so much smaller than the others. Her we can tell. Here's my surprising duck fact for those of you, like me, who have had very limited personal interaction with the animals. They have little claws on the end of their webby feet. And these little claws are very, very sharp... far sharper than the chicks very visible claws. They are still as messy as ever, and more than a little noisy. Next weekend we hope to get the coop built, and will be moving these noisy, messy, adorable not-so-little things out of the house into their real home as soon as is safe for them. Thankfully, they can move out sooner than the chicks.

Those chicks... they are growing, but not as quickly as the ducks. What they have that the ducks don't are adult feathers. They now have fully feathered wings which means that they are quite good at fluttering about around the brooder box, as well as up to the top of the brooder box when it is open. They would like nothing more than to spend some time exploring the wider world. Of course, if we were to let them do this, I'm afraid they would become a Scooby snack for our resident Scooby Doo. Instead, whenever we feed and water or clean the coop, it takes several people. One person to do the actual work, and at least two, if not three other people stationed around the edges to both keep the predators out and the chicks who want to explore in. It's kind of crazy circus.

This morning, as I was watching them as I drank my cup of coffee, I noticed a new behavior that we hadn't seen before. The squabbling for the flock pecking order seems to be in full swing. This morning it was taking the form of chicks running at each other and bumping their chests together. Between the perpetual squabbling and the gawky, not quite fluff, but not quite feathered adolescent awkwardness, I was suddenly struck by the fact I have 21 chickens surviving junior high in my kitchen. It doesn't look any prettier in poultry form. At least if you are a chicken, the junior high phase is a matter of weeks as opposed to years.

The chicks will have to wait longer to be moved outside. None of us is quite sure, though, how exactly we are going to have room for 21 large chickens inside. We may have to rig up a heating system for them outside to move them out sooner. Poor J. has seemed to spend all his free time over the past two weeks perpetually reconfiguring the brooder boxes; enlarging them as the birds grow bigger and constructing wire lids to keep them safe, but allow us access. It's an adventure.

This next items is neither poultry related, nor is it terribly funny. Over the past several years, the regulation of international adoption has increased significantly, with no real corresponding benefits. All it does is add cost, time, and paperwork to an already complicated process. Recently there has been a new set of regulations which have rolled out. Please, read the article that I link to, read it, and consider signing the attached petition. It would also be wonderful if you could share the information in your realm of social influence. Thank you! (Oh, and as an aside, I wrote the article explaining the situation, even though my byline doesn't appear on the article.)

You Can Help Save International Adoptions and Solve the US International Adoption Crisis

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