Oh, look! It’s the feather babies! See, they are still alive. They are 1 1/2 weeks old now. Today, Frodo let them out and about into the big wide world past the woodshed for the first time. And I had to scramble to block up a few gaps under the fence thanks to the others’ archaeological exploits.
Colourwise, at the moment, the three Legolas chicks appear to be blue-based and of the seven Frodo chicks, three are splash, two are black and two are blue. Penguin, who I was unsure about at first, is a blue, evidenced by wee blue wing feathers. After my photo-peering exploration, I realised that Penguin’s colour has been quite similar to Mr Bingley when he was a wee chick. Could this be a Mr Bingley Jnr? We will have to wait and see. The obvious blue Frodo chick reminds me of Jane, in that he/she is one of the quiet ones and often gets left behind. Darkie is another one who tends to get left behind a bit. The Legolas chicks are all very busy little characters, but I am sorry to say that I think there is one definite boy among them. This is the youngest Legolas chick who has a band on his left foot and has a bigger, more yellow comb than the others. One of the splash chicks, who I call Splash Dot, owing to the black spot on one wing, is feathering up very fast. Otherwise, there’s not too much more of note yet. Except their obvious cuteness.
When I first started opening the door of the maternity cage for Frodo to take the chicks out I was a bit worried about how Mr Bingley would act. He had just had another boisterous bout. As Frodo led the chicks out of the cage, he came over, made encouraging noises and immediately started excitedly trying to help show them how to find food on the ground. I was quite touched. Not too long after, Lydia arrived on the scene and her and Frodo suddenly flew into a big fight. I was not expecting that at all! I had been so busy thinking about what Mr Bingley might do that I hadn’t given much thought to what the other girls might do. Frodo had still been around, after all. Legolas, who was the boss, had just disappeared off the scene when Frodo went broody and the other girls were just reaching maturity, coming into lay. Obviously, Lydia, who was the boss in her mind, took afront to the presence of Frodo and the attention she was getting. I wasn’t expecting Frodo to fight back so hard, as she has always been the lower-ranking type, but then she is still in feisty broody mode. I haven’t seen any of my hens fly at each other in such a feisty way before; they usually just have stare-offs or give a quick peck. Quickly, both I and Mr Bingley tried to break them up and make sure the chicks were out of harm’s way. I was extremely proud of Mr Bingley for breaking up the hen fight and even chasing his favourite, Lydia, away past the woodshed and blocking her from going back in until things had quietened down and Frodo was back in the cage with the chicks. This is the first time I’ve seen a rooster break up a hen fight too. Elrond wasn’t nearly as assertive as Mr Bingley (except with me) and used to let everyone else sort out their own issues. But then the hens he had hadn’t grown up with a rooster and they were usually good about sorting out their issues. Mr Bingley has done a great job occupying Lydia, Lizzie and Jane while giving Frodo space to look after her babies. I couldn’t have asked any more of him and I am extremely pleased with him at the moment. He has been kept very busy! And I wonder if Lydia has fallen from his favour over this, as she hasn’t been tight with him like she was before. One morning Lydia came out of the coop with a bloody comb and Mr Bingley has been spending more time with Lizzie and Jane. I started leaving the coop ramp open at night to reduce tensions. I will have to spend some time watching them to figure out if there’s been a shift in the hierarchy or if Lydia has just been sidelined for inappropriate behaviour. Trust Lydia to work up a scandal!
Frodo cottoned onto the chick’s feeding box in the run pretty soon and on numerous occasions showed them how to find their food in there. Sometimes she is nutty but she is a smart mum. Short trips out of the cage turned into most of the time out and about with the cage door left open for Frodo and the chicks to return for rest times. Then Frodo began trying to teach the chicks how to get up the ramp into the coop. After a couple of evenings seeing her try and most of them not able to figure it out and Frodo having to take them off to the cage to sleep, I decided to help her out. I spent one evening helping herd most of them up the ramp, with side blockage aids, and one evening helping the few slower learners get in. This evening I found Frodo and the chicks in the coop all nice and early before the light had even begun to fade. Well, that was a lot easier than last time when the chicks grew up in the coop and had to learn, with much hoo-ha, how to get up the ramp from about Day 4. I’m trying to keep up with photographing the feather babies, but they grow so fast! They already have more feathers than in these photos.