Sunday, January 8, 2023

S&C: When Balancing Plates Fall


Three peachicks next to their mom.

I've come to realize that I picked a very, very poor time of year to attempt to return to blogging. I failed to account for the sheer amount of mental and physical effort that my newfound Hen Mother role would take.

At the end of November, Scruffy disappeared. We ended up finding her a couple of weeks later, brooding over a large clutch of eggs in the shed. After some discussion, we decided to let her finish being broody on the eggs. It would be quicker than trying to break her of her broodiness.

Scruff fluffing up at Christmasboi (top).

On December 16/17, ten Little Scruffles (what we've been calling Scruffy's babies) hatched. They began hatching the night of the 16th, and by the evening of the 17th they were done and I swooped in and relocated them to a secure coop. During their relocation, I let them spend some time on the porch with us while we chopped wood for the fire.

This particular peacock has given us a lot of trouble. He became obsessed with his reflection in the sliding glass door, attacking it until he bled all over the glass. We had to put various lawn furniture in front of the door while we worked out some way to break up the reflection or keep him scared off.

In the end, we slapped a metal peacock statue we had on a basic wooden base and placed it over the single bit of noticeable glass. You can even see the peacock's most recent masterpiece on the glass in this picture. 

I love peafowl, but this time of year always makes me question the various claims about peafowl intelligence. I see evidence of this intelligence, but I also see how single-minded the males can get during mating season. They will kill themselves and destroy property over their own reflection. They've been known to kill innocent victims while in the heat of, for lack of better words, arousal. The peacock from the picture above earned the name Half Tail after I, in a panicked hurry, yanked him by his tail to get him to drop a young chick he had dangling in his beak. 

This particular phenomenon isn't restricted to Half Tail. Each of the other peacocks have had their own instances of locking in on the wrong thing while performing a mating dance. I have a theory about why this happens, but I'm wary of adding to the veritable pile of unproven hearsay in poultry circles without more scientific proof than 'a hunch' or 'my personal knowledge and experience of a single, isolated population of peafowl'. In any case, there is a reason why it is not recommended to keep peafowl alongside certain other animals. Unfortunately for us, these guys are our wild permanent resident peafowl and we've had to figure out how to best facilitate a peaceful coexistence from a very handicapped starting point. 

Here is a blurry, poorly lit photo of the single piece of Christmas decoration I managed to put up. The Christmas season and festive feeling never really happened for me this year. It wasn't for lack of trying; I cleaned in preparation and tidied up the areas I knew I would want to put decorations, then brought over two bins of decorations from the office shed. Nothing beyond this table runner got pulled out in the end. I had already been struggling with finding my holiday cheer, but events on the Funny Farm and beyond managed to completely kill any festivities left in my heart through the holidays and beyond.

In short, we had a mite infestation, influx (and subsequent dying off via swamp hen predation) of peachicks, fowl pox, and childhood dog death. The flock is still recovering, and I'm still in High Alert Mode 24/7 for any untoward sounds coming from the flock.

Peachick snuggles.

I had to make a hard decision to step away from something I had been looking forward to for nearly a year: raising peachicks. The timing between when I had an opportunity to take in peachicks and the rest of the flock's woes put me at my emotional breaking point.

Kookie got hit particularly hard by fowl pox, and there was a point where I was worried she would lose her eye. We believe she's beyond the worst of it now, but we both have been keeping an extra close eye on her. Partner and I did what we could with every chicken we could when we saw particularly worrying pox wounds, but we still lost several.  

Crumble and other young roosters on alert while the hens forage.

Earlier this week my mom let me know that they had made the decision that it was Thor's time. I don't think any of us found this surprising, as he had been getting worse for a while, but it still sucked. When I last left the States, I knew there was a possibility that I would not get a chance to visit again before either or both of my childhood dogs died. This was before the pandemic. I haven't been home in three and a half years due to it.

Writing out this post and catching up on my UO blog has been my way to distract myself from everything. I've been taking the past few days to blast music and gave myself permission to ignore a few household duties so I could have a break. I still ended up doing most of them, but there's a pile of dirty laundry staring at me from the dirty clothes hamper that's begging for attention.

I don't want to leave off on a bad note, but I've been typing for the past couple of hours and if I don't finish now I'll end up forgetting to eat dinner. Just know that even though there was a lot of sad content, I'm doing very well overall. Things are looking up with the flock and I've been able to take a break from some of the daily chicken keeping duties since Partner has stepped in to help.

Here's hoping your corner of the world has been much more joyful!

1 comment:

  1. I spy UO! =)
    Christmas was rather odd for me this year. I never had holiday spirit but I wasn't upset about it like I have been other years. I don't want that to be my new normal.

    I need to look up your other blog again. Can always use some UO talk and fun. hehe