I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to all the creatures that inhabit my home. These are the members of the family that I’ll be mentioning from time to time, so I thought it best to introduce everyone. For some reason beyond my comprehension, I’ve been really blessed to be surrounded by the best girls on the planet. I don’t know what I did in this life or the previous to deserve such a pack of awesome, but am eternally grateful for every last one of them. Let’s meet them…
This is my sweet girl Sasha. She’s a Siberian Husky/Lab mix that was adopted from the Humane Society back in April of 2013. She was born with hip dysplasia in both of her back legs and spent the first 7 months of her life unable to walk very well. Her previous owners were unable to afford the costly surgery to correct the problem so they had to put her up for adoption.
I’ve never met them, but I can only imagine how terribly hard that must have been. When I say that she is the absolute sweetest dog ever, I’m not just talking as a proud parent. She quite literally is. The love I feel for her is intense and she is one of the best parts of my day.
The Humane Society ended up footing the bill for the surgery and when I saw her for the first time, she was two days post operation. Her recovery was really fast, in about a week, she was walking normally and in about a month she was able to go jogging with me.
Today she runs and jumps and plays just like a normal dog should. She does have a little bit of a butt wiggle when she walks, but that only serves to make her more endearing. Her range of motion is getting better too, just look at her go! Atta girl.
When I bought my house I knew that at some point I’d want to have some chickens in the yard to provide fresh eggs as well as a steady source for nitrogen rich fertilizer. Yes, I wanted poop. Possibly more than I wanted the eggs.
It took a lot of work to get the yard ready for a coop. There was a big hill that I had to remove by hand in order to provide level ground for the coop and I had to design and build the thing as well. I’ll show you that process on another post.
Once I felt I was ready, I went ahead and ordered my chickens online. I had no idea that you could, but I’ve never shopped for chickens before. I decided on breeds that were good layers and also a couple that just looked interesting and cute, purely for the entertainment factor.
Mia, the Easter Egger (Ameraucana)
This is Mia, she is fast becoming my most cherished chicken of all. She is inquisitive and absolutely in love with yours truly. She’s always the first in line to get hand fed and loves to follow me around the yard when I’m working near the paddock. When I’m too far away, she just watches me from afar.
Mia is an Ameraucana or Easter Egger chicken known for their prolific egg laying. She will be giving me about 200 to 250 eggs per year if all goes to plan. I’ll post some photos when they begin laying (which should be soon!). The colors of the eggs on the Easter Egger range from bright blue, green, turquoise, deep olive and rarely to a light brown or pink. I can’t wait to see what color Mia lays!
She is extremely docile and seems to love both humans and Sasha. As she’s gotten older, her plumage is getting more and more beautiful. She’s got this crazy Wolverine hair style and a lady-beard that’s been developing the last few months and such a beautiful coloration. Here she is at one day old…
What a cutie huh? When she was in the brooding box, she was so shy and quiet. She always kept to herself and it wasn’t until I got the girls out into the coop that her personality really shone through.
Red Sonya (Rhode Island Red)
Ah Red Sonya, or Red for short. Now here is a hot mess of a lady! She is quite the handful and the leader of the flock for sure. Ever since she was a baby, she was always first in line for a fast and furious meal. If anyone gets in her way, look out! She can be a bit of a bully at times, but the other girls know to clear the way for her by now.
Rhode Island Reds are probably the most recognized and popular chicken in America. They grow to be one of the most productive and hardy breeds available and are extremely prolific egg layers, about 250 to 300 per year! They even lay during the winter months. Their egg color is a light brown, typical of what you would see if you buy organic eggs. A mature female can weight over 6 lbs. so she will be the big girl of the flock.
She’s a bit aggressive when being hand fed and often thinks that your fingers are part of the meal. She scares me a little, I won’t lie. But I love her none the less. When she was just a day old, she wouldn’t open her eyes. It worried me, but with a little molasses added to her drinking water, she was able to get her electrolytes up and was on the mend in no time. There’s been no looking back since then and she is an unstoppable force now. That’s why I named her Red Sonya, she is my barbarian warrior queen.
Here she is as a day old baby…
As you can see, her teeny tiny little eyes weren’t quite ready to look upon my ugly mug just yet. I think my mustache may have been simply too majestic for her young eyes to bear. I forgive you Red.
Tesla (Blue Polish)
Now Tesla was the cutest of all the chicken babies. She looked just like a miniature penguin. She is curious like no other. Always getting into everyone’s business from sunup to sundown. As she gets older, that ridiculous hair style will only intensify. I named her after my favorite scientist Nikola Tesla because she somehow reminds me of a mad scientist running about the lab.
Blue Polish chickens are mostly a show bird. They are not known for egg laying or for their meat. They lay about 120 white shelled eggs per year. The Polish is actually thought to be from the Netherlands rather than Poland. The name was given when they were first introduced to England via Poland and has stuck. This old breed has been domesticated in Eastern Europe since the early 16th century.
Tesla can be a bit flighty due to the vision impairment that her tuft of head feathers cause. She can usually only see you when you’re right on top of her and if you surprise her she will launce into the air like a rocket. She was the first of the breeds in my flock to fly and she loved to jump up on the rim of the brooding box, much to my and Sasha’s great amusement. Here’s a video of her practicing as well as how much of a bully Red can be…
As you can see, they were quite the handful in that little brooder. It was shortly after this video that I moved them outside into the coop.
As I mentioned earlier, when Tesla was a baby, she looked just like a tiny penguin. Here she is at one day old…
I always had to fight the urge to squeeze her she was so damned cute. Here’s a video of all the babies together when they were 2 days old. Warning, the cuteness factor is pretty high on this one. Brace yourself. Also, make note of their tiny little butts. I just wanna pinch them…
Gah! I can’t take the overload of these fuzzy peepers! Notice that Red still has her eyes closed.
Piper (Partridge Silkie)
Sweet and stupid Piper. Possibly one of the dumbest animals in the universe! But so adorable. Silkies are a one of kind breed that come from Asia. They are extremely broody and will even raise the chicks of other species. Broody refers to how the hen will act once she’s laid her eggs. If they are very broody, they will not easily give up their eggs when it comes time to harvest. They are, however, really great with people and are often referred to as the “lap dog” of the chicken world. They make great pets in other words.
Silkies are also a very ancient breed of chicken. The first Western account goes back to Marco Polo in his travels during the 13th century! They have turquoise ears, five toes and bluish black skin, beaks and bones. They are also giant balls of fluffy softness. Even their feet are covered in fuzz.
Piper’s new best friend is Hamilton the pig who is our temporary resident in the paddock. She follows him around like a star-crossed lover and they even sleep together. Here they are together…
They are mostly inseparable due to Pipers loneliness. Her story is a bit of a sad one. She had two siblings but lost her sister to disease a month ago. Her brother was a evil bully of a rooster that had to go. Firstly, it’s illegal in California to have a rooster unless you have a half acre of land, which I do not. Secondly, he attacked all the girls as well as me on a daily basis. So now it’s just her.
Once the rooster left, the pecking order of the whole flock had to be reestablished. Unfortunately, this meant that Piper got knocked down to the bottom without her brutish brother to watch her back. Tesla, in particular, gets great pleasure from torturing the poor girl. As a result, I have to give her extra love and attention. I think the reason she has bonded with Hamilton so much is that no chickens will mess with his big ass anytime soon.
As I said, she is also very stupid. I mean that in the nicest manner possible. But, oh man, a whole bucket of dumb! While all the other girls run and leap and play around the paddock, she will be perfectly happy staring at a rock for hours or chasing things that don’t exist. Her biggest challenge is getting back into the coop when the sun sets. Now, I will grant you that, this is a daunting uphill battle…
…but she has no trouble getting down in the mornings. Lately she has been going about halfway up and falling asleep on the steps. Poor silly stupid girl. My DAILY routine has become a nightly tuck in for her. Every night. But she’s all alone now and I don’t mind giving her a hand here and there. If she’s already settled down with Hamilton, I let her be.
She was also very cute when she was a few days old. Check it out…
A little bundle of fuzzy sweet dumb blonde. Of all the girls, she requires the most attention and special treatment. But it’s worth it.
An introduction to my family would not be complete without mentioning the very best part of it. My amazingly inspirational and loving girlfriend Nury! Seriously, she is my muse and, again, I have no idea what I did in this world to deserve such a lady. She keeps me motivated, and not by lighting a fire under my ass, but by leading by example. I am impressed beyond words by this lady. Daily.
I don’t rightly know what it is she sees my old haggard self, but I thank the universe that she’s my girl. She even tolerates my constant lessons on gardening and landscaping. Every time she comes over, she has to go through the tour of what I’ve been working on since she’s been here last. I know it’s not exactly her cup of tea, but she can feign interest like no other.
Regarding the species
The domesticated Nury Human can often be found resting on her favorite perch with her less than helpful cohort, Sasha…
…It’s from this vantage point that she engages in her favorite pastime, watching her dirty mate digging around the yard while lounging and napping with the dog. She is docile and has very lovely plumage!
The lesser mustachioed burrowing jackass, pictured here…
…is not so domesticated. The species is known for excessive digging and landscaping. The effects that this creature has on its surrounding natural habitat are transformative. It seems to thrive by putting itself into awkward backbreaking situations. The species does not rest on its perch like its female counterpart due to the fact that it always sees some project that needs tending to in it’s habitat. It really should take more breaks.
Well folks, that’s my family over at the Gielow Estates. I hope you’ve enjoyed the introductions! Until next time, I remain, your humble gardener.