Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Greta thaws

On Saturday Greta stopped communicating solely in levels of 'no'. She has started trailing us around the enclosure wanting treats, and allowing pats. She was eating seeds out of Robert's hand and he started patting her and she just kept eating, when normally she'd move away and come back at a different angle. Yesterday afternoon she jumped up on the seat next to Robert and put one foot on him to reach some seeds, we couldn't convince her to stand on him entirely, but just one foot is incredible. In about 6 weeks she's gone through the distinct stages of being terrified of us, to not liking us, to being indifferent, to liking us. It's really satisfying that through persistence we've earned her trust.

"Yes, I will have treats"
They all love to sun themselves now, of a morning they'll just flop on the ground on their side and stretch a wing and foot out. Greta & Lumi seem to have learnt this behaviour from Harriet. Yesterday Harriet was sunning herself on the edge of the little step, her back to the edge and she stretched so much that she fell off. She basically rolled off onto the ground on her back, then jumped up, squeaked, and looked surprised. The drop was only about 1 inch onto grass, so she wasn't hurt, but it was the most adorable thing I have ever seen.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Cruising along

Friday morning was full of escapes. I was baking a wedding cake when I heard Lumi whinging at the top of her lungs, looked out the window to see Greta standing in front of the shed. This was not ideal since I was home alone. Greta does not permit touching, and she is fast. Whenever I'd lift up the mesh to try and coax Greta back in Lumi would crawl out through the gap and then I'd have two chickens to chase. After much Benny Hill-ing I got them both back in. Then Lumi decided it was time to lay. Can't lay in the coop, oh no no no. So she was under the back mesh and behind the coop in seconds. That was great. I put them all into the coop until she laid to solve the problem. She can be a little high maintenance.

We had our first weekend away from the girls last weekend, it was weird not spending time with them. Luckily this week I've been finishing work early & starting late on a variety of days which has increased the amount of time I can spend with them to make up for it.

This morning I had a whole extra hour before going to work, so I took some strawberries out to Greta (the other two don't like them). However, they were all far more interested in my white nail polish. Lumi was quite convinced it was some sort of tasty treat and was all over my lap trying to bite my nails. Even Harriet jumped up next to me to have a look. Greta however, after an initial look-see, just wanted the strawberries. She doesn't seem to radiate so much indifference these days, perhaps about the same amount as Harriet.

"Screw your chicken selfie, those nails are fabulous"
However, Lumi actually likes us now! The Greed is strong in that one. She trails around behind us all over the enclosure & coop, runs over to the fence when we walk out the door to visit them, and trails us to the fence when we leave the enclosure. One of my favourite new behavioural traits is when I bring the clean water container into the enclosure she runs over and stands on my feet in order to drink from the dish. I don't even know how to process so much cute.

It's been really nice forging new friendships with Lumi, Harriet & Greta. It's hard work, and we still have a long, long way to go with the latter two, but it'll be worth it.

A few times over the weekend I thought 'I miss the chickens', and then I realised that seemed silly considering 'missing' these girls must equal about 1% of the feeling of how much I miss Agnes & Ripley every single day. There are no words to describe how much I still miss them, an anguished howl of pure pain (like in movies) would probably be close to expressing how I feel, even after 6.5 months.

"Inside? Yes that is where I should be"
 Looking at this healing process in an objective way has been interesting. I'm actually able to look through the old photos and remember all the hilarious & cute times that I snapped pictures of with laughter, not tears (mostly). I'm glad we have the new girls, but they're not helping in any way that I initially expected. They're not filling the gaping hole in my heart, and I'm starting to realise that nothing ever will, and that's ok, I believe that might even be normal. Eventually they'll forge their way into what remains :). They don't provide the comfort I seek for the loss of A&R, however, they do provide comfort from general daily woes and upsets, and I enjoy spending time with them because of who they are, not because I'm trying to replace lost activities.

"This diagonal surface is most comfortable for a nap"
I miss their little faces so much.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Worms & eggs

Saturday 10th. After 5 days of only seeing the girls for about 2 minutes a day I felt a bribe of worms was in order. Pet City only had gigantic meal worms, at $15 for 50g! Ridiculous, we really need to attempt our own worm colony.

Lumi and Harriet jump all over us for the worms now so I'm starting the process of training them to jump onto our arms. I believe they now understand us tapping on surfaces means "jump up", but naturally, they do whatever they want. It's just a matter of continuing to show them we're not going to hurt them and them being impatient enough to jump for the treat. 

many worms. much flapping. wow
Greta takes at least two minutes to eat a single worm, and she can only achieve that because we literally hold Lumi & Harriet back. Because the only thing better than a meal worm, is a meal worm stolen from another chicken. It really was a lot of fun with the bigger worms, the girls really enjoyed them, so much flapping, twisting, jumping and thievery. The most epic theft was when Harriet & Lumi were on my lap, Harriet stole a worm off Lumi and jumped onto the ground to run away, only Lumi was too quick and jumped directly onto Harriet. I'm pretty sure Lumi got the worm back. Harriet was fine.

Not my fault Lumi, you were too slow again
I got my first injury from Lumi on Sunday morning, it is actually my worst chicken related injury to date, there was quite a bit of blood. I was holding her and she got impatient and scrabbled at my leg to get down, only her claws are ridiculously sharp. Oops.

By mid morning Lumi decided it was time to lay. It was going to be her first time. She would jump up to the laying boxes, sit in them, arrange the straw just so, and would jump back down to the ground again. She put little pieces of straw on her back, not sure why, but Agnes used to find that helpful too. Up and down she went, whinging the entire time. Then she crawled under the mesh fence and jumped up onto the compost bin. All panic stations were then manned because she was only a short jump onto the property fence and potentially into the neighbour's yard (they have a dog). She looked so proud of herself standing on that bin too, she was successfully herded back into the pen. About 2 minutes later she wedged herself back under the mesh fence to nibble at the mint. We then locked all of them in the coop until Lumi was done. Unfortunately she laid on the ground, but at least it was in the coop, which is better than some random location. The egg was about the size of my thumb, so much effort for such a tiny egg. 

It'd been a long time since we'd witnessed the "where shall I lay" dilemma. It really is adorable. Ripley's dilemma inside the house when they were sick was probably the best. She wouldn't stop whingeing, so we let her out of the cage, she spent ages pacing on the couch, then jumping between the bed and Robert's lap, finally trying to wedge herself in a tiny gap in the bookshelf. We then realised she wanted to lay an egg, and put her back in the cage because there really wasn't any better place for her. Naturally I photographed the entire ordeal, because that's what you do when your loved one is having hilarious issues.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Pushing the boundaries

They are becoming naughtier. They're learning how far they can push us, for the record, quite far. I would let them have free reign of everything, for example, I would watch them eat the entire vegetable garden whilst squealing wildly at the cuteness and taking photos. Unfortunately said vegetable garden is not mine, and now they have a 3x3m square of grass to frolic in, rather than the entire property that Agnes & Ripley had.

Agnes deciding which baby chilli plants to eat
Yesterday Robert looked out the window to see Greta standing outside the shed grazing peacefully, as soon as Robert walked outside she immediately ran back to the mesh fence and waited to be let back in. She knew she wasn't allowed to be there. Adorable.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Another week

Well it's been another whole week, unfortunately a whole week of full time work. Even with finishing early I am only able to get home at 4:50pm. By that time Greta has successfully convinced Lumi & Harriet to go to bed too and they're normally preoccupied with flapping their wings wildly, hitting everyone around them whilst turning around on the perch and fighting over who sits where. During all this mayhem they let me give them pats while I talk to them.

Unimpressed about noone else being in bed, and my proximity
On Saturday Lumi surprised me with something new. The chickens & I were all sitting next to each other whilst they ate grass, after a while Lumi turned around and started pecking gently at my freckles and pulling gently at my arm hair, but not like she was trying to eat them. It was extremely strange, it was so light it was kind of like tiny chicken kisses. It was easily the cutest thing any of these guys have done so far. Her voluntarily touching me feels like a huge step forward in her trusting me. It feels like all this time that I spend sitting with them and talking to them will be worth it. I was so worried about getting adult chickens because they might not respond to anything and be completely indifferent to us until the end, but things like this give me confidence that that won't happen.

Harriet looking fabulous
Lumi's & Greta's personalities are starting to show quite strongly now, whilst Harriet's hasn't, maybe because the other two pick on her? Lumi is greedy, bossy and not the smartest of chickens; and Greta communicates in varying levels of 'no'. She always reminds me of the Little Britain travel agent skit "Computer says no". She'll voluntarily come over and eat sunflower seeds out of our hands but after she's eaten them all, she'll run away because we're 'too close'. She's full of contradictions like that, but I think she'll come around in the end.

"Pretty sure I don't like you enough to come closer"
The affection of birds is so extremely different to that of other animals. Saturday really highlighted that for me. All afternoon & evening I was ecstatic that Lumi had nibbled at my arm. In the evening some friends brought their dog to our party, that dog was insanely adorable, requiring pats from everyone, he was full of affection and loved everyone instantly, that's just how dogs are. And there I was, happy that my chicken had nibbled at my arm. When you look at it in stark comparison it's ridiculous, however, it still didn't lessen the progress Lumi had made, or how happy I was with whatever level of affection she was willing to provide.