More photos here!
Being the only hatch-ling out of five eggs, we knew Pirate was a fighter. Now we know he is a resourceful fighter as well. His first few weeks were spent constantly crying out for other chickens, “Chickens! Chiiiiii –Kennnnns!” during which time he barely gave us the time of day; jumping on our hands only long enough to secure his dried worm. Then he met The Chickens and you could almost hear him thinking, “Shit! Those are Chickens?!? Maybe humans aren’t so bad.”
I have been careful about introducing him to the Ladies. (Incidentally, we do refer to Pirate as a male, but are still unsure of his sex.) All the books say it takes time to bring another chick into the flock. Pirate, at eight weeks old, is still a little young to be with them full time. Plus, the weather is getting colder and he has not produced all of his outdoor feathers so his time outside is still limited. But we had to start somewhere.
So I started by putting him in the Tractor for an hour during the warmest part of the day. Once inside, the Ladies would rush over and try to peck him through the wire. He tried to peck them back; he is a fighter, definitely not a politician.
After a week or so of that, I let him out of the Tractor to follow me around the yard. During his first few jaunts, Buffy would immediately chase him down and peck him on the back of the head. With no wire to protect him he would not fight back but would screech and immediately fly up on my shoulder. I think this chasing, more than any affection for me, led him to follow myself or Alan around the yard at such close proximity we have to watch where we step.
The Ladies are a jealous lot: One day after Pirate spent many hours in the Tractor (which I had moved to be just outside the chicken run so they could stare across at each other), I opened the Tractor door, then the chicken run door and immediately Buffy ran out and chased Pirate out of the Tractor. All four chickens then took up roosting in the Tractor. Despite the sun-filled day and an acre of free-ranging land at their disposal, they stayed in there for more than an hour.
Pirate still spends a great deal of time inside, particularly on the colder days. Being a very active chicken, I took pity on him one snowy day and built him a Snow Day Fun Box; a small cardboard box with a shovel-full of dirt in the bottom. He spends at least an hour a day in their scratching and hunting around. He uses it so much that we changed the name to a much easier to get out, Jungle. “Pirate is in the jungle” is a common phrase around here during cold days.
Lately the weather has been delightful so Pirate is up to spending about six hours outside every day. Buffy and JJ have both pecked him, Dom mostly ignores him and Goldie Hen jumped on his head. Welcome to the flock. But now, particularly in the mornings when it is still too cold to take him outside, he leaves the Jungle, flies up to my shoulder and chirps lovely little tunes into my ear. Then he hopes down into my lap for a short roosting session before jumping all over my keyboard.
Maybe humans aren’t so bad.