Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Neglect and Consequences

Today was the scariest chicken day ever. I let the chicks out this morning when I fed them--kind of on purpose and kind of because three of them got out when I went in the pen anyway. I decided that they could stay outside on their own for a bit, and I went in to take a shower. As I was showering, I heard a sound like something had fallen. I few minutes later I heard it again. I figured that I had not latched the back door properly and the wind was blowing it against the house. After I'd gotten dressed, I went to see what was up. Everything looked fine. Nothing had fallen inside and the door was latched, but Honey was on the back porch. The chicks never get that close to the house. I picked her up and walked back to the coop. I didn't see any of the other chickens. None. Not a one.

Usually they're in a group, rooting around in the garden or in the roses. No chickens anywhere. I looked and looked. Nothing. Ten minutes later, after I've looked over the fence into all my neighbors' yards, I find Birdie and Bee hidden in some undergrowth behind the dirt pile. I put them in the pen, but cannot imagine where the little ones are. I look in the all the places I've already looked. I go back towards the house where I think I hear something. I looked in the cast iron plants by the porch. Nothing. Finally, I go up on the porch and look behind some plywood leaning against the house: two chickens--Myrtle and Ethel are hiding there. At this point, I'm convinced that Rosemary has been carried away by a hawk. I don't see any feathers, but I've looked everywhere and haven't seen her, and the chickens are so deeply hidden that something must have really scared them.

I pick up Mrytle and take her to the coop. Silly Ethel runs towards the coop, but doesn't go inside or want me to pick her up. As I start to chase Ethel, Rosemary appears! Where she was, I haven't a clue. I spent the next twenty minutes chasing chickens round and round the coop before finally getting them all in. I can't tell you how scared I was or how awful a chicken mom I felt. I've gotten too lax in letting them out. I have decided to take the Mr. Bennet approach to chicken parenting now and will tell the chicks: "You are never to stir out of doors till you can prove that you have spent ten minutes of every day in a rational manner.'' I wonder how long my resolve will last.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Marching In

With the short days, it's dark by the time I get home from work, and since the chicks go to bed as the sun starts to set, they are already in their sleeping spots in the coop when I check for eggs each night. This means that I don't get to spend much time with the chicks and they don't get to go out into the yard much. Today, I let them out while I read and dozed in my new hammock. There are so many cute things about the chicks, but the top three things they do are (1) when they hop down from something; (2) when one realizes she has strayed from the flock and then runs to be with the others; and (3) when they decide it's time to go to bed and they file into the coop on their own. Today, I once again watched them go into the coop one by one, well, all except Birdie, whom I had to round up myself, and as many times as I've seen them do this, I never tire watching them march in.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chicks in the Sun

Today was such a beautiful day, and since I was out in it most of the day, the chickens were as well. They love being outside, scratching around. They are mostly good, and the cats don't bother them, which is a bit surprising actually. I've seen Gus the cat stalk and kill at least two squirrrels. I'm not sure why they aren't interested in the chickens, but obviously I'm glad they're not.

They didn't want to go back into the coop, but actually they're a little like sheep (or what I think sheep would be like). I have a red stick that the chicks are a bit concerned about. I use it to guide them to the coop, like a shepherd's staff. It took me no time at all to get all the chicks in with very little chasing.

Oh, my kindness to the chicks in letting the chicks out today paid off. Today was a 5-egg day, following a 6-egg day yesterday.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finally ...

Today was the day--the 6-egger. Every one of the chicks layed an egg today. Every last one. I'm all smiles.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Five Egg Day

Yesterday I got 5 eggs! Of course, I'm not completely happy because I have six chicks so I should have 6 eggs, but 5 is getting there. I'm not sure who the layers are. Birdie and Bee are my solids, and Myrtle, she's pretty dependable as well. Rosemary had been taking a break since her brooding. (She's not brooding anymore, but she hasn't been laying eggs either.) Honey and Ethel hadn't been laying, but they're both showing signs that they should be ready. Ethel is getting all waddle and comb-y, and she's been investigating the coop, but Honey getting waddle and comb-y as well, plus her twin Bee has been laying for months now. Anyway, it appears that all but one is laying. I'll find out who the layers are soon, I hope.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So, last night we had a bit of weather thanks to Ida. She started out as a hurricane, but was only a tropical storm when it was all said and done. Still, we weren't sure where she would come ashore and how strong the winds would be so we did somewhat batten down the hatches, so to speak. I went to put the chicks' food and water in the coop around 7 pm. I figured that if it was really raining in the morning, the chicks could have their food and water in the coop and they wouldn't have to come out into the pen and get blown around or wet.

The first thing I noticed when I went out there with my flashlight was that there was an egg in the dirt. I picked it up and put it in my pocket and didn't think too much about it. But when I went to put the water in the coop, I noticed that Bee was sleeping on the bench where we keep the water. I did think that was strange. I picked her up to put her in the coop and that's when I noticed that the coop was empty. I looked all around for the rest of the chicks, but they were no where to be found. Finally, I looked up, and there they were: up top on a piece of wood that spans the pen. Birdie, Honey, Myrtle, Ethel and Rosemary were all huddled together, sleeping in the rafters.

When I went out to check on them this morning, it was obvious that they had slept there all night. I felt bad because I had put Bee in the coop away from the others, but that was before I realized the plan was to have a campout. I don't have a clue why they'd want to sleep outside, especially in the wind and rain. Quite odd, if I do say so myself, but what do I know about chicken logic?

As I was cleaning the pen this morning, I suddenly realized I was the only one in the pen. The chicks had pushed the door open and were all busy pecking around outside. I finished up and then sat with them for 15 minutes or so. Myrtle found and ate a worm--she had to run away to a private spot to make sure no one shared it with her--and all the chicks liked drinking the puddled water in the wagon. I like letting them out in the evenings better because they go into the pen all by themselves when it starts getting dark, but now with the time change, it's dark by the time I get home and they haven't had much outside time. This morning, I don't have to be at work until later (storm leave), so it didn't matter much that they were out, but I do need to look at getting a latch on the inside. I can't be chasing them around the yard and make it to school and work on time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Weddings and a Brooding Hen

We've been busy but not too much with the chickens. My sister got married in Greenville, SC on the 17th, so I had to find a sitter for the chickens. Luckily, my across-the-street neighbor, Cindy, agreed do it. She seems to have done a great job (not to take away from her efforts, but sitting mainly entails cleaning poo, filling food dishes and counting heads to make sure they're all still doing well). I hope she wore closed-toe shoes when she came to take care of them. When she came to get the rundown on the Thursday before we left, they were very interested in pecking at her cherry-painted toenails.

In other news: Rosie is brooding. She wants to set on eggs, even when there are none. If one of the hens lays an egg, she is Johnny-on-the-spot to go sit on it. Somehow, she has convinced the other hens to lay in the same spot on the floor of the coop. I feel bad that she doesn't have a real egg to sit, but since these eggs will never hatch, I take them out from under here. She's okay with me moving her around a bit, but she goes back to setting and occasionally clucking. I try to take her out of the coop in the evenings so she'll be sure to eat and drink. Apparently, setting hens can be so committed to their nest that they'll neglect themselves.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Trip Outside

We let the chicks out of the pen tonight. At first, we just let the big ones and Myrtle out. Kevin was afraid the little ones would try to fly around, but Rosemary and Ethel wanted to be with the other chicks, so I let them out as well. The little ones didn't even try to fly. In fact, they were all pretty much together the entire time and pretty much right in front of the coop the entire time, as well.

When it started getting dark, we wondered how the chicks would do. Would we have to round them up or would they go into the coop by themselves? They were so busy and happy to be pecking around in the grass. Well, Honey went into the pen first and squawked so everyone would follow her. Nobody paid her much attention. A little later Rosemary went in. Honey came back and squawked some more and went back in. Ethel went in, and then a few moments later, Myrtle followed. Birdie went in, made a noise, and then Bee went in last.

Kevin closed the door and that was that--easy-peasy. They did so well I'm thinking more outings will be in their futures.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eggs and Excitement, Slight

I'm averaging four eggs a day now, which, of course, makes me happy. Here are three eggs I just got from the same nesting box. We have four boxes, but apparently the favorite is the one closest to the hen door. You can see the difference in size and color of the eggs. I know that Birdie, Bee, Rosemary and Myrtle (yes, Myrtle) are laying for sure. I'm not sure about Honey and Ethel. I've never seen them in the nesting boxes, but someone lays a greenish-grey egg that I see occasionally.

It's raining here (yeah!) so when I went to look for eggs a few minutes ago, I took a red umbrella with me. You should have seen the chicks all run under the coop. They weren't scared of it like they were of the dogs, but they were a bit concerned. They're so funny sometimes.

I'm not sure if they're getting along any better, but I'm convinced that me or Kevin back there makes them more pecky toward each other. Speaking of me and Kevin back there, I had to do some work back behind the coop on Saturday and they all lined up under the coop to watch me. Kevin raked out the pen and then was disposing of the waste just outside the enclosure and they were all crowded in a corner to get a good look at what he was doing. I guess any little change of scenery is fascinating for them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Flock

We actually put the little chicks in with the big chicks Thursday. It's going okay. I do wish they were getting along a bit better. The big chicks are still pecking at the little chicks, but not maliciously, just to keep the little chicks in their place. You can see in the photo how the little chicks keep together and the big chicks keep together. Occasionally, we intervene, but we aren't there all the time. I guess they'll figure everything out, but I wish they could be nicer to each other. Egg update: three yesterday. Kevin says I'm a slave driver. I want an egg from every chick every day. If that's being a slave driver, then, yes, I am.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Letter Day

Today is a red letter day for me. The chicks layed four perfect eggs! I've never had so many in one day before. Two of the big chicks layed today and two of the little chicks as well. I'm pretty sure Birdie and Bee are my big chick layers, and I think Rosemary and Ethel, the twins, are my little chick layers. I could be wrong and it's Myrtle, not Ethel, laying, but I'm almost 100% sure Rosemary is laying. All the eggs are brown, except for Rosemary's, which are the pretty green-grey. Of course, when they all start laying I'll be ectastic.

We've been letting the little chicks visit in the big pen, and I think there is some slight improvement, but the big chicks are still pecking a bit on the little ones. Friday night /Saturday is the big move. I don't like maintaining two areas, and the little ones need access to the nesting boxes. Kevin made a makeshift nesting box for the little ones, but they should be in the coop with the others.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Nice Surprise

Rembember how I said that I couldn't believe the new chicks were 6 months old? Well, Rosemary, at least, could very well be because guess what I found this afternoon? An Egg! I'd been in the hammock and had heard some familiar egg-laying sounds, but when I went to check if any of the big chicks had layed anything, there was nothing. Imagine my surprise when I looked over at the pen and found an egg in the little chicks' feed dish. I guess that was the best she could do for a nesting box under the circumstances. Yesterday, when we were out with the chicks, we noticed how anxious Rosie was acting, and we thought she might be looking for a place to lay an egg, but since she didn't, I didn't think about it anymore. It's nice to know that our original instincts were correct.

At first, I thought it was a white egg, because it definitely wasn't brown, but upon closer inspection, it looks more gray-green. It's about the size of Birdie's eggs, which is surprising considering how much bigger Birdie is than the new girls. I'll be glad when we can have all the chicks together. It will make everything much easier for them and me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The New Chicks

I got three new chicks last night. I'd been checking Craigslist and corresponding with a man in Alabama when we found a guy in "Gulf Breeze" (really Midway) who had chicks for sale, so Kevin and I went out to look at them last night. The "farm" was quite eclectic. We saw many chickens and turkeys plus I saw a piglet and Kevin saw some rabbits. I ended up getting three chicks. The man said they were 6 months old, but they are much smaller and less wattley than my three. The new three are very pretty and have feathers on their feet. I think they are cochins, which if I had researched a bit more I may have rethought. They are supposed to be very friendly and motherly, but not necessarily good layers. We'll see.

We brought them home in a cat carrier and let them sleep in it in the coop. This morning I let them out and sat with them for a while. Pecking orders are very real things, and Bee is the peckiest. She is the most aggressive with the new chicks, but the little white one, Myrtle, stood her ground pretty well. The other two, Rosemary (gold) and Ethyl (black), are a bit more cowed. Kevin put in a couple more higher perches and they like being up high. Other than being a bit far from the food and water, I like them being up high. My three can get used to the new girls, but not be so intimidated.

I'll be checking on them frequently throughout the day.

Rosemary and Ethel


Addendum: I put the new chicks in the old pen, and it is next to the coop. The new chicks were fine, but the old chicks weren't sharing the food and water very well. Now they can see each other, but they each have their own foods and waters. I'll probably let them be seperated for a while to get used to each other.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The First Dozen, Sort Of

I've been out of town for family occasions, but here are my first dozen eggs (minus the four we ate already).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Two interesting things today:

First, another one of the hens is laying eggs. Yah, right? Well, we'll see. Here's my hesitation. Every night the hens go to sleep in exactly the same place, and every morning I clean the droppings. This morning besides the droppings there was also what looked like the inside of an egg. One of the chickens layed a shell-less egg. According Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, the go-to manual on chickens, there are a few possible reasons for this. One is that it's a first egg, which, of course, this one is. Another, is that the hen was nervous or scared or for some reason had to lay it quickly before the shell could form (shells form at the last minute apparently), and third, the chicken has a vitamin deficiency. Now, if it is Honey laying the egg, it could be the third reason. Honey has a crossed beak and is as tall as the other two, but because she has a harder time eating, she is thinner than the other two. Let's hope tomorrow I have at least two good eggs. It's going to be hard to correct the vitamin deficiency in Honey, if that's what it is.

Also, there is a possibility that Bee is laying as well. There was an egg in the pen, but it had fallen and gotten cracked. It wasn't where Birdie usually lays, so I'm not sure if it was hers or not. Although I didn't see an egg from her today, so it could have been hers. We'll see.

The other possibly interesting thing is that we trimmed Honey's beak today. Well, Kevin did. Thankfully, he does all the hard things. I held Honey and he cut away at it with a dog nail clipper. We had to be careful not to go too far, just as we would for a dog's nails actually, but he trimmed a good 1/4 to 1/2 inch off, so hopefully she'll be able to eat better now.

Here's a before picture. She reminds me of Gonzo with how curved her beak is.

Here are a couple of after pictures. The top pic shows how much we trimmed off, but the bottom one shows just how crossed it is.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scrambled Eggs for Breakfast

We had our first homemade eggs this morning. As you can see, they are tiny, but they are slowly getting bigger. The one from last Saturday was noticeably smaller than the one layed yesterday. (Today's hasn't come yet.) They were very tasty. Nice job, Birdie!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Un-Neighborly Visit

This morning when I went to check on the chicks, I took a watering can with me to refill the waterer, but then I decided to wait until I came home for lunch (and to check on my daily egg) to fool with the waterer. When I came home at lunch time, the watering can was knocked over and about 8 feet from where I left it. Gus, our neighbor's cat, has been interested in the chicks, although I've never seen him do anything to antagonize them. Still, he was my most likely culprit. I figured he stood on the can and knocked it over. I didn't have it all worked out--with water in the can it would have been fairly heavy for Gus.

When I was checking on the chicks this evening, the mystery was solved. I was in the enclosure with the chicks when my other neighbor's dogs came running up. They have been interested in the chicks as well, from the other side of the fence, but I've never seen them in my yard, let alone around the chicks. The dogs circled the coop, looking for a way in.

To my surprise and delight, the chicks marched quickly into the coop. Of course, they were safe in the enclosure, but I liked that they saw the coop as their safe zone.

I actually like these dogs. They're basically sweet and attention-starved. I don't think their intention was to kill the chicks, but they would have surely played with them to death. It's my fault they were in the backyard. As a rule, I haven't kept my gate closed securely. I never had to before now. I will now, of course. My poor chicks will have little heart attacks if they have any more visits from my sweet neighbors.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coop Day Two or Day One, Depending How You Are Counting

I got up early (okay, early-ish) to open the hen door so the chicks could go out into the pen. They seemed perfectly content to be in the coop and didn't come out during the ten minutes or so I sat out there with them. The morning was beautiful and cool--about 66 degrees, which was too cool for me just getting out of bed. When I checked on them around 8:00, they had figured out how to use the door and ramp (I guess).

I sat with them for a while and Birdie would go into the coop and sit in a nesting box. Every so often, she'd come out and make such a ruckus. She did this at least two or three times. I'd go check the coop and find nothing. I kept looking to see if it had rolled somewhere or was buried in wood chips.

Finally, I came in and made blueberry muffins. As I was mixing the batter, I heard the cackling again, but this time I decided to wait until I was done before running out there. My patience did pay off. She had, indeed, layed another small, brown egg, but not in a nesting box. It was laying in some wood chips by the hen door.

Today's egg in situ.

Today's egg is the top lighter brown one. Yesterday's is the darker one, and the white one is a store-bought jumbo egg.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Final Reveal

The day is here! The coop is done and the chicks are in the coop! We finished the ramp today and attached the chicken door tonight. Andrew and I had loaded dirt in the pen this morning. We put wood chips in the nesting boxes and on the floor (we want to put some linoleum on the floor soon to help it not get so poopy). The chicks don't know what to make of it. We didn't put them in until almost bedtime, so they didn't have time to get to explore very long. They love scratching around in the enclosure, but don't know what to think about the coop. We closed them into the coop for the night, but will probably let them decide what to do about sleeping arrangements from now on.

A Small Surprise

We're hoping to move the chickens into the coop tonight. We have just a couple of things left to do and then we will be done. Yah!!!

I had told Kevin that we had another 2 months until the nesting boxes needed to be done, The chicks are four months old now and won't start laying until six months. Well, much to my surprise and delight, when I went out to the pen area this morning (around 10 am, if you are interested), I found an egg! I'm not sure who layed it, but I'm betting on Birdie. She just looks more mature than Honey and Bee. It's small, probably about 1 1/2 inches long, but an egg! And yes, the nesting boxes are up and ready for more eggs. We had just discussed keeping the nesting boxes covered up until the chicks (if they're laying eggs, I should probably start calling them hens) were ready. Well, I guess we won't have to do that after all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Partial Coop Update

I know it's been a while since I wrote about the coop. Lots have been done on the coop. We've (i.e. Kevin) built doors and window flaps (I'm sure there's a technical term for them that I don't know). We've put up chicken wire and enclosed the tops of the front and back sides. We are so close to being done. That said, we still have a few things to do, and I don't want to post any more pictures of the coop until we're done. We may be done (fingers crossed) this weekend.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the chicks. Honey and Bee are on the perch getting ready to go to sleep. Birdie gets up there to sleep as well. They're so sweet.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chicago Chicks

Andrew and I just got back from a wonderful week in Chicago. A big thank you to Kevin for feeding, watering and playing with the chicks while we were gone. Although we were away from my chicks, we weren't totally away from chickens. Yes, even in Chicago. On Friday, we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is a wonderful little FREE zoo. John Deere has sponsored a little farm zoo, just outside the main zoo. We saw huge rabbits, sheep, goats, cows and Chickens!

I met this chicken at the "Meet the Chicken" event. She's five years old and very sweet. We were also taught how to pet a chicken. Luckily, we've been doing it right.

A huge buff Orphington

Sweet, sweet little chicks. We also saw some just hatched chicks--not as cute, but interesting to see.

My own little chick in his shell.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sad Day

Today's a sad day for me. I had to find a new home for Jackie and Poppy. As you know, Jackie and Poppy turned out to be roosters. As a novice, I was holding out hope that they were just faster growers than the others and that was why they were bigger and had larger combs and wattles, but no such luck. Once they started crowing, I knew otherwise. A couple of weeks ago, they started crowing at 5:20 on the dot, and as the sun rose earlier each day, they would start crowing earlier. I started putting a blanket on the pen at night so they would stay in the dark longer, and that did buy a little time. They would start crowing at 5:45 instead. But the thing is, they didn't just crow once. They would crow and crow.

I would wake up with the crowing and even though no one ever complained, I was getting so stressed that my neighbors would confront me about the *&%#@ roosters and their *^%$#@! crowing. I put an ad on craigslist and this morning I had someone come pick them up. I'm much sadder than I thought I'd be. Jackie, especially, had so much personality, and I'd become so attached to him. They both were so sweet. When they'd sleep, the hens would sleep huddled together in a corner, and the roosters would sleep on the outside, protecting them, I'm sure. The roosters were much braver and would interact with us more than the hens.

I'm going on vacation next week, but when I get back I'd like to get 2 or 3 new hens. It won't be the same, of course, but it will fill in the flock again.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cleaning the Pen

I took the chicks out again today so I could clean out the pen. The chicks love being able to roam around and to investigate. I like having them out as well--they get a chance to eat some of the food that falls out of the pen. I hate wasting food. Poppy especially likes eating bugs and that makes me happy as well. This time when I went to put them back in the pen it was Poppy that was hard to catch. Apparently, the last one is going to be the most difficult. I think the other ones are unaware of what's going on until the very last. I finally caught Poppy when he (yes, he) trapped himself betwween two gas cans.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July Chicken Coop Update

Happy Fourth of July! Kevin and I spent the day working on the chicken coop and we're getting close-ish to being done. The pictures don't do the coop justice. The main thing is that it's not cock-eyed. That's just me apparently. The other thing is that it's cuter than it looks in the picture. I was having a hard time shooting around construction materials, so the coop isn't being photographed at its best.

Anyway, the large opening will be a door for me to clean the coop and to get eggs. The smaller opening will be a chicken door. The chickens will have a ramp that they can go up and down into and out of the chicken coop. Oh, and yes the background to the coop has changed again. My neighbor put up the rest of the fence yesterday, so the entire backyard is fenced, and all but about 15- 20 is privacy fence. Mostly the chicks will be in the coop and run, but I may let them out when I'm back there with them. There are too many predators, e.g. cats, hawks, etc., to let them out when I'm not there.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Random Chicken Things

There's a woman in Montana who brings chickens to nursing homes as a memory therapy. Apparently, at least for the ones that grew up on farms, petting chickens helps bring back memories. Interesting.

I get e-mails from Murray McMurray Hatchery and the last one they sent offered 6-week red star pullets for $8.95. Since it looks like I have two roosters, I thought I'd see about getting a couple. I may have done this wrong, but when I put in my zip code to see what the shipping would be, it came up as $55.00! I know they're live animals and need about more care, but $55.00? I need to read more about it. If I'm wrong about the shipping, I'll let you know.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I hate to admit, but I'm pretty bad about changing the cardboard that we have on the bottom of the pen. I'm not sure how long this one had been in there, but it was getting pretty awful. Part of the problem is that I never remember to bring cardboard home. To make do instead, I finished a feedbag and decided to use that as the floor. It fits so-so, but it's clean. We'll see how long it lasts. Anyway, it's near impossible to change the cardboard when the chicks are in there. They take up too much room and change really unsettles them, so I took them out and let them peck around in the "garage" until I was done. I think they really liked that. They pecked and chirped quietly until I started putting them back in the pen and then only when Birdie didn't get back in right away did they seem to get upset. I put Honey, Jackie and Poppy in with no problem. Bee ran around a bit, but she wasn't really that much of a problem either. That Birdie, though. She ran around me in circles. On one hand, she really wanted to be with the rest of the flock, and on the other, she did not want to be picked up. All is settled now that they're together again in their snug pen. I think they'll enjoy being in the coop, but I may need to get a chicken net for Birdie if I let them out in the backyard.

Bee trying to get a worm that utimately Poppy and Jackie stole from her and didn't eat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Painting the Coop

Here is another coop update:

We have the back and closest side done, sort of--we still have to finish the window and the back triangle part--and I started painting the roof. The color is Wilmington Tan. We wanted something woody-looking and somewhat light in color to keep it coolish. I'm awful about picking paint colors (my kitchen is a case in point--bright pink. I thought it would be cherry-colored), but I think I like this. I'm planning on painting the sides either Wickerware or Honey Tone. It should look kind of honey bee-ish.

We finally got some rain yesterday, so it's a bit cooler than it's been. I know the chicks are thankful. Ordinarily, I'd love rain anytime and as much as possible, but I hope it holds off tonight to give the paint time to dry.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Heat, Coop and Neighbors

So we've been working diligently on the chicken coop every chance we get, which I have to tell you is a bit hard. It's so, so hot out there. This is the hottest June I can remember. It's been in the high 90s, probably even reaching 100 degrees most every day last week. But between the heat and finding the time, we're slowly making progress.

The poor chicks hate the heat. The get a little bit of early morning sun, which is still hot, and then they are in the shade for the rest of the day. Even so, they're hot and have their little beaks open most of the time, panting. I think the chicken coop will provide even more shade and will be cooler, but in the mean time, they're in the best possible place.

When we were working on the coop Friday, my neighbor who is going to build the fence back near the coop stopped by. She wanted to talk about the fence, but, of course, asked what we were building. When I told her a chicken coop, she told me that she had grown up on a farm and loved chickens. I showed her the chicks, and the man she was with, who had also grown up on a farm, said, "You have a rooster; in fact, you have two roosters." That, with no prompting from me. I'm still hoping that he's wrong, but I'm mentally preparing myself in case he's right.

My other neighbor stopped by as well (my yard buts up to six other yards!!!) and also asked what we were building. I couldn't read his expression about what he thought about me keeping chickens, but now the secret is out. Well, for two out of my six neighbors.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quick Note:

We have the roof on the chicken coop finished! It was too late to take any pictures, but hopefully I'll be able to post some tomorrow. The coop itself should be taking shape soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Early Morning Chick Report

I woke up this morning to the sound of crowing? Maybe. I'm not sure. Early this morning, I heard loud sounds coming from the chicken pen. It repeated about four or five times, but I couldn't make out who was doing it, and in my sleep-adled state, I can't even be sure that's what I heard.

I sat outside with the chicks for quite a long time, but it wasn't repeated. I have to say that if one of the chicks is a rooster I'm voting for Poppy. Jackie is bigger than Pop and also has a comb and wattle, but she just seems more hen-ny. Maybe it's also that I think we're more attached to Jackie than any of the others. She has always been the biggest and the most curious. If I have any roosters, I'm not sure what I'll do. I may be able to keep one, but I don't think I could handle two. Plus the crowing. I'm not sure what my neighbors would think of the crowing. Anyway, time will tell ....

Here's a few things I observed this morning:

  • Chicks can be quite silly. Birdie was standing up near the chicken wire looking at me when all of a sudden Honey ran up and tried to jump on her back. I think because Birdie was being still Honey thought she was an inanimate object that she could perch on, like the waterer.
  • The chicks are much noisier when I'm not around. I came inside for a few minutes this morning and there was such chatter. When I went back outside, they all calmed down and hardly said a peep.
  • The smaller ones like to perch on the waterer and the stick I put in the pen. Poppy tried to perch on the waterer a couple of times, but she's really too big and kept sliding off.
  • Poppy ate two ants while I was out there. Not a big deal I know, but I have seen them try to catch flies before--which I've never seen them actually succeed at doing--so the ants are the first bugs I've seen them eat.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mid-Week Coop Update

I'm not sure how much time we'll have to work on the chicken coop this weekend, so Kevin came over to work on it this evening. We have the roof almost done ... although the last few pieces will be the hardest. Hopefully, we'll get a few minutes (ha ha) to get the roof done this weekend. I'll need to get some paint on it soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Corn on the Cob

My brother Jon and Amy brought Kaley over to see Birdie. They also brought the chicks a treat--corn on the cob! You would have thought that the chicks would be so excited about something new to eat. They only have their feed and wood chips to eat (just kidding, sort of). I put the plastic container with the corn in it in the pen originally because there were so many loose kernels, and the chicks just cowered together in a corner. We took the cobs out, thinking that they just had an aversion to plastic, but they had to find their courage to even investigate them. Finally, Jackie (of course) started to peck on a cob and that opened the door for all of them to peck at the same cob. They hate being left out. An hour later and the cobs are pretty much stripped clean.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Coop, Part Three

We worked on the chicken coop for most of the afternoon today, and I have to say it's pretty pleasant back there. We were in the sun for an hour or so and then we were in the shade for the rest of the time. As you can see, we started putting the roof on. What you can't see are the braces that we added. It's getting more stable and closer to being finished. We still have so, so much to do, but it's coming along. Plus, technically, we have about three more weeks until we need to have the coop done. The chicks won't be ready to lay eggs for a while, and I think that's when the coop will be more necessary. Right now, they'd probably enjoy scratching around in the dirt, but they're fine for the time being.