Tuesday, December 29, 2009
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
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
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
Friday, November 13, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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?
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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
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
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
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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
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
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
Monday, September 7, 2009
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
Monday, August 24, 2009
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
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
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
Monday, July 27, 2009
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
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
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
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
Bee trying to get a worm that utimately Poppy and Jackie stole from her and didn't eat.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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
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
Monday, June 15, 2009
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
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.