Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sleep and Wattle Worries

Have I mentioned how sweet the chicks are when they sleep? They cuddle up in a clump and make the sweetest little chirping snoring sounds. They wake up when the sun comes up and go to sleep when the sun goes down. I hardly ever go out to see them when it's dark, but on the few times I have, each time I think I should write about how sweet they are. Of course, children are pretty sweet when they sleep as well. Children can be the most rambunctious little brats all day long and then when they go to bed they become the sweetest, most lovable little angels. Not that the chickens are ever brats ....


I shouldn't ever look up anything on the internet. I searched to find out at what age the chicks are supposed to develop their combs and wattles. Poppy's and Jackie's combs and wattles are quite developed compared to the others, which makes me think that they are older than Birdie, Honey and Bee. Well, I couldn't find anything that gave any type of growth chart. What I did find was a forum where someone thought she had a pullet (female chick), but the way it was growing, she wondered if indeed she had a rooster (I don't know the term for a young rooster). Turns out that the forum decided that, yes, she did have a rooster. Now I'm all worried that one of the girls is going to turn out to be a boy. I'm apparently very susceptible to worrisome suggestions.


I'm hoping to have a coop update tomorrow. Hopefully, Kevin will be able to come over to work on the coop tomorrow. I bought some chicken wire (sort of) at a yard sale today. I'm thinking we can use it for the windows and the door since they are only partial rolls.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Coop, Part One

We started on the chicken coop today! We got the base done and framed up the sides. We would have got more done, but it rained off and on all day. Mostly we waited out the rain, but late in the afternoon it rained for over an hour, which put us back. I'm not sure when we will be able to finish it up. The chicks are going to be in the pen for at least another 5 weeks, but I'll be glad when the coop is ready for them.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Loose Chick

Andrew graduated from 8th grade this week, and with everything going on, I haven't had much time to spend with the chicks. They're getting so big! I sat and held them today, and even though they squawk like they don't want to be held. I think they are getting so that they don't mind it. When I was holding Jackie today, she suddenly flew out of my arms. I guess I wasn't paying attention. I think we were both pretty surprised. I would swear, however, that when she was out running around, she was trying to get back in the pen with the other chicks. Isn't that funny? Especially since she is the main one who will try to fly out of the pen if she thinks she has a chance.

Another funny thing about Jackie, but one that isn't surprising: I was sitting by the pen wiggling my finger (ooh, it's a worm!) at Honey, and she started squawking. Jackie runs over to see what's the matter and takes a peck at my finger. So like her to be the one in charge.

You can see from the pictures that they all came over to where I was to have their pictures taken.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Feed Story

I went to another feed store today--Barnes Feed on Old Palafox, and it was much nicer than the one I went to on Monday. So many more feeders and waterers and feeds and closer to my house. I wish I'd gone there first. Anyway, I have to decide whether I want to feed the chicks medicated feed or not. I can't tell if the feed I'm using right now is medicated, so I'm not sure what to do. The large bags of feed at Barnes are medicated, so if that is where my mom got the current food I'm using, I guess I'll keep doing the medicated.

So long story to say that I didn't get any feed today, but I did get a metal trash can to keep the feed in. I have to tell you, reluctantly I admit, that I found two dead rats in my yard, on different days, after I got the chicks. I haven't seen any signs that rats have been in the feed, but I have been worried about them getting into it. I'm not sure what killed the rats. I didn't see any signs of trauma to indicate a cat had gotten them. But enough about rats ... I'm sure that there were only two in this neighborhood, and since they're dead now, I don't have to worry about them anymore.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Finally, a New Feeder

My friend Fred, who lives in Tennessee, posted some pictures on his Facebook page today--pictures of his daughter's new chicks! I have to say that I noticed several things about the photos besides his pretty daughter. First, was the number of chicks--she must have about a dozen! Second, she has a long metal feeder that can feed several chicks at once and, most importantly, can't be tipped over. I'd been using a bowl, which was silly of me. Jackie and Poppy, especially, loved using their feet to tip the bowl, spilling the food out. It drove me crazy to see them spill food. Once I saw Fred's pictures, I decided enough was enough. I drove up to a feed store and got a feeder. It's not like Fred's, but it does seem to work. Jackie, Poppy and Birdie all took their turns standing on the feeder and no tipping!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Break from the Chicks

I thought I'd take a break writing about the chicks--I know, so soon and this is supposed to be a blog about the chickens--and post some pictures from my backyard this morning. I'm so happy that the hydrangeas are starting to bloom. They are one of my favorites. The picture doesn't really do the blooms justice. I think they are the prettiest color.

My daylillies are started to bloom as well and they're simply gorgeous. This one was given to me by an old master gardener--very kind.

My Valentine rose is blooming again. Isn't it beautiful? And it smells wonderful as well.

A baby lemon ...

If you don't find me with the chicks or working in the backyard, I'll either be here:

Or if it's hot, here:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Introducing Jackie and Poppy

We've renamed, sort of, Flapjack and Popcorn to Jackie and Poppy--true to the Andrew names, but more to my liking. And speaking of Jackie and Poppy, I think they are starting to develop their combs and wattles. You can see how mature Poppy is looking. The chicks are four weeks old now and growing up fast.

I think they're starting to like being held. Birdie was practically asleep this morning as I held her. They're still skittish when I go to pick one up, but they seem to be getting used to us. They peck at buttons and zippers when we stand near the pen. Maybe they don't associate those things with us, but, still, they seem more okay with being around us.

I have to admit to putting off cleaning out the pen today. They spill so much food that there is so much on the floor. I hate having to throw it away. I'll clean it out tomorrow for sure.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Visitor

We had a visitor today when Kevin and I were holding the chicks. (It reminds me a bit of holding premie babies). We were sitting in my awful plastic chairs (they were a gift ... and they don't fit in the trash cans and the City doesn't pick up anything that's not in the can), and we heard a kind of thump and we both kind of saw something move out of the corner of our eyes. We didn't see anything right away, but we heard some chirping and then we saw it--a baby blue jay. Apparently, the baby jay got away from his mom and heard the chicks chirping and came to find his mom or some food maybe .... He was so cute--huge beak and feet but tiny wings. The chicks didn't seem to mind the jay at all but he didn't stay long. He hopped-flew out to the front yard where his mother found him. I'd like to know where his nest is. I'm enjoying watching baby birds grow.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Still Holding

Today was day of two of the holding-the-chicks program. It went fine except for a few things. The chicks' pen has a lid that opens up top (I know, that's why it's called a lid). It's hard for me to hold the lid and get a chick out, so I prop it up with a piece of wood. Well, once it's propped up, it's hard to close it and then reprop it to put the chick back in. I was holding Honey and keeping an eye on the pen, when not only Flapjack (I have to think of a better name) but Birdie flew to the top of the pen. Neither one got past the pen's edge, but I'll have to figure out how to do get the chicks in and out better and without leaving the top open.

While I was holding Birdie, I had the wood stuck between the top and the pen, but not propping up the top, and Flapjack was so curious about the small gap. She so wanted to find a way up and out. These chicks, Flapjack especially, are so like teenagers. They're so convinced that they know better than their parents and could take care of themselves if only given a chance. Little do they know ....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Touch Therapy

I talked to my friend Pat who lives in Molino i.e. the country today. She's had chickens in the past and gave me some advice. First, when I build my chicken coop, I need to make sure that I use chicken wire on the floor to make sure predators can't tunnel into the coop. Second, she said that the more I hold the chicks and talk to them the more tame they'll be. I guess I knew both of these things, but I have to be honest. I hadn't taken them out of the pen since I got them. Kevin took out Birdie for Kaley on Saturday, but I hadn't handled them since we put them in the pen. So, when I got home from work today, I took each one out and held her for a few minutes. I know I said in my last post how big they are getting. Well, it's an illusion. They're all feathers. They're really quite tiny and fragile still.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Bit of Personality

I came home for lunch today and was so surprised how big the chicks are getting. They seem to be growing so much everyday. I didn't spend very much time with them yesterday--we went to the beach, so maybe they did grow significantly since Saturday.

They love scratching around in the wood chip bedding that Kevin sometimes puts in the pen. (I'm not crazy about the wood chips. They get in the waterer, clogging it up, and I feel bad about the woody water.) If one of them finds something she thinks is good, all five of the will run up to try to get it. They do act as a group pretty much but they do have seperate personalities. The big red one (my son Andrew has named her Flapjack, but I'm not so sure about that) is the leader. She's the bravest and most aggressive. If I'm not careful, she sometimes tries to fly to the top of the pen.

The big white one is the next is charge it seems. She's also the most motherly. The little black one (technically, she's my niece Kaley's chicken, but I'm keeping her for her. Kaley's named her Birdie--Kaley's three, by the way) is the most shy and reclusive, and the white one (Andrew named her Popcorn. Again, we'll see about the name) goes out of her way to keep an eye on her and to keep her company.

The twins I've named Honey and Bee. They seem to be content with each other, although, truthly, the pen isn't that big so they really have to all interact together. Still, I think Honey and Bee are the prettiest--a light golden color with darker flecks, but maybe I'm partial because they are the only ones that I've been "allowed" to name myself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Birthday Surprise

My birthday was last Sunday, and I got a fairly unusual birthday present--five unusual birthday presents to be exact: Chickens!

I live in Pensacola, Florida, not exactly big city, but not exactly the country. I have a small two bedroom cottage with a fairly big backyard (to me at least, but a friend who does live in the country thinks my yard is fairly small). I have a small vegetable garden, small lemon and lime trees, four small blueberry bushes and a couple of blackberry vines. Everything is small in my yard. I've lived here for four years and have planted everything that's in the yard myself. I have to say that I like the idea of having my own little homestead and I have thought about getting chickens, but wasn't planning on getting them so soon. I will admit that I am a bit overwhelmed.

All my chicks (they're three weeks old now) are past the cute yellow Easter chick stage and are starting to look a bit more gangly. This is what the breeder said about the chicks: "They were in a mixed pen-the larger white will be a americana or americanamix with a orphington , the small black is barred rock/rhode island red & the 2 smaller orangey ones are rhode island red/orphington mix. They are all great utility breeds that will lay medium to large brown eggs and toleratethe extreme heat & humid cold weather we have here." The fifth one must be a Rhode Island Red, although the breeder didn't mention what it in his e-mail.

My brother Jon made a pen for them, which is fine for right now, but I do think I'll need a coop and a run. My boyfriend Kevin has drawn up some plans, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to build it soon. The chicks eat a lot. They have special feed, but apparently they don't like to eat what falls out of the feeding dish and a lot falls out as well. They don't mind walking around in the food dish, and yesterday, I made the mistake of moving the pen to a place where they got too much sun and they fought over which one got to lay in the food. I guess it was cooler in the food? Anyway, when the pen is ready, I'll get a hanging food dish, and the walking and laying in the food dish will be a thing of the past