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.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday Chores

So far this has been my Saturday:

Clean the bathroom sink and toilet. Read a chapter in my book (Elizabeth and her German Garden--a wonderful book from 1900 that I'm enjoying so much).

Do some laundry. Chat with Kevin on the phone.

Clean the bathtub. Eat lunch.

Take the old, wet phone books from the porch (so embarrassing) to the recycle trolley. Take a nap.

Vacuum. Go check on the chicks.

So when I checked on the chicks, I discovered that Honey had a feather in her beak that she was trying to swallow. This is at least the third feather I've seen her try to eat. She was banging the pointy end on the floor of the pen to help it go down her throat, but I guess it was too long. I opened the lid of the pen so that I could pick her up and remove the feather from her mouth, but I had put a long stick in the pen to see if the chicks would perch on it (Jackie did for a little while, but I haven't seen too much interest in it) and I couldn't get to her (have I mentioned that the chicks are in my "garage" right now and that the pen is surrounded by bikes and the lawn mower and other assorted things?). Finally after banging my hip against the stick repeatedly, I did get her and I did pull the very long, very wet feather out. She didn't put up any fight and didn't seem to care about her lost treat at all. Really, I can't believe she would find feathers of interest, but I guess any new thing ...?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Six and a Half Week Update

I know that it must be boring to read "the chicks are getting so much bigger" in every post. But they are! I swear I feed them in the morning and then come home from work in the evening and they've grown in the intervening hours. I looked at some pictures of the chicks from the first week I got them--I forgot what little fuzz balls they were just a few weeks ago. Now look at them--little hens.

The dynamics in the pen have just changed a bit from those early days (4 1/2 weeks ago). Jackie is still mostly in charge, but Poppy gives her a chest bump occasionally to assert herself. Birdie, Honey and Bee started off all about the same size, but Birdie and Honey have grown much more than Bee. Bee is at the bottom of the pecking order, but she seems to be doing all right for herself. You can see her peeking out from behind Birdie in this photo:

Here's a picture of Birdie on her favorite place--the waterer:

And as surprise, more work on the chicken coop! The chicken coop elf came by to work on the coop while I was at work today. It's really starting to take shape.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Coop, Part Two

The chicken coop is coming along ... slowly. We started on the pen part of the coop. The part coming out from the coop will be screened in and roofed, so they'll have plenty of room to scratch around and be out in the fresh air. You may notice that the space behind the coop looks different from the last pictures. The people who bought the lot are planning on finishing the fence (yeah!!), and they cleared the scrub that was there last week. They did leave a tree, so I'm interested to see how they do the fence around the tree. It's good timing for the fence. Except for a part over by the hammock, the yard will all fenced in. The chickens can still fly a bit, but I do like the idea of letting them out in the yard on the rare occasion. (You'll also notice, if you look close enough, Gus the cat in the pictures.)

Bad non-coop item:

When I got home from work today, the chicks' water bottle was on its side. I have no idea how long it had been like that. The chicks like to stand and lay on top of the bottle and I'm sure that when one of them jumped off, it got knocked over. Anyway, when they finally were able to drink, I thought they would never stop. They were so thirsty. Of course, I felt like a bad mother--I'm going to try to tie it to the pen so it can't be knocked over again. I do love watching them drink though. They take a bit of water and then stretch their necks up to swallow it--so cute.