Saturday, December 17, 2011

A chicken by any other name...

Going on two-and-a-half months and my six girls (that's what I'll call them until I know otherwise) are all doing fine. I was going to move them out into their Coop and Run at the beginning of this month, but it's been too cold and too rainy. I don't want to risk a heat lamp fiasco or a chicken-sicle incident. So, the hens are still in the Pen. And the Pen is still in my garage.

There's no real hurry to relocate them, I guess. They have plenty of room and are in a climate-controlled area. It's clean, with plenty of fresh food and water every day. Plus, they spend some time, weather permitting, running around their Run some afternoons.

Oh, well. They'll move out into the real world soon enough. Maybe January. We'll see how January is.

Now. On to the names of the chickens. In Blogs-past, I've mentioned a name or two. Some of the hens were named right away, some we needed to see their personalities.

And see there personalities we did.

So, without further hemming and hawing... The Chicken Names:

Mary - Ameraucana
Sophia - Ameraucana
Miss Lynn - Red Star
Bronny - Dark Brahma
Little Jo - Black Silkie
Arabella - White Silkie

Well... that's the list. Seemed more exciting when I was thinking about blogging them. Anyway. Those are my girls. And each name fits each chicken perfectly.

Next up: What to call the Coop.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Only a month?!

Well, it's only been a month since I started in on my flock.  Four of the girls are four weeks old, two of them three. And all of them have about tripled in size. And everything in The Pen has gotten way too small. The waterer. The mason-jar feeder. The roosts. Everything.

Admittedly, I need to buy a new waterer. There's no shortage of water, mind you, but it would be nice to have something a little bit bigger. Maybe something that won't catch every woodchip that flies its way.

And the mason jar feeder? Too small. At least for my six chicks. So, here's what I did...

I bought a two gallon paint bucket with a lid, cut a few holes on the side at the very bottom, and bolted the bottom of the bucket to the lid of a five gallon paint bucket (the Home Depot type). I filled it with Crumble and my girls are good to go! Easy. And cheap. It cost me about $7.00.

And that brings us to the roosts! Initially I made two small roosts: a crossbar with a couple foot-stands. Each about eight inches long. But those are being kicked aside these days. So, I've fashioned two 'I-mean-business' roosts in two of the corners of the chicken pen. Basically, I took 1"x1/2" pine rods and slid them diagonally into place in the corners of The Pen. Different lengths, different heights. And... success! The girls love them. They've been all over them since the roosts went in.

Other than that, everything is business as usual. More feathers are coming in every day. The chicks' coloring is becoming more and more apparent. And the personalities are starting. The bold. The shy. Everything in between. It's pretty great.

Now, only another four weeks until the big move from The Pen to The Coop.

A lot to think about. And a lot more to do. But hey, it's only been a month.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Well, what do we have here?

So, I'm spending time with my six girls: a Red Star, a Black Silkie, a White Silkie, an Ameraucana, a Dark Brahma, and a Light Brahma. We're singing. We're chirping. We're having fun. When all of a sudden, I realize...

Little Miss Light Brahma doesn't have feathered feet!!!

Now for most, my sister Jennifer included, this would be no big deal. After all, a chicken is a chicken, right?. But for those who don't fall into that prickly 'Most' category, the fact my Light Brahma doesn't have feathered feet is an issue. An issue like: Well... She's not a Light Brahma!

Now. I don't really care that she's not a Light Brahma. In fact, it was a surprise when the people at the Feed Store said they accidentally got a Light Brahma mixed in with their order. I said I'd take it for variety's sake, and that was that.

So. Now that I know what she's not, I need to find out what she is. And I think I have an answer.

She's a little lighter than, but completely resembles my Ameraucana. And she has the puffy cheeks that are a trademark of the Ameraucana breed. I don't know what she'll end up looking like, but it seems I have... another Ameraucana! And it only took me three weeks to notice! There. I said it! Now no one else has to.

Having said that. And having scrutinized her for a good while, I noticed the footprint of her comb. It seems a little wider than the other Ameraucana's comb. Does this mean that she is not only not a Light Brahma, but an Ameraucana AND not only not a she but a he?

Only time will tell.

Either way, he or she is doing well -- the biggest of the six, in fact. And that's all I can hope for at this point. A nice, healthy chicken.

Even my sister Jennifer can't argue with that.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And so it's begun...

When my family and I decided to raise a few chickens, we didn't take it lightly. We knew it would be a lot of work in the beginning. And we dove in head first.

Where would they live? That was the first question. We analyzed our yard and realized, wih a little heavy lifting, we could have an incredible place. Move a small sitting area. Move a compost heap. And there it was. A nice area in the corner of our side yard where all-things-chicken would go nicely. Enough sun. Enough shade. Level and quiet. The only thiwere missing were a coop and a run.

Cut to:

A month later.

The coop is in place and my run is all set up. I'll be posting photos soon! The coop was built by a friend and has about 20 square feet of space inside. Plenty of roosting. Three nice-sized nesting boxes. Windows in the front to catch the morning sun, and in the back to get the evening sun. The big door makes it easy to clean. The little chicken door leads out into about 120 square foot run. Heavy-duty. Nothing getting in. Nothing getting out.

Now the only thing missing was the chickens.

Cut to:

Two days after that. We bought 4 chicks from a local shop. 1 Red Star. 1 Ameraucana. 1 Dark Brahma. 1 Light Brahma. They were all sexed, so in theory we have four hens. We'll see.

Being only two days old, we couldn't put them in the coop. Not yet. Not this time of year. So, we bought a 100 quart Rubbermaid container. I cut two holes in the lid and covered one side with a screen to support a heat-lamp. The other side I covered with hardware cloth, the 1/2 inch metal screen-type. My wife filled it with pine shavings, threw in a water bottle and a bowl of food and everything was good to go. The chicks were introduced to their new home and loved it!!!

For the next week, we handled them daily and talked to them a lot. My wife even sang to them. And the Ameraucana, in particular, loved it. She would just sit and watch and listen as my wife sang such hits as 'Turkey in the Straw' and 'You Are My Sunshine'. Very calmly. very awesomely. She (the Ameraucana) is still the easiest to handle from the group.

Cut to:

One week later.

We went back to the same pet store and saw they had a new shipment of chicks. Silkies and Japanese. So, we bought two more. 1 Black Silkie. 1 White Silkie. Each of these being bantams, they weren't sexed. Meaning, there's a 50/50 chance of getting a hen. We'll see.

We put them in with the other four and everyone got along. We were worried, because of the age difference, that there'd be an issue. But, no problems. No problems at all.


More handling. More talking. More singing. A lot of growing.

Cut to:


The chicks have pretty much tripled in size and have been moved into a 16 square foot pen in the garage. Their original Rubbermaid brooder is in with them, a large hole cut in the side to enter and exit. And the heat lamp still shines down through the original screen. I've built two small roosts and everything is well.

Every now and then, we take them out and let them roam the yard or put them in the Run. But only for a bit. This time of year they explore for a short time then eventually huddle together for warmth. When we see this it's back to the pen. Back to the heat.

I think it'll be another month or so until our girls (are they all girls?!) can live permanently in their coop. It'll be good to see them doing what they do out where we've built a place where they can do it.