April 23, 2016

Fresh from the Coop: Movin' on Out

It's hard to believe that we've already had these chickens for almost a month, but it's true and boy they are growing like weeds! So I just wanted to give you a Fresh from the Coop update on what our adventure looks like at this point.

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I had no idea that chickens grew up so fast. 
Did you know that they from the time you get them as chicks, they start looking different every single day? When we first got them, we could easily see things that were different about them to set each of the six apart. Now we can only tell one apart, because she's different coloring. The other five have now become nearly identical! 

Their feathers have grown more and more every day. 5 out of 6, have long beautiful wings. Four of them have the puffiest 1" of tail feathers ever. But I am not kidding--every time you peak in the box, they look different because their feathers are just growing so fast. 

Speaking of the box, as you can see from the pictures above, I decided to let them out a little bit. We found some old milk crates and put them in--three per crate. We then moved them to the edge of the garden where a lot of scratching can happen. They loved it. I left them in those whenever I was outside doing gardening, or hanging out clothes.

I gave them their real taste of freedom last week when I let them out three at a time to just explore. I sat nearby, because I had no desire to do any chicken chasing. It amazes me how they already respond to me and come when I call them.

(repeating to myself--these are chickens not pets! LOL)

Their brooder was just too small, so this weekend, it was time to move them out. 
The days and nights are warm enough that they are ready for their coop. Love-Of-My-Life decided that though it was small, it will work for now and he can make changes to it as they get larger and need it for nesting.

We took them out to the coop 1-2 at a time. From the moment they arrived, they started pecking around. We decided that for now we'd position it in the old sand pile.

It's a great place because:

1. The sand. Chickens need grit if they are eating things besides feed (something I learned!), and the sand will supply that without me having to add anything else!

2. The ants. The sandpile is ant infested. That's why the sandpile has been deserted by my boys! Ants took it over making ant nests everywhere. Red ants. Black ants. Chickens adore ants. Thus, they are having a blast scratching at all the ant nests they can reach. And when we throw scraps in the coop for the chickens, the scraps attract...more ants! Totally a win win for the chickens!

3. It's out of the way. The sandpile is a big bare spot in the middle of the backyard. It had no purpose any longer. This made it a very logical choice for the coop. And because it's a large circle about 5' in diameter, we will be able to move the coop around every week and give them a go at a new spot in the sand. We will move them elsewhere eventually, but for now this is a great spot for them!

With the arrival of the coop in the backyard, we finally had to deal with...Jack the cat. 

He's a tom cat that loves to hunt and is very good at it. He's been highly curious about the brooder box and would peer at the chickens from a distance, when they were out in the crates. But he was never allowed to be close.

Until the coop.

So he strolled up. He looked around for someone to tell him to go away. He circled the coop and sniffed. The chickens saw him and huddled at first. He continued to circle. Then he got low and crept in quickly...and then discovered the chicken wire. Nope. No getting in there. But he has continued to check it out. He even climbed up on top to investigate. No luck. So now he just continues to circle and watch. Then he walks away and does other cat stuff...then returns to do the process again.

And the chickens?

Once they figured out they were safe, they just went back to their business.

Now we have extra responsibility.

Every night we have to put the chickens up. Right now they are still new to the whole roost at night thing, so we have to get them in there every night and shut them up. Eventually they will figure it out on their own. But right now, at dark, they huddle in a corner of the coop until we get them inside.

Every morning, we have to open the door and let them out. They like this part. They come racing down the ramp and start scratching and clucking. They come to the wire and talk to me with this deep throated chirp. I usually have a handful of beetles or something to share.

I am still doing active research.

Remember? I am clueless when it comes to chickens. Love-Of-My-Life knows more because his gran grew up with them--and thus he did as well. So he gives me tips and tricks about my our chickens. Like--chickens don't need a lot of feed. They love food scraps and scratching. So we just scatter a handful of feed and then keep them full of scraps. And boy do they get full of scraps! Yesterday the six of them cleaned out an entire mixing bowl of scraps down to nothing but crushed egg shells--and their crops were full for sure. They were bulging! LOL! Definitely well fed. I didn't realize chickens could have a noticeably "full belly" like humans after a good meal.

I am trying to learn as much as I can through reading some great blogs and finding all sorts of goodies on Pinterest. I now have a pinterest board devoted entirely to all things raising chickens. You can follow me there if you have chickens of your own and you are looking for all sorts of new ideas:

So far my two favorite websites/blogs are Backyard Chickens and Fresh Eggs Daily. So much knowledge on those two websites! I encourage you to check them out if you do chickens, or are thinking about doing chickens!

So there is my update on our adventures...I am hoping to get new pictures of each of the girls so you can see how they have changed over the last weeks. I actually can't even remember quite who is whom at this point because they look so similar--but there are a few with unique characteristics.

Have a simply marvelous week and thanks for checking out this second entry in my adventures Fresh from the Coop!

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