Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chickens? What chickens?

It's hard to remember how life was before chickens. Mornings were easy going; the only thing really important after coffee was getting the H-man to school on time. There were no coops to worry about~no squawking from the outer reaches of the yard to remind me that someone, well a bunch of someones, were ready to get out and about already. There weren't a lot of chirps and peeps coming from a little pen in the mudroom letting me know that pine shavings, water and feed required refreshing. I'm here to tell you that twenty-four chickens of various ages require a lot of attention....but I'm not complaining....who would have thought that I would adore these little things? All I imagined during life before chickens was having fresh eggs~I never realized how much entertainment would be had along while I waited (increasingly more impatiently) for those eggs....

This was taken this morning - three Originals were escaping the rain in my chair....

The other two were under the table~~

Nor could I have imagined the challenges involved in integrating new additions to the family...

Bringing in Mama and her five little~un's required some quick thinking~Mama was extremely over-protective of her babes - she flew feet first at my babies and was teaching hers to be afraid of me. After a week of trying to allow her to acclimate to the coop and the Originals, we took her babies away from her and set them up in the mudroom. She spent the next three weeks roosting up in a tree above the safely fenced coop; flying up into the tree before we even put the Originals in for the night. Visions of owls and other predators disturbed my sleep - I fully expected to find a pile of feathers instead of Mama every morning as I walked out to say good morning to my Originals. We needed something to lure her into the coop at night with the others.....treats weren't working at all.

Then came the babies....thirteen of them....joining the little-un's in the mudroom. The challenge here was the noise level of 5 little-un's separated from their Mama and thirteen 2 day old babies....this challenge was easily met....Classical Music on a small radio.....

After two weeks of separation from Mama, we began to take the little-un's out to the coop/play yard during the day and to bring them back in at night....Mama hung around the coop for a day or two and then slowly began to wander the yard with the Originals - finding cozy but cool spots under azaleas and rose bushes to laze away the afternoons...but still, come 6:30, she was up in that tree. I began to wonder if I would worry about her every night of her life.....even leaving her babes out there for the night with the Originals didn't lure Mama in at night......

The little-un's roosting on the opened coop door

It became obvious that Mama wanted to be as high as she could get at we put in a new, much higher roost this past Sunday....and we put the Originals in the coop earlier than our surprise, Mama followed them right on in and within a few minutes was up on that roost content as could be.....and every night since!

Mama finally in for the night.....

The babies are almost fully feathered....which means that in a day or so, they can also go out during the day to the coop/play today, the little-un's were allowed to "escape" into the great unknown (the back yard :) to wander to their little hearts content.....Mama immediately came over and began to forage with them; just a little over an hour later, I can see all 11 of the chickens out there foraging together..... we've made a lot of progress in these last three weeks!

Dallas and Hunter are unloading some wood from the trailer as I type this.....salvaged wood from packing crates obtained from an ad on Craig's List (love that thing~~) that will soon help us enlarge the coop and play-yard to accommodate the babies. That enlargement will include a "nursery" hopefully, there will never again be chicks in my mudroom.....but that radio is always ready to play some more Classical~~


  1. I want chickens so bad!! I am so glad that you have them. My husband thinks I am nuts, but I have heard they are better than a TV for entertainment and they can be really sweet. Someday. Maybe when we move to the country or have a little bigger lot. Until then, I can live vicariously for you!! :) Thanks!!

  2. Kelly...when you do talk your husband into getting some, try to get the Red Stars. That's what my Reds are and their personality is completely different then the others. The Red Stars are hybrid bred for large brown eggs and early laying - they laid at 5 months on the nose just like advertised. And they "speak" to you when you are near them; they love to be held and come running over to meet you when you head outside or come home from wherever...they are the sweetest things.


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