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Archive for the 'Chickens' Category

Closer on the Coop

June 22nd, 2010

The end is in sight… or the beginning?  Finishing up the doors and trim, still have to put up the hardware, roosts, run…

“It’s about time! “

Almost 100 degrees F today- they’re cooling themselves in the shade of a few shrubs, giving me that stare…




Labrador Meets Roosters

May 28th, 2010

 

“Okay…  nice and easy…  you keep acting like you’re not interested and I’ll go peck his nose!”




Flowers After the Rain

May 21st, 2010

It has been a wet spring with all the changing weather. I must admit that I’m getting a little tired of the rain… even though I may regret those words at some point this summer. At any rate, we’re going to see 90 F/ 31 C degree temperatures over the next week, so that will be a nice, warm change.

We did have a couple of sunny days this week, and the flowers have been beautiful from all the rain.  The irises were wonderful this year, and I really enjoy the light lavender color of this variety.

 

The roses have been gorgeous this year too, and we’ve had more blooms than ever it seems.    This is Carefree Beauty…  

I walked out into the garden the other morning and all the sugar snap peas were wilted!  Sure enough a mole had gone right under the roots in the row, because the garden was so wet everywhere else.   I managed to squish the dirt back down and most of the plants have recovered pretty well.   Thankfully the added rainfall helped keep them growing again.

The chicken coop is coming along, slowly.  It’s very muddy all around the coop so it’s quite the mess to work on it when it’s raining.  I’ve insulated both sides, and measured and placed the siding, with caulk at the seams.  I’ll paint it when finished, so this is just the rough look.   

The chickens are 6 weeks old now and getting huge.  I need to get another picture, but suffice it to say they are ready to be outside all the time.

I do let them out for a bit each day, and when they roam around I have to lock up the little Shiba Inu below.  He’s a nice dog, as long as you’re not a bird or a small mammal…   if he senses something wild to hunt or eat, he then becomes a fierce little beast, so I don’t think the chickens would have a chance.   I watched him chase down a rabbit once!    Fortunately the yellow lab doesn’t seem very interested in them, he lays down and just watches as they roam around.   Of course he might decide to bring me one…

With the warmer weather coming, it’s time for the garden to really take off. And it’s time to do a lot of weeding, cutting and pruning that I have put off for several weeks. I’m just amazed at how fast the season has gone by!



Meet the Roos

May 16th, 2010

The chickens have enjoyed a little freedom these days. They’re growing bigger each day and love flying a few feet at a time around the garden area. Just enough to scare themselves while they run back to the shed! Or when the roosters fly after them. So lets introduce the six-week old boys:
 

Meet Captain Jack… He’s a sprightly fellow, hard to catch, a rascal clothed in dark attire… a hybrid black rooster of dubious heritage, and a scoundrel in the making. Savvy!?
 

He’s named, of course, after Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean.

I picked Captain Jack out as a straight run chick… unknown breed or sex, guessing he was a rooster from a couple days old. I had no idea what he really was, but he just strutted around with his head held high above dozens of other chicks with a cocky look all his own, and I’m pretty sure I guessed right. He’s wary, but seems decent enough for now and already looks after the hens, chasing them back to the shed when they get too far away. One of the barred rock hens loves to perch on my arm, and Jack usually jumps up on the roost to watch and look after her until I set her back down.



Not to be outdone, here’s Little Red… maybe he’ll be Big Red one day, or maybe just Red or Reddie Roo? He’s a New Hampshire Red rooster and was supposed to be a pullet. The hatchery farms don’t get them all right however, so I ended up with one less hen and an extra roo. He should be a beautiful rooster though. He struts his stuff too, but Captain Jack is more assertive at this point.

So with only eight hens I’m going to have to choose between these two at some point. How am I going to get rid of one?! I guess if we kept them long enough and one became too aggressive, I could find a good stewpot for him. That might be a family faux pas however… And I believe a family friend has offered to take one, so that’s probably for the best. But which one?! Decisions, decisions…



Getting Cooped Up with Stormy Weather

May 13th, 2010

I have this problem.  It has to do with trying to make things better, and wanting to do things right.  Okay, that’s not usually a problem.  Except when you’re not a carpenter and you’re building something, the learning curve is very steep.  And you keep getting these insights and ideas… “Oh! Well then I can just…” or, “Aha! Now it shouldn’t be too hard if I…”     It’s easy to underestimate a lot of things when you’re still filling your knowledge basket.

Okay, so building a chicken coop isn’t rocket science.   Maybe it’s garden science or something.  I’m making progress, although we’ve had torrential rain the last few days.    This morning is no different, although I did get the flooring painted yesterday between the rain.

I started framing up the sides last weekend…  I like framing.  You measure the length you need (I hear my Dad’s voice in my head, “Measure twice, cut once!”).  Then you go measure the space you need… then you go get the wood you need, and then you forget if that’s really the measurement, so you go back and do it again.  Then you write it down so you don’t forget this time.

Then you make a straight line on your 2×4 (nothing is really straight you know… it just looks like it until you get ready to put it up or use it).   Then you go over to the saw, and then you reach for the 2×4, and then cut it and then go hold it in place to check and wonder why in the hell it’s too short!  And you realize you measured a couple of feet lower and there’s a slight curve to the post there, so you go do it all again…

Ah, but hammering nails is rewarding, and simple.  Blam, blam, blam!  The satisfying thunk of nails going in is just awesome.  Until you realize you weren’t ready to nail it there.  Da@#! Getting nails back out is no fun.

Of course, instead of just putting wood or siding on the outside, I decided to insulate the coop with a double wall.  As long as I was building something, I figured I would make it protected for winter weather.   Do the chickens need it?  Depends on how cold it gets, but I won’t have a heater out there.  Maybe a light bulb.  I don’t think I’ll run electric, and face permit issues and such.  I can run an extension cord out there and put a small bulb in for them.

I can even give the coop a green badge for recycling! I’ve re-used quite a few materials lying around, including wood that came from old benches and about a hundred nails that I took out from twenty year old planting bed frames.   These were galvanized spiral nails and worked really well (boy are they strong!).

I even dug up some older hardware cloth and cut it to fit the coop windows.    This window faces south, with the opposite smaller one on the north side.  I imagine the chickens could use another window in the front for ventilation.

The bigger space below the south window will be for the nest boxes when I figure out if they’ll go on the inside or the outside…  I would like a to have a door to open up (or down) and get to the eggs, but I’m not sure if making it flush with the siding would be better or if I should build a whole nest box extension off the side?

I got a little creative with a couple roof supports- these are joined at the other end on the front trim along with two end joists connected from the shed to the posts.  I crawled all around up there for a good while, so it’s a pretty strong roof.

Last Sunday I stayed out until after 9:30 pm in the dark finishing putting on the roof.    Heavy rain was coming and I couldn’t wait…   it wasn’t much fun on my knees with a flashlight in my mouth lining up shingles.   I was lucky I didn’t smash my thumb with a hammer, but a few nails went “Bing!” off in the driveway somewhere.

Fortunately I had help… the boy was out chasing fireflies (he was smarter than me that night…) and he would bring me piles of shingles as I needed them.   Then imagining that those nails would end up in tires and feet I said I would pay him a dollar if he could find them in the gravel somewhere.   Dang if he didn’t find them pretty quickly!

The chicken coop roof is a shallow angle and perhaps not optimal for shingles with just under a 2:12 slope, but both ends are protected from heavy winds with the bigger shed on one side and the house/garage about 50 feet away to the east.    The shingles are also glued down with roofing sealer.    I would like to box in the corners somehow under the eaves of the bigger shed just to protect them.

The good news is the roof works just fine…  rain comes right off as it should with drip edge all around.    Of course lots of chicken coops tilt the other way to keep the rain off the front, but that didn’t fit the plans for mine.   Gutters on the shed and coop would be nice… maybe to divert the rain into a barrel for the garden?

Now it’s time for insulation and siding.   Solid wood for the outside just costs too much, so I picked up three sheets of inexpensive siding.  I’ll have to keep it sealed and painted, but it should work just fine.

All things being equal, a taller chicken coop would be best.  I really liked this location however, and our coop is only about 4.5 feet tall at the front.  It will involve bending over to clean things up so I’m trying to build a good-sized door (or two) up front.   I could make swing out panels, but I would still like to insulate with an inner wall.   Maybe just insulate half the front?   Or will a door around 3’x3′ work okay?

I think I could have looked around a bit more for some real plans, and maybe I would have had some better ideas.  There’s some free plans available out there, but I guess the challenge of putting up my own chicken coop design was part of the fun…  But for specific chicken coop ideas, I really like the plans at ChickenCoopGuides.com .  If I had planned ahead a little, I would have kept careful plans of my own chicken coop design and provided that here… but instead, I’ve put some affiliate links at a sight with a really good product, and maybe it will help someone.   I’m kind of an intuitive do-it-your-selfer, and that’s how I approached my chicken coop.  Kind of like with cooking. I’ve never met a recipe I didn’t like to fiddle with!  Often it turns out great, but sometimes? Well, maybe not so good!

I do like the window in the bigger shed…  It will be like an observation window to the chickens!   I haven’t even got to the run yet, but it will probably be buried posts with 1×4 galvanized wire.   And I may still put linoleum down in the coop to protect the floor and make cleanup a little easier.   Then there’s windows, doors, nest boxes…  :0   Thanks for all the ideas and comments…. keep ’em coming!

The rain is with us for a few more days, but next week is supposed to be dry and sunny.  I’m going to get this thing finished… :)

 

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Lost in Chicken Coop World

May 7th, 2010

A recap of building the chicken coop this week.   It took a while to clean up the area and add soil and gravel for a base.

Little surprises always pop up that you don’t plan for.  I needed to cut and replace a rotted end piece of the old shed where I intended to join the new coop. 

Grading and setting the base and floor foundation was more than I planned or expected. After all, how much do ten chickens weigh?

But then I thought we might need to get inside, or it would help to stand on during construction, etc. So I used some leftover concrete blocks and broken pieces to serve as supports on a gravel base,  and spaced the floor joists for strength.

I needed to add an additional section of osb flooring, and the joining ends needed to be reinforced for strength, especially at the planned cleanout door to the coop.

Now the floor is really strong. 

 

Today I’m trying to finish the framing to get the roof on (with rain in the forecast), and maybe this weekend to put the sides on. I’ll probably use osb sheathing all the way around… and I’d love to use horizontal planks of some kind for finished siding. Matching the older shed siding would be too expensive, but maybe boards made from cedar or something would work?

Another trip to the lumber store… I was inside the store a few days ago and met a guy who was a carpenter. He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. He said, “What are you building anyway?” “Oh, it’s a chicken coop,” I reply. “Wow,” he says, “everybody is building a chicken coop!” So I guess chickens are the big thing these days…

The chickens are only five weeks old but really growing.

They are now living inside the old shed.  Which was painted with really cute designs for a granchild, and has a linoleum floor.  They seem to be enjoying themselves and are living in style I tell you.  But don’t get used to it chickies!  Besides, your new home will be nicer, with about twice as much inside room.    The things we do…



Chookie Home Near the Garden

May 2nd, 2010

In between the rain it’s time to catch up with everything, and everything is growing!   It’s amazing how fast the grass, vegetables and even the weeds can spring up with a good bit of spring rain.  But it’s that wonderful time when everything starts, and we dream of what the garden may become. The roses are blooming too- are they early?   I’m not sure, but in a month or so they will struggle under the assault of beetles, so it’s nice to enjoy their blooms now.

This is Blanc de Coubert, or the White Rose of York… actually one of the two of the famed Wars of the Roses. 

There are so many other flowers…   which is a good thing for the bees.  We’re now into the peak month of May for the spring nectar or “honeyflow” for the bees.  They will use that abundance of nectar and pollen to grow the hive and store honey, and I’ll layer extra supers or boxes to hold frames for them as they expand.    I’ve been amazed at the number of bumblebees around this year too, which is especially good for plants such as tomatoes and squash.

The garden is doing well- I got seeds and starts in the ground almost a month earlier than previous years, hooray!   It’s not very big compared to those of you who put up tons of vegetables for winter, but with luck and a good season it will produce a lot of fresh food and enough to carry us into the winter months with peas, beans, potatoes and tomatoes.    

The sugar peas are growing very well and love the cooler weather…   but the beans have made a slow start since I planted them early.

The bean plants are the “Bush” snap variety that will produce months of fresh and tender string-style beans.  I haven’t planted pole beans yet, but I do provide supports for these and it helps them. They cook up so nicely with butter and garlic, and freeze really well for storage after blanching.   Like the cucumbers however, the beans  didn’t take off in the cool weather, but now are coming along nicely.   I’ll plant some more beans in June and see how they take us through summer. 

I planted one good row and a separate patch of potatoes.   In this loamy corner I put in a good dozen red pontiac seed potatoes that I carried over in a brown bag from last year.  But don’t these potato tops look different?  Look at the two types of foliage in the picture:  One is shorter, with greener stems and smoother leaves.  The leaves in the background have shot up much taller with reddish stems and rough, crinkly leaves.  

They have looked that way for a couple weeks, but I thought came from the same potatoes, although they sure don’t look like it.  Maybe I mixed a different seed potato in there?

I planted a good dozen tomato plants of differing varieties, and a dozen pepper plants as well.   I’m really hoping the tomato plants do better than last year… we had some type of wilt fungus that held back growth and turned leaves spotted and yellow.   I changed their placement and will fertilize more this year and see how they do.  I’m always searching for that perfect variety, but honestly my tomato adventures are more like experiments each year.

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Speaking of experiments, it’s nearly time for our chickens to move outside.  Except they really have no where to go yet!  Look at these monsters… they’re growing like crazy.   They’re now four weeks old, and everytime I feed and water them they jump on my arms giving me a chicken stare that says, “Hey! We’re not house pets you know!”  

I know, I know…   I’m getting there.   I tell them its been really rainy and muddy out there, and just to be patient (I don’t just talk to the yellow lab anymore, now I’m talking to chickens).    And now I’m really in a mess, because two of them even have names.   Anyway, the white leghorn mix at top left is “Snowy” and the Barred Rock at top right is “Pepper.”   Have to wait for more feathers on the other ones…

So I’ve been busy gathering some lumber and other materials, and leveling a spot for their new coop.   We are challenged to find level ground closer to the house, so I finally realized that there was room near the garden if I built the coop off the side of a small garden shed.   We weren’t really using the space, and I just removed a couple of rose bushes while packing down a soil base.  It’s not far from the house really, and has the advantage of nearby water and electricity.

The little shed is a quarter century old, but standing up very strong.   I’ll build on to the east side of it, and the chickens will have both afternoon shade in the summer heat and a break from the prevalent western winds throughout the year.   So in between rain storms I’ve been “playing in the mud” for several days, and it was time to sink a couple posts for support.   At least the wet ground was easy to dig, and after setting a gravel base and pouring concrete, I used stakes to level and stabilize the posts while the cement dries.  

There’s not much more than dirt and two posts to see, but if you can imagine a slightly lower roofline extending from the left under the eave of the shed at a downward angle for about six+ feet, taking the shape of a coop with 5 foot tall sloping sides and an 8 foot end/front?  Overall it should make for a coop dimension of about 40 square feet. 

I can’t imagine having more than ten chickens right now, which gives them about the recommended four square feet of space per bird.    Not quite sure where to put the nest boxes either, e.g. inside versus hanging outside, but maybe I could cut a rectangular box extending into the little shed? Enough to fit four nest boxes?  Then you could walk inside the shed to get the eggs…   of course we need a new door on that shed.  It’s a tiny door at less than two feet wide by five and half feet tall…

Perhaps I’ll build the coop off the ground a foot or two, and then will extend a run of fifteen feet to the right.   I’m also trying to decide what to put down on top of the dirt for the chickens, if anything.  It’s just so muddy when wet, but eventually I could get some gravel for a base?  Mulch?   I don’t know, but the next few days are going to be filled with cutting, nailing and generally trying to put something together.  If you’ve got some tips to share, don’t be shy,  any ideas are welcome!

 

After setting the posts in concrete late yesterday, another series of storms rolled in overnight.   I like to mound the top of the concrete around the posts for drainage, so to prevent any damage from the rain I took two plastic garbage bags and set them over the posts, staking them with large nails like a tent.

In the picture below you can see the left side of the old garden shed, and behind the fence you can see the “little red barn” or new shed that is finally (mostly) finished.  It holds the beekeeping equipment and related tools and is a relief to keep things “high and dry” in their own place.  Should I paint the garden shed and chicken coop to match?

Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals and nature, looks over the garden.   He is set among plantings of salvia, blue fescue grass, lemon balm and even pumpkins, tomatoes and squash.   If the pumpkins do well, they’ll take over the patch…  I’d love to see that!  

Soon there may be chickens in the garden… well, near the garden is more like it, if I let them out of the run while supervised. I don’t want them tearing up the vegetables, but would like to see them chasing bugs and critters.

Otherwise, the remaining little dwarf Northstar sour cherry tree is coming along fine this year.   One of the two little cherry trees died over the winter, but this one is doing fine with few dozen cherries developing.   If it continues doing this well we might just have a basket of cherries in a few years. 

Everything takes time. I planted a little apple and pear orchard across the pond a few years ago, but the trees are still too small to produce anything. Years of growth, one after the other. I don’t know how long we’ll be here, but I’d love to look around in twenty years and see how things have changed…



The Bees Come Home Again… and Chickens Too!

April 20th, 2010

The last few days have fostered a hale and hearty outlook for getting things accomplished. That’s what happens when you bring home a bunch of critters to take care of.    Yesterday was a big day at Fox Haven though…  I put three packages of bees into their new homes!  After losing two hives over the winter, it just wasn’t the same around here without them.   I love going to the post office to get the bees.  I call ahead to let them know they’ll be arriving, but the postal workers are sooo thankful when you show up!

 You always want to inspect the bees and make sure they did okay in transit.  There’s a can of sugar water hanging in the middle, and the bees cluster around it to feed.   They’re also in a cluster so they can keep warm if it’s cool outside.  I was pleased to see there were few losses of bees enroute, and my packages all looked in great shape.   This is what is called a “3 pound package” of bees, because it literally holds about three pounds of them.  Most of the bee farms are pretty good about filling the package with extra bees in case of losses, but it’s estimated that there’s 10,000 to 12,000 bees in each package.   Sounds like a lot, but by mid-summer a strong hive should have 50,000 to 60,000 bees or more!

Getting the bees into the hive is quite simple:  You carefully take out the queen cage, and then the can of syrup that kept the bees fed while in transit.   Then quite literally you shake and dump the bees into the hive!  I wear my bee suit and veil for protection… but the bees are not aggressive typically when you are introducing them to the hive.  That and the fact that I have misted them with sugar water a bit calms them down…   as I empty the bees onto the frames, they eagerly climb all around the new hive.  Quite a few fly around and begin orienting themselves to the new hive location. 

As I take the packages apart, I pull out the queen cage and inspect it to make sure the queen is alive.   I keep my hive tool laid across the little opening where the queen cage was so the bees don’t start pouring out.  A closer look showed all my queens to be vigorous, running around the little space inside the cage.  The black shape you see inside the cage below is the queen’s abdomen.  I use russian hybrid queens, and they are much darker than the traditional italian bee queens.

 

The bees on the cage feed and attend to her, although since this is a new package- these bees and the queen were just put together for the first time prior to shipping a few days ago.  While in transit they are becoming familiar with her scent, and when I place the queen cage between the frames in the hive and close it up, they will continue to become used to the queen.  Eventually they will chew out the gooey white candy substance (to the left in the picture above) that blocks her escape from the cage, and let her out.  If all goes well, she should be laying eggs within the hive in a matter of days.   

I’ll come back in a few days to check and make sure… I just don’t want to disturb them while they settle in.   If for some reason I cannot find or see the queen, or some proof that she’s alive and well (like eggs in the cells), then I’ll probably order a new queen or two through the mail.  It’s a pretty cool process.

It was a perfect day here though- not too hot or cool, and very little wind.  The bees were up and flying around in no time!   I haven’t been alone this month in welcoming bees back home again.   Warren has a neat post with a video link showing how he installed a package into one of his hives last week, and Kim writes about their journey to a country bee farm to pick up a new package of bees to take home as well.  

Once you’ve had bees, it seems disquieting to be without them.   They are so full of energy and do wonders for the local garden and flowering plants and shrubs.  I really enjoy having them around.   I also found out last year that some of my family have a history of beekeeping going back over a hundred years.  I like continuing that tradition.   

It was nice to walk out early this morning, and watch the sun rise and shine on the hives.    This may be a “split year” here at Fox Haven where I divide these hives as the season progresses.  The good news is I may be able to double my bee population.  The bad news is I’ll have to wait until next year to get any honey from them.  Patience, patience…  The journey continues!

 

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Speaking of critters- I feel like I’m part of that nursery rhyme, except instead of five little ducks it’s,  “Ten Little Chickies Went Out One Day…”   They are chirping, eating, mess-making, running around little dudes!  Or dudettes…  For the first week I was up a couple times at night to check their brooder temperature and give them food and water.  Now they’re doing so well I tuck them in at night and they’re all bright-eyed and almost bushy-tailed in the morning waiting for breakfast.

“Okay… what did ‘ya bring me!?”

 

Inquisitive little things…  but at meal time they were very flighty and would nearly panick and run everywhere until just a couple days ago.    Now they seem to be getting used to the routine of “The Hand” entering their cage and changing the food and water.   They will even eat out of our hands, and a couple of them are so tame they jump on your arm right away.    The boy loves to take the barred rock pullets out and play with them- they are really calm.

I don’t have names for the eight girls and two roosters yet…  and you can’t really tell a lot of them apart aside from the white and black ones.   But their feathers are really coming in, and they are growing so big.  They’re only three weeks old! 

 No… I don’t have the coop built yet.  Or started…    Here they’re gathered around the feeder quite pleased with me.

So this week it’s time to get busy.  Or busier!   And the garden is really growing too, I’ve got take some more pictures…  Have  a good week!

Virga at Dawn

April 13th, 2010

The weather has been so nice the past week that it’s hard to keep up with all the changes. Everyday there’s something new around the property, or in the garden. I love walking around outside before the sun comes up, in that peaceful, subdued light of dawn.

Yesterday the air was perfectly calm, and as I walked outside I looked up to see the most beautiful clouds!  I believe these are Virga cloud formations, denoting the fall of moisture or ice crystals from the clouds, drifting downward slowly but evaporating before reaching the ground. I’ve seen it a few times before, but not at dawn as the sun rose.

I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first, but then realized that the precipitation was very slowly falling in the calm morning air.  It was neat to see… here’s a closer look:

As I turned around to look behind me, the same weather phenomenon was taking place from all around the area.   This cloud line was marked by small lines of moisture in a vertical fashion.    You just never know what you might see when you really take a good look.

Later in the day I saw a bird flash past the eave of the house and realized that the barn swallows have returned!  What a journey they make across two continents. They’re three days earlier than last year, and about a week later than the years previous. 

I went out to say hello :) and it was a solitary bird zooming all around the house.   Later in the day two more swallows had joined the first, chasing each other around as they decide who gets which of three nest sites on the house.    I enjoy watching them fly and really appreciate that they eat insects.

And this morning the little chickies moved to a bigger home.  The little cardboard box was getting too crowded for them, and they were hopping out while trying to explore a little more.   I was going to put together a bigger cardboard box, but then realized that the wire kennel I use for the labrador retriever would make a perfect brooder for these guys for a few more weeks.   I just taped a little carboard around the bottom half to keep their scratchings in.   

They’ve grown about twice their size of a week ago, and run around flapping wings and dive-bomging each other.   Even though they bash each other out of the way for food or water, they seem to get along pretty well so far.  I think there’s two roosters in the mix, but I won’t know for sure for a while yet. 

I keep them on a little glassed in porch area that is naturally heated by the sun during the day.  At night I’ve been using a 250 watt lamp a couple feet away.  Now they’re old enough where it’s not as critical to keep really warm all day and night, but I keep them out of drafts and the temperature from 75-85 degrees.   The new brooder cage has a rock for the birds and the waterer to sit on, and a little log for a mini-roost.  They still like to sleep snuggled up on the floor, and when it gets really warm they sprawl out in every direction.     I’ve got 2-4 weeks to get a coop built before they get really big!



Little Blessings in Spring

April 9th, 2010

I love morning in spring… everything is so cool and refreshing, and the sounds of the birds are amazing.   Life is scrambling everywhere it seems, and I feel that energy to start things that Iv’e been waiting for all winter.   The sun’s light quickly colors the landscape and the redbud trees are beautiful…

And there are other blessings too, or at least cute ones. Somehow I’ve always wanted to raise a few chickens. But I never said much about that, at least seriously. Then the boy comes along and tells me he wants to raise chickens. His mom not so much… but she at least thinks they’re cute, and likes looking at them- as long as I take care of them!   So I figure we’ll have a little project for a few years or more.   I’m not getting any younger- and the boy is growing older fast, so this is the perfect time.   I’m excited to introduce our new friends… a host of little chicks that will grow up to lay eggs.

So it seems I have another project to add to the list…. building a coop! They are doing well though, at about 2 1/2 weeks old. These little guys (girls!) are funny- they snuggle together to keep warm, and then chase each other all around when one of them appears to have something to eat that the others want.

There’s seven pullets and three from a “straight run” batch, or “pan fry special” where it’s a guess as to their sex. Overall for the hens I picked up three red sex-linked chicks which were cited as a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Delaware (or other white) hen, a New Hampshire Red, two Buff Orpingtons and a “rainbow pullet” which looks like a Leghorn. The other three are made up of two Barred Plymouth Rocks (which I think are hens…), and a black colored chick which is anyone’s guess. I’m hoping it’s a rooster, as it just had that feel to it. The two Barred Rocks could be roosters as well, but by the coloration my guess is that they’ll be hens.

Aside from taking care of them,  the biggest challenge may be to keep them safe from predators- including our dogs and cats to begin with. The little shiba dog sat nearly drooling as he watched the little chicks running about for exercise the other day. I’ll have to build a stout coop and run for them. But we’ve got foxes, coyotes, racoons, owls and hawks of all kinds around the area. I’m looking forward to watching them grow, and sometime next fall we should have some healthy eggs.

With effort and a little luck, the peeps should grow up to have a good, happy life.  Ah yes, we’ll see.   But I’m not quite ready to count my… well, you know.

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