Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “chicks”

Chickie-booms

Quick chicken update.

We (and by that I mean mostly my Husband of Awesomeness) fenced in the garden and a bigger, lusher chicken yard this spring.  They have a huge (you know, for a chicken) space to graze. And they do–with an intensity that is both mind-boggling and addictive to watch. It is strangely satisfying (and ridiculously easy) to make chickens happy.

Husband of Awesomeness, aka Fence Builder.

One of the Buff Orpies.

Doing their thing in the freshly tilled earth.

A very gentlemanly rooster.

Curious chicken. Or maybe she was helping to pick out seeds.

And then this one had to have a say.

No, they’re not dead. They take dust baths, then they take dust naps.

Hunkering down.

CHICKS!!!

They grow fast. And they’re a completely different colour and pattern than the hen or the rooser. See them in the back?

A blurry close-up–they are very skittish and won’t let me get close. Mama hen was protective in a way I didn’t care to test, lol.

Chickens eating lemon balm = happy (and very relaxed) chickens. :D

Sad news. One of the Buff Orpies disappeared. We are guessing a hawk. There is a pair of red-shouldered hawks that live in the woods behind the lake. Sad that she is gone, also know that it’s just how it goes on a farm. The pen attached to the chicken house is completely covered, but the only way to let them have the joy of the open pasture is to leave them somewhat vulnerable. Sigh. It’s a trade-off, but one that is worth it for the health of the flock, I think.

That’s all my chicken news for now. Next plan–building a chicken swing. Not even kidding. :D

Advertisements

They grow up so fast.

Chicken update!

The chicks moved into their side of the big chicken house & coop several weeks ago, and they love it. They spend their days outside scratching and pecking and taking dust baths, and then like good little chickens, they go inside at night to sleep. It’s amazing to see how much they’ve grown over such a short time.  They are pretty fully feathered out and look like miniature hens. This week, the skin around their eyes and beaks has started to redden, and I imagine any time their combs will, too.  They are all, save one, very tame and happy to be hand-fed treats—although now that they’re getting bigger, it’s not so cute to get pecked too enthusiastically with those beaks. I wonder sometimes if I’m raising crows–these chicks love to peck at anything shiny–my wedding ring, the buttons on my pants, my shiny rubber boots.

We’ve only had one bit of chickie unhappiness this whole time. Several weeks ago, one of the Buff Orpies had an eye infection. One eye got all swollen and unhappy, but she showed no other symptoms. I treated her with a product called Vet Rx, which is a base with several essential oils in it, including the powerful antibiotic oregano oil. After a week, the infection seemed to come to a head, like a solid ball, under the nictitating membrane. And then, the next morning, it was gone. She scratched at it frequently, and I think it must have popped out. Her eyelid was a little wrinkly, but other than that, nothing. Within a few days, it was completely healed. Now I can’t tell which one she was. I’d name the Orpies, but they all look the same. I’m hoping that once their combs start filling out, they’ll be easier to tell apart.

 

One of the Delawares, Rouser, is a wild, wild thing and wants nothing to do with me. She is not like the other ladies who come running and clucking when I call them. “Hey, Chickabooms!” That’s how I call them. Nope. She runs as far from me as she can. Here she is giving me the crazy-eye. She’s always giving me the crazy-eye. It’s the only kind of eye she’s got.

Her “sister”, Rabble, is just obnoxious and rowdy. She doesn’t like me either, but she likes the treats, so she gives me the eye while she eats from my hand. Lol.

She’s fast, and the others have to work hard to get any treats before she hogs them all. They like all kinds of food. Favorites are dandelion greens, tomatoes, lemon balm, and grapes. Especially grapes.

Rabble is all business when it comes to grapes. She is not messing around. She demands ALL THE GRAPES.

Life with chickens. I like it.

Chicken Fever

So, um… this might have happened today:

Two new chicks. What can I say? I had to stop for more chick feed, and there they were. Calling to me. Peep, peep, peep. My mom wanted leghorns, but they didn’t have any. In fact, they were almost out of chicks entirely (but they had a ton of ducklings and goslings—don’t even get me started on ducklings and goslings—you cannot even begin to know the strength of my restraint from that absolute cuteness), but they did have some Delawares. And wouldn’t you know it, but Delawares are on my list of chickens that I’d like to raise (along with Australorps, Buckeyes, Dominiques, Javas, and Sussex). How perfect!

They are only about 2.5 weeks old, but the guy who heads up the poultry section assured me that there would be no problem introducing the new chicks with the older Buff Orpingtons, and indeed, they get along just fine.  These two are actually very self-assured, curious, and not intimidated by the bigger chicks at all (not that the other chicks are that much bigger). And they are so pretty.

But you know what I’ve learned about chicks? They are super messy. Like, messy on steroids. I cleaned out their brooder pen and put everything in fresh—new bedding, new water, new food, new dish of dirt, and then I put all the chicks in. 5 minutes later (and not a minute more), their pen looked like this. So imagine what it looks like now. For realz.

Yes, that is a Buff Orpington on top of the feed jar.

Speaking of cleaning and chickens. I spring cleaned the big chicken house yesterday and today:

All the old bedding (and chicken poo) went out into the compost pile (which is now mighty), everything was scrubbed down with vinegar/water with a little dash of lemon essential oil, and then aired out.  Two words to make your chicken house cleaning way better: hinged roost. Brilliant idea (thanks, dad!) Lift that baby up, lock it in place, and the worst part of the coop is completely accessible and clean in no time. Today, I sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the floor and in the nesting boxes, spread fresh new bedding, and added some lovely rosemary and lavendar to the nesting boxes.  Because apparently chickens love herbs. And that makes me love them even more.

I think the chickens approve of their clean house.

Actually, it was like an episode of Clean House, lol. I locked the chickens out in their yard while I worked, and so the whole deal was a surprise for them. It was fun watching them during the ‘great reveal’. They were all about exploring their new digs.

This was a big job. I don’t know that I would have been so excited about it, except that by chance I found a website 3 days ago that totally fired me up, and I feel the need to tell the whole world about my favoritest new chicken blog ever in the history of the history: Fresh Eggs Daily. Lisa has created such a lovely and wonderful site that teaches how to raise chickens and ducks naturally. I love, love, love this line-up of posts on what she calls ‘The Basics‘, which was the fuel and inspiration behind my chicken house clean-up supplies—the DE, and the herbs, as well as the minced garlic, dirt for grit, probiotics, and raw apple cider vinegar in the water. So much good information. I’m implementing all the things and already see happier chicks and chickens. In addition to the chicken and duck guides, Lisa writes about other favoritest topics: gardening and herbalism. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, Fresh Eggs Daily.

Chickens FTW!

 

 

Peeps and Peepers

The chicks are growing fast and feathering out more and more each day.  They are approximately 3 1/2-4 weeks old now and have a scruffly, rumpled appearance that is pretty darn cute.  It’s been a long, long, long time since I helped raise chicks, so I’m not sure if chicken temperaments differ greatly among breeds at this age or not.  These little Buff Orpingtons are chatty, curious, brave, funny, and friendly.

I love them.

This week in chick raising required some housing changes. We had a waterer malfunction, which soaked their big cardboard box.  So, both a different waterer and a different house were needed.  Also, these chickies are turning out to be surprisingly adept at catching a few feet of air when they want to—which is anytime they’re not sleeping or eating. I guess it’s not unlike a baby reaching its milestones—crawling, sitting up, walking—at some point, chicks want to fly and they want to perch. I discovered that they had acquired this new skill when I walked into the front porch and found one perched on the top edge of the box, which at 18 inches tall, I thought was high enough to keep them in. Wrong.

So, my dad and I brainstormed and decided that our large wire mesh dog crate would be just the right solution.  It’s roomy, which will allow for a few more weeks’ growth; it’s completely enclosed with strong narrowly spaced wire which will keep them in safely; it has a slide out tray bottom which is easy to clean; it is easy to safely affix their heat lamp and perch in; and best of all it repurposed an item that wasn’t being used.  Free is good.  Also, after reading some ideas for bedding, I switched from leaves/straw to old towels.  While they don’t get to have as much fun scratching, the towels are absorbent and easy to change and wash frequently to keep their enclosure clean, which is important not only for their health, but for ours since they are in the house.  The towels also are textured enough to give them some grip, which is important so they don’t develop spraddle leg, which can happen if their bedding is too slick.

In addition to their feeder, they have a little treat container where I put fresh greens, fruit, and the occasional bug or worm in.  They go NUTS over their treats. It is a riot. They also have no hesitation about eating out of my hand or perching on my arm.  In fact, if I talk to them or put my hand in the cage, they run up to me (presumably because I’m the treat dispenser).  I pretend it’s because they love me back.

Chicks need to be protected from drafts and also from small chihuahuas named Teddy, so I wrapped/taped some cardboard boxes around the cage.  It just so happened that the boxes I had on hand were Milk-Bone boxes.  So the chicks get to stare at dogs all day anyway, lol.  They don’t seem to mind.

One of the dilemmas I faced with my chicks was whether or not to feed them medicated feed to prevent coccidiosis.  After reading a lot about this, and all of the semi-contradictory information about what to do, I decided that I would do the medicated feed this time around while I get comfortable with chicken issues.  My hope for the future, however, is to only use medications on an as-need basis.  Next up: getting the big coop ready for chicks. Oh, and we dug the incubator out of the barn for kicks… I’m on the fence about using it, though.  I figure, why bother trying to do a job that a broody hen will not only do happily, but better than I could ever do?  We’ll see.

So, that was the peeps.  And here are the peepers.  And pickerels and leopard frogs and toads.  Now you, too, can enjoy the sound of the Ozarks in spring! I took this film real quick on my way out to put up the sheep for the night. I love the sound. Love it, love it, love it.  And so I want to share it with you.

Be well.

Vernally Obliged

Happy day after the vernal equinox!  Here are some perky and punctual jonquidils that opened up just yesterday.  Even though the world still seems half asleep, everything is stirring.  The sap is rising, metaphorically, and circulating literally. I feel this in me, too. A few weeks ago, I was compelled to visit my favorite local herbal shop for some spring tonics. I’ve been drinking blood cleansing teas made of nettle and burdock, red clover and violet leaf.  I am craving all green things, to eat all the green. I often eat according to what colours I’m hungry for.  It’s a fun and pretty darn informative way to get intuitive feedback on what one’s body needs. Just listen. It will tell you. This year is all about listening.

Usually, I notice spring first with the change in the angle of the sun and the restlessness of the breeze. This year, though, spring has rung in with sound.  The frogs are out in mighty chorus—the spring peepers, pickerels, and southern leopard frogs—announcing that spring has arrived. The toads will be next, and then later the bullfrogs will add their baritone to the summer sound.  A pair of barred owls have been conversing like love struck teenagers every night for the last week.  Wild ducks have been visiting the lake, and just today, we saw a blue heron circling above.  And what else has come to roost at the farm this spring?

Chicks!

Meet the 4 Buff Orpingtons. Question. What do you do when you spend several years dreaming about raising chickens and reading books on raising chickens and deciding that the perfect chickens to raise would be Buff Orpingtons, and then one day you go into the local farm store for some Sav-a Lam and see that they’re stocked with all manner of poultry and waterfowl—which you are, of course, obligated to peruse—and amongst the countless pens of countless Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds and sex-linked this and thats, lo and behold there are four lone Buff Orpington chicks tucked in a tub in the corner?  This is not a trick question.  Clearly I was meant to take them home.  The end.

I will go back for some Leghorns.  Lol.  In a week or two, they will go live in the chicken house with the rest of the flock, but for now they are in their cozy box in the front porch where I can listen to them peeping as I work on various projects. What else? Gardeny goodness. I planted a millionty seeds and am curious to see how they fare starting indoors.  I will bore no one with photos of a table full of little cups of dirt. Garden plans are being tilled in the fertile fields of my mind. These plans involve raised beds, fencing, and part-time garden-wandering chickens… If I’d been here in time, I would have prepped the garden in the fall. As it is, I am very late and will have to make do with what I can get done in the next month. No need to feel bad about it though—something will grow.

The sheep are enjoying the first nibbles of spring grass.  Here you can see a very chubbeh Phillip in the forefront. He is such a pet.

We are very seriously considering adding a couple wool sheep to the farm to try out. (By which I mean for me to play with their wool). I’m looking at Clun Forest, Romney, and Cheviots, but am listening to any and all advice from those with wool sheep raising experience.  A shepherd/spinner friend has also recommended Montadales and Coopworths.  I am unfamiliar with both.  So far, I am most interested in the Cluns as a hardy dual purpose sheep, but have never seen or felt Clun wool.  Anyone?

Finally, Ronin is a happy farm dog.

Be well and listen hard.

Post Navigation