Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Chickens

Winter was rough on our hens this year.  The molt lasted about two full months.  If it weren't for our young EE's, we would have had to buy eggs from the grocery store!  (The horror!)  They started to lay again right around the new year.  There were feathers everywhere.  

After the molt, we had about two months of harmony.  Then disaster hit our poor girls.  We had our first even casualty.  The girls were free ranging in the backyard in late February when a fox attacked.  He got our poor Omellette.  We were heartbroken.  Omellette and Maple were are favorite two hens.  Omellette would come to us for treats and even let us pet her and pick her up.  She was by far the most tame of our little flock.  We miss her dearly, and explaining her death to our three year old was rough.  He still asks about her.

Now that Omellette is gone, and the three originals are just about done laying, we have decided to replenish our stock.  We got six new chicks from Big R a few weeks back.  We have no idea what breeds they are, but here is a picture from their first day home.  I estimate they were hatched on March 20.

And here they are at about a week old.

They are still in the brooder in the garage for now, but we had a few days of very warm weather, so we brought the chicks out to play.  They are starting to enter their "dinosaur phase" now and aren't very cute anymore.  They get so awkward for a few weeks.  We'll leave them in the garage under the heat lamp until they are fully feathered, then they will transition to the small coop until they are big enough to go into the big coop with the older ladies.

I think the two black ones are going to be Plymouth Rocks, but I'm at a loss as to what the other four will be.  Hatchery choice, you know.  As always, it's an adventure!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Great Molt of 2011

We currently have eight hens.  Five have been laying well for a long while and three are our new Easter Eggers that are right on the cusp of laying eggs.  One of the "babies" started laying this week, and the other two should start any day now.  The other five hens have not laid a single eggs in over a week.  They are ALL molting right now!  There are feathers everywhere, and we are only getting one tiny blue egg a day. 

Chickens molt about once a year.  They lose a majority of their feathers and replace them with fresh feathers.  It is not a pretty process.  Our five hens look rather ratty right now.  Here are a few pictures we took today.

Our beautiful Maple.  She looks awful right now.
Poor girls

Even their necks look bad.

Layla.  She one of our originals.


Mavis (named by our two-year-old) and Hedwig.

Our (Hideous) Backyard Hens

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Clean Coop

It's needed it for a few weeks now, but who wants to clean out a chicken coop when it's 95˚ outside?  The weather was a little cooler today with cloud coverage and some sprinkles of rain, so we decided to go for it.  We shoveled out the run as well as the hen house.  It's the first time I've done the hen house because we use the deep litter method in there.  Honestly, even in the heat we've been having, the smell was not coming from the hen house.  The run was gross.  We bought fresh pine shavings for the hen house and a bale of fresh straw for the run.  I tried letting them have just dirt in the run, but that started to stink very quickly.  Having a bedding of some kind really keeps the oder down, and it give them something to do.

The chicks are all living at my parents' house right now because we had gone away for a few weeks on vacation.  They are almost ready to be integrated into the rest of our flock now.  They have a nice set up with my parents.  My dad built them a nice run in addition to the run that goes with the coop.  They have more space there than they would in our little coop.  When they are ready to hold their own with the big girls, we will bring our three of the six back home.  They are about 11 weeks old now.  We'll give them a few more weeks before making the change.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Naming Chickens

Out of our six EE chicks, we are only keeping three.  The other three will be going to my parents' house.  We aren't sure which three we are going to keep, so we haven't given them names yet.  Except for this girl. I'm a Harry Potter fan, so I could not resist naming this one Hedwig after Harry's owl.  She's one that we are for sure keeping as I have grown rather attached to her.  I'm pretty sure I'll name the other two we get to keep after Harry Potter characters as well.

Here's an excellent shot I got of Omelette while she was in the nesting box.  She is still by far our friendliest hen.  Not a lap bird by any means, but she always comes running when we come outside.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Four Weeks Old and Moving Out

About two weeks ago, we moved the six chicks out of the bath tub and into the dog crate in the garage.  They did okay in there, but it was clear they were going to need more room soon.  About a week ago, I started turning off the heat lamp during the day but still leaving it on at night.  We've been waiting for the night time temperatures to stay above 50 every night and for the babes to feather out more.  They are four weeks old now, and we moved them to the small outside coop today.  I'm a little nervous that they will be cold tonight, but they have each other, and I closed them in the house part of the coop.  The books say they'll be okay, but I'm still a nervous momma.

I think I'm starting to take this chicken thing a bit too far...

They grow SO fast!

Omelette was very interested in the new additions.

They loved the dirt box I put in the corner.
There were lots of ants in the dirt, and they went crazy for them!
It amazes me how naturally they start normal chicken activities.  Upon moving them outside, they immediately started scratching in the dirt and snapping up the ants and other bugs around.  They were playing on the ramp and going in and out of the hen house.  They are so much fun to watch!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

One Week Later

The chicks have been with us for a week now, and they are growing like crazy.  This batch has been substantially less work than our first two.  I think it's because we bought a more stable waterer and they have lots more space to roam around.  We are also just using an old towel in the tub instead of pine shavings.  That way the shavings don't get kicked EVERYWHERE.  It was a constant battle last time keeping the shaving out of the waterer and the food, but not anymore.  We really only have to check them and freshen their water twice a day.  We check before we leave for work and when we get home from work.  I check them once again right before bed, but I don't have to do anything for them.  It's just a visual check.

We've stared handling them on a daily basis to get them used to human interaction.  None of them are too fond of the "giant hands from above" right now, but that will start to change when we can start giving them treats in the next couple weeks.  They will move outside in about a month into the small coop.  Then they will have ground to scratch and a roost to perch on.  They are still too young for those things now.

Here are some pictures taken today.

In the box while I cleaned their brooder and put in a fresh towel.

The blonde one.

Getting held while I cleaned the brooder.

More chicks.

Our pup Cooper is very interested in the babies.

Back in the brooder (our bathtub).

The older hens are doing great too.  We are getting at least three eggs a day, but we usually get four or five.  Maple and Omelette are still laying smallish eggs, but they are perfect in every way.  Yadi still looks scraggly, but the other two "old ladies" are still beautiful.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

We're at it again...

From the beginning I have wanted Easter Eggers because of the pretty blue/green eggs they lay.  They just seem so fun.  So, since we canceled our big order, I got onto Craig's List to see if anyone had any EE chicks near by.  I found a couple in Pueblo who had ordered more than they wanted, so we decided to get three for us and three for my parents.  We will be raising all six until they are ready to move outside.  We picked them up today, and they are stinking adorable.  Here are pictures from our journey.

We decided to use our downstairs bathtub as the brooder for this go around.  We'll see how it goes.

All ready for the drive to get the new baby chicks!

Inside this box, there is cuteness.

Six Chicks!

They are all so different.

Another adorable chick.

Close up!

They don't stand still for long.

It's hard to believe they are all the same breed.

This is the only image I've taken since we got home.  They all found the food and water  right away.   Then they cuddled up under the heat lamp to warm up from their journey.

I am sure there will be many more posts to come now that we have adorable baby chicks again.  They were hatched on Monday, so that makes these babies five days old with a birthday of 5/9/11.  I'm already excited to see the rainbow of eggs we'll get from these beautiful birds.  They seem to be comfortable in their new home, but I'm going to give them some time to relax before I torture them with a photo shoot.