Thursday, December 30, 2010

The First Big Storm

Well, it's the end of December, and Colorado Springs is getting its first big storm.  It was gorgeous out yesterday and this morning, so we got as much done on the coop as we could.  We also made sure to winterize the small coop's temporary location.  We were able to attach the roof, stabilize the coop, staple hardware cloth over the entire top, and put in all the floor supports and framing for the coop's inner door.  It's actually starting to take shape!

Putting up the roof.
The hardware cloth on the roof to protect the girls from flying predators.

Some extra support.

Looking good!

Temporary location.  This picture was taken around 1:00 pm. 
This picture was taken at about 1:30 pm.

The girls had been out free-ranging all morning, but they didn't head to the coop when the snow started blowing in.  We had to run around like maniacs in the blowing snow to catch our three hens and put them into their warm coop.  The silly birds were hiding in a bush and were covered in snow already.  I brushed them off and released them into the warm hen-house with fresh pine shavings.  They'll have access to their run until nightfall.  I made sure to throw in some extra scratch to help them stay warm tonight.

The girls are nice and warm.
And here's one of the "chicks."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Construction Resumes

We finally resumed construction on the big coop.  The big block has been the foundation of the coop.  Turns out that the ground in Colorado is pretty solid near the end of December, so we had to improvise a little bit.  We'll add more tomorrow!

We attempted the method in the plan, but even an auger couldn't go more than a foot into the ground.

So we opted for railroad ties to set the coop on top of.

There it is!  Exactly where the little coop used to be.

The girls are checking the progress.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Security Breach

We had our first attempted break-in last night.  When I went down this morning to let the big girls out, I found a small hole that was dug down to the hardware cloth we had buried when putting in the coop.  I'm really glad we took the time to do that.  The girls are safe, and the hole is now filled in.

The big girls are doing great.  We are still getting a dozen eggs a week even though days are short.  The chicks are not really  chicks any more.  They are awkward adolescents.  They are doing well in the garage and have come to enjoy scratch.  They will be eight weeks old on Wednesday.  We will leave them in the garage in the dog crate until the new coop is ready.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chicks Stink

They really do, so we finally broke down and moved them into the garage and into a larger brooder.  They aren't ready to be outside yet, but they'll be fine in the garage.  They are in a giant dog crate and still have a heat lamp. They are five and a half weeks old now, and if it were warm out, they would be outside.  The dog crate gives them more space but still a secure area.  We added a few sticks so they can roost.  Within 30 minutes of setting it all up they were both perched closer to the heat lamp.  I'll be checking them frequently today to make sure they are warm enough.

Tilly is checking the progress of the new coop.  She's a good foreman.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Beginnings of the Coop

We began construction of our coop this week since we were off for Thanksgiving.  We are using The Garden Coop plans that are available online, but we are modifying by adding an extra section of enclosed coop so that it will readily accommodate 10 chickens with the suggested 6 square feet of run and 3 square feet of enclosed space per bird.  We have it all framed, but the next step is the hardest.  Now we get to dig.  We will need to dig to place the cinder blocks and then dig a foot deep trench all the way around to bury the hardware cloth and predator-proof the run.  We are going to try to get that taken care of tomorrow and Sunday.  No matter what, it needs to be done before the ground freezes.

Today was a very nice day in Colorado Springs, so we took our two buff orpington chicks outside for the very first time.  They are a little over four weeks old now, and they thoroughly enjoyed pecking at the dirt.  The field trip only lasted about five minutes before we returned them to their warm brooder inside.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Owen and the Hens

Here are a few pictures of the big girls.  They are getting braver.  Layla was willing to get within three feet of Owen and the scratch he was offering.  Tillie and Yadi still hang back though.  It'll be interesting to see who the boss is when the new chicks join the flock.

Owen really enjoys giving the hens their "special treats" after school everyday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three week old chicks...

Three week old chicks are incredibly entertaining.  Our girls are starting to love human attention and get very excited when we get near the brooder.  They jump right into our hands now, and they will take treats right from our hands.  They have had the opportunity to try crickets, meal worms, and grapes.  When we first dropped the crickets into the brooder, they freaked out.  They were terrified.  Their little chirps were of shear terror.  Eventually they figured out they could eat the little buggers, and the crickets disappeared within 15 minutes.  They were much more willing to try the worms the next day.  They took them right from our hands and chased each other around trying to steal the other's away.  Very entertaining.  Now they expect a special treat every time they see us.  We gave them a couple of grapes tonight.  They pecked at them a few times, but weren't nearly as interested in them as they are in the worms.

I haven't taken any more photos of the big girls.  The sun has just been setting too quickly the past few weeks.  They are able to get out of the coop for about an hour each night around dusk, but that's about it.  They look for me every evening after school and scurry out of the coop the second I open the door.  We plugged in the water heater over the weekend when we woke to frozen water.  I'm anxious to get the larger coop built.  I think they will be much happier in there.


Friday, November 12, 2010

16 Days Old

Our chicks are 16 days old now and growing feathers quickly.  I can't believe how fast they change.  They are eating their chick chow well and drinking plenty of water every day.  They are not nearly as hard to care of as I thought they would be.  We've been making it a point to pick them up and pet them for a while every evening and most mornings.  One of them really seems to enjoy this time, but the other isn't as comfortable with it.  They are very attached though.  When we take one out of the brooder, the other cries this pitiful chirp that clearly indicates concern.

We are going to start building our new coop this weekend.  See, we already have the three lovely ladies, but that little coop we bought from is no where near large enough for five hens.  Considering how fast these chicks are growing, I think we'd better get going on a new place to house them.  We have decided on building The Garden Coop along the back fence in our yard.  We are going to lengthen it by an extra section to make sure there is room for ten hens.  Ten is the Colorado Springs limit, so we figure we might as well have room for as many as we're allowed in case we ever decide to add on to our flock.  We plan to do most of the construction over Thanksgiving Break and move these girls in right around Christmas.

As for the other girls, they are doing very well.  We are still getting about a dozen eggs a week, which is excellent.  The eggs have started to get darker the past couple days, but I have no idea why.  They are beautiful, large brown eggs with thick orange yolks.  Yum!

All three big girls are becoming less skittish around us though they still want nothing to do with us.  Yadi has even started to come towards me when I bring down a treat for them.  She keeps her distance until I leave, but she has figured out that I mean something good is about to happen.  Basically, they no longer run in fear, but they are no where near letting us pet them.  I'll have to take some more pictures of the big girls this weekend.

Here are a few pictures I took tonight with my cell phone.  The quality isn't that great, but you can see how much they have grown.  The one facing the camera is Lola, and she is definitely the head chick.  Omelette is the other girl, and she is the one who enjoys being held.  

Our dog Cooper is very interested is these two new creatures living in her house.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

13 Days Old

Not quite two weeks old, but it is definitely time to put a lid on the brooder.  Owen and I were looking at the chicks this morning, and Omelette decided she wanted some attention.  She flew right up onto the side of the bucket.  A full 18 inches.  Lola was trying to do the same.  At least they seem to enjoy human company...