September 23, 2010
I woke up this morning with a firm intent to take pictures of the girls and update the blog. It has been so long, and so much has happened, that I knew it would be a long entry. Little did I know.
Let me back up a few weeks.
As the girls grew, it was obvious, even though all the “number-of-hens-equals-X amount-of-space” formulas told us we had plenty of room for the four of them, a little more space was required. So, we opened up the area under the coop, giving them 16 sq. ft. of additional roaming room, and Mr. CV built a perch in the run, which they immediately loved.
Note, this pic was taken 8 weeks ago.
Much growing and developmental changes have gone on since then, with Joanie and Ginger developing their waddles and combs much faster than Hazel and Truffle, despite being the smaller of the birds. Their feathers have developed into a beautiful reddish brown, and they’ve caught up in size with Hazel. Miss Truffle is still quite a bit larger than the others.
July 16, 2010
Boy, that was fun. Not.
I began the day (yesterday) worrying about the chickens. The forecast was 102°F/38°C, with the heat index bringing it up to 105°F/40°C. It was clear by 9:30am that would be the case, as it was already 92°F/33°C. Little did I know that would be the easy part.
At 3:30pm I walked outside to check on the birds and was instantly hit with a smell that I was vaguely familiar with. It was a scent so unusual for these parts that it immediately caught my attention. Ozone. The moment the connection was made in my brain there was a flash of lightning, with thunder following a few seconds later. The sky was an odd shade of black and green, and as it moved closer I decided it would probably be a good idea to get into the house. So, I did, and went upstairs to watch the storm from my bedroom window. Beautiful, frightening, and odd. There was barely a breeze in our back yard, but, as I looked between two houses behind me and across the road about 200 yards, I could see the trees in the adjoining neighborhood whipping in a wind that we weren’t getting. Yet. Within twenty seconds the backyard was attacked. Rain blew horizontally and I could barely see out the window; it down-poured and blew for a good ten minutes.
Just as the lightning moved off and the rain slowed Mr. CV came home and we went out to assess the damage. The first and most obvious thing was Odysseus, the Fig, uprooted and laying flat on the ground. We couldn’t tell if the tap-root had snapped, but we immediately righted him, staked and tied, and prayed. I’m not holding out a lot of hope, as his leaves are droopy and curled this morning. I hope it’s only a bit of shock, but…..*cries*
Then, the corn crop: bent and twisted, most of it laying flat. We did what we could there. The rain cascaded off the roof and flattened the tomatoes. Ironic as heck, isn’t it? My best producing garden in years, thanks to a mild early summer, and then this. Ah, Mother Earth, you’re an unpredictable wench, aren’t you?
On a positive note, The Coop stood the test! Not that I ever expected it to blow over, considering the construction, but all stayed dry inside, and the girls were safe and sound. THANKFULLY, the temp dropped to 78F°/25°C in a matter of minutes, so they weren’t baking as they huddled, afraid of the storm.
More of the same kind of heat today. I’ve filled both of their waterers with ice-cubes, keeping it as cold as possible. A temporary roof has been put on the run, providing the girls with much required shade in the middle of the day, although they still prefer to stay under the ladder. Silly beasts.
I’ve been neglectful, obviously, but I’ll have pictures very soon. Cross my heart. :)
June 16, 2010
The chickens know!
Feathered and furred they come morning and night, seeking out my chicks. But, morning and night they are turned away, thanks to that wonderful invention called wire fencing. Let me back up a week…
The first night the girls slept in the coop I didn’t sleep. Not surprisingly, as I did the same thing the first night I brought them home. I worried…would they be too cold? Would they freak out at their unfamiliar surroundings? Were they getting enough air circulation? On and on it went, waking me up and keeping me awake too long.
Morning finally rolled around and I quickly went outside to check. They were all, of course, fine and dandy. I’m sure that Ginger cocked a brow at me (do chickens have eyebrows?), wondering at the worried look on my face. I opened up the hatch door to let them into the pen, but no one made a move to walk down the ladder. The four of them gathered around the opening and looked outside, studying the great outdoors from a safe place. Back into the house I went, making coffee and doing the usual morning stuff, with plans to check on them a little later.
About thirty minutes later, Mr. CV called from the kitchen. “Come here…you’ve got to see this!” I quickly made my way across the house, only to find that I had arrived too late. Seems that one of our neighborhood cats, Mr. Boots, had settled himself comfortably on the top of the pen, watching the chicks as they sat inside the doorway. To think that I had briefly considered not putting a top on the run. What fools these chicken virgins be!
That brings us to tonight, when Mr. Boots decided to make a reappearance. This time I was armed and ready. Apologies for the fuzziness of the first pics. They were taken through a window from quite a distance.
June 10, 2010
It’s been a whirlwind ten days, and apologies for not posting sooner, but life has been consumed by all things chicken! Silly girls.
Coop and run construction are complete. Painting and final touches as well. All was finally right in the chicken world yesterday morning, and it was finally moving day. As any of you who have done construction projects know, the axiom “double the time and cost” of your original estimates holds true. We expected the project to be done sooner, but in reality, considering Mr. CV’s current work schedule, we should have known that was pie-in-the-sky. As for costs, we weren’t too far off; definitely not double the original estimate, but closer to 30%. Still, a 60% savings over the coop kits that we found online. This of course is a Very Good Thing.
Moving day was fun. Mr. CV had left early for work, so it was up to me to move the girls from the garage to their new home. I started with Ginger, as she’s usually the easiest to catch. She immediately quieted down when we walked into the sunlight. Into the coop she went, and stood completely still as her head swiveled around to check things out. Not wanting to leave her alone for too long, I went back and gathered up Joanie. Joanie is a squawker, and the moment I picked her up she began to loudly protest, but again, the moment we walked into the bright sunlight she calmed down, immediately relaxing in my hands. Reunited with her sister the two reds went poking around.
Off for Hazel, who surprisingly came without a fuss, but the moment I added her to the coop all three girls seemed to panic at something, and hid, together, in one of the nesting boxes. Nothing I could do would coax them out, so off I went for Truffle.
Alone in the brooder box, Truffle was not a happy camper when I returned. Chirping loudly, she was looking for the others, unhappy that she had been left alone. The wiliest (and largest) of the birds, it took me a moment to catch her, but she settled quickly. Out to the coop we walked, only to find the other three still huddled, frightened, in a single nesting box. But, the moment I placed Truffle inside, the three of them came out and gathered around her, happy that Mom was there to protect them. Happy Days for all.
June 6, 2010
Quick update, as we’re finishing up everything coop-related today, and should have the girls in their new home by tonight. But, argh…
I think that Hazel might be a Henry. More tomorrow, along with pics as evidence.
June 1, 2010
Three Day Weekends are supposed to be relaxing, right? Of course not…at least not in this household. Truthfully, we had no choice but to finish the coop, as the chicks are most definitely needing larger quarters. In a bit of irony, it also turned out to be the hottest weekend of the year, so far.
May 28, 2010
As promised, albeit a couple of days late, pictures of the growing girls. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to photograph them in the brooder box as they grow, take up more space, and are far too comfortable with the camera, i.e. they, particularly Joanie, like to peck at it. Hopefully, by the end of next week they will be in their new digs, enjoying the sunshine.
May 25, 2010
Construction has begun on Coop deVille. The girls are growing so quickly that completion can’t come soon enough!
We woke up in the morning to rain, a very unusual happening for us this time of the year. It seemed as though it was going to pass quickly, or at least I had hoped it would, but no…by 10am we had down-pouring skies and hail, which is almost unheard of for us in late May. Thankfully it passed quickly, and the area where the coop is going to be placed has excellent drainage. It was construction ready by the time Mr. CV’s brother, his wife and son arrived. At this point things began to move fast, so…
May 19, 2010
Everyone seems to be doing much better after the initial, and hopefully only, round of antibiotics. They are all eating extremely well, especially little Ginger, and are growing in leaps and bounds. I swear, every morning I check on them they appear to have grown overnight, more feathers appear, and coloring changes. It’s amazing to watch.
Exciting news! On Sunday, Mr. CV’s brother delivered a truck-load of lumber and roofing material for the coop. I never thought I could get so excited over 2×4’s and plywood. This coming Sunday, Mr. CV’s other brother will come over for the day, providing added experience and expertise in building Coop d’ville. Huzzah!
Also, Mr CV has rigged this little setup, that allows me to raise the heat light a little higher each week. It’s a 6 week process to get the girls used to living with no heat light at all.
May 14, 2010
We have a sick chick, my friends, but hopefully I caught the problem in time. Two nights ago I noticed (we may be getting into the TMI area for some of you, but I know you are brave) that someone in the flock, prime suspect: Hazel, had diarrhea. This is not a good thing where chickens are concerned, so yesterday I high-tailed it to Kahoot’s, wrestled my new friend Lisa to the ground, and bombarded her with questions. Well, not quite. ;) Being the mother of some 20+ birds, she quickly calmed my fears. The problem could be caused by one of a dozen reasons, and at this point, when the chicks are so young, she recommended the easiest and best approach. Antibiotics. I was hoping to avoid using them at all, but I figure that we’re still a good 5-6 months away from egg production, so all the meds will have made their way out of the chickens by then. Consequently, Duramycin-10 is being added to their water, each day, at the rate of 3/4 tsp. per quart of fresh water. We’ll see how things are going in 5 days and then re-evaluate.
Now, for the fun stuff. Everyone is growing…of course! Even Miss Ginger is showing a lot of growth and Joanie has almost caught up to Hazel. Truffle is still the largest and still rules the roost, although, I’ve more than once seen little Ginger step in the middle of an altercation between two of the other birds. It’s a riot. “Alright, girls. I may be smaller than you, but my beak is sharp and I’m knee-high. Find yourselves a corner to cool off in.” She’s adorable.
All four girls have discovered their wings and have been practicing flying across the brooder. This morning when I went to check on them, I saw that Hazel had discovered the top of the waterer, perched like the Queen on her throne. It was then I knew it was time to put a roof on the box. Fortunately, Mr. CV had some 1″x1″ wire fencing in the shed, and with a few snips I fashioned a piece that fit perfectly over the brooder. Sorry girls…high flying will have to wait.