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.

To the pics!!

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.

On to the pics!!

Growing and Growing…

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.

Growing Girls…

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…

…on to the piccies!!

Quick Update

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.

A Messy Subject

May 14, 2010

Peep, peep.

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.

Queen HazelQueen Hazel


 


Truffle, who is looking more and more hawk-like each day.

Yes indeed.  The Ameraucanas are sixteen days-old today and Ginger and Joanie are ten.  The size difference in those six days is quite obvious, as hopefully the photos will show.  Amazing little beasties they are!  But, before I go on, first things first.  Names!

Chick A, most seem to agree, has markings around her eyes that gives her the look of either a Bandit or a Raccoon.  I couldn’t have agreed more, until a couple of days ago.  As her feathers are coming in she changes day to day; she’s come to look more like a hawk. The mask around her eyes is lightening.  But, I’m not sure it’s wise to use the words chicken and hawk in the same sentence, for obvious reasons.  So, I decided to go with something less physically indentifying, and tried to think of something that made me happy.  A lot of ideas swirled through my little brain, most of which didn’t apply to chickens or girls.  So, in the end, I opted for a tasty treat.  Hazelnut truffles.  Chick A is now and forever Truffle, and Chick B is Hazel. The coloring is perfectly right, too.

Onto developmental tidbits.  Feathers are coming in fast and furious.  Truffle and Hazel have lost almost all of their newborn fluff and are developing beautiful feathers and thusly much larger wings.   With those, they have decided that it’s time to learn to fly, and yes, my friends, chickens do fly.  Not very high, mind you, but they definitely get themselves well off the ground, getting from one end of the brooder to the other with just a single flap of the wings.  Four feet!

Joanie, and especially Ginger, are still much smaller, and their personalities currently match their size.  Joanie doesn’t seem to be intimidated by anyone, confidently moving about, and Ginger is timid, always the first to hide when my hand dips into the box.  Interestingly, Ginger’s feathers are developing much faster than Joanie’s.  Maybe she’s putting all of her energy into those.  She’s definitely eating well enough!

As for intimidation, Truffle McBossypants is most definitely ruling the roost.  She’s the largest of all the birds and she somehow thinks that gives her the right to be in charge.  She is; makes no bones about it.  When she wants to eat or drink you better get out of the way, as wings flap or feet get pecked at, ordering the others to step back and wait in line.  Despite that, when she’s done and the others come to feast, she leaves them alone to eat in peace. She’s also displaying more “grown up” chicken habits now, scratching at the bedding and making cozy little depressions to lie in.  Hazel is not too far behind.  Joanie and Ginger follow, cozying up to keep warm.

Ginger is hiding under Hazel’s wing. You can just see her little beak, peeking out from underneath.


 

Ginger’s pretty wings are coming!


 

Everyone is getting along.


 

Up close and personal with Hazel’s feathers.

Red Letter Day

May 2, 2010

It’s been a busy weekend, full of gardening, chickening, cleaning (argh), and reading.

Friday was the day I had been waiting over a week for, as the Rhode Island Reds finally arrived at Kahoot’s. Nestled in with turkey and duck chicks were a couple of dozen pretty little girls to choose from. I looked for the most active in the group and quickly picked two. Interestingly, all of the chicks, only three days old, had already started to lose their fluff and show some feathers on their wing tips. The Ameraucanas hadn’t started until they were nine days old. Carefully placed in a small box, I brought them home to meet their roommates.

Was I surprised.

Adding the new girls to the brooder made me realize how much the still unnamed Ameraucanas had grown in the six days that we had them. They were at least twice as big, and I immediately worried that the reds were going to be bullied. Boy, was I wrong. Within a few short seconds of being set down, they charged across the box and stood in front of the older chicks, announcing their arrival. It was as if they were saying, “we may be small, but don’t think you’re going to push us around.” The Ameraucanas stood silent, stunned by these little upstarts.

I kept an eye on them for about 15 minutes, watching to be sure blood wouldn’t be shed, and when it was clear that all was well for the time being, I left them to their own devices. By evening, everyone was happily eating and drinking. But, there is no doubt that the reds are aggressive little girls, always pushing the larger chicks away from the food, wanting plenty of elbow, or should I say wing-room to munch.

The new girls were quickly named, even as I still struggle to come up with something for the Ameraucanas. “Ginger” was my first thought, which was quickly followed up by my friend, Maria’s suggestion of “Mary Ann,” but her husband quickly stepped in with “What about the redhead from ‘Mad Men?'” I couldn’t argue with that, as I adore the character of Joan. So, Ginger and Joanie they are.

Meet the feisty redheads…

What’s in a Name?

April 29, 2010

Visual Aide

On your left: Chick A. On the right: what the heck, we’ll call her Chick B.

I was certain on the ride home from Kahoot’s that the girls had named themselves. Chick A was loud and boisterous, poking her little beak and head out of the box I was carrying them in. Chick B didn’t make a sound. This was pretty much the way things went the first day they were in the brooder. Chick A was dubbed “Pokey,” as she seemed to have to have her nose in everything: food, water, pecking at the hay and the walls of the box. She peeped so loudly we could hear her in the house. Chick B, the slightly smaller of the two birds, seemed content to quietly eat and drink, then proceed to flop wherever she could. So, “Pokey” and “Floppy” it was, for about 24 hours. Then, it all changed.

It seemed as though Floppy had finally come out of her transitioning stupor and was wide awake by noon the next day. She decided to make up for lost time. It was quickly apparent that she was the alpha of the two birds, pushing Pokey aside for food, and literally herding her around the brooder. Dominance had been established. Floppy was no push-over. It will be interesting to see what happens when the two new chicks are introduced tomorrow.

So, the temporary names have been tossed out the window and discussions have begun. Suggestions have been given: Tandoori and Cacciatore; and a sweet, almost four year-old of my acquaintance, in England, has decided they are Ruth and Peggy. Decisions, decisions.

The First Arrivals

April 27, 2010

Welcome Home.

I can only guess at the stress of a new father whose wife has gone into premature labor, and the baby’s crib is only half-assembled when the new family arrives home. With all the equipment in bags, a sack of feed in the back of the car, and two little chicks tucked away in a small box, we arrived home to a cold brooder. The chicks were only 3 days-old and needed to be kept at a cozy 95° for the first two weeks. The day was cool. I was not happy.

Mr. CV got to work, setting up the light and laying the bedding in the box, filling the waterer and feeder. I found a small thermometer, coincidentally about the size and shape of an egg, and placed it in the box to check for hot and cold spots. The light was adjusted and secured, and the girls were placed in their new home. With a little direction and coaxing they were soon eating and drinking like champs. And lo, they managed to find the warmest spots and make themselves comfortable and cozy. So far, so good. Whew.

That was of course, until we went to bed. I had no trouble falling asleep, but an hour later I found myself awake and immediately worrying about the chicks. Were they alright? Had they knocked over their water? Had the light fallen into the brooder, crushing them or igniting the bedding? This went on all night, and each time I woke up I trudged downstairs, out the back door and into the garage. And, of course, each time I did so, the girls were perfectly happy either eating or sleeping. Let’s just say that the next day I was a tad slow and kicking myself for being ridiculously fretful.

Tomorrow: Personalities Plus