Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chicken Update Part Deux

Suffice it to say, the chickens are growing rather rapidly and can now eat their weight in chicken mash. I also need to change their water at least twice a day because they insist on pooping in it. They bring the concept of "water with floaties in it" to a whole new level.

Julia, once the cute, fluffy, yellow chick you think of on Easter and color in springtime coloring books is now the epitome of ugly. Her snowy dander is now being replaced by orange tinted feathers and if you didn't know what stage she was in, you might think someone ws plucking her feathers instead of new ones growing in. I'm 70% certain that she's my Buff Orphington, even though that's the chicken my middle daughter wanted. I'm pretty sure that Giraffe (middle daughter's chicken) is in fact, the Rhode Island Red.

Here is Giraffe. She actually has beautiful color and her feathers are gorgeous. I mean, if you can call a chicken in this tween stage gorgeous. It's all relative.

All the pictures I have of Blackie are out of focus. That's because she's nosy and wants to see what the camera is all about. Her feathers are coming in black and white..slightly reminiscent of houndstooth pattern. Poor Blackie seems to get picked on by the other chickens. She's a tiny bit slow, I think, and you know how chickens pick up on things like that. She also always has poop stuck to her butt, which I'm sure is why the other chickens cluck and cackle at her, wondering why the heck she can't poop with dignity like the rest of them. Needless to say, when I hold Blackie, I always have a towel.

May is the flock bitch. I'm sorry to say it, but she's clearly got Napoleon Syndrome, and she throws her weight around acting like she's the chicken in charge. She forces the other chickens out of the food and the water and then waddles her fat butt up to take their place. Blackie is usually the target of most of her scorn, but she's an equal opportunity bee-otch. I'm pretty sure you won't see her sleeping outside during the winter; she'll have the best roost in the chicken coop and she'll let everyone know it. All I have to say is that her eggs better be gorgeous. (They are supposed to be blue-green.)

Here are the girls going after the food I just put in their cage. Mind you, they have food in this thing 24 hours a day, and yet when they run low they squawk like they haven't been fed in years. A lot like my kids, come to think of it. I can't wait to put the chickens outside because it will be six less things-that-breathe complaining that they are hungry.

Yep. The girls still live in this pack n'play, which is now covered with a baby gate so they don't fly out. Much like taking their first baby steps, the tweens can now fly a bit and a couple of them have made it to the edge of the playpen. The last thing I need is to clean up chicken poop from flying chickens, so gated they have become. And here's a toast to not getting rid of all the baby paraphernalia!

 This, ladies and gentlemen, is the new door for my chicken coop! Isn't it beautiful? The open part will be covered with chicken wire eventually, and it hinges on the left so the door can open almost all the way around the wall. In theory, this should make it easy to clean the coop. That remains to be seen since the chickens aren't outside yet. But dang the coop is looking good!

Hubby installed the shelf a little differently than planned, but I like it even better. The shelf will stay where it is and the nesting boxes will be removable  for easy cleaning. Under the nesting boxes Hubby cut a chicken door that will lead to their outside back porch. We'll be able to open and close this door from the outside.

Here's what the door looks like on the outside. Once cover this area with chicken wire, the girls will have access to outdoor air and sunshine during the fall, spring, and summer. During the winter I think they'll want to avoid the snow.

This is the new sliding door that closes in the coop and the storage. The other door was rotted and warped. Hopefully this new door will also keep out the predators looking for a nice chicken dinner.

Here is the old door. Pretty sorry looking isn't it?


Ellen said...

So, is the coop a shed or a part of a garage? I am curious because we are going to do chickies part dos also (now that our first ones were eaten by a raccoon). We are revamping our coop and trying some new strategies for keeping out the predators.

Ellen said...

Also, we had a chick named Blackie and two Buff Orpingtons who were named Buff and Ping. Sad to thing about them now that they are gone. Sniff, sniff.

Tara said...

I'm so jealous. Can't even get Mr. R to agree to a dog.

Rachel said...

The coop is under our playhouse in the backyard, so it already was a pretty good enclosure. My hubby sealed all the cracks with spray foam, boarded up the inside walls and ceiling with plywood, and then made a door inside the door, as it were, to help keep out predators. If they make it in the big sliding door, hopefully they won't be able to get inside the chicken coop door as well. We've yet to enclose the sunporch with chicken wire, but this area will need to be safeguarded as well since it will be exposed to the outside and we can't see it from our house. We have owls that live right next door, as well as fisher cats, and coyotes (I think, but i've never seen them) so I'm also trying to prevent poultry deaths. My favorite (and only) resource is The Joy of Keeping Chickens, by Jennifer Megyesi. She has a section on predators and how each different one kills chickens so you can determine what animal you need to be wary of. Let me know how it goes!