The chicks are growing so fast… they’re already breaking away from Mama! They are so small they fit right through the barnyard fencing.
You can see oh the little owlet chick that the wing feathers are starting to grow out already. The black chick seems to be a day or so behind, and this young, they are growing so fast that it’s obvious every day that the other three area ahead of it!
The chicks are world travelers these days, spending most of the day out with their mama in the barnyard. They are incredibly brave when it comes to surviving feeding time under the feed bucket, too, although they know to run for safe ground during the first few crazy minutes.
It’s so fun watching these guys grow… and bonus that we know we don’t have to muck out the guest bathroom when they’re done!
We’ve had a broody hen since mid-August, sitting on several fertile eggs (well, what we hoped were fertile, since we’ve never had Verence’s fertility verified). She’s been a somewhat haphazzard mom, once even spending an entire night sleeping in the wrong (empty!) nest box while her charges cooled off on their own next door. But, I’d read online that eggs can withstand that kind of treatment, so, we decided to let her sit out the full 21+ days, just in case. And now we’re so glad we did! Thursday night we went to put the ladies to bed, and mama hopped down to get some food and water for herself. Just then, Talina heard a peeping in the nest box! We looked in and, tada!
One adorable yellow fluffy chick, and another on it’s way out (upper left white egg)!
When I checked on them this morning, the sibling had made it’s way out – here they are eating out of my hand (after mama said it was okay, of course).
So. Freaking. Cute.
And there’s a third! This one is all black. I think this is not an Amaraucana like the other two are, but since mama hasn’t moved yet, we can’t be certain which egg it hatched from.
We have been hoping all year that one of our hens might get broody, so that we could try raising a small clutch of chicks ourselves (but without all the crazy feather-dust-in-the-bathroom that comes with hand-raising them). Typically, though, modern chickens do not get broody very often, because that has been bred out of them in an attempt to increase their egg productivity.
But! A week ago we got lucky, and one of our new chicks, who had only laid a few eggs so far (but they have been huge, double and triple yolkers, the poor girl), started sitting on the nest and looking broody . Then a day or two later, one of our Orpingtons starting sitting on the next constantly. Suddenly it was like an epidemic of fainting among high school girls – everybody wanted to go broody! Well, we don’t want THREE broody hens (we only have 3 nestboxes, for one thing), so we have to try to break two of the girls from their spell.
The solution to breaking broody hens is apparently a very uncomfortable spell in a wire cage. So, here we have Cheery and one of the four elephants, doing their unpleasant stint in a cage donated by my mother. They’re actually handling it pretty well – just a few more days to go and hopefully their chest feathers will grow back and they’ll go back to laying eggs soon!
And as for our little clutch of eggs? Well, apparently over time a few other hens were able to sneak their eggs into the nest, too, so instead of the 3 eggs we started with, our would-be mommy is sitting on 8 eggs!! It’s a mystery as to whether they are viable, though, since we don’t know for certain that she’s been consistant enough to have kept them warm at the crucial moments. But chickens hatch at 21 days, so, we have two weeks left before we might get to see some chicks! In the meantime, this orpington has her game face on.
We haven’t looked in on the girls in a while… they’re doing great, though. We had brunch last weekend and burned through three dozen eggs in one day, and thank goodness, too, because we were up to 5 dozen and I was beginning to worry that with me traveling, Talina might one day be buried under the cartons and never be found.
This weekend we gave the girls a treat and let them hang out inside the barn for a day, to do a little spring cleaning in the goat stalls.
The whole flock, hiding from a brief rainshower under the old horse shelter. They LOVE to dust bathe under here!
In fact, here’s a video of them, dust bathing in the sun:
It’s so amazing how much bigger our chicks are.. they’re as big as the Ameraucana hens by now, and still not yet mature enough to be laying eggs (although SOMEBODY has started sneaking white eggs into the mix, and we don’t think it’s one of the existing layers…??). Nature: still impressive even when you know how it works.
Summer is on her way! The seeds we planted on my birthday are starting to pop up in the garden… I can see the bits of green from inside the house!
Clockwise, that’s a Kabocha winter squash, snap peas, quinoa, and green beans.
We got almost everything we hoped to done last week, which was awesome. It’s hard to believe the goats have only been here 3 weeks! Since they arrived, we got the garden in, and finished the barn pasture.
Meanwhile, in chicken land, our little ladies are growing up! They’re 2+ months old now, and they’re nearly as big as our grown hens… remember when they were tiny and adorable? This is Luggage above at 2 months, and below at 2 weeks (she’s the one in the front left)
Talina’s friend Lindsey visited us this weekend, and we used the extra pair of arms to finish a task we’ve been needing to do: put up some protective netting over the chicken yard.
While our grown hens and our rooster are probably too big for anything but a bald eagle to carry off (and although we have seen them, they’re not a regular occurance around here – yet), our littlest chicks are at risk. We’d known this needed to happen, but when we lost little Agnes last week, we knew we’d put it off far too long.
We used some 8′ tall lightweight deer fencing, and stretched lengths of it across 90% of the yard – leaving a narrow stretch by the gate and the barn wall so that snow, rain, and tall human heads could get through without issue.
Nanny Ogg is thoroughly unimpressed with our efforts, and spent the time sitting the nest, instead.
After about a month of work, the rebuilt chicken coop in the barn is finally DONE!!! It has a new floor, new walls, a new door, new nest boxes, new roosts, patches in the chicken wire, and the coolest sliding hatch door ever:
Rich put his boating skills, and materials, to work and installed this sliding door, that works on a pulley system. We can open and close the door without going outside, or into the coop!
The little girls are learning how to roost on the new roosts Rich installed… all cozy and warm behind the new insulated walls.
The girls, all lined up and waiting for the door to be opened so they can go back inside.
And, bonus, the girls are getting bigger and braver, and I’ve been able to teach a few of them to climb up on me and visit (in return for some tasty mealworms, of course).
The weather has been absolutely miserable the last few days, and we haven’t felt all that motivated to go out and work on the farm much. In fact, if I do go out, mostly all I want to do is stand around watching chickens, it seems.. it’s so calming! We moved the chicks out of the bathroom and into their lovely new coop a week ago, and it’s fantastic! They all seem to be getting along just fine, and it’s great to only have to go one place to care for all of them.
Talina, feeding Shorty mealworms from her hand – we’ve got Nanny Ogg eating out of our hands, now, too. Those mealworms must be pretty tasty!
The whole flock, enjoying themselves in the yard during a brief moment of sunshine.
This Buff Brahma chick is taking the whole ‘dust bath’ concept to a new, muddy conclusion.
A photo of the girls, all 9 of them, the first moment they discovered that the door led to The Outside. Now they’re used to the concept and they love it!
We brought home baby chicks last week, but, because we don’t want to wait until fall to have our own eggs, we also picked 3 Ameraucana chickens, 2 years old, from craigslist. Megan’s sister Ana brought them down from Washington for us on Sunday.
Unfortunately, we weren’t 100% ready to have chickens inhabiting the new coop we’ve been working on. We bought a small coop from a classmate of Talina’s, and put that in the yard to the new, much larger chicken coop-in-progress. However, we didn’t have time to put a door on the gate before the chickens arrived! So, their first day in their new home they escaped a few times. The last time, we could only find the two lighter ladies, the darker colored chicken had completely gone missing!! We were very worried she’d been carried off by a hawk, but, this morning when I went out to check for eggs and food, I heard a chicken clucking in the barn! Turns out she’d been hiding in an old feed bin all night – not only that, she’d laid a lovely blue egg in there!
Our new, makeshift yard gate. Eventually, we’ll get a gate building expert here, but for now, it’s chicken wire stapled to a board.
All three ladies happily munching worms in their new yard.
Two blue eggs! Not bad for the first night!
The ladies seem to like hiding under their coop, so we’ll have to build them a bigger shelter. Now that we know we DIDN’T lose a hen to a hawk the first day, no sense letting it happen for real in the future.