I've wanted some chickens to keep me company ever since my SO took me to Key West Florida and I witnessed chickens living happily in outdoor garden cafes and alley ways. We even ate at a restaurant where the resident chickens scratched at the dirt at our feet and strutted and cackled merrily among the tree canopied yard. Such a rustic setting, so beautiful and natural. I loved every minute we shared with these endearing creatures. I envisioned a backyard setting like this at home... one day..... We also have a litter box trained house rabbit named Fluffy Bunny. She will be 4 years old Jan09, and is a Albino Angora-Lop. The chickens are my backyard pets!
Here is an update of my life beginning with backyard chicks:
April 2008:I bought the 3 smaller chicks at $2 a piece (Dodge City)! The BA Roo was 2 weeks old and from a straight run. I took my chances hoping for a hen and paid $4 bucks for what has turned out to be a Roo. It's ok... he sure is sweet! Their Chick Brooder setup was setup in a Morgan shed using a lined black wire dog kennel which sat on a table so that I could interact with the chicks
May 2008:They are currently residing in an adapted raised rabbit hutch inside a Game Arena (childs outdoor play area 6x12 netting that is good for keeping mosquitoes and hawks from entering). Both were FREE and given to me. My yard is fenced and the only preditory critters I'm concerned with are hawks and owls. The chickens have learned to put themselves up at night to roost and can climb down on their own in the am. I ordered a dog bowl that is refilled from a hose automatically and hung gravity fed dry food bins (meant for rabbits). Since this system is in place I now only HAVE to check on them one time a day, but when I'm home I go out and sit with them in their run for awhile. I like to hand feed them and try to handle and pet them so they will learn to enjoy the attention from humans. They sure know who I am and come running when I go outside, expecting some treats. They are a lot of fun to watch!
May 27th 2008:Lola was killed by a neighbors feral cat. I was devastated. After witnessing the carnage and realize I had heard some noises that I later realized was the attack. Now when I hear that I run out side and have to chase off the same cat who is stalking my chickens.
Sept 1-7: Survived Hurricane Gustav & Ike. The chickens were housed in their old Brooder still set up in the Morgan shed, thank goodness because the winds blew the coop AND the hen house over backwards!!! I needed help putting it back upright and things were all askew but took the time and got it back together soundly. Only change in the brooder was swapping out a 1.5" perch with a 2x4. They did really well and was kinda happy that (though I want 2 more) we only had 3 to house in the brooder. It was kinda cute to see them revisit their old stomping grounds. I staked the run before Ike and it did the trick, though the chickens went back to the brooder.
The first egg was layed by Maybelline the green legged EE (Ameraucana from Ideal). Next day got 2 eggs! A 2nd light celadon egg from Maybelline, and a darker celadon green egg layed by Matilda who has slate colored legs. The golf ball additions must have helped! And now they have a 2nd MOVEABLE 4Wx6Dx3H enclosed run so the chickens can eat more greens and bugs then they have available in their main run. I'm surprised that only after 3 days (3-4 hours each) in the movable run, they've eaten most of the greens (all weeds) and trampled the rest! I'll be moving it tomorrow.
Well, I got bit by the hatching bug even after I really tried to avoid those pages! I knew eventually I'd have to try out hatching some of the eggs by these sweet beloved birds, and I kept hoping that one of my EE hens would become BROODY on her own. After several misinterpretations (my hen was just laying.. not broody) I found myself on the site reading about HomeMade Incubators.
Several weeks past, and lots of reading and I found a $4 electric skillet (3 peices) and began my foray into incubation on Nov 1, 2008
This is another educational site I've been enjoying learning from and it has lots of illustrations of chick embryo development to plans for all size incubators.
and I love looking at this chart:
IMPORTANT EVENTS IN EMBRYONIC DEVELOPMENT
(From A. L. Romanoff - Cornell Rural School Leaflet, September 1939.)
BEFORE EGG LAYING
Division and growth of living cells
Segregation of cells into groups of special function
BETWEEN LAYING AND INCUBATION
No growth; stage of inactive embryonic life
16 hours - First sign of resemblance to a chick embryo
18 hours - Appearance of alimentary tract
20 hours - Appearance of vertebral column
21 hours - Beginning of formation of nervous system
22 hours - Beginning of formation of head
23 hours - Appearance of blood islands - vitelline circulation
24 hours - Beginning of formation of eye
23 hours - Beginning of formation of heart
35 hours - Beginning of formation of ear
42 hours - Heart begins to beat
50 hours - Beginning of formation of amnion
60 hours - Beginning of formation of nose
62 hours - Beginning of formation of legs
64 hours - Beginning of formation of wings
70 hours - Beginning of formation of allantois
Beginning of formation of tongue
Beginning of formation of reproductive organs and differentiation of sex
Beginning of formation of beak and eggtooth
Beginning of formation of feathers
Beginning of hardening of beak
Appearance of scales and claws
Embryo turns its head toward the blunt end of egg
Scales, claws, and beak becoming firm and horny
Beak turns toward air cell
Yolk sac begins to enter body cavity
Yolk sac completely drawn into body cavity; embryo occupies practically all the space within the egg except the air cell
Hatching of chick
DE Info link to another members page