2007, 2008, 2009
Daydreams of chickens waddling around behind me in the garden, eating grubs and turning them into delicious eggs. Also, eating the scorpion problem around here.
After talking about wanting chickens for a few years, my handy friends chipped in and built me a coop for my birthday. It seems I am now committed . Good thing!
First flock selections have been made:
3 Buff Orpington pullets and 1 rooster
3 New Hampshire Red pullets
3 Dominique pullets
After some advice on the forum, I may get some Australorps or Brahmas...it will be a game time decision. I was going to get the chicks from a feed store here in town, but they won't have everything I want at once, so I think I will just order them from Ideal. They are only 2 hrs from here, so I assume I would get them next day post. I am going to wait until it warms up, as I keep reading horror stories about dead chicks in the mail *tear*. I found a detailed website with a really neat and cheap brooder plan, made out of clear storage boxes http://www.poultryhelp.com/brooders.html . But, still to be done is move the coop to it's permanant spot, make an enclosed run for when I am away, and paint it. I think I may alter it so that the nesting boxes hang out the back for easier egg access and more roosting room. I also need to construct panels to enclose it during the winter, as this coop is certainly not draught free.
Had some family and a friend come over and move the coop. It was unexpectedly heavy. We ended up having to hoist the lighter end up and over the seat of our riding mower, and set the heavy end on two long boards to slide it about 75ft to it's permanent home. Still needs to be painted, and also repaired from the rough move.
I had been putting off ordering chicks from the hatchery, trying to coordinate a trip there with my husband and also having a good place to put the brooder (which required handyman abilities). We have a feed store here that carries chicks, but there is no tellin what they will have. I called and they said to just come in on Thursday after 1pm to see what they got in that day. I looked at the hatchery website, and everything I had wanted was sold out 'til the end of May. I almost cried. So, my husband and I decided to go have a nice BBQ lunch in Lockhart, and meander our way to the feed store on the way home. I came home with a little chirping box of pullets:
2 Jersey Giants
2 Buff Cochins
2 Barred Plymouth Rocks
The feed store said to check in next week for Australorps, so I will do that. The JG's are already a week old, the BC's maybe 2 or 3 days, and the BPR's only a day (they still had their little tooth).
Constantly checking on the brooder, and found one of my Jersey Giants dead. The pisser was I had no idea why. I suspect that she had been possibly munching on the recently added pine shavings, as I had seen the two JJ's scratching (they are a week older than the rest). I have since added some rolled oats everyday to keep them busy. No problems since.
Called the feed store to check on their new shipment. They had all three breeds in stock that I had originally wanted. If only I had just been patient. I went to our storage building and pulled out my 7 year old's former playpen, which I had been planning on throwing out until I saw someone's genius idea using their's as a brooder. So I built a frame to fit over the top and stapled harware cloth over it. It's amazing how long these little projects end up taking. grrrrrrr. Anyway, part of the frame is open and covered with plywood. I put a screw hook in the middle of the wood to hang the light from, careful to keep it far enough away from the sides of the mesh playpen. I lined the bottom with black trashbags, then papertowels, then pineshavings. I hung the light lower because the sides are open. It's in a draft free room, but not as warm as the plastic tub had been. I moved the five original chicks over to the playpen and set up a fresh clean brooder with papertowels and a light for the new arrivals. I went to the store and got more pullets:
4 Black Australorps
1 Buff Orpington
I now have 10 chickens. As I put them into their brooder, I had that sinking feeling of "What the hell have I gotten myself into?". The older group is feathering up quickly, so hopefully their residing in the house will not be too long. This is ridiculous! I have chickens in my house. My friends are adding this to their list of what makes me special, I suppose. Did I ever mention that we have 7 cats? They find this all very entertaining as well.
A friend of a friend who has some chickens came by and asked me why I have my chickens in their tractor and not roaming. I say because of predators. She says chickens are not as stupid as they look and I should just let them out. So, I did and they love it! Sure is a lot easier to just let them out and walk away. (yeah right! more later)
Sitting on the porch and witness a murder by a suspected coyote or red fox, in the freakin' daytime! Think that it was just a freak thing, won't happen again. I will keep a closer eye on them.
In the morning, another chicken missing after a ruckus, and all the others up on the porch on the swing. They had never even been on the porch until then. I found one other squawking in a tree. I should have never listened to that lady. She lives in the middle of town. What does she know about coyotes and foxes and hawks? Nothing! Just feeling so powerless because my chickens won't go back into their safe tractor. They like freedom. If only I could explain that it's tractor or certain death! Oh my little australorp and my beautiful buff cochin, I hope your deaths were swift and painless.
The biggest coyote I have seen yet snatched one of my Barred Rocks. They are getting entirely too brave and do not mind humans one bit. THEY GOTTA GO!
Well, I am down to 7.
1 Jersey Giant
1 Partridge Cochin
1 Buff Orpington
1 Barred Rock
The coyotes here have just ruled out the possibility of free ranging, as they are in the yard in broad daylight! Oh well. Our very brave and stoic 15lb dog, Shoeshine, has been constantly on alert, even though the chickies are locked away at all times now. He got into a big fight with a large coyote, and luckily, I just happened to be outside. I went running and screaming towards the brawl. That coyote was trying to take him away, but let go when I got 10ft away. So a trip to the vet and a banged up little dog have made me consider the purchase of a 22LR. But, defense first.
All this past weekend we set posts around the coop to make them a maximum security chicken prison yard. It's a nice size and in shade, so hopefully they won't mind. I have made some adjustments to the coop as well. It's a slow process but steadily moving forward. We will aquire a rooster too, so that I can have a nice alarm when predators enter the yard. I thought we would end up with a roo in our chicks, but all girls. Hopefully we won't need the alarm, because the chickens will be secured really nicely.
My husband and oldest son presented me with a teeny egg on a taper candle holder on the dining table.
We aquired a 20 week old rooster named Bubbie (Bubbilicious) who is just a sweetie! He is quarantined for the time being, which he does not feel happy about, but it will be over soon. We also discovered after trying to wench the fencing that the posts were not deep enough. We had to completely start from scratch, concrete and all. My husband took two days off to keep me from losing it and did such a fine job! Now they are 2 feet deep, so they better not move.
The fencing is finally done. The only good part about doing it over, other than I will never have to worry about it falling down, is that I was able to save a gate from an ancient (100 yrs?) stable that was being torn down to use as the entrance to the run. Looks real nice and the gate has a new life. What a project this has turned out to be...darn coyotes making everything so difficult!