Day one Backyard Chicken Blog, How the Heck did I get here?
This April, my son comes home off the bus at 4:00 with 6 peeps from his 3rd grade reproduction/science project. Five fuzzy yellow chicks and one yellow and black chick. I knew they had them becuase I remember signing the permission form for my son to participate in the project. I remember getting updates on the chicks from my son at our nightly dinner talk. I did not remember saying that he could to bring some home.
My personal chicken history...... The only experience I have with chickens is that I used to have to clean the chicken coop and collect eggs for the old dairy farmer that owned the farm where I kept my first pony. I was there about 6 years until he retired and moved to Florida.
Now that we have this box of chicks what do we do next? The only thing I know about raising peeps/chicks is that they need to stay warm until they get feathers, they poop alot, and what my 3rd grade son tells me. So off the the barn/boarding stable where I keep my mare to get some shavings and a warming lamp for them. I set them up in a rubbermaid container and with the warming lamp and then I head directly to Tractor Supply, because by that time my local Agway is closed.
Once safely in their box with food and water I find out that the yellow and black chick is the famous "Steelers" (yes we are from Pittsburgh) Steelers is a Star at Bowerhill Elementary school.
So here we go we have Steelers and the Terrible Chicks.
- This chick was the first one to hatch in the school.
- Steelers was the only chick to hatch from a brown egg out of all the 3rd grade classes at BowerHill Elementary school.
I was now responsible for keeping these little pooping, squeeking, fuzzballs safe and healthy, in a home with three cats and two dogs, a Pit mix and a recently rescued Plott Hound (extremely tenacious coonhound of german ancestry) Can you say CRAZY CHICKEN LADY?
I moved the the quickly growing Steelers and Terrible Chicks moved into a baby pool surrounded by pvc pipe frame covered with chicken wire. I promptly started planning how to get them out of my basement and safely into the yard.
It is now June and after two months of 6 stinky peeps in my house, I built a pen (which I hope is fox, coon, coyote, and weasel proof) and a coop, which I hope will keep them reasonably warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I guess I got lucky as fate would have it only two roosters, I am left with 4 hens, I found a home for the 2 that weren't hens.
I have given the Leghorns names. One of the leghorns is almost as freindly as Steelers. She was sitting next to me while I was painting the coop and she got green paint on her neck. Anyone who watched Dancing with the Stars this season knows that Hines Ward's partner Kym Jonhson hurt her neck. Well, being that she is Steelers' buddy and she had an accident with her neck, I just starte calling her Kym. The other two leghorn hens are not as freindly so the remain "Terrible Chicks" although one is very quickly becoming known as wrong way. Everytime the girls spook, she goes the opposite way and gets lost. I am constantly picking her up and sending her back in the right direction.
Steelers, Kym and the two Terrible Chicks in Camp Chicken.
Keeping my fingers crossed for eggs.
Steelers is not a girl, and we lost Kym - I think it was my mom's cat. Matthew cried for two hours solid. Thinking of getting another hen. Matt did however finally get around to giving the other two girls names, Snowflake and Creamy.
Steelers has been crowing up a storm, especially when he feels I am late opening the gate so they can get out of the pen. He has been getting a bit fiesty lately, he bites me when I try to leave. I think he feels that I belong with the rest of the flock. He still loves to be cuddled - silly roo, I suppose we will have to keep him.
I have to watch that I get them in on time to because they go up into the tree to roost and it is hard to get them to come down once they have decided to settle down for the night.
The silly birds follow me all around the yard, I just got done building a tree house for my son and they kept me company - which is more than I can say for my son.
July 3rd, 2011
Poor Steelers, he hurt his leg somehow. My husband, Dr. Mike checked it out and said nothing broken, so maybe he got tangled in the brush and panicked when I was cutting the grass and wrenched something. I will try to confine him to the pen for a couple of days.
July 19th, 2011
Well it wasn't my mom's cat, it was my pit-mix that got the Kym.
How do I know? Two weeks ago, I caught him red pawed. I forgot to put the invisible fence collar on and the s.o.b. snuck out and and had Steelers by the neck in the pen. Poor Steelers, Blaze ripped out a bunch of feathers from his butt and he was really bruised. My husband checked out the chicken and found nothing broken. Steelers is healing well, hopefully his feathers will grow back. Needless to say I broke down and bought a new remote brain, Tri-tronic (made in USA) from Gun Dog Supply. (I had one before but it was a really cheap one with hardly any range, but it worked for the Pit) I got to use the new brain the day it came. My friend who also has chickens ran out of ammo and needed a groundhog dispatched. I put the collar on and told her not to put the chickens away. We showed up at her farm and Blaze did the Electric Chicken and took care of that ground hog in one afternoon. Now I mostly use it to turn my Plott hound Daisy loose on the trail and at the airport.
Trying to talk my husband into caponizing Steelers, he is driving the girls crazy and they are avoiding him. It is making it hard for me to get them in the pen at night because they don't want to go in with him.
August 19th, 2011
Its a special day for the chickens. The girls went into the coop and laid their first eggs! We were so proud and excited for them. We were so afraid that they were laying eggs in the woods when they were out and about during the day.
I am currently planning to add two Americaunas in the spring for Matt to show in 4-H next year. Matthew really loves his chickens. Steelers is recoving from being assaulted by the dog, His tail is growing back very nicely. For a mongrel he is a very nice looking chicken.
I entered Steelers in the BackyardChicken's november Best Chicken Ever Show and he "won" (woo hoo 3 votes) oh well we are still proud of him. He has gotten all of his tail feathers back and is beautiful and freindly and takes really good care of his girls.
It has been raining for 2 days straight. Pittsburgh weather just stinks. The sun finally came out and I opened the chicken pen, worm heaven on the driveway dontyaknow! I have to laugh because Steelers the Rooster is now taking his revenge on Blaze for pulling out all his tail feathers. Steelers body slams Blaze anytime he feels the dog gets too near the hens. Oddly enough the rooster tolerates my Plott hound, maybe because she's a girl.
Christmas came and went, lots of rain but plenty of time to hang with the chickens. The dogs know about the annual picture torture, well I got the chickens involved in it this time. I must have taken at least 200 pictures before I didn't get any butts and the dogs to stand still next to the rooster.
Needless to say Steelers was not happy posing for this picture, he bit me three days in a row after making him wear this hat.
The girls have taken to sitting on the porch and watching the Christmas Tree lights