The coop

Walls are going up!

I love the clear roof! Since the coop is between two sizeable and quite aged trees, I think every opportunity to get additional light in there is important.

John has installed 1/4″ hardware cloth at all gaps as we have a pretty significant racoon population.

Looks good, doesn’t it?

Two walls sided and a window in! Woo Hoo!

John has done such a wonderful job designing this coop!

We think we’ll have the girls in the coop within the week. John will continue to work on the coop after he gets home from work as weather allows, and then once everything is done construction wise, we’ll start in on the painting.

We’ve decided to use a mariner’s varnish on the interior – at least mid-way up the walls. Then we’ll paint the exterior a color that blends well

with the landscape. The kids are, however, clamoring for a side to paint a mural of some sort on. We’ll see! I’m actually kind of hoping to get a clematis or some other lovely perennial growing on the east side of the coop. Time will tell, though.

I am trying to dig up all of the excess stone and ceramic tiles that we have left over from years past to “pave around the human access points to the coop. This last view is where the egg collection door will be – so we’ll definitely want to make this access as mud-free as possible!

My how time flies!

It’s funny how when you first get chicks it seems like time stops and everything revolves around their growth, development, antics, and feats of wonder. As time goes by, they gradually ease themselves into the fabric of day to day life.

It has been phenomenal how quickly – and profoundly – the girls have grown! They are HUGE! And they’ve come to take the big events in life as normal everyday rights! (Much like children! LOL!) They *LOVE* field trips out into the yard. (Oh, if only our Oregon weather would remember that it’s supposed to be spring – NOT winter!)

They’ve spent hours and hours outdoors – and they adore it! (As well, they ought!)

The last really nice day they were outdoors for six hours – and boy were they pooped out by the time we brought them inside – they just crashed and slept soundly!

Here’s a hilarious picture of the girls with Pepper – our Aussie. Pepper wants so badly to play with the girls!

We’ve been amazed at how well behaved Pepper has been thus far. She’s had a number of opportunities to have a “chicken snack” but has shown great restraint. (Well, she is a big time people pleaser! Her people would be very DISpleased if she did!)
On several occasions the girls have flown down off of the side of the brooder and landed right at Pepper’s feet – and she’s whined – but just sat back for the most part. (Although she really just wants some undisturbed time to pin one of them down and give it a good bath – like she often does with the cats! – I’m sure!)
Never dull here! πŸ™‚

The Coop is coming along.

Woo Hoo! The coop has begun to take shape. My *amazing* and beyond wonderful husband worked all day long and then came home and laid out the start of the coop. Here is the foundation and floor – finished on the first day.

We’re continually awed by the lightening speed rate that the chicks are growing! It seems as if it’s impossible that they were ever truly little chicks. They continue to eat voraciously, and get a little more bold and adventuresome each day. They are more and more interested in the window sill and looking out on the outside world! They seem quite taken with the Stellar’s Jays that come to feed at the feeder outside their window. The Jays will look in at the chickens, and the chickens will look out at the Jays. It’s pretty comical!

On Sunday afternoon he got the frame for the first two walls up – even though it was not only COLD enough to snow, but it actually *did* snow! This weather is insane!

With the girls growing so quickly – and the weather as cool as it is – it’s becoming more and more apparent how important this coop is! We think the chicks are about six or seven weeks old. They are technically old enough to move to a coop – given they have a heat source available to them when the temperature is too cool. Our goal is to get the coop done in the next week or two.

It’s hard to believe how much more room the girls take up in the brooder! There’s not much room for them to even turn around any more. Hence, they spend a lot of time perched, or venturing out of the brooder. It’s not at all unusual to find them wandering the floor of the pantry. They don’t seem at all phased by the possibility of flying from the edge of the brooder down to the floor – even though it looks like a HUGE distance to me.
Henrietta continues to be the leader of the pack. Things are certainly quieter with Little Bit gone. They girls are just less high strung with him gone. We do kind of miss him, but it’s just so obvious what a happier little trio the girls are without him around that it’s hard to feel sad.
We’re still loving our chicks. We continue to be wowed by the fact that they seem to crave interaction with humans. Henrietta is the most bold – but any of the three of them will *very* happily hop onto an arm or shoulder of whomever happens to be close by, and then will settle down and snuggle – loving to be petted.
We love them, and are looking forward to continuing watching them develop!

Little Bit must go!

Why the other chicks got totally feminine names and Little Bit didn’t is a mystery. It just seemed like Little Bit was the most appropriate name for *ahem* “her.” Seems, however that Little Bit is very much NOT a her at all, but a HE! I’ve thought long and hard about breeds and the like, and knew that sexing chicks is a BIG deal – with about a 90 to 95% success rate. I’ve heard from quite a few folks lately who ended up with 2 cockerels out of their five chicks, or 1 out of 3, or the like. I guess our odds aren’t that bad – one out of four.

[You can see in this picture that his comb is becoming much more pronounced, and he’s developed wattles, as well.]
At first I thought I might keep him. But the more I’ve read and learned and observed, the more convinced that I don’t want a Rhode Island Red rooster. If I ended up with a Dominique or California White rooster, I’d be okay with it. But not a RIR.
So Little bit must go!

I’ve found a very nice lady via Craigslist who has 15 RIR girls looking for a beau. Little Bit will be in Rooster heaven! He will be re-homed on Wednesday afternoon.

In the meantime I’ve actually quarentined him. He’s gotten QUITE unruly and aggressive. He keeps the girls in a dither whenever he’s around them, and I’m tired of it! His spurs have begun to show and I can only imagine what it will be like when they’re available to him.

I was sad at first at the thought of having to say goodbye to him. The longer he’s around and the more developed his male personality becomes – the less sad I am! I am absolutely ASTOUNDED at how rapidly he’s gone from being seemingly asexual (which of course he wasn’t, it was just very difficult to discern the difference) to VERY male. He’s quite a cranky boy!

Honestly, I think all of us (the girls included!) will breathe a sigh of relief when he’s gone.

1st Field Trip!

Finally – a sunny day! Not just sunny, but relatively warm, as well! Phew! What a wacky spring this has been! We’ve had snow, sleet, hail, rain – and then some more of all – sometimes all at the same time. It’s been totally nuts! But today – GLORIOUS!

I decided it was warm enough to take the chicks out to the yard.

Probably the best way to tell the tale is with photos…


Above: The girls corralled by various asundry bins.

Left: wasn’t long before we had a couple of escapees!

Left: they were pretty sure in pretty quick order that *outside* of the bins was WAY better than inside them!

Jess keeping Pepper in line… boy did she want to herd those chicks!

My but they loved the garden the very best! I honestly think they would have stayed out there ALL DAY LONG given the option. When they finally did come out they settled down and napped – phew! playing outside is hard work for little chicks!

They’re HUGE!

Sometimes we come into the pantry to check on the girls first thing in the morning and the first thing that pops out of our mouths is, “Good grief! They’ve doubled in size again!”

Our girls don’t look so much like chicks any more, they are looking more and more like little chickens.

All four girls routinely fly up to the side of the brooder now. Henrietta has recently taken to flying up to the backs of the chairs that we have the pole that the heat lamp hangs from. Sometimes the girls will roost on the side of the brooder and then one by one they’ll doze off, and someone will forget where she is and – whammo! – sthe’s fallen off the side and onto the table. It can be pretty funny to watch them teetering, fighting sleep, trying to keep their balance. Reminds me of when the kids were little and we’d be riding in the car and they’d be fighting sleep. πŸ™‚

All of the girls now *love* to perch on people arms, shoulders, and will occasionally try to fly up and be on top of someone’s head. They are completely comical when they will try and “unseat” whomever might happen to be in “line” ahead of them. It’s something like watching chicken bumper cars! LOL!

We’ve had several instances of one or two of the girls bumping each other off of the edge of the brooder, even – both ending up flying down to the floor in a last ditch effort to avoid crashing and burning! There have been a couple of times when Pepper has been watching intently – and you can just see the desire in her eyes to take just a little bite! It’s not at all unusual for her to sit on the floor adjacent to the table that holds the brooder and just whine away while the girls perch. Thus far Pepper has avoided trying to get up on the table, Jake and Caleb have even mellowed out about it. I think everyone is finally getting used to each other!

They’re getting bolder!

It’s absolutely amazing to me how much these chicks change – nearly hourly! When they first came home I thought we’d have enough chick starter to last a lifetime! Of course, that was back in the day that it took them slightly more than 24 hours to go through a quart of the stuff. Now – they go through at least two quarts in 24 hours – sometimes more!

[Henrietta and Hallie perched.]

It’s fascinating to watch their feather development. It’s so interesting how one area will start to feather out, and then over the course of a day or two flush out to full blown feathers – not just little nubbins with fuzz at the end! Henrietta seems to be the leader of the pack in terms of development – and boldness! Hallie is next, I think. Although Millie seems to be the first with feathers on the back of her head thinking about coming out. Little Bit is still the smallest – but probably the spunkiest. All but Millie – until just this morning – had made the journey of flying up to the edge of the brooder. I was actually typing this post when I heard – clear from the other end of the house! – a chick squaking for all she was worth. I was convinced a cat had made it indoors without my knowing about it and tore off for the other end of the house. What should I find? Millie perched on the side of the brooder – squaking off about her accoplishment. I hadn’t realized before just this morning that a small chicken was capable of palpable pride – but apparently they are!

I continue to go out to the garden or compost pile and bring in worms every few days. It’s – admittedly – SO entertaining watching the girls carry on about them. Little Bit – for being a small little chick – can gobble down a herking huge worm!

We’ve had a couple of pretty funny incidents in the past couple of days with Henrietta convinced she should fly further afield than we thought she was capable of. One day Jessica was out in the pantry watching the chicks – Jake (one of the cats) was lazing around – watching for his opportunity to get a tasty chick snack, and Pepper (the dog) was looking on. Henrietta was perched on the side of the brooder and decided to fly down and land on Jake! Jake – my mouser! Luckily Jessica was at hand and quickly retrieved Henrietta before Jake could even react. Phew! We have gone to great lengths to make certain that the cats ARE NOT given access to the pantry unless someone is in there to observe and possibly intervene!

John has drawn up the preliminary plan for the coop. It looks amazing. He’s so gifted! We will try and begin construction this week. The weather doesn’t look too promising, but the girls are growing so big it is blaringly apparent that time is of the essence!

Update photos…

Here are some shots of the girls from this morning:
Left: Hallie and Little Bit chowing down.

Right: Henrietta in the corner, Millie right behind her.

Below: Henrietta who has now managed the feat of flying from the floor of the brooder past the brooder edge, and directly up to the chair that supports the pole that we hang the heating lamp on! What will she think of next?!

My how they grow!

The girls have been home for 9 days. They seem to double in size – and ability! – daily! I’m daily AMAZED at how much they can eat. And astounded at the new feats of strength and agility they add to their repetoir!

(Left: This is William with bold Henrietta hopping over to perch on his finger. She loves to climb up to his shoulder and hang out there.)

On Monday I had to run over to the airport to meet John & Jessica who were returning from their trip back East. I left the cats outside, the dog in her kennel, and the chicks in their brooder. When we arrived home Jessica and I went in first so that I could introduce her to the girls. We stood peering into the brooder and I did the quick tally, “One chick, two chicks, three chicks….. WAIT! Where’s number four?!” I assumed it was Henrietta who had gotten bold and flown the coop – but NO! It was Hallie! Meek and mild little Hallie has a bold streak in her afterall! We found her *behind* the brooder between the wall of the brooder and the wall of the house. She was a little stressed out and ever so happy to get back in with her pals.

Wednesday I decided to add a branch from outside to the brooder – the girls all seemed interested in trying to reach the edge of the brooder to roost – and I thought it might be a better option for them. It took a bit of scouting, but I think I finally found something that would work. What I wasn’t prepared for was how totally freaked out they were over the branch! They cheeped all of the alarm signal they had in their little hearts and herded over to one corner and cowered. Not even Henrietta was interested! I had to leave shortly thereafter for an appointment, but hoped for the best.

By the time I came back three of the girls were roosting low on the branch. It was so cute. I did a quick head count and thought, “One chick, two chicks, three chicks… WAIT! Where’s number four?!” I hear “cheep, cheep, cheep” coming from the right of me – on the floor! – and look down, and lo and behold! There’s Henrietta! My, she’s a bold girl!

The branch is working out to be a good thing. It just took them a while to trust that it was an okay thing. I can see where it might look like a snake or something – something they, of course have never seen, but I’m sure their instinct is to be cautious!