A new fence!

We’ve been talking for quite a while about the fact that we wished we had a fenced yard. Like – the entire five years we’ve lived here! Ha!

The past couple years we fenced around the garden plots to keep the girls out and from desecrating our veggies. It was the right place to start.

But now that we have 36 big girls – well, some of the more adventurous girls have been traveling further down the street than we’re happy with.

So our interest was definitely piqued when we ran across an ad for moveable fencing. That really appealed because you could rotate fenced areas really quite easily.

As it turned out – John went ahead and ordered 184 feet of fence and it arrived not too long ago.

It was quite nice out yesterday, so he got out after work and got the fence up. It’s working great!

See the white fencing at the end of the coop? That’s where it’s at.

We had to leave a corridor for the oil truck to come and deliver heating oil.

It’s a pretty big space, huh?

And of course, one must include pictures of the little peeps – out ranging with Jezebel and enjoying the sun.

Peep #1 sunbathing.

Peep #2 stretching her wings out to catch some rays. Any opinions on breed? We have no idea!

From the top of the driveway you can sorta see the fence, it’s not a huge eyesore or anything – phew!

And – a picture of one of the tulip tree blossoms opening up. Sigh… I love Spring!


…for the most part!

See what my genius husband did today? He secured bird netting over the chicken yard – essentially, making it impossible for Rogue Chickens to fly up into the tree! Woo Hoo!

For the most part it worked! Two of the girls figured out how to sneak past and fly up into the tree – one of the Ameraucana, one of the Blue Andalusians. And yes, it did take John and me essentially hunting down and throwing them into the coop – the other 8 girls who usually sleep in the Willow. But who cares?! They’re in the coop! Right now! Sleeping!

Cause for rejoicing!

See that little Ameraucana through the hole? She’s SURE she can find a way through that bird netting to get up in the tree!

She was wrong!

A couple of the Blues checking out the coop. By this point in time each night they’re normally way up at the top of the willow. This change has rocked their world a bit!

She’s not feeling amused about the change! Doesn’t she look a little bit cranky?

Nighty night, girls…

My Husband, The Genius

If no one has told you yet, let me be the first.

Chicken keeping is addictive.

When you first start making your plans to add chickens to your world, you might start by saying something like this: “Three, yes. Three chicks would be the perfect place to start.”

Of course, then you go to the local feed store in Springtime and see the beyond adorable chicks. On the way home you find yourself thinking thoughts like, “Eight is probably a better number… Wouldn’t be that much more room to house…”

How you get from eight to twenty-two (including roosters that had to go away) is anyone’s guess!

Sufficeit to say that by the time you settle down to fifteen hens and NO roosters, things seem, well, comfortable.

Here’s the thing, though. When you’re into chicken keeping, you’re pretty much sure everyone else ought to join you in this wonderful pursuit! So, when a friend happens to mention that she’s been dreaming of starting her own flock one day – all she wants is some started pullets… You help!

Over the course of time things happen. Five go to friends. One dies from some mystery malady. Two get eaten by neighbor dogs. One goes broody.

Before you know it, you’re down to just four or five eggs a day.

That, my friends, is just not enough!

Especially not when you’ve got BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs to supply!

So – you might start saying things like, “Well… if William is really going to do an egg business this coming year, just how many chicks should we order?”

You, of course, temper those statements with things like, “We probably shouldn’t get chicks – at least not this year. I mean I’m going to have major orthopedic surgery!” (This would be why you’re up to midnight the night before said orthopedic surgery placing your chick order!)

So… somewhere along the line an assumption is made that yes, some chicks should be ordered. Someone might have said ten chicks. Someone else might have said, maybe 12 chicks. And somewhere along the line the order gets morphed into – oh, thirty chicks!

Thirty adorable chicks.

Five Blue Andalusians (one was a rooster).

Five Speckled Sussex.

Five Delawares (two went missing, one came back).

Five Cuckoo Marans.

Five Amaracaunas (one was a rooster).

Five Minorcas – three buff (one’s a rooster, one died), and two black.

See? I NEEDED thirty chicks! J

And, accordingly, we needed a larger coop and run! (Particularly in light of our new neighbor dogs! UGH!)

This is not a job for the faint of heart! It might even require some blood, sweat, and tears! Or at least a blister or two!

John, my genius husband, has designed and drafted plans for the expansion.

Have I mentioned recently what a genius he is? Cause if not – let me just be sure to keep you in the know – he IS! Seriously!

The coop was the first structure he ever built.

It’s been nothing short of amazing and phenomenal. Many people have stopped to remark how nicely it’s built, and what a great design it is.

Yes, like I said – genius!

So, my genius husband has drafted – as in AutoCAD drafted – the plans for the addition. They’re pretty cool looking. But I’m thinking the built-out model will be EVEN cooler still!

This new addition will more than double the space of the coop! This wall will have six new nest boxes.

The new big door will open into the expanded, new, and improved chicken run.

And my brilliant husband even thought to build in a spot for a fan – for the hot days of summer. Last thing we need is a chicken with heat stroke!

I love this door! He built this all by himself! Isn’t it cool?

And here you can see that the cattle fencing has been stretched to it’s new anchor on the corner of the addition. The girls are going to like this so much!

And here’s a peek at the new chicken yard addition – an actual area with grass for them to hang out in! They’ve already tried it out and seem to think it’s a great idea!

So – now we wait. We’ve got 25 chicks who will begin laying sometime around mid-August. John’s got a schedule all worked out to make sure everything is finished up and all of the new nest boxes are in place in plenty of time for that!

In the meantime – we’re on chick hatch watch:

Shelly is on day 20 on Sunday. It takes 21 days of a hen setting consistently on her eggs for them to start hatching out. I’ll be sure to report any signs of progress!

So that’s it from Hip Chick Chronicles central!

Tree Huggers!

I’ve lived in Oregon since I was 4 years old. When I was a kid I tried to laugh and understand when people would joke, “Oregonians don’t tan – they rust!” I mean, huh? Doesn’t everyone get rain? Lots and lots of rain?

I can admit that as I’ve grown older that the rain has begun to – well, wear on me a bit. Usually some time around February John and I look at each other and say, “We live here because????” I’m sure his memories of living in Arizona right at the forefront of his thoughts! Me – just *longing* for sunshine and warmth! We vowed several years ago – should we ever manage to scrape up enough money – we really ought to travel someplace warm come every February!

A relatively new friend asked me – after having relocated here from the Rocky Mountain region of the country, “So when does it rain?” You see, we met when it was sunny and warm and beautiful out. Without half a thought I said, “From October to July 5th.” She looked at me and laughed and said, “No really!” To which I said, “Seriously.”

This February I’ve been amazingly content. I haven’t felt that squirmy feeling like I gotta get out of Dodge! I haven’t been spending time looking vainly at travel bargains to the tropics.

I found out why last night. On the news they said, “And as you know,” obviously I didn’t! “we’re 2.5 inches behind on rainfall for the month of February – so th rain we’ll be getting this week will be really helpful!”

They’re saying we’re gonna get 1/2 an inch of rain today, tomorrow, and the next day.

Now I’m feeling squirmy! LOL!

BUT – we must ask the girls how they feel about the rain – cause it’s been raining buckets this morning.

Apparently they aren’t much amused, either! See them down there? Hugging that big old Willow tree? Trying to get out of the rain?

I wish I could get a picture of what it looks like when they don’t know that I’m there – all 14 of them are ringed around that tree – pretty much kissing it! – trying to stay out of the rain.
They’re so goofy!

You’d think they didn’t know there was a nice, dry, full of brand new sweet-smelling pine shavings, coop – just a few feet away. BUT NO – they might miss out of something, so they stay out in the rain.
Thanks girls! I needed the laugh!

What a Day!

This morning, as I was making William’s breakfast I happened to catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye – and lo and behold! What did I see? An escape artist!
Every morning, for the last several mornings, one of the California White’s has been managing to get out of the chicken yard and have at it without competition with the cat’s food. I can understand the motivation – but honestly, it can be a bit of a pain in the butt. Well, and then there’s the fact that solo chicken running around the yard seems – well – more vulnerable.

So – I made oatmeal for the girls, and the minute I took it in to them – escapee wanted back in. Go figure! Yeah, I wasn’t surprised, either.

So guess what! We had a GORGEOUS day today. It got up to nearly 60 degrees! Woo Hoo! SPRING WILL COME AGAIN! HALLELUJAH!

This is what Spring should look like:

And this…
and this…

and of course, this…
By the time the early afternoon rolled around, I decided it was time to let the girls out. Boy oh boy, where they happy to be out and about!

Caleb, hanging with the girls.

Pepper, running with her ball on a rope. She loves that toy!

And here’s Angel. Looks fine – but well, seemed a little more skittish than normal today.
I’d been keeping an eye on the California Whites because for the last three mornings there have been some VERY large white eggs in the nest boxes – and they’ve had quite a bit of blood on them. Hmmm… I decided I had to get to the bottom of this!
As it happened, I noticed that Angel had a BLACK butt. Yes, my chicken pictured above – like she looked like someone had held her over an open flame and singed her fanny. So I determined that I needed to catch her and get a closer look.
Yeah. Right. Not so much.

Thankfully, not much time went by and Jessica arrived home from school. Have I mentioned that my daughter is chicken wrangle extraordinaire? If not – let me just say it here and now: the girl has a gift!
So Jess and I set out to corner and catch the not so interested in being handled AT ALL chicken. Amusing.
So – we finally did it! We caught Angel and I did a little exam. Once I got a closer look it seemed as if her butt were just CAKED – like seriously – with poo, mud, dust, and some blood. Yuck. I realized that this was going to take a concerted effort, so Jess and I worked as a team. She held Angel, I found a large bucket and filled it with nice warm water, and then we set to… yep, bathing the chicken.
It took about 20 minutes, but once I had her butt all cleaned up – it didn’t take long for us to ascertain that something was more than just passingly not okay.
Warning: the pictures below are graphic! Like gross and ickey. Okay?

This, unfortunately, is a prolapsed vent. Darn it!

Poor Angel!

Anyway, eventually got her inito a second bath to make certain she was VERY clean (don’t want any infection to set in!), I went ahead and attempted to gently push the vent back into it’s appointed place! It stayed for about 10 minues, but then re-prolapsed. Darn it. I did get the Preparation H applied – and I’m hoping it helps her!

So – armed with excellent advice from older/wiser cihcken keepers, we’re keeping Angel separated from the rest of the flock, we have her in a location where she can’t hear the rest of life going on around her. It should be restful for her.

And we’ve also draped the crate she’s in with blankets – to help keep her warm.

I think we’ve done all we can for her just now.

I’ll keep you updated on Angel’s progress.

Will she make it through the winter?

Speedy, as you may well recall, has not had an easy time of it. She is smaller, less coordinated, definitely lowest girl on the pecking order, and well – sad. That’s her on the left.

I think it’s so interesting that some of her pals – the girls who are the same age (aka the California Whites, Ducky, and BB) will take turns hanging out with her – typically making sure she’s not alone much. Here she is with one of the Whites and BB.

We’ve talked much about the fact that Speedy may not make it through the winter. We’ve really only had a few nights where the low has gotten close to freezing – but I have to wonder as the winter progresses, will she make it? She’s so light. She seems to have so many fewer feathers than her peers. And she struggles so to do things the other girls do routinely.

She definitely has not started laying – in fact, we’d be blown away if she did! Poor thing – she’s so peeked and pathetic. We’re worried.

This is Shelly. Doesn’t she look hilarious with that crazy comb?

Here’s one of the Welsumer babies. They’re old enough to start laying now, but haven’t begun quite yet. Their combs and wattles are becoming more pronounced and redder – shouldn’t be long now.
And here’s Ducky. Remember the big conclusion that Ducky was laying those gorgeous dark eggs with the freckles? Well – ummm… maybe not! I went back to my photo archives after some suspicions and found that sure enough – our Ducky does NOT, in fact, lay those gorgeous dark freckled eggs – BB does! Ducky lays a lighter egg with lighter freckles – much like it sounds Vonda’s chick does! Just when you think you’ve figured your chicks out! LOL!

So you gotta see the new bigger run that my brilliant husband has put together!

It gives the girls a much larger area to hang out – while still being confined somewhat.

You see – they’ve developed a bit of wanderlust, these girls. I keep finding them going DOWN THE STREET toward the various neighbors yards. That had to change!

So John added this additional fenced yard. Part of it is under the big old willow, part gets sun.

Thus far, the girls seem quite happy with the new digs!

Gosh, my husband is the coolest!