Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Secret Life of Chickens

Well, it's not that secret. You either hatch baby chicks yourself, or you purchase day-old chicks at a chicken store (Agway or other supplier). Then you bring them home, keep them in a warm and sheltered place for a few weeks, and transfer them to an appropriate coop outside once they have enough feathers to keep themselves warm. Seems pretty basic huh?

Well, in this house, chicken-raising is a new and incredible adventure. Who knew the Easter Bunny would actually deliver 2-week-old chicks to our house in their own brooder (the little warm sheltered place I was talking about). She (yep, the bunny's a chick-- well, she's female) even brought enough food for a couple weeks. That bunny is a serious giver.

When the birds arrived we had 10. On Easter Sunday we gave 4 of them to Auntie Sarah, who already has several chickens, but who thought she could use a few more to "resupply". She has a large dog, a fox who frequents their property, and who knows what else to support the diminishing of her chicken population. When I was looking into getting chickens, for their eggs by the way, Sarah suggested Americaunas. This kind, also known as "Easter Eggers," lays blue and green eggs. Some even lay eggs that are a cute little shade of pink. They are chicken mutts that come in lots of shapes, colors, and sizes, and they happen to be super-friendly. So that's what we ended up with, plus an additional Hubbard Isa Brown. Would you believe the Hubbard is named after the company that created this genetically altered chicken to be a super-layer. I'm serious-- this is what they call Hubbard Isa's. Super-layers. Sometimes they lay 2 eggs a day, which seems completely unnatural and painful to me, but apparently it works for them. So it works for us. And the one we have, Alice in Wonderland, is actually pretty cute and friendly, not at all the chicken robot you'd think an engineered chicken would be.

Alice is the golden-looking chick to the far left. Note how she's posing for the camera. These are the same chicks as those in the photo above, only 2 weeks later. They grow incredibly fast.

And by the way, from left to right, their names are Alice (you've met already), Ally (the white one), Candace (eating), Buddy (Camden's chicken), Dirty Dirty Chicken (we call her "Dirty"), and Princess of the Castle (also known as "Princess" or "Castle") Note how Alice is the only one with yellow feet. Weird.

Our intent is to transfer the chicks to their outside coop whenever Joe finishes building it. This should be any day, but the weather hasn't cooperated over the last few days, so he's just getting out there now to put up the side walls. We figure we'll probably have to use a couple light bulbs to keep the birds warm at night for a few weeks since it is still pretty nippy out. Plus, we've all grown pretty attached to them, so I know I'd be up at night obsessing about whether or not they're too cold out there. The light bulbs should prevent that.

The space under the side wall is where an access door will go so we can get in there to clean out the coop. It's identical on the other side so we can just push or pull everything out easily. The attachment on the back of the coop are where the nest boxes will go, and a side door there will allow us to easily reach in to get the eggs. We'll keep the coop on its stilts and make the underneath an actual shady shelter for the birds when they're out and about. Because of all the dogs in the neighborhood (especially our own bird-chaser), the chickens will have an enclosed outside area. This should also help with any other predators who may be interested in having chicken for dinner.

1 comment:

  1. The coop is looking good. Love all the names- esp dirty dirty chix. funny!