Mostly about my backyard chickens. (Boring, I know), but there are a lot of us out here. Mine are only kept as pampered pets. I could eat a neighbor's chicken, but not MINE. There may be a comment on current events only if I get riled up enough. And there will always be a cartoon or a joke to cheer us. I promise to try my very best to respond to comments. Now I have to figure out how this blogger thingy works....
Friday, May 31, 2013
HOLY CHICKEN FEATHERS!!!
Thank you, thank you all for stopping by and visiting! Still can't believe it......
Still keeping them separated at night. During the day things are getting a little, tiny bit better. Ethel and Lucy will let Oscar and Nina wander into the coop. Little Nina loves it in there and usually takes a nap in one of the nest boxes.
Oscar is starting to get a wee bit too frisky with Ethel and Lucy. Little Nina has been running from him too.
The girls do not like him trying to 'go for a ride'. He gets pecked (Yup, that's where the term 'hen pecked' comes from) a lot, but he is a real trooper. Brave little Oscar! His crowing gets louder and louder. The hens are cackling more and more....
If anyone out there decides to get chickens (not for din-din but as pets) make sure your locality allows it. Even some semi-rural towns have a ban on 'barnyard' animals. Some may allow hens, but not roosters.
They must have a safe place to stay in at night. That usually means getting or building a coop. There are so many different kinds to choose from.
They can be fancy or plain or made out of wooden crates. I've even seen a plastic doggie igloo being used!
On the left is a fine one for three or four hens hens. Notice it is high off the
ground. The ramp is attached underneath so they can go in for the night.
Most likely, this coop is in an enclosed yard.
The one on the right is good for a hen or two because they have the run of the coop and they are in protected enclosure. This setup is small enough to move around your property. Whatever type you choose, it must be safe from predators at all times.
They still fight when together, but if I put more feed in the chick hutch later in the day, Lucy and Ethel are distracted. They hop in, scratch all the hay out and eat. Thus, Nina and Oscar get some peace and quiet. Lucy and Ethel are getting fat and take afternoon naps now. More food means more poop. And there is more poop to clean.
These are the tools I use every day: a plastic snow shovel, rake, wheel barrow and the poop cart. After trial and error, I found out that the snow shovel works best. That pile of do-do is one entire coop cleaning and three days of the pen and chick hutch. Do not, I repeat, do not get chickens if you can't stand poop. There is a lot of it. Trust me.
1. The chick hutch stays in the pen.
2. Oscar and Nina sleep in the pen (will be covered at night)
3. In the morning, I will feed them in the hutch.
4. Ethel and Lucy can sleep in the coop and will eat in the pen
5. When everyone is finished eating, the hutch will be opened and all four can run around in the pen.
6. I realize I am nuts for doing all this for stupid chickens
7. Hubby agrees.
8. Neighbors agree.
It's almost 5 o'clock. Still dark out and raining. Hard. Put on my boots and rain slicker and go out to the battlefield. I unlock the coop door and Oscar and Nina try to get out. I grab Nina, shut the door, open the pen and put her in the chick hutch. Go back and try to get Oscar who is now hiding in one of the nest boxes. I can't reach him so I open the lid on the boxes, grab him, and of course he bites me.
In he goes with Nina. Evil One and Lucy finally calm down. There are feathers all over the coop. It mush have been one hell of a battle. Since everyone is awake, I slosh back to the house to get their feed. When I return I feed the little ones first and make sure they aren't hurt. Ethel and Lucy come out to eat. I pick them up and check them too. No blood. The book ideas don't work at all. I am determined to find a solution on my own.....
Another idea.... (from my very expensive chicken books)
'When it is time to put your chickens in for the night, put the older ones in the coop first. Keep your routine the same. After several hours and they are asleep, quietly put the new ones in the coop.
In the morning when they all wake up, they will think they have roosted together all night long'.
OK, I'll give a shot. Night-night time comes and I shoo Ethel and Lucy in the coop. Oscar and Nina are in the hutch. I wait two hours and go back out side. It is now pitch black - no moon, no stars.
It is creepy out here and we have bears and coyotes passing through all the time. I pick up Nina (she bites me) and put her in the coop. So far so good. I go and get Oscar (he bites me), put him next to Nina and lock them all in.
I tiptoe back into the house and have a nice glass of wine. All is finally well - until morning when Oscar wakes up.
Enough is enough! Go inside to seek answers in my extensive and expensive library of chicken books. (Every newbie buys them - all of 'em) Seems this is very common problem, but once they get used to seeing each other for a while, they will get along. Yup! That's them all right! I go back outside and take the little chick hutch out of the pen and just let the four of them mingle with each other. Simple. Easy. By the book.
Drag the very heavy little chick hutch back into the pen and put the Evil One and Lucy in it for being such bad girls. Oscar and Nina now have the entire run of the pen and the coop to themselves. Oscar sees that the other two can't get to him, so he chases little Nina and wants to play cowboy. She gets upset and runs in the coop and he follows. Lots of chicken noises in the coop. So much noise that the two in the hutch start squawking. Loudly. Hubby comes out of the barn, shakes his head and has that damn "I told you so" look on his face again.
I refuse to give up..... I refuse to give up.....
This arrangement is very frustrating. They just do not get along. Ethel is queen, then Lucy, Oscar is next and poor little Nina is at the bottom of the pecking order. Oscar is getting frisky - very frisky. Poor little Nina is his target for now. She runs in the coop to the safety of the nest boxes. Oscar always follows her.
Evil One and Lucy do not want them in their coop. They own it. Ethel charges in and starts to fight with Oscar and chases him out. Then she goes after Nina. You would swear there were forty chickens in there. I lift the lid off the nest boxes and rescue Nina.
She bites me. I put her and Oscar back in the chick hutch.
Back to the 'chicken books' to look for a solution....
This goes on for about a month: Ethel and Lucy in the main coop and Oscar and Nina in the chick hutch. Everyone is happy. Except me. It's double the work keeping everything clean. I can't let the little ones out for long periods of time because there is still too much fighting. I wish the new ones would grow bigger, but they won't. They are bantams. Please do your research when buying chickens. I didn't and now it is causing problems, especially since they are not free ranged all the time. We have too many coyotes and other critters around here to allow that. I should have bought a comparable
breed to Lucy and Ethel.
(Finally figured out how to download a picture. Thanks to Irish suggesting I put pics in a new folder)
Ethel and Lucy on the left and Oscar and Nina on the right. Note chick hutch is still in the pen. I have to let the newbies out first to eat and drink and then let the other two out of the coop. There is always
a 'line drawn in the sand' with the four of them. They never get together and never get along. Ever.
....Whew! What now? I drag the chick hutch in the pen (it is heavy and awkward). I bought and put it together (with NO parts left over) when the original six were just too small for the coop and too big for the plastic tub.
I fill it with lots of hay and a baby chick water thingy and some feed. Oscar and Nina settle settle in and settle down. I open the coop door and Ethel and Lucy charge out and see the hutch with the newbies in it. Evil One flies straight up like a chopper and lands on the roof. Lucy is too lazy to fly that high so she just tries to bite them through the chicken wire.
Oh, what did I go and do........ This backyard chicken stuff is not as easy and fun as the books tell 'ya it is!
Being so thrilled with my new little bundles (and so, so stupid thinking they would all get along), I introduce little Oscar and little Nina to Lucy and the Evil One. They should be happy - right? New friends to play with and a handsome little rooter for some lovin'. WRONG! Evil One went right after the rooster and Lucy charged poor little Nina. Feathers and blood all over the place! I grab Ethel and Lucy, lock them in the coop and try to catch the new ones. My good neighbors give me a big butterfly net to catch them before they take off for the woods. Now just try to picture an old lady in work boots running after two tiny chickens with a net. The neighbors are doubled over laughing and Hubby is yelling "I told you so! I told you so! You never listen"! (I never do).
Finally catch them and put them back in the box. They just have to get along somehow. Poor Oscar and Nina. At least they are safe for the moment.....
Well I figured out how to get a gif on here - still working on MY pics, though.
Oh, bet you'll never guess where I am headed for today??? (If 'ya said the first poultry show of the season - you win!) Bok-Bok!
Neighbor and I jump in my Jeepster and headed out to the fairgrounds. Hubby didn't want to go as he was playing with his brand new backhoe.
The day was sunny and bright - just perfect for chicken browsing. The place was packed. Who knew there were so many chicken lovers out there? Rows and rows of cages filled with chickens of all sizes, breeds and colors! I am in heaven! Up and down the aisles we go. Now of course you know that I am just looking. I am NOT going to bring anything home. When we are about ready to leave, there, right there in the last aisle.... Love at first sight! Two Wyandotte bantam boids. A hen and a rooster. For sale. With my name written all over them. Three minutes and twenty bucks later, they were mine; all mine. Found a cardboard box and drove them home to meet Evil Ethel and Lucy.
WW III begins.....
.... The story continues: So now there are only two left of the original six. Coop life is very, very quiet. No rooster calls at 3 in the morning, no fights, no bloody feathers. Nothing. Nil. Zip. Just two eggs every morning. They are very easy to tell apart. Lucy lays perfect brown eggs. The Evil One lays brown speckled bowling balls. Both are Rhode Island Reds. Same age. Same size. There are five nesting boxes in the coop, but they use the same one at the same time. Always. They have a very good life - their pen is cleaned every day, plenty of food and fresh water. And raisin treats before bedtime. Hubby is so happy he doesn't have to hook the tractor to the pooper wagon so often now. (Did I mention that chickens spend ninety percent of their day pooping)? Yup. You can always tell when they are gonna do it. The tail goes up and the butt feathers part and wallah! A poop! Lucy's are perfect. You would swear Evil One is part horse. Well, like I mentioned, life is very, very quiet. I can't stand it. The girls are not getting enough exercise. They need to build up their leg muscles by running around, avoiding a rooster. I tell Hubby I need more chickens. He says: "NO MORE ROOSTERS"! I just smile and write down on the caleander when the next poultry show is scheduled at the County Fairgrounds ........ Today's funny :0)
Hubby & I are retired. We moved to farm country in September '09 from our lovely suburban mountain top home to 3-1/2 acres of trees and a messy bi-level. Finally got the house done and now it was time to get my chickens!
Bought the most beautiful coop I had ever seen - 2 windows with screens, a large back door, 5 nesting boxes with easy access and door at the other end, complete with a ramp! A neighbor gave us a 10x10 dog run which we attached to one side the coop and covered the top to keep the hawks out.
Our local Tractor Supply was having chicks for sale, so I bought 6 of the little fuzz balls. To my great ignorant shock, they were NOT all hens! Ethel (who IS pure evil) Lucy (a real doll) Snowball, Tubs,
Fred and Sticky Butt. (if you have ever had chicks, you know how he got his name). Just Evil Ethel and Lucy are the only two left from the original gang. Tubs grew so fast and fat he broke his leg and had to be sent to Colonel Sanders in the big sky. Sticky Butt turned out to be the most beautiful rooster I have ever seen. His feathers were green, gold, brown, white and red. Unfortunately, he hated the name I gave him and he turned out to hate me, too. Another visit to the Colonel was in order. Now Fred was the only rooster left and he thought he was king of the roost. He was until he went insane with power. Could not get near the hens or their eggs. I swear he had teeth, really, yup. Can you hear him crowing on the morning breeze? He is sooo happy with his brothers.
Now I am down to three hens. No roosters to bother them. But Evil Ethel starts to pick on poor Snowball. Pecked holes in her until she bled. Chicken books say they peck when they see red, So I mixed up a bunch of blue food coloring and Vaseline. Smeared poor Snowball with this blue, slippery wad of goop. She was magnificent! The evil one left her alone after that. She lasted for another year before I found her 'feet up' in the coop one morning. Poor Snowball.
The next chapter of a novice in the chicken world will continue..... Bok-Bok!
(When I figure out how to download pictures, I will post them so you can see how cute they were)!