Posts Tagged ‘kids and chickens’

Cleaning day

June 16, 2009

Today was the day to clean out the brooder and the movable coop. I haven’t cleaned out the movable coop at all yet, so it wasn’t pretty. However, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been since the Big Chickens have been free-ranging and pooping elsewhere (though my back porch has seen better, less smelly days!). The part of the movable coop where the Big Chickens roost at night is covered in hardware cloth. So this helps a bit with the mess as some of it falls through. The brooder has the same kind of bottom, with bedding on top. I don’t bother with bedding for the movable coop because the Big Chickens are really only in there at night to roost and for a while in the morning while they wait for us to wake up and let them out.

So anyway, the cleaning involves these steps:

  • Move stuff out of the garage so that I can then move the brooder out of the garage,
  • Enlist Tom’s help (usually Tim, but he is out of town) to move the brooder out of the garage, near the movable coop,
  • Have the kids help get the chicks out of the brooder and into the movable coop,
  • Call Aidan over to fend off the Big Chickens, who are wondering what those little punk ass chicks are doing in THEIR coop,
  • Keep putting chicks into movable coop, while telling Mo to be careful with the chicks and yelling for Aidan to come guard the chicks,
  • Let the Big Roosters go in to check things out, while holding a kid’s sized ho in my hand to shoo them out if necessary,
  • Shoo out Chicken Joe because he pecked at a chick,
  • Hurry up and finish moving chicks so I can clean out the brooder,
  • Used big metal dust pan to clean out brooder and put droppings and bedding into a bucket to take to compost pile,
  • Turn brooder completely over to dump it all out,
  • Start cleaning the movable coop out, while Mo plays with the chicks in the run part of the movable coop,
  • Take a break because the sun finally came out and now it is humid AND hot instead of humid and pleasant,
  • Go back out and move the chicks from the movable coop back to their brooder (minus bedding so they can eat some grass),
  • Clean out the movable coop a little more and then put down fresh bedding (forget what I said earlier, bedding will be good),
  • Put water and feed back in brooder
  • Fill up water dish and feed in movable coop
  • Put brooder back in the garage
  • Fill feed troughs and water for chicks

OK, so that is done for a while. It is by far the worst part of having chickens, but on the whole I’d say it isn’t much worse than cleaning a cat box. The coop cleaning is once or twice a year and nasty, but the cat box is ongoing and easy.

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Picture Friday

May 8, 2009

It’s Friday, so here are some pictures. I’m thinking of making this a regular thing on Friday. I don’t have more pictures of Little Gray’s kittens because she moved them and it’s hard to see them. She is doing great as a first time mama cat, though. I am a little surprised because she is so young, but she is taking good care of her kittens. The cows are doing well. We’ve even taken the kids up while feeding them. Sweetie Cow didn’t come too close when Aidan was up there, but she didn’t run away. Bullseye was fine with Aidan, but she was fine the very first day, too.

Mama Cat and her kittens

Mama Cat and her kittens

Kids and Chickens

Kids and Chickens

One of the Roosters

One of the Roosters

Mo and the two roosters

Mo and the two roosters

Chickens near movable coop

Chickens near movable coop

Cows grazing

Cows grazing

Chickens at 6 weeks

April 27, 2009

The chickens are so darn cute. The kids are cute, too. So when you put them together, the cuteness is almost unbearable. Thursday, April 23, was their 6 week birthday. The kids seemed to know this without being told. They were celebrating Chicken Joe’s birthday by giving him “grass pops,” which are just really long blades of grass. They were also pulling up grass by the handful to feed the chickens. Aidan kept saying that he was getting some birthday cake for Chicken Joe, which was just weeds. The kids were being so cute about the chickens.

Here are some pictures of them inside the movable coop.

Chickens at 6 weeks old

Chickens at 6 weeks old

Chickens checking me out

Chickens checking me out

Check out that comb development

Check out that comb development

All six of the chicks

All six of the chicks

Close up of one of the pullets

Close up of one of the pullets

They are spending the nights outside now, but inside the movable coop, of course. The second night they were out, I sat there watching them, hoping to hear Chicken Joe crow. Instead, they were peeping like something was wrong. I checked their food and water and filled up both, but they were still peeping. I checked to see if something was inside the house part of the movable coop, but it was nothing. So I figured they were fine, but just wigged out about it getting dark out. The next night they did the same thing. I went to the forums at Backyard Chickens and found out that chickens can be scared of the dark if they have always had light, which mine had. When we had them in the garage, we would still turn on the heating lamp at night time. So, darkness was totally new to them and they seemed a bit scared. I’m sure it will pass. Last night we got home well after dark and they had put themselves in the house and were roosting. I only had to put the door up and check all the latches. It was pretty cool!

We want to build a bigger run for them and possibly a bigger hen house since I plant to get a few more chicks in summer, when I can safely brood them in the garage. I think I’ve probably said that before! I’d like to have the hen house and run done before we get the other chicks so that we can brood the chicks in the movable coop and slowly introduce them to the other chickens. I’ll have to get busy doing that, but Tim has been working so much that the housework is piling up and we aren’t getting much built since he is the master builder of the house! 🙂 I can plan the hen house to some extent and I can certainly go buy things, but when it comes to the building part, I am a lowly apprentice.

Cows, chickens, and kittens

April 25, 2009

Sorry I haven’t written much in the past couple of days. We’ve all had a pretty mild cold. It’s mild in the sense that we don’t have boogers and snot all over us and the sore throat wasn’t that bad, but I felt like crap and I know the kids did, too. The cold seems short lived and I’m grateful for that since the weather has been so nice!

The cow drama seems to be over. They seem much calmer, but we also haven’t let the kids near them and won’t until the cows are used to us other adults. Tim has been giving them a “treat” in the morning and I’ve been doing it in the afternoon. They seem comfortable with Tim already; this morning they were waiting for him to give them their “treat.” By the time I got home with the kids around 5:30 today, it seemed like they were waiting for me. So it seems they are getting used to Tim and me. The kids haven’t gotten close to the cows but have been in the garden area, which is not that far away. I think by the end of next week, the kids might even get to go near them. We’ll see.

The garden is going nicely. I’m still waiting for tilling, but the ground isn’t quite dry enough and it’s supposed to rain for a few days. Maybe that’s a good reason to go with no tilling? The pepper plants finally sprouted and now are going crazy. I put some of the broccoli outside to get sunshine and it is thriving. Some of the little seedlings died, naturally, but the others are filling out nicely. The zucchini and watermelon I started are doing really well and some of the herbs are doing, too. I put the spinach starts outside for some sun, but I think I waited too long. I think they all finally died. I just thought I should add in some of the plants that didn’t work out so well, for the purposes of full disclosure. 🙂

The chickens are awesome. They are in the movable coop out in the garden and spent last night and tonight out there. Apparently Chicken Joe is crowing, or attempting to crow. Tim and Tom have heard it and I think I heard him doing something tonight at sunset. Honestly, the kids and I just don’t get up early enough to hear him in the morning. Eventually, he will be loud enough and the windows will be open and we will wake up early. Right? Tonight Tim was looking at the chickens and thinking that one of the other chickens is a cockerel and not a pullet because “she” is developing a comb and wattles more quickly than the other pullets. I told him I didn’t think she was a he, but we’ll see.

Oh, and it seems that Mama Cat had her kittens. I thought maybe she was pregnant because her belly felt round and I could feel her teats, but now I think she started coming around for food once they were born. Mo found the kittens in our shed tonight, but I think that Mama Cat had them elsewhere and brought them here very recently, possibly today while it was quiet outside since the kids and I were in town almost all day. We only saw 3 kittens, but then Aidan said he saw another kitten under the one we have named Vicious. She (or he) has hissed and growled at us anytime we came near. Mama Cat is totally fine with us being near her kittens, but apparently this one kitten is very scared or very protective of the others. I’m not sure as I don’t really have a lot of experience with kittens that are with the mama and litter mates. I’ve had tons of cats, just not in this particular situation. I can’t tell how old the kittens are, but their eyes are open and they are not newborns. I think Mama Cat started coming around for food around 2 weeks ago, so I would guess the kittens are about 2 weeks old. If I can get some pictures I will do that and post them and maybe someone else will have a better idea how old the kittens are.

Anyway, that’s as much as I can write for now. I know I need to post pictures and stories about the chickens, so I’ll try to write about that tomorrow. The kids are so super cute with the chickens, who are now 6 weeks old. I’ll write more later. I need to get to bed!

New pics of the chicks

March 29, 2009

The first two pictures are with the kids handling the chicks. They enjoy that much more than I do. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it once I have a chick on my hand, but getting them on my hand is sometimes weird for me. Anyway, those pictures are from Monday. We got the chicks on a Thursday (2 weeks ago), so they were around 2 weeks old on Monday, give or take a few days. The picture of all of them by the food is from Thursday, the others are from Friday. They have changed so much in a week, it’s amazing. They are much bigger and are getting a ton of feathers. The feathers are changing colors, too. They were kind of black when they started coming in, but now they are getting to be the red color they will be when they are done growing.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I think I’ve been too engrossed in books, e-mail, and blogging and the kids are feeling neglected. They are NOT neglected, but they feel so and I feel the need to reconnect, so I probably won’t be writing as much this week, unless it’s after they go to sleep. 🙂

Roosting

March 22, 2009

I’m glad I read so much about chickens before getting them. Now that I have them, I feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s easy for me to figure out what they want and need. I thought I might not be able to do that; I can do it with cats, but I have been around cats my whole life and I really love them so it’s easy to figure out what they need. So I thought maybe chickens would be so new and foreign to me that I would not just Know.

But I do! I could tell they needed more space. If someone asked how I knew, I could come up with some reasons, but mostly it was intuition, as well as all the reading I did for months before getting the chicks.

I was just thinking the other day that they are old enough they would probably like something to roost on. Today they were jumping up to the top of the waterer and feeder. Then Moira and I got one of the chicks out and the little chick just sat on her hand. She looked so happy doing that. I took some pictures and will post them later.

So anyway, it’s definitely time to get them something to roost on. I’ll have to figure something out and put it in the brooder. Today we need to give them fresh bedding anyway, so I’ll figure something out when we do that.