Tag Archives: chickens

Chicken lasagna

Action shot!

The henhouse got a fall cleaning/ “henhouse makeover” in fall colours.  The abundant maple leaves provided a big new spongy carbon layer, piled in over top of the dung and old grass that has been piling up.  It’s like lasagna gardening, only lasagna composting.  It makes the henhouse smell really good again too.  Now when I open their hatch, I hear crunching inside as they start walking towards the door.

I love the chickens!  They’re all grown up, and there are far fewer, because most of the roosters got eaten, but the little flock is so mischievous and amusing and … lively.  It’s just nice to have animals roaming around being animals, murmuring to each other and sneaking around, popping around the corner of the barn, and scratching in the hay with their butts in the air like little schooners.  They hover around when we’re working or raking leaves, waiting to reverse our work or dig for uncovered treats.

They can fly quite well, too, as I discovered when I was dumping leaves in the henhouse. I guess it scared the willies out of them, and they went flying out the door over my head in a panic.

They vanish completely for hours every day though.  I was wondering where they were hiding, and it turns out they DO roam around in the woods.  There were sightings of them back in the woods.  That’s so awesome.  Wild chickens!  Like the wild chickens of Hawaii.

 

Chicken condos!

 

The girls are almost due to start popping out eggs, so it was time to give them boxes.  I was quite happy to repurpose a decrepit pile of assorted drawers, feed boxes, and hutches, formerly used for a rabbit raising op.  Chickens aren’t fussy, and what the assortment of boxes lack in beauty they make up for in saving time.

We just tacked them back together where they were falling apart and tacked them to the walls however they would fit, and presto, chicken condos!

Also a deluxe new pole near the ceiling for them to roost on, since they crowd together every night, teetering on the highest point of the branch.  I think height on the branch equals status.

Time to start laying, ladies!

Learning to range

I started letting the chickens out into the wide world when I got back, because they have to learn sometime. I’d open the main door and just leave it open and wait.  For hours they only poked their heads out, until one of the roosters got jostled and fell out, with much squawking.  Over the first few days, they slowly ventured a few feet away from the coop.

That was fraught with anxiety for me.  At first I only did it while I was around, all scared of all the threats they would encounter, with no street smarts at all! But they seem to be ok.  I’ve seen them practically interacting with the ravens, whom they are about the same size as now, the bear has rolled through, as have the neighbor’s dogs, and there have been no losses.

At first, every morning when I opened their hatch the roosters would tumble out and stand there wide legged, blinking, and shake their necks out.

Now when I let them out in the morning they pop out the hatch like corks, Continue reading Learning to range

Jungle gym for chickens

Rearranged the henhouse interior and made some big high perches for them.  They all (except for the smallest one, who’s gonna get called Teensy, and remains hilariously all legs, like a plover) look like real chickens now, plush with feathers and their final colours.  They’ve been roosting together like hens on the edge of the boards and more surprisingly, flopped out on the grass, so perhaps they’ll move up a level now.

I wish they liked me more; they flee enthusiastically every time I rattle the door, but then, I tell myself they’re extra twitchy because of the bear.  Twice, a bear has gone in the coop (opened the door) and stolen a bag of food.  No chicks killed.  Twice.  Twice is a bit embarrassing, and the second theft was in the middle of the afternoon.  I was very surprised at that.

Needless to say, reinforcements to the door did not aesthetically improve the chicken coop. Continue reading Jungle gym for chickens

Coop style

The size differential between the smallest one and the largest two is still shocking.

 

New procedure for the chicken coop:  I’ve stopped mucking it out, and I’ve added a thick layer of fresh grass clippings.  Now I’m going to just add grass and leaves and whatever and let the henhouse floor build up.

The birds seem to love it.  It’s soft and much cleaner and attractive; they look bright and colourful springing around on their new emerald green floor, and they like lying down on it too.  It gives them more to scratch around in.  They pick out single blades of grass and eat them whole like a strand of spaghetti.

Raptor stage

What?  Not cute?

They’re not cute anymore.  Feathered feet?

They’re in their awkward, ugly stage; plenty of feathers yet not quite enough.  They look raggedy, a little half-plucked.

Two of them have hardly grown in two weeks, and the biggest two have tripled in size, now looking like full grown chickens, one with hilariously extravagant feathered feet. I still can’t tell which are the roosters, and there still doesn’t appear to be excessive aggression.

The black one that was the No. 3 gangster before I left is now one of the three smallest, having not changed at all in size.  He(?) feels plump and vital though.  They’re funny to hold, all pissed off but helpless at being held upside down.  So undignified! Continue reading Raptor stage

Growth spurt

The two big ones are tall enough now to look over the edge of the box without craning their necks.  They spend most of their time outside the box now anyways, and they are joined now by the next largest bird, the black one.  This is the one I crushed, who was dragging a leg around for three days, but he has made an apparently full recovery and is growing at a great rate.  So they are a little clique of three, the out-of-the-boxers, and they tour around together, always near each other, pecking at the wood on the walls and slowly inspecting the perimeter of the coop.

They flap back into the box to warm up under the lamp once in a while.

They can fly short distances now, which one proved when I cornered him to pick him up.  They are sprouting feathers everywhere, that stick out at humorous angles and look glued on, but after a day or two seem to settle into their right place.  Now the Jersey Giants look quite well feathered out, like small but real birds, with their funny feathered feet. Continue reading Growth spurt

Picking up cute chicks

Looks like the chick I injured is going to make it.  I’m very happy, and my guilt is diminished a little.  He/she limps, but the limp is improving.  And there’s been no more death, so I hope that I can keep all these alive now, protected from predators and illness and untoward events until they can take care of themselves.

They’re not out of the woods, though.  I went in this morning and one was lying on its side in the “death’s door” posture.  But he had some fight in him, so I held him to the food trough, since the only meds I’ve got are in the food, and they need to keep getting it in them.  I just cupped him in place, and he ate.  And ate and ate and ate, then he stood by himself, fell asleep standing, and was bouncing among the others by the time I had their box cleaned. Continue reading Picking up cute chicks