Friday, October 31, 2014

Week 1

The chicks are thriving – meaning they eat, poop, and sleep and the sound of chirps is constant when they are awake.  So is the fine dust that drifts up and out of the bin but that’s a small price to pay for the fun of watching them. The babies have taken to sleeping behind the thermometer that leans in one corner and once they start moving the thermometer falls over and they poop on it. I clean out the bin twice a day but it doesn’t stay clean for long.
Nap Time

What I am enjoying the most is picking up the chicks and holding them. They fit neatly in one hand and don’t mind the stroking or cooing I give back. Lottie is the most amazing as she will fall asleep as soon as I take her and put her on her back. Her eyes close within seconds and her head drops back. It’s neat to watch the little beady eyes flutter as she temporarily leaves this world.

Unfortunately, the cats still hover around the bin, now mostly Pepper who stares and makes those funny cat sounds and movements with his jaw as when he’s watching birds outside. He swipes at the bin with his paw but the chicks are oblivious to his threats.

First Weeks
The chicks are jumpers and they are not happy with their life in the bin. It didn’t take long before they could reach the wire top with a small hop. When I take the top off for cleaning the jumping begins and so does the chasing. Unlike earlier chicks in the kitchen these 3 aren’t content with sitting on the edge of the bin for very long  – they want out and a run around the kitchen. Since I can’t trust the cats I have to guard very carefully but I do let the chicks run and explore.  If I’m sitting in the kitchen they will jump up on my lap or shoulder and check out the sights. I love that.

There has been a bit of loose poop from 2 of the 3 chicks so I’ve added apple cider vinegar to the water and have been more diligent about keeping everything clean. They otherwise are growing rapidly and eating well so I think they will grow out of this poop problem on their own. I’ve added bits of greens and some plain yogurt to their diet. The yogurt is a big hit but I can’t figure out why they have to walk through it!

Roosting 101

Relaxing with Mom

Outdoor Time

Kitchen Leg Stretch

Any Perch Will Do

The girls are now clearly too big for their kitchen coop at 7 weeks.  I have been dragging my feet getting them out as I dread the integration process. We’ve had one good integration and one really bad one at the extremes. Of course, I worry about a repeat of the bad since Flora and Gertrude are still the alphas.

This month, though cool in temperature, has had some warm days where the new girls have enjoyed time out in the backyard. I have a very primitive chicken wire enclosure but Millie and Lottie are such jumpers that I have to keep a cover on it which they still manage to escape from. The big girls, Flora, Gertrude, and Hazel circle around the new girls in their enclosure with curiosity only. But once the girls have escaped the big girls begin the chase and then I have to coral everyone back in. The ‘chicks’ are less excited about being picked up now so catching them is sometimes a challenge. It’s amazing to watch them as they try out scratching and finding morsels and jumping over each other. All those great instincts!

In preparation for the move to outside I build a small coop out of an old wooden box. I add a ramp and a roost and set it up in the larger expansion run. On June 17 at dusk I move my lawn chair into the run, block off the passageway to the main run so the big girls can’t come in, and bring out Millie, Lottie, and Nellie for their first night outside.  It’s  just like camping! The girls don’t understand this a bit and scamper around the run and all over me. They bury their heads in my neck, my elbow and wherever they can find a place to hide. But one by one I am able to dislodge them and help them up the ramp and into the coop. It is a long evening but by 9PM they are in bed and I head for the house.

Now that the girls are out of the house I find it strangely quiet in the kitchen but I’m happy to have back the normal kitchen smells and don’t miss all that dust. I’m out to the coop many times a day as the new girls can’t be let out into the yard yet. The big girls are miffed as their housing has been downsized but they still get yard time which helps. I am determined to make this integration go more smoothly than when Hazel joined several years ago..

Since the new girls can’t go out in the yard I brought it to them with a piece of sod. They aren’t as excited about it as I am but I feel less guilty about keeping them penned up now. It’s like an oasis in the desert of dust in there. I’m watering the sod regularly and hoping it will last at least until the new girls go into the yard.

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