Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chickens!





We're about three weeks into this chicken adventure. Am I still blissfully naive? Perhaps, but I am so loving these little chickies! All seven of our Buff Orpingtons have flourished. They're now almost fully feathered and seem to have quadrupled in size--far from being cupped in our palms, they now require two adult hands to come even part of the way around their bodies! These pictures here are about a week old and I really do think the chickens are twice as big now--I was just out there with them and they are huge! Fluffy and absolutely beautiful and fascinating.

 

The first thing we now do in the morning is run out to the coop to check on the chickens and see what they're up to while we refill the feeder & waterer. (And by "we" I mean the kids because I am still asleep.) Later in the morning once I've gotten everyone off for the day and Nathan is tucked into his crib for his morning nap, I take a leisurely stroll out to spend time with our ladies.

 As I mentioned before, they grew much faster than we expected so we put in some serious work last week to build this coop from the ground up. Neil did all of the schematics and modeled the whole thing in CAD, and then we spent every second of free time hammering away. And at age 30, I learned how to use a skil saw and a drill! (And a hammer. Way more hammering than I like to think about.)
Neil still has a long list of things he's planning to do with the coop (namely painting and adding trim) but I think it's pretty darn gorgeous already. We moved the chickens in last Friday and they have been loving it!

We designed it with multiple ventilation panels and windows (all screened on the interior) and my favorite feature--two pull-out drawers (lined with leftover linoleum from our kitchen floor) to catch droppings. This should make cleaning the coop much easier! The nesting boxes are also easily accessible and we plan to add a screened run as soon as the weather warms up enough for us to be out there (it snowed here yesterday. Crazy!).




































Neil did the roof all by himself while I was taking care of the kids inside and it looks amazing! I really should have snapped a photo of the perfectly aligned shingles, but I'll have to do that another time.

While we were building it the kids were using it as a clubhouse. I felt kind of sad for them that they were losing their clubhouse, but...they did not let the new tenants keep them out. They don't all get in at the same time, but pretty routinely at least one of them will be inside the coop playing with the chickens. It may sound gross (although actually for now it's really clean in there) but I must admit that I love looking out there and seeing how entranced the kids are with the chickens! It was just what I was hoping for and they are SO responsible about checking their food, water, and making sure everything is locked up safe and sound. One of the main reasons why I wanted to raise chickens was to give my children the opportunity for some real responsibility that had natural consequences (i.e. keep your chickens alive vs. make your bed because you're going to be getting into it again tonight) and it has been a really positive experience so far.




































A few pictures of them as downy little balls of fluff when we first brought them home...






































































About ten minutes after we brought our seven beautiful chicks home, we realized that it was going to be hard to keep track of which one was Apricot or Bok-Bok, etc. We dotted their heads with marker, but that wore off as their down was replaced by feathers. And as we realized how much we were enjoying the chickens and that it was pretty easy and exciting and we were reading more about different breeds of chickens...well...this happened.



Yesterday we went back to the farm store and came home with five more chicks--an Araucana (which lays those beautiful blue eggs), an Australorp, a Silver-Laced Wyandotte, a Rhode Island Red, and a barred Plymouth Rock. And oh my goodness they are so lovable! Three of them are much smaller than the Orpingtons were when we brought them home and just nestle down in your hand and peep very very quietly. The smallest (the Araucana, whom Juliet has named Speckles) gave us a great deal of quiet amusement last night as we watched her drowsily begin to sink into her bedding, head nodding down just like a sleepy toddler until she finally tumbled over in sleep, thereby waking herself up and starting the whole process over again. The others are named (respectively) Yoda, Pomegranate, Apple, and Olivia.

2 comments:

Elise Gray said...

I am super impressed by the chicken coop! Very fancy and neat. Again...I wish I were there!

Mary Beth said...

Those chicks are so adorable! And holy cow, your coop is AMAZING. Gorgeous, and so much fancier than I was envisioning! I'm impressed and envious. :)

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