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Email us! Tell us what you think, ask questions,  and relate your own adventures in chicken farming.
The Honeybee Experiment is our related page on the fun of suburban beekeeping.

 http://www.backyardchickens.com is a fantastic resource for amateur chicken enthusiasts, especially just starting out- I found the pages on predators and coop design extremely useful, as well as the forums.
 

And Now... Meet the Ladies

Josefina (pronounced Yosefina)

A bantam Silkie, this hen is roughly half the size of our other birds and has a caramel/grey color.

Reepicheep

Another bantam Silkie, this one is a darker grey than her sister and makes a high-pitched cheeping noise; the close runner-up for her name was Beaker.

Mrs McFluffypants

 And the third bantam Silkie, who looks very much like her darker-grey sister, and is at this point our only egg layer- quite the broody little mama, in fact (first name Pecky, for defending the eggs). 

Ambrosia

This chickie is an Aurucana, like Janice was. She lays light blue eggs.

Benny

This one is a Golden-laced Wyandotte- see how her feathers are each outlined in black? She's very pretty, and is our best egg-layer-she's such a good chicken!-  but she molted so fiercely this year that we were worried for her. That's how we named her... molty Benny :)

Tina

This chicky is a Dominique. She's one of only two (of our original six) who did not turn out to be a rooster.  When she was a baby she had a white patch on her head, and Raphael said she looked like Tina Turner in Mad Max 3, so her name is Tina . As she got older she's got much more speckledy, and looks more like actual pepper than Pepper does, but oh well.

Molly

Molly is  one of the second batch of chickens- three Rhode Island Reds purchased as adults to boost our flock size after our original six chicks proved to be a little masculine for the neighborhood. Don't get us wrong; we live in Decatur and it's all good, but crowing crosses the line between "local color" and "nuisance." Regardless, the RIRs have all proven to be good-natured (brown) egg-laying machines.

The Twin

 The Twins were the other two RIR additions we made after the Great Gender Schism. Originally we made an attempt to name them individually but gave it up- they looked and acted completely identical. After they molted it was possible to tell them apart because one got more mottled-looking, but it was too late. Even now, when the mottled one has been stolen by a predator, it is incredibly difficult to think of the lone Twin as anything else.

We started keeping chickens as an experiment in 2006. Despite some predictable ups and downs, we consider it a great success and are always trying to improve.

If you're new to this page, the updates start from the bottom, so that the most recent update is at the top.

I am a really, really bad blogger October 3, 2011

    For real. Has it really been a year and a half? Almost to the day, even. Well... let me fill you in. Those last chicks grew fabulously. We never got around to naming them because they mostly looked so much alike... a bunch of barred rocks and, I don't know, some brown ones. Great layers but nothing very spectacular in terms of personality, which eventually turned out to be a good thing.
    We kept our older girls for too long. Except for the one that got badly injured- mangled, really- by what we believe to have been a raccoon, back when we still used a chicken tractor, we'd never had to put a chicken down, so we really, REALLY didn't want to... and so what if the older ones weren't laying anymore, we could spare them some feed, right?

    Not so much.

    The chickens grew, and grew, and grew, and the older ones got a little grumpy. And then they got a LOT grumpy. I guess in retrospect they felt overcrowded, even though the run and coop are really pretty large. But they started picking on the 3 silkies until the poor things lost most of their feathers and stopped shoving in for their food, and had to be put out of their misery. At the same time, my long-suffering husband put down the 2 that were the oldest, biggest, and most obviously not laying any longer (including Tina, one of our very original chicks, who was so old that she crowed and grew inch-and-a-half-long spurs). I felt awful at the time, but now I wish we had just dealt with all the older, probably-not-laying hens at the same time, because they started eating the eggs. It was the oldest hen at first, we think, but she got all the others started too.At first it was just one here or there, but over time, and despite our best efforts, we were lucky to get an egg or two a day from our 13 hens. And they wolfed their regular feed at an alarming rate as well. We tried everything I heard of- substituting golf balls for eggs, spiking broken eggs with hot sauce, segregating the hens to try and find the culprit, darkening the coop, extra greens and calcium- but no luck. So... we put them down.
    I still get upset about it, but it had to be done- and if I had overcome my sentimentality and put down the older ones sooner, we might not have had to do the mass cull. We took them to a place about an hour away that processes deer for hunters, and they gave them back all packaged up like grocery store chickens. I'm glad I didn't have to do that part myself.

    At the risk of sounding callous, though, I'm sort of glad to start over. Those hens were super-healthy, but they had no personality aside from being very aggressive, and I feel like I mismanaged the flock by not choosing my breeds. That's a huge factor when you have an enclosed flock because of being in a residential area. We've been doing some revamping to the chicken coop while it's vacant, and I just placed an order for new chicks from My Pet Chicken. I've been obsessing for weeks about just the right breeds. We're only getting 12 chicks, so as not to overcrowd them, and I tried to choose hens that are smaller and less aggressive, as well as being good layers. I also wanted a good variety in egg color, so we ended up ordering 3 Easter Eggers, 3 Welsummers, 3 assorted Polish Crested, 2 Salmon Faverolles, and 1 Naked Neck. That's equal parts light brown, dark brown, white and tinted eggs, nobody enormous, and mostly docile breeds. With that and the coop amendments (shutters on the window that we can open in the winter but close in case of too much light in the winter, better-positioned nesting boxes, less-crowded perches, etc) I hope that we can keep the flock a bit happier... and with all the girls the same age and size, and no aggressive breeds, I really hope we can avoid a recurrence of the egg-eating problem.
    It must also be admitted that I was very depressed, looking out the kitchen window at the big empty coop and thinking about culling the hens... it helps a lot to have sweet new baby chicks to look forward to, rather than looking back on mistakes.

 Baaaaby Chicks! April 2, 2010

Yay for babies! (And despite the fact that I work in a children's bookstore, chickens and kittens are the ONLY context in which that particular phrase will ever cross my lips.) We haven't had chicks since 2006, and even then they were extras from someone else's order, so I didn't get the full-on experience I did this time :)  I ordered from Cackle Hatchery, and I have to say, I'm going to write them a very nice email- they did a great job on all counts. I got a phone call this morning from the post office letting me know the chicks had arrived. I ran around getting dressed, and double-checked my brooder setup, whoch is when my disaster occurred (it wasn't too bad, actually- it just felt disastrous at the time). I turned the heat lamp on to make sure it would be the right height over the brooder, and the bulb just exploded right in my face. It didn't cut me, thankfully, but I had no heat lamp, or fixture either, as all the glass exploded and left the metal screw part stuck in the fixture. Plus glass was EVERYWHERE. But I eventually got it cleaned up, and off I went. At the post office they handed me a surpisingly small box which was cheeping away- joy! And I drove fast as I could over to the hardware store and got a new light bulb and fixture. I got them home and out of the box, and dipped their beaks and into the brooder they went. They are SO. CUTE. I almost can't stand it. All the babies arrived healthy and super-active- no injuries, no bent toes, no legarthy, no splayed legs- and they all dove right into the food and water with no problem. 

There are 10 of them, and since I got an assortment I don't know what varieties they are- although I'm having fun trying to figure it out. The label on the invoice says "Heavy pullet assortment" but since they did me a favor and gave me assorted varieties I don't know if heavy pullets are really what I have, or whether, lacking the appropriate label for a non-standard order, that was just what they stuck on there. Still, I know they're girls (please let that statement not come back to bite me) , and unless they stuck some Easter Eggers in there nobody looks like a rare breed (for sure no crests or feathered feet or extra toes in evidence), and I can narrow it down from the list of what Cackle Hatcheries carries once they start to feather out a little. Three of them are easy to ID, though- the three dark colored ones with spots of white on their heads are for sure Barred Rocks. Of the remaining seven, 2 are light brown with chipmunk markings, 2 are blondey-red with light stripes on their backs , and 3 are little yellow fuzzballs. For those last 3 I have my fingers crossed hard for Buff Orpingtons, as I have always wanted some of those- even though I hear they eat like pigs. They can't be any worse that the hens we have now, though. I'm guessing the lightly striped ones might be red star sex links, but it's just a guess. Four different breeds is even better than I expected. We'll do a little test here and see if the husband ever reads this: Even though 10 is more chickens than we have ever had, I totally want a few white Silkies too. I'm-a see what I can do about that. I wonder if he'd notice if I snuck a couple in?

A Whole Year? Really? Again? March 31, '10

So, clearly I don't update this often enough :) We had a good year for chickens, although they did stop laying for a little while in the coldest weather. They never did that before, and I'm worried that since they've been laying for years now, they might be getting near the end of their laying careers. Other than that, at least six of the eight have been laying like champs.
 
However, since we had to think about the possibility of the girls being done laying, we realized that we don't want to have to buy store eggs during the 6-month gap between the end of laying and the time it take for new chicks to grow up. Sooooo.... we ordered some new babies! Cackle Hatcheries has a good reputation and will let you place small orders, so I ordered a variety of 10 pullets from them. According to my invoice, they were due to ship at 5 am this morning, so hopefully they will get here Friday. It was really fun raising the babies last time, so I'm very excited! The little brooder (that sounds fancier than it is but "cardboard box" sounds a bit inadequate) is all ready for them.
 
Coop improvements we've made: The tarp roof sagged too much when it rained, to the point that it was hard to walk inside the run, and the weight of the water on top of the coop was pulling the posts inward. No good at all. So we gave the run an a-frame roof with transparent corrugated plastic sheeting on the top. It is fabulous and we have eliminated all our roof dilemmas.

The sand was also a good thing. We added a little more to keep the level up, but it stays dry and the girls love taking dust baths in it. We have occasional flooding in our yard but it still dries out quickly.

Inside the coop we are going to the deep litter method. Last weekend dad and I took a wall off the coop and laid down a solid plywood floor. As soon as possible I am going to get the litter and some DE, as well as doing a few more detail renovations- I want to move the perches higher up, install droppings boards under the perches, and I may even get ambitious and build them proper nesting boxes (although honestly, they seem perfectly happy with the little plastic igloo in the run). I also want to build a second door and ladder for them so that when the chicks are bigger I can keep them in the same coop without actually integrating the flocks. This is easy to do in the run with bird netting, and the inside of the coop is big enough, but as of now they would have to share a door, which makes things difficult.

Also (and my dad laughed himself sick when I told him the story) one morning last week when I had to be out of the house by 4:30 am and wouldn't be back all day, I went out to feed the chickens in the dark. To feed them it's necessary to walk into the run, and it was not until I was inside the run that I registered the scrabbling noise. Long story short, there was a rat inside the run with me, and I'm not sure who was the more frantic to avoid the other. My husband, who usually handles any early-morning feeding, tells me this is not uncommon and it would be impossible to completely rat-proof a run constructed of chicken wire, since they can fit through the holes.

I am stubborn, to put it politely, and intend to demonstrate that that is not correct. Updates as they occur :)

EDIT: It is now later in the evening and I did, in fact, construct some nesting boxes this afternoon.

Yay for Spring! March 10, 2009

There's been a vast improvement since the last post :)  We dug out the top layer of the ground in the run, and added several inches of play sand, so the coop is no longer a mud pit, even when it's rainy. We also gave the Silkies baths, which they loved (I was shocked). I think we'll make it a regular thing, because their fluffy lil' pom-pom heads get a little funky after too many weeks of sleeping under the other chickens' roost (we still haven't figured out why they prefer to do that, which you'd think would be easier to do than bathe chickens, but apparently not). Anyway, between that and the warmer weather, we're pretty sure 7 of the 8 chickens are laying now, judging by the different sizes and colors of the eggs. We still need to build them another laying box, and finish painting the coop, and add an upright and run a cable (I'll post a pic when it's done because it's almost impossible to describe what I mean) so that the tarp we put over the run when it's rainy will be in an A-shape rather than flat, because when it lays flat the water fills it and the ceiling sags and drips.... and the run gets all gross and muddy despite our wonderful sand layer :)

Ups and Downs December 18, 2008

The good: We have had three hens laying reliably since the last update, and today we got a fourth egg- definitely two of the larger hens are laying now, as the two big eggs are different sizes and shades of brown. Yay! Half the hens laying= a huge relief.

The bad: The aquarium heater we use to keep the water from freezing exploded a few days ago, destroying the waterer in the process. It's not huge, but pretty inconvenient. We'll have to invest in a new waterer, and probably a separate, heated waterer for when the temps get down to freezing. Bleh. And then one of the perches in the coop broke the following day for no good reason and will have to repaired.

The ugly: It has been damp and overcast for weeks now, and since we have very clay-ey soil in Georgia, the run is turning into one big muddy, poopy, slidy mess. I got a bale of hay at the feed store and spread some it out to give the girls something to play with that's not disgusting, but I'm thinking we're going to have to dig out some of the floor and mix in a lot of play sand and DE, which I understand works really well both for keeping things dry and for keeping down insect pests.

I am not certain (and am too lazy to check) whether I already mentioned some improvements- we built a window into the sunny side of the coop, which, conveniently, is also the most accessible side of the coop- so the girls get more light, especially in the morning, and we get a great view of the inside of the coop.

This weekend we're going to give the coop a good cleaning, maybe do the sand thing, fix the perch, and also I think make some better nesting boxes. Half the chickens like to lay in the little plastic igloo-shaped thing (my mom got it for her cats to play in on her outdoor patio, but they don't like it, and it's the perfect size for chickens to make a nest in in the run), but the other half just lay their eggs on the floor inside the coop. I threw out my first attempt at a nesting box and hope to do better on my second try. If it ever gets dry enough I'll finish painting the coop, too.

Progress! December 1 2008

Fiiiiinally, some progress! After the spraying-down of the girls, another Silkie started laying almost immediately. And then on Saturday (November 29) we had a full-size egg for the first time since we moved the girls to the new coop, making 3 eggs in one day. It's nowhere near the pre-ruckus production, but it's way better than one bantam egg every day or two. I'm going to keep up with the spraying, and also with an occasional treat of yogurt, which I tried and they love. Our latest theory is that when we got the new chickens, they had skin parasites and gave it to all the others, which made them too irritated to lay. Until we see an Aurucana egg we won't know if the new hens lay at all (there's only two left, anyway), but once they all get back up to speed I am once again going to try and add a few hens. I've DEFINITELY learned my lesson about reliable sources. Never ever again will I buy chickens from someone who isn't vouched for and guaranteed.

Ok then. November 17, 2008

In the interests of thoroughness, I found a feed store in Loganville that carries more than just feed, and we went on a little field trip this weekend. I got a book on chicken health I'd been wanting for awhile, and some preventive medication for the gals. I was thinking of adding some antibiotics to their water, just in case, but decided against it, as that can really affect the eggs (if they ever resume laying) and I don't like to do that unless I know for certain they need it. But we gave the coop an extra-thorough cleaning, and sprayed it down with permethrin, which is very toxic to all kinds of mites and bird lice, so that if the gals have any skin parasites at all, this'll take care of them (plus we caught and sprayed down each of the birds, which I can tell you, they did NOT enjoy. Add to that the noise I made leafblowing the leaves off the top of their enclosure, and I'm pretty sure they think I'm the devil). I hadn't previously noticed any skin issues, but the bird that died did have some, so I'd rather be safe. Plus I understand that excessive skin irritation can keep hens from laying, so if that's the issue it's a really simple solution :)

Anyway, we also picked up some dewormer, which I'll read the label of today and see what we need to do. I was going to do it all at once, but didn't want them to feel overly traumatized.

We also winterized a bit- got out the heater for the waterer, and rigged up extension cords (the coop's pretty far from the house now compared to last winter), and set up a heat light- although when we turned the light on they immediately started pecking each other, so I'm not sure if that's going to work out.

Grumpled November 13, 2008

I'm getting pretty mad at the guy who last sold us chickens. Three of the five have rather inexplicably died, and none of them have ever laid any eggs. I think maybe they were just not healthy animals, regardless of how sweet they were (and still are, in the case of the last two). I have gone over every possible aspect of their care that could be suspect, and can't find anything. This morning the white Brahma was acting funny, and very quickly died, even though there were no symptoms to speak of and it had been acting fine up until this morning. I wonder if the chickens he sold us aren't actually as young as he said? Gah. Anyway. Down to 8 chickens and the only one laying is a banty. We shall see if this improves or not.

Another one bites the dust September 29, 2008

My apologies if I sound callous, but at this point I am having to make jokes in order to avoid being really depressed about the chickens. They are still not laying at all, despite getting along pretty well and numerous improvements to the coop, and then this morning we discovered the black Cochin dead in the coop of no apparent cause. It must be admitted that since her bitten-toe incident she has been  mopey and antisocial, definitely skittish and the most picked-on. But her foot healed up nicely while she just sort of sank down into sadness- she could have gotten better, I think, but didn't want to. She routinely wedged herself under the door ramp to the coop all day, and tried to hide under the bantams (roughly a third of her size, so she of course bowled them over, which they didn't enjoy). We've posthumously named her Artax.

Kicking Grass & Taking Names September 10, 2008

 As you can see, we practically have a whole new flock! We have some additional photos in the gallery, but the ones above are pretty spot-on. After building the new coop, we found out that Tina and Molly are pretty darn territorial. By the time we realized that they weren't letting the new girls near the food and water, one died. And the drama didn't end there- we then discovered that our coop design had a fatal flaw- raccoons have no trouble at all biting off toes through chickenwire. The poor little cochin (the fluffy black hen) is now short a toe, and limps, but we think she's improving. We had an extra late-night carpentering session and built a slide-out wooden floor that fits under the mesh one. 

 Anyway, today we had a new upheaval, but this time it was a good thing. Three Silkie bantam hens were in need of a good home, so they joined the flock.  We've put them behind the new-chicken barrier in the coop (keeps the old chickens from picking on new ones until they get used to each other) and hopefully will get to play with them lots this weekend when I finish up the details on the coop and get it painted. Getting all the scrap lumber cleaned up will help trememndously. We also need to build a better nesting box and some perches in the run, but one thing at a time, I suppose.  We will be posting more complete pictures of the coop-building process once it's finished, but some are in the gallery now.

If you have any names to suggest, please do so! We have 7 birds to name, and the only one we have ANY ideas for so far are maybe not in the best of taste (the black one had a  chicken finger bitten off- so "Frodo" and "the Colonel's Wife" have been suggested).

 Time to Re-coop August 10, 2008 

Or, a farewell to Janice and one of the Twins

I think I said in my last update that a lack of upheaval isn't very noteworthy; the converse, is, unfortunately, just as true. We have never had any trouble with predators, until recently- something dug under the edge of the coop and stole some eggs a few weeks ago, but the chickens kicked up a fuss and there's been no trouble since. And then last night something gnawed the edge of the coop and got in and hurt Janice so badly we had to put her out of her misery, and one of the twins is missing altogether. We're very sad, but are determined to make our yard safe for chickens again. We've used landscape timbers to be sure the edges of the coop are safe from digging and gnawing, and set a trap next to it in the hopes of catching the animal in question. We've been planning on building a new coop anyway, because the portable coop was very handy but was sort of intended as a trial thing, to see if we liked having chickens enough to build a permanent coop in our yard. A couple of days ago my dad brought us some extra building materials he had, and now the timing has turned out to be very good. We're getting the design worked out this week, and on Saturday will be building the new coop. We've also found someone with some chickens for sale, so on Sunday we'll go get some new friends for the remaining gals (and us- the best way to keep our attention on cheerfuller topics is to have some new hens to play with). We're going to bump up the flock from 5 to about 8. I'm also going to check out the "oops" paint at Home Depot so I can give the coop a fun and funky paint job.

I'm trying not to mope too much, because frankly, we're the only people we know who keep chickens who hadn't had any sort of predator issue before now. We had hoped that the A-frame design would sidestep the problem, since the highest rate of attrition seems to be due to hawks, but even so, it was bound to happen sometime. But having to wring the neck of a pet is something nobody should have to do.

On a better subject: I've posted some new pictures in the photo album section, including some of the funky egg pictures. And next week there should be a lot of pictures to post, because of the new coop and new chickens (I have my fingers crossed for some Brahmas, which my friend Leigh refers to as the "stompy-boot" chickens).

Long Time No Cheep January 23, 2008

So it's actually been almost a year since the last update- wow! Mostly that's been because things have gone really well, and a lack of upheaval isn't very newsworthy :)  Maybe this weekend we can get out and take some new pictures, but the gals look pretty much the same as in the last batch of pictures. The three Rhode Island Reds got named Molly (she's the color of Mole sauce) and The Twins (nearly identical). We discovered that we were completely wrong in our identification of Janice when she began laying blue eggs- she's an Americana, so I'm happy, because I really wanted one. Everybody else lays brown eggs. Once they got into the groove of things, the group of five was laying about 4 eggs a day on average. The eggs also got a lot bigger over time, with the occasional double egg so large I wondered if a goose had snuck in there and left one. We discarded our carefully-crafted laying boxes, as they steadfastly refused to use them. Once or twice we found a solitary egg in them, but for the most part the girls prefer to scratch a nest on the ground in the left rear corner of the coop and lay all the eggs there. They molted when it started to get cold this winter, and slowed down on the egg laying, but neither was as dramatic as we had been led to believe. Tina is the only one whose molting was dramatic (several days in a row there were black-and-white feathers everywhere, and the other chickens pecked her until her tail grew back in), and the egg-laying only went down to an egg or two a day for about a month, and they're already, in a freezing-cold January, back up to 3 or 4 a day. Speaking of the temperature, the chickens don't mind the cold at all, even on the days is snowed. Murray McMurray has a great heated waterer, but we discovered an even more economical solution for the days when the temps drop and the chickens' water freezes. At most pet stores they carry small underwater heaters for aquariums. These are perfect because they attach to the inside of the waterer with suction cups, the cord runs out the bottom where the water dispenses, and it never reaches an unsafe temp, even if the water should run dry. I'll try and take a picture of the setup in case this description is unclear, but it works beautifully. 

We occasionally let the chickens loose to roam the yard if we're going to be out there working. They're extremely friendly, if difficult to get back into the coop. They always wander over to the part of the yard we're in, and if I'm weeding, they stay next to me scratching around, and will examine any freshly-turned soil. They'll even eat grubs and worms out of my hand.  Once I was weeding on hands and knees and realized I couldn't see Tina, but then realized she was happily sitting directly under me, waiting for any bugs or especially tasty weeds I might turn up. We never did clip their wings, since we only let them out when we're there to supervise, and they only seem to fly when they panic and realize they're separated from the others. Even then, they only get about waist-high off the ground.



I believe that's all the new information, except for the fact that Pepper met an untimely demise by way of a hawk in his new home. Apparently he had lived up to his early promise and was a very charismatic rooster, both with humans and with the ladies. When fed by hand he often hopped up on the shoulder of whatever person had bent down to feed him, and rode around like that. But he was so, um, friendly with the chickens that he had to be separated from the flock at times, and he was stolen out of his pen by a marauding hawk.

The Double Deuce February 4, 2007

Two updates in one day- crazy! But the eggs got us all worked up. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is yet another chicken movie. In this one you can see the grownup Tina and Janice, as well as the new ladies. We got proper nesting boxes and perches put together today, which involved Raph getting into the coop for construction purposes, and Janice escaping. Pretty soon we'll need to clip their wings so we don't have to worry about their getting out of the yard when that happens. Anyway, I'm also going to be working on a page of all our snapshots so you can see how we put the coop together, and more shots of totally cute chickens.


Yay! February 4, 2007

I think the hens must have been feeling oppressed by all the manliness of the roosters, because lo and behold, on the very first day that we had and all-girl lineup, we found a present in the coop! It was a brown egg, which inspired me to do a little detective work online (I wanted to know which chicken laid it). All I could discover was that Janice is in fact a Golden Penciled Hamburg, which we had not previously known, and seeing as she is the only variety that lays white eggs, she's the only one who could NOT have laid it. All the others are Rhode Island Reds, except Tina who is a Dominique. Anyway, in prancing about the house in my excitement, I (predictably) dropped and broke the egg, and felt quite miserable about it until this morning, when I found another one waiting for me when I fed the gals.

I'm sure we'll be posting another update very soon, because we want to show y'all the coop. We didn't expect eggs quite so soon, so today's mission is to install nesting boxes and proper perches, instead of the milk crates we've been using; I'll try to get some good video of the coop and some photos of our newest additions.

Take Your Rooster to Work Day

It's been quite a little while since the last update, but it's been a hectic time here on Greenridge Circle. One morning when we went to feed the chickens, we were greeted with what sounded suspiciously like a crow. And unfortunately, it turned out that the chicken with the masculine tendencies was no other than our favorite, Pepper. Alas, she- or he- now has a new home with Raphael's work friend Tony- who has the luxury of seven acres and uncomplaining neighbors, and is therefore quite pleased to have such a friendly rooster. WE, on the other hand, were not so pleased- and things went downhill from there. One by one, 4 out of the six original chickens repeated Pepper's performance. Pepper was at least a fairly unisex name, but Joanie became JoJo, Maryjane became MoJo, and Marilyn is now known as Arthur Miller. We've found good homes for them all, and Arthur Miller, the last to leave, is headed out in a copy-paper box (the preferred transportation method, apparently, of urban chicken farmers) tomorrow morning. However, audience, do not despair- in addition to the entertainment value provided by the story, not to mention the thought of Raphael trading poultry in the parking deck of his engineering company's parking deck in Marietta, as well as forthcoming videos of crowing roosters in our garage.... we got some new ones! We spent last Sunday driving to the wilds of McDonough to purchase three new hens (they're Rhode Island Reds) from somebody who apparently raises goats for a living. After a rocky start (involving the pulling of feathers and some shockingly rude behavior on the part of Arthur Miller) they seem to be settling in quite nicely. Pictures and names will be forthcoming once it's warm enough for us to stay out there and get to know them. Speaking of names, the remaining two of the original hens who actually ARE hens, are Tina and Janice. Also, I have been requested to date these entries, so today is February 1 of 2007; the chickens of the first batch are 19 weeks old today. Judging by size, the new ones are about the same age or just slightly older. They've been living in their coop for quite a little while now, and don't seem to mind the cold temps at all. We feed them every morning on Layena (the hen food version of Purina) and some corn, and give them kitchen scraps when we remember to. Also, we move the coop once a week, and they devour all the weeds under it immediately.

Numero 3

So there's not too much to report... they're still really cute. They're six weeks old, and eat maybe 2 cups of chick starter feed a day. The last time we cleaned out their coop we took them outside to visit their real coop for the first time. They seemed confused until Raph brought out their food, and then they seemed right at home. We had a little trouble catching them to put them back in the baby coop, and Raph had to climb right in to get the last one. Since the coop is a little wood-and-wire A-frame maaaaaybe 4 feet tall at the highest point, this was quite entertaining. We also discovered that the bottom edges need a little work in order to be escape-proof. Anyway, here are the gals now:

Update #2

Well, here we are, three weeks in, and the chickens are getting HUGE. They eat like pigs, and have a cheepy little feeding frenzy every morning. We're not having to raise the light up every week like we thought, because as it gets colder the temperatures sort of average out. But we have to feed them and change their water every morning, not so much because they're ravenous as because they're sloppy and get wood shavings everywhere. They're also getting more and more like grownup chickens and their markings are changing, so hopefully soon we'll actually be able to figure out what kinds they are. We'll post another set of individual pictures soon. Anyway, the theme of the newest movie was specifically requested by Jenny, so you can blame her for it :) Also, we have names, now; check the sidebar, and thanks to everybody who contributed!




Which Came First? September 22, 2006

In our case, it was definitely the chicken. We're going to have to wait something like 5 months for eggs. But it's well worth it to have baby chickens to play with, rather than getting them when they're bigger. We've been working on a coop for ages, but we thought we'd have to wait for spring to find somebody to go in with us on an order of baby chicks (the minimum is 25). But a customer at my work told us she ordered chicks and was sent too many, and wanted to know if we knew anybody who could give some babies a good home, so we jumped right on that.

The first thing we did was build a little chicken house. They have to live inside under a heat lamp until they're big enough to go in the outside coop, so we built a pen out of cardboard, with a kickin' farmland backdrop, in the garage (where they'll be safe from feline incursions).

Then we got a bag of chick feed (i'm going to update this later with the exact type, so I can remember later), the feeder tray, the waterer, some newspaper, and a red-light heat bulb, and we were ready to go. The chicks were only three days old when we got them, so they have to stay at about 90 degrees for the first week. After that the heat has to decrease by about 5 degrees a week until they're at room temperature.


Currently the major obstacle is naming them, but we're taking suggestions! Please email us with any ideas. We should be making regular updates, so we'll let y'all know when we decide on names. Until then, and until we put up some new pictures (they'll grow fast!), enjoy our first chicken-movie venture :)



Aren't they cute?