Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rain, rain, go away...

We ate Brenda last Monday night.  The kids wouldn't, and that's ok.  They don't know what they were missing though.  She was tasty.  I'm not sure we will raise meat birds again.  It's MUCH easier to go to the store and pay 99 cents a pound.  But it was an experience.

Meanwhile the baby chickens are getting big!  They are now 5 weeks old.
Below is a picture of each breed.

Buff Orpington

Rhode Island Red

Plymouth Barred Rock

The weather this past week has been so off.  Right now it's 12:30pm and 42 degrees and raining!!  So very wrong for the end of May.  To give the chickens some warmth I turned the heat lamp on inside the coop.  This gives them a chance to warm up and stay dry.  They seemed to welcome a warm spot to wait out the weather.  We've turned it off about a week ago since the little chickens are feathered out more and able to keep themselves warm.  Surprisingly all them are now roosting at night.  I've heard of people having to PUT their chickens in the coop at dusk to teach them where to go but all of ours seem to know that instinctively.  They are usually in there by 8:30.  I have to admit that I'm jealous.  I wish I could go to bed every night at 8:30.

It's looking more and more like my kids are good at sexing chickens. (Either that or Tractor Supply mis-labeled the tanks in which they sell the chickens.)  Henrietta, Amelia and George all appear to be pullets (or female), which is what we want for eggs.  We bought them out of a "straight run" (males and females mixed) tank and took our chances at getting any females.  We don't want noisy roosters.




This discovery is making the decision of how many to keep even harder.  We had hoped that only 2 were female and then we would keep 2 of each of the other breeds.  Is 9 birds too many?? Also making the decision harder is how much they LOVE me....
I'm so popular when I go out to say "hi"...especially if I come bearing watermelon or cantaloupe!

"Good morning"

*no food was used to capture this photo...they just love me!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Goodbyes and Hellos

This week we said "Goodbye" to Frankfurt.  He didn't make it to butchering day.  He died of unknown causes on Thursday.  It was very warm and humid (something we all aren't used to yet this year here in chilly damp Wisconsin) and his little heart and big body probably couldn't take it.  He most likely died of a heart attack.  We buried him instead of taking a chance eating him since we didn't know how long he had been dead.  Better safe than sorry.  Then today we said goodbye to Bubbles and Brenda.  I was at work but Scott said the butchering went well.  They are now in the refrigerator and freezer and ended up being 5.5 and 5 pound birds.  Can you say "Sunday chicken dinner"?

Thankfully, I have no graphic in between pictues.

The little chicks are 4 weeks old now and were getting too big for the tank in the basement and I was ready for them to be out of the house.  So let the integration begin... We brought a few out on Thursday when it was warm just to see how the bigger ones (8 weeks old) would react. They pretty much kept to themselves but they seemed to tolerate each other pretty well.  Then today after the Cornishs were butchered we brought out all the chicks to say "Hello" again and introduce them to their permanent home.  Again out in the run they keep to themselves.

But inside the coop was a little different.  The bigger chickens did do some pecking at the little ones but nothing too dramatic.  To give the little ones some sense of security I gave them a little makeshift wire cage that only they can get into with their own water and food at one end.  They can get in and out between the water and food  and by way of a little doorway at the other end.  I've discovered after a few hours alone in the coop that the little ones are climbing and sitting on top of the wire cage and the bigger chickens are calmly sharing the space with them.  As I write this, it is dark and I was just out there to close them in for the night. The 3 Amerucaunas are up on the top roosting rail and all the younger chickens are cozy and content in and around their cage.  I will sleep good tonight knowing that Day 1 went well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ready for chickens!!

The run was finished yesterday to the point that it was chicken ready.  It needs more roof panels and other little tweaks.  We let the chickens into it and there really was no hesitation by them.  They were ready!  The plank to get up and in is not complete yet.  Right now it's more like a chicken slide but they did ok. (they now have a new ramp with old quarter-rounds nailed to it for, just don't have a picture yet).    The Amerucaunas really enjoyed the space and even Bubbles, one of the Cornish Rocks enjoyed a bit of time outside.  We did have to pick her up to put her back in the coop.  Today she was content to just sit by the door and didn't go out.  The other 2 Cornish's don't seem to want to venture too far away from the food and water.  Tonight is the first night they are sleeping without the heat lamp on.  That's right it's actually mild enough overnight that they won't need it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gettin' bigger

All the chickens are getting bigger and bigger.  The baby chicks are now 3 weeks old and feathering out nicely. Remember how I orginally wanted only a small flock of 4-6 hens?  Well, I've been outnumbered by the other family members.  The begining stages of Chicken Math.  We are keeping 2 of each, plus 2 Amerucaunas (if we have 2 hens) for a total of 8 chickens.  My daughter has picked out names for the ones we will keep.  We thought it would be neat to name the Rhode Island Reds with "R" names, the Buff Orpingtons with "B" names and the Plymouth Rocks with "P" names.  So we will have Ruby, Riley, Bonnie, Burnett (I'm hoping to sway her to change that to Buffy), Patty and Penny.  The remaining chicks are going to a friend and she'll have to come up with her own names.

Meanwhile out in the coop....

The Amerucaunas and Cornish Rocks are now 7 weeks old.  The Amerucaunas are changing and each one has different colorings.  Below is "Amelia" who we are thinking might actually be a rooster because of the comb development. If so he will go out to the friend's farm.  He sure is pretty tho.

Below is Henrietta (sitting on my knee), the friendliest most curious of the bunch.  We are really hoping she's a hen and gets to stay with us.  So far she has virtually no comb development.

And this is George....we just aren't sure about his gender.  He's also very aloof.

And then there are the Cornish Rocks.  Brenda, Frankfurt and Bubbles.....They are also 7 weeks old and only about 2 weeks from butchering...They are no fun at all.  Eat, sleep, poop and they don't get around very well.  We are pretty sure we don't really want to raise them again.

We've finally begun constructing the run.  Weather and other home improvement/landscaping projects have put this on the back burner.  The weather is improving and the chickens are getting bigger so it's time to get it done.