Learning Chicken Habits

Ever since the little chickies moved into the big brooder, they have not only been growing longer feathers, they are starting to act more like chickens. No mom around to teach them, they just seem to know what to do.

They started by scratching the ground. Finally! They were wasting so much food! Now, anything that gets knocked out of the feeder is scratched up and eaten.

They started rolling around on the ground. Ahh…..I know this one. They are trying to do a dust bath. But rolling around in their food probably isn’t the best thing for them, is it? So I brought them a dish of dirt and boy did they have fun! I can’t even describe it! You’ll have to check out the video.

The most fun is their need to be standing higher than the others. They are starting to climb up on us as high as they can go. Some of them get real comfortable and nestle down to roost, like the one in the picture. Watch out though, another one wants to take your spot! We’ve had 3 at once trying to get to the top!

Gotta enjoy it while their young!

Mystery Chicks

When I ordered my chicks, the website said they would be sending me one exotic mystery chick for free with my order. When we first got them we had 3 white chicks I didn’t order and a whitish one with brown stripes on it’s back. I thought the white ones were a toss in as extra, and the striped one was my mystery chick. After two weeks the stripes started to disappear and she started to look like the other white ones. Then I noticed one that should have been a black Australorp that started to lighten up and get white stripe on her wings. Maybe that’s the mystery chick? But now here is a picture I just took that shows the white one with the disappearing stripes is now turning a tan color darker than the white ones……..and why do I have 3 white ones I didn’t order?

Huh? The mystery continues. Stay tuned.

Let Me Out!

Really?! Okay….so I wasn’t trying to take a picture of you but you keep jumping up into the camera. Miss big white chick is my official photo bomber!
Every time I reach into the brooder she jumps into my hands and climbs up my arms. I believe she’s trying to get out, along with a few other arm climbers, and jumpers who are only about 4 inches from hitting the top.

Can you say “chicken wire’?

Tricking Out the Coop

So…..we should have had the chicks moved into the coop by now but it’s still too cold and the heat lights aren’t getting the coop hot enough yet. The chicks are only down to 65 degree and the coop has been going under 60 degrees. Girls, can we please meet somewhere in the middle?! They seem to be getting too used to a nice cozy basement room.

Well, since they haven’t taken up residence, we decided to add some good stuff to the coop! I read a lot about what they call a “poop deck”. Something you put under the roosts, where the chickens sleep at night, to catch their poop. The hubby came up with his own version……poop drawers! You pull them out, scrape them off into a bucket and empty the bucket into a compost bin! Couldn’t be easier!

We finally got electricity and added the heat lamps. The heat lamps are plugged into thermostats that turn the lights off when it reaches whatever temperature you want.

For the summer heat we added reflective insulation to the ceiling. Chickens can die of heat easier than die from the cold.

Now we just need the chickens! Come on girls! Chill!

The Higher the Better

Chick on Feeder

We’ve had all sorts of antics in the big brooder since the chicks moved in. We have the the morning jog when they wake up, racing in circles, then the testing of the wings causing a lot of squawking as they land on each other. Scratching and kicking up the pine shavings into the food and water dishes is getting real old.

They’ve also been trying to tear apart the pink paper liner under the pine shavings. Every now and then a chick gets a tiny piece in their mouth, the others get jealous, and then there’s a stampede chasing her!

But this is new…….

They are starting to jump up and sit on top of the feeders! okay, so this isn’t good. If one tried to take flight from the feeder, they could probably get out of the pen! It’s only been a week and we have another housing problem we need to solve.
Time to start finishing up all the coop stuff and pray for no more snow!


The Chicken House

5x_brooder_MedWhen I was young, about 13 or so,  we spent some time in Missouri visiting with my step-dads family.  One thing I remember, and a story I have told many times, was the day we went to visit his brother. As we approached the house I realized just how deep in the hill country we were when his brother walked out of the house to greet us followed by several full grown chickens.  I could not wrap my head around living in a house with chickens.  Well, I can’t speak for my uncle but I do understand that sometimes circumstances force your hand.

We have been hit with a heavy spring snow storm, dropping the temps and putting a damper on our plans to move the chicks from their over-crowded brooder to the coop.  Between the temp dropping and the heat wiring not being completed we had to improvise a new interim brooder space.

A spare room, tape, 6 boxes, 2 tarps and masking paper came together and made for a nice space for our growing girls.  Add a couple of tripods and some heat lamps and we are in business again.  The girls now have space to spread their wings, solid footing and pine shavings to kick around.  They seem so much happier and this space should get us through the next week or two until they are old enough to go out to the coop.

I can’t say what my uncle’s reason was as his chickens were full grown and the weather seemed fine but I do know now that he probably had his reasons and it was not my place to judge.

Chick Chaos!

It’s been a week with the chicks now. Nothing prepares you when you start to realize that 34 little lives are depending on you! The first morning 12 of the chicks had pasty butt. That’s when the poop sticks to the downy feathers of the butt and dries up, stopping up the poop shoot! Sounds funny but it can be fatal! The cure is to take warm water and a Qtip and loosen up the poop and pull it off…CAREFULLY. If that wasn’t bad enough, then you dip a Qtip in some olive oil and oil up the feathers around the poop shoot so the poop slides off next time. It took 3 hours of tedious work with not so happy little girls. I read more on this nasty problem and started adding ground up old fashioned oats to their feed and that helped. The next morning only 6 had it, and the day after, none had it.

One of the chicks had a screeching peep far above the others. It was a tiny Buff Orphington that was smaller than the rest and was getting bumped around, pushed away from the food and water. When she started to look like she wasn’t going to make it, we put her in her own box and forced her to eat and drink every 2 hours until she could do it herself and regained her strength. This was the first chick to get a name….Little Miss Peeps. She’s starting to blend in pretty well now.

The biggest problem now is the chicks have grown so big so fast that the brooder is in total chaos. They are trying to fly, jumping and bumping into each other causing a lot of screeching and pecking. I’d love to put them in the coop and set up a heat lamp but we have a snow storm predicted for the weekend and they aren’t ready for the temperature extremes yet. We have to come up with a solution fast before it gets completely out of control!

The Chicks in the Mail

Talk about stress! I was notified Wednesday that my chicks were shipped and now it’s Friday! Those poor day old chicks were stuffed into a small box, thrown into a delivery truck and spent two nights in two different Post Offices before I picked them up this morning. Not only were they under stress, I was nauseous tracking the slow poke U.S. Postal Service taking their time! Ugh!

We weren’t the only people picking up chicks today. There were three boxes sitting there making a peepin’ racket! When the guy asked which box was ours, knowing that we ordered 30 chicks and had one a bonus exotic chick that the company threw in for free, my hubby pointed at the biggest box. “But honey, that white box has the logo from the company I bought it from.” He looked at the 12″X16″ box and said “that can’t possibly hold 31 chicks”. Ah…..but  it did! We pulled the box out while another woman behind us picked up the massive box. As we moved the box to a side area we noticed the chicks weren’t peeping! DEAD SILENCE! OMG, I was picturing a box of petrified chicks not moving.

We opened the lid to check and…Phew..not a dead one is the bunch.

Got them home and followed the the guidelines I read on brooding chicks. We borrowed a 30″X36″ brooder from a friend that had a thermostat to keep the temperature between 90 and 95 degrees. The rule is you reduce their temperature 5 degrees a week until they match the outside temp and then they are free to go! Most take 5-6 weeks.

We pulled out one chick at a time, dipping their beak in water so they’d learn where it was, and then put them under the warming lights.  27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32…Uh…..we got a lot more chicks than we thought! Head count….35! Wow! 5 surprise guests! We have no idea what kind those are. We ordered 12 Buff Orphingtons, 12 Black Australorpes and 6 Aracaunas (blue egg layers). It’s going to be interesting to see what these other types are.


Unfortunately, we did lose one chick. She had a broken leg when she arrived and she was in bad shape. Hubby quickly put her out of her misery and gave her a proper burial under the pine tree. But I was given the expectation that one or two may die in transit so I didn’t completely fall apart….not completely.

Okay…..so chicks all had some water and are calming down. I think I’ll go back to bed! I’m exhausted!