You’re Not The Boss of Me!

Girls, I know the cold rainy weather makes you bored, but please let me clean your home without you getting in my way. If they aren’t climbing in the bag of pine shavings, their in the muck bucket or on me! Trying to move them results in a lot of squawking and pecking.

I think I’m starting to lose control of who the boss is!  Oh….and they are getting bigger! It’s making them a little braver. They somehow think that gives them the upper hand. Girls, I’m not part of your pecking order….I AM the mother hen!

But I can’t stay mad at them for too long. They are so comical!

Enjoy a taste of mischievousness on the video.

First Day Outside

The chicks have reached their 6 week birthday and the run is mostly finished! Time to let them out their coop door for the first time. What a bust! This picture is the extent of the first day. As brave as these little girls were in their brooder and inside the coop I thought they would be running out the door to freedom!  But noooo…..a little wind, a flying bird shadow or a dog barking 4 doors down kept them inside the coop.

We finally got about 6-7 of them outside for the next couple days but then a new lesson was learned. The books say chickens will instinctively know to go into their coop at night as part of their survival. Well my little chicks haven’t caught on. They insist on staying outside. Another interesting thing we found out is it’s not a rumor that chickens almost go into a coma in the dark. Every evening we are having to pick up narcoleptic chickens who have fallen asleep where they stand and pop them into the coop to shut the door. They are limp, lifeless and rumble a little as though they don’t have the energy to cluck. One of the white chicks quickly woke up after I put her inside and was really ticked off! She started pecking at my hands forcing me to poke her in the chest a few times to show her whose boss!

After a week all the chicks finally made it outside at once. Every night we’d count…..1..2..3..4…..until we finally counted 34! Phew!

Now if we could just get them to go back in at night!

I Lost My Marbles!

When we moved the chicks to the coop we bought big chicken sized feeders and waterers. Yay! No more jumping on the small waterer and knocking it over! I bought a big 5 gallon galvanized steel waterer that was a little awkward at first to fill and lock the lid in place.

The chicks were terrified! What was this enormous, shiny, noisy thing?! They completely avoided it. Only the bravest of the chicks reluctantly investigated. It took a day before they were willing to walk up to it, and when they did, they looked in the tray and didn’t seem to see the water in it.

The small chick waterers had bright colored marbles in the trays. I had read that baby chicks can drown in waterers and that putting marbles in them will prevent them from falling in and drowning. Even when the chicks got bigger, every time I removed the marbles from their water dish they seemed confused because they couldn’t see the water. It was so extreme that when I put a marble back in the tray, the girls would all pack in to drink off that marble.

I think that because the chicks didn’t see marbles in the new waterer they didn’t associate it with drinking. Ugh! I felt like a grade school teacher on the second day putting about a dozen marbles in the tray. “Here girls! Here it is! Come drink some water!” Sure enough, it worked. Some were still hesitant and watched from across the coop.

The next day it was hot out. When I got into the coop that evening, the chicks had finally all figured out where to get their water. So much so that they emptied it! It was bone dry! Nothing in the tray! I’m thinking to myself, “Yay! They are all finally drinking!” And then I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty empty. I usually see some pine shavings, or something……uh….like…MARBLES!” Oh no! Where did the marbles go? Right as I was panicking, some squawking started up behind me. I turned around to find one of the chicks running away from the other 33 with a marble in her beak! She dropped it on the ground and a riot ensued! I broke up the fight and took the marble away. A second, and then a third marble surfaced the same way. Everyone wanted a coveted marble!

Unfortunately, I only found 4 of the marbles so far but the coop is so big they could be anywhere. Worried, I emailed my favorite chicken blogger who told me this was a new one for her but she wouldn’t be concerned as the marbles are probably too big for them to swallow. Thanks Lisa!

I’m cleaning out the coop this weekend so I’ll see if I can find the rest.

Climbing in the Coop

Now that the chickens are in the coop, they have better access to us. Everything is free game! It started off fun watching them climbing on my garden clogs pecking and scratching, sometimes nibbling my sock. Now it’s getting a little more invasive! They insist on climbing as high as possible. I bent over to get a video of a little buff orphington between my legs and the next thing I know one is climbing up my arm and another on my back! More started to join the party and it took a long time to get them off of me. The last hen is still holding a grudge!

You can find the video on WTF YouTube Channel:

Where are the Chicks? Evicted!

Finally! 3 days away from their magic 6 weeks of brooding, we finally got a break in the weather and decided it was time to get the chicks out of the basement! They were ready too. Getting in each other’s way, squawking at everyone who touched them. Yup…..they were done too!

Moving 34 very large chicks wasn’t an easy tasks. We had to box them up  in batches to move them. Remember, they still haven’t seen outside! While a number of them came running to us, not putting up a fight, others haven’t been touched by us at all. There were some blood curdling screams when I cornered some of them. So, I took this time to hold them, pet and talk to them to gain their trust.

The first set of chicks I popped in the coop seemed so happy and relaxed the minute I put them in. A low level of happy clucking was such a relief to hear! The last batch of stressed out chickens were literally limp when I took them out of the box into their new home. If you’ve looked at recent pictures, you can see how much more room the chicks have now. Oh so happy!

The handling seems to have increased trust with the chicks. I hand fed them grass just before they went to bed for the night and even the most skiddish birds came close.

They won’t be able to go outside for another 5 days. Then they will have officially reached their 6 weeks and the weather should be in the 70s for them. Can’t wait to get a video of their first day out!

Final Chick Dust Bath

It’s the last night before we move the chicks so I want to give them a special treat! I’m going to be dissembling the brooder tomorrow anyway so lets go for broke with a giant dust bath! They loved it! I could have dumped pails of dirt in the pen and it still wouldn’t be enough! They are going to be soooo happy when their first day outside comes!

To see the video of the dust bath, go to their YouTube channel

Another Mystery Chick?!

Remember that chick I originally thought was my mystery chick (yellow with brown stripes on the back) and then decided she was just another spare white Leghorn? I was taking pictures of her today when I noticed something brown on her. I thought it was poop so I tried to clean it off but found it wasn’t poop. Then I got worried it was dried blood and that the other chickens were possibly pecking at her. You know, mom’s favorite and all….. I picked her up and found dark brown feathers growing here and there.  WHAT? Okay, this is definitely another mystery chick. I have no idea.

The books say that it can take as long as 12 weeks for a chicken to get all of it’s breed’s characteristics, so who knows what’s going to show up next!

Antics of Adolescent Chicks

So the weather was too cold over the weekend to move the chickens into the coop. That means cleaning out the brooder daily is an absolute must. We are just about to our limit of what we can stand from chickens in the basement. Although, it does mean spending more time with them which is fun. They are getting ratty looking with feathers only partially coming in. Some look like they have mange! They are growing so fast you can really start seeing their personalities coming out.

The Flyer
Every morning I sneak in quietly but it really creates a stir. They wake up, stretch their wings and then run across the brooder, jumping up, flapping to see how high they can go. Now, they are jumping high enough to see over the edge and are very curious as to what’s on the other side!

The Escape Artist
Putting a hand, arm or leg into the brooder is an invite to climb up. Trying to keep them from running up to my shoulders and jumping out is a trick.

Teenage Jealousy
You’ve got the chick that wants to roost on your arm, then you have the one or two that don’t want that chick there. They either jump on her or start pecking both of you!

Teachers Pet
The white chickens follow my every move. If I call out they come running to me like I’m calling to them specifically.

They scratch the food out of the feeder, hoarding the pile. When I go in to clean and sweep up, they squawk and peck saying “don’t take my food!” although there is plenty still left in the feeder.

The Dare Devil
When I’m cleaning, it doesn’t matter what goes into the brooder, they want to ride on it. My garden clogs, my scraper, the brush, and yes, even the muck bucket! Two chicks made it in and couldn’t get out. When the clean feeders are put back in chicks jump up on top of them. Toppled water bottles are getting old!

Chick on Feeder

The Snitch
The Aracaunas are the first to screech out if something isn’t going well.

The Mean Girls
Black Australorps are the biggest and are good at pushing everyone around.

The Outcast
Small and unidentifiable, the mystery chick is barely noticed and does not fit into any group.

Mystery Chick 4 weeks

The Cheerleaders
The Buff Orphingtons are more worried about the fluffy new pine shavings and making clean nests than all the chaos around them. They would rather hang together and preen.

Yup, just another crazy day with the chicks!

Chicks Full of Personality

The chicks are really getting personalities now, Behold the Aracauna. They are the ones that lay the blueish green eggs. She looks more like a hawk than a chicken and acts kind of wild too. They are pretty low key but very standoffish. Watch out if they aren’t happy with you. I got a couple big pecks from one that wasn’t happy with me picking her up. They are coming around though.

I think I figured out what the 3 bright yellow chicks that came extra in my box are. They turned fully white with bright red comb and waddles so are most likely Leghorns, which quite frankly I didn’t want. The typical white chicken wasn’t my preference, but I have to tell you, they are curious, strong willed, and the first ones to climb up on me. Oh, and by the way, they are considered very sturdy chickens. Who knows, I might fall in love!

The Buff Orphingtons are the meekest little chicks. They avoid the pecking order arguments and spend their time nesting and bathing.

The Black Australorps seem to suffer from multiple personalities. While the others seem to hang with their own kind, the blacks are all over the place and range from butting chests to claim top of the pecking order, to jumping on top of everyone else, to hiding in the corner. I’m curious how they will change with age.

Mystery Chick

And you?……..I still have no idea who you are. This chick is much smaller than the others, spotted, and is never in the fray or in the corner. Another one I’ll have to wait and see.

The Foul Fowl

Chicks are officially 4 weeks old and boy are they big! They actually look like chickens now with the exception of ugly bare spots where their feathers still need to grow in.

Bigger means eating more, and eating more means pooping more, and it really stinks! I cleaned the brooder every 3 to 4 days and now we are at every other day. It’s taking longer to clean because they want to play with everything I’m working on. It’s really time to get them out of the basement and into the coop. It’s supposed to be good weather this next week so we’ll test the heating lamps the next 2 nights. If all goes well the chicks will be in their new home Friday night!

Maybe it will help them adjust their attitudes a little too. They’ve been literally creating the pecking order and it’s getting loud and obnoxious. Even pecking me every now.

All of us will be much happier once the weekend comes!