This picture is actually mouse tracks leading to the chicken run door! The first snow our girls experienced started with a scroungy little critter trying to find shelter in last nights storm! It managed to squeeze it’s way through the corner of the run doorway, up the chicken ladder and somehow through the corner of the chicken door into the coop!
Call us surprised when we went into the coop to refill food and water to find a mouse darting around with the chickens chasing it! It was still pretty dark so the chickens were sleepy but trying to catch the little monster! After about 5 minutes of a game of chase I opened the chicken door and let the scared to death vermin out!
Needless to say we are now making sure that at least the coop door is super tightly closed at night.
As the sun came up the girls finally got to experience their very first snow outside. I don’t think they were very impressed. They wouldn’t even touch it! Avoiding anything white! It didn’t take long for them to starting back into the Tajma coop where it’s always toasty and comfortable.
Its going to be 100 degrees today and luckily I’m home to help the chickens make it through the day. They have already made it through the last two days of 96 degrees. They are very tough birds! But then again I picked Rhode Island Reds because they are known to tolerate both extreme hot and cold. And today they made it to 100 degrees and still managed to chase bugs without skipping a beat! Impressive!
Last year, with the old flock, I made frozen treats with berries. RIP old flock that had a run in with a fox. I admit, we snacked those ladies too much. They grew so fast we had problems with heart attacks in the heat. So this flock will not sucker me into given them a lot of cracked corn. Too much candy! Anyway, these girls are going to get only the best! Fresh organic veggies straight from the garden! Today’s menu consists of chopped zucchini and lettuce covered with water and frozen into a cake pan!
Of course the girls were fascinated by the treat but too scared to eat it! I was so frustrated and concerned with them cooling off! You can hear it in my voice in the video!
But after I left them alone, they finally realized how good it was, because the tin I placed it in was completely beat up! It must have been a hit!
Unfortunately not everything can be fun and games with our chickens. It was a sad day when we came home and found that a fox had gotten into the ladies corral. He killed 4, injured 2 and gave another a heart attack! He only took one of the hens with him when he left. For those of you who remember Sweetie, she was the one with a broken toe who was injured the first year we got the ladies. She obviously couldn’t run very fast so was the fatality that left with the fox.
This solidified the fact that although the barn is large, a perfect temperature, and the fence is high enough to keeps a lot out, the Tajacoop and run’s full coverage of 1/2 inch wire cloth is the only thing keeping our girls alive in this wild, wild west!
Next plan……..adding an electric fence. Nothing like a good zap to negatively reinforce that we don’t want you varmint in here! The yellow pieces in the picture are holding 4 hot wires. Oh….we tested them. They won’t kill you but it’s sure to give a nosy fox a good reason to find easier prey!
I just happened to be looking out the window last week when I saw the fox trying to rush the gate and went ballistic on him from the window! It was enough to make him turn tail and run so fast we couldn’t find him once we got outside. He wasn’t quite giving up yet.
My last ditch effort was to make this scarecrow. It was just some bright colored clothes I put on a hanger and hung from the tree, but it makes me and the hubby do a double take thinking someone is there. If it fooled us it has to work on the fox…right? I’ve been changing the clothes every now and them to make it seem more real.
After putting in the electric fence and the scarecrow together we have not seen the fox again, thank goodness! The old ladies are safe for now. Cross your fingers for them! They love their new home so much!
I know this blog is supposed to be rated PG 13 so if you take offense to chicken 3 ways you may want to skip this post.
When we got these chicks 3 years ago I fell in love with a beautiful blue girl who truly glowed when she was younger. I named her Blue. She stuck out like the celebrity she was. Unfortunately at some point she became the meanest of mean girls and took on the nastiest of personalities!
Not only was she pecking at every chicken in her path, she also started to do something I have never seen before. First, she sucked up to Stewart the Rooster who actually let her take over his reign in a way! I knew Stewie wasn’t all that smart, but come on!!
As Stewart was wooing one of the ladies Blue came running up, knocked Stewie off the hen and then jumped on her herself! What the Flock??!!!!!! This on top of a number of peck wounds on all the ladies backs! Everyone was getting stressed out!
At one point one of my neighbors asked me if I wanted to get rid of any of my chickens because he had lost a few. I took this as an opportunity. Here is how the text messages went:
Me: Still interested in a egg layer? She sucked up to the rooster and is beating up a few girls. Thinking a change in flock might knocker her off her high horse.
Neighbor: Sure. Some night after they go to roost we can bring her into the coop and put her on the roost next to the others and when they wake up they will have a new friend.
Me: Is tonight ok? I’ll do it myself.
Neighbor: Your guys are welcome to.
If you have never heard of a chicken Ninja you have now. Chickens turn into zombies in the dark. It’s like when you try and wake up at 3 am in the morning and are not functioning. So after dark as the chicken Ninja, I carefully peeled away Blue from Stewart off the roost and carried her to the neighbors coop. I placed her right next to the rooster and snuck out. Next text……
Me: Package has been delivered!
The next day I walked to the fence line to get a look at the neighbors chicken yard and I didn’t see Blue. What happened to her? Now I was a little worried but decided to give it a day. Next text…….
Neighbor: Blue is doing really good. Slow first day to come out but yesterday you’d never know she wasn’t an original part of the group.
What a relief. I’ve visited blue a couple times. The neighbors chickens are mostly giant Brahmas so there is no way tiny blue will ever create a problem there.
With the new chicks coming of egg laying age its time to move the older ladies to a retirement home. We are creating a coop set up in the barn.
We brought back their old nesting boxes they loved so much. They didn’t use the high tech metal one we just bought. They were laying their eggs on the floor in the corner. They are happy to have their boxes back. Plus we put together all new clean roosts.
My talented handy man created a wooden template for a chicken door. We can still close the barn doors to shut them in.
The biggest difference is the large free range space they have and are definitely loving it. There is no way to cover this large of an area.They are very hawk savvy so we aren’t worried about that, however I saw a fox the other day so we put up 4 electric fence wires on the outside.
They are really loving retirement. Lots of new vegetation to eat at their leisure and plenty of space to keep from getting on each others nerves. They’ve never had it better.
Watch as the ladies check out their new digs on their YouTube Channel:
So it was a week of firsts for the littles! So what have we tried?
We started by putting a tray of dirt down expecting them to start dust bathing. It took 3 days for them to get brave enough to get into the tray! Once they got a hang of getting in the tray they decided to eat the dirt rather than dust bathe! After eating half the tray I pulled it out.
Then I shredded up some dandelion leaves and dropped them in. After getting over the fear they tasted them but weren’t impressed.
The next day I walked into something that looked a little like Fight Club! The littles were puffing up their chests, posturing and bouncing off each other! They must have been establishing their pecking order. They start it young!
They had their first brooder cleaning where I had to climb in with them. I thought I would scare the heck out of them but they were actually pretty excited to take a ride on my shoes!
I mentioned we have a laser gun temperature gauge. You shoot the laser light onto the object you want to take the temperature of. At first the littles were afraid of it but pretty soon it was a game of catch! They also seem fascinated with finger movements. Everywhere your finger goes they follow.
We have to clean out this brooder twice a week. On my second trip in I was wearing a hoodie with strings that the littles went wild for!
Finally, a few of the girls got brave enough to jump up on the perch we put in days earlier. Now they are fighting over who gets to use it!
Yep, a lot of firsts this week and this is just the beginning!
I tried to capture most of these on video just for you and have uploaded them on their YouTube channel!
The girls have graduated with their move into the large brooder. They are now known as “the Littles!” So when me or the hubby say…..I’m going to feed the chickens. We don’t have to ask…..which ones?
Remember how I said the littles were going to be more fun when they moved into the big brooder? We have so much fun with their curious antics. They are like babies and puppies. They put their mouths on everything! Unfortunately their mouths are armed with a pointy beak to they peck when they are investigating. Ouch!
Picking them up is fun too. Some like it better than others. Their objective is to stand higher than all the other girls so lifting them up can be very exciting for them?
See how big the chicks are at 4 weeks on their YouTube channel:
The chicks got their wish today! They moved into their new LARGE brooder! They were so excited that one girl actually flew from the small brooder into the new one!
They certainly love their new space. More room to roam. The cage grid floor is gone and they can finally scratch with their feet! Everything is new. One chick even thought a large pine shaving was food! She picked it up in her beak and the other chicks became jealous and started chasing her to try and steal it away! Too funny!
For the quieter chicks this was a little much for them. They were skiddish and peeped really loud if they became scared. That happens every now and then since the brave girls are taking over the space with their antics.
Over the next week I’ll try to video all their new experience because there are going to be a lot of FIRSTS coming up!
Watch the chick fly and the girl run with her wood chip on their YouTube Channel:
Chicks brains are pretty simple really. But as they get older you can see them getting smarter and smarter! When they’re tiny they are just reacting to things around them. Then one day they start to recognize you. They start looking at you….watching you…..and then start to follow every move you make. Some more than others. Don’t listen to people who say chickens are dumb. They are actually very smart! Okay, there are exceptions, just like there are with people.
If you watch the videos on YouTube you will notice there are a few chicks looking at the lid to the brooder looking for a way to get out. When I open the lid to change out food and water there are 2 girls in particular that have jumped up through the opening! Scared me to death! Could be a nasty fall if they fell on the floor! That was the first sign they are ready to leave the small brooder. They are getting bigger so it’s a little more crowded.
The next step brooder is a larger wood one that we built. Since it’s winter we are going to have to set it up inside in our chicken supply storage area. We cover the cement floor with a tarp, then some absorbent paper for animal cages, and then a light layer of pine shavings. We add a couple ceramic heating panels to keep the temperature around 70 degrees. We have a nifty thermometer gun that we use to test temperature. You shoot a laser pointer at the spot you want to know the temperature of. The temperature is a perfect 70 degrees right by the panels!
I can’t wait to move them in!
See how ready the girls are to move on their YouTube Channel:
It never fails. Every time I rake out the ladies run they follow behind me to see what I’m stirring up. If I leave a raked pile on the ground too long the ladies jump in the pile and start scratching and kicking. Everything I raked up is re-scattered everywhere again!
So now I have to guard the pile and stay close to it as I’m working. I’m constantly shooing them away. The minute I turn my head to grab a shovel to scoop it into the bucket they see it as a chance to dive in! The neighbors must think I’m crazy waving my arms and screeching to scare them off. Their run door is even open for them to free range but they would rather pick through poop! REALLY?!!!
Even once I’m done and all the poop is officially in the bucket, a group of the ladies hang around the edge of the bucket like they are nibbling on free appetizers at happy hour!
Well happy hour is over ladies and I need to drag your poop bucket to the compost pile where you will never see it again! Take that for all the extra time you add to my cleaning chores!