It is with heavy heart I tell you that we had another visit from the fox. In order to save the life of the remaining ladies, my family helped us play our last game of Chicken Ninja sneaking the survivors into the neighbors coop in the dark. They will finish living out their days there and we will still be able to visit them.
Since there is already a rooster in the coop Stewart was not invited. He’s too big for the littles so we couldn’t put him in with them. His crow turned so sad that after a couple days I took him to the Rooster Rescue and the owner fell in love. So hopefully that means he will get extra special treatment.
Terrible lesson learned. Next time we bring in new chicks they will be raised in the barn and not let out until they are full size while the veterans still stay in the coop and predator proof run. We are now considering a chicken tractor for either the veterans or the littles in life transition. A chicken tractor is a fully covered run with a small coop that you drag anywhere you want. Picture it! The ladies get a new area to investigate every couple days! On 10 acres there will always be new greens and bugs to peck on!
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!
The chicks are 8 weeks old and getting big! Still scared of everything though. It was a beautiful day. One of the nicest days we’ve had this year so I took the time to clean out the chicken run. Not only did I rake out everything I also removed all their old toys. Wanted to make everything extra specially clean! They will get all new toys.
Since it was such a nice day I figured the littles might like their first try outside! I opened the chicken door and didn’t really get the reaction I was hoping for.
Watch what the littles do when I open the door to their chicken run on their YouTube channel. Spoiler alert, some walk out the door but none of them touch the ground!
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.
I couldn’t resist. The old ladies were free ranging and I was going into the coop to feed the littles. The old ladies were trying to fight their way inside so I got curious as to how they would react to the little girls. So……I let one of them in!
Interestingly enough the buffs were more interested in the food bucket than the littles! Stewart the Rooster was the funniest. All I could see in his eyes was ….”additions to my harem!” The Easter Egger was the most curious. She spent the most time checking them out. Unfortunately something I noticed about Easter Eggers is they tend to look and act a little more wild than the other chicken breeds.
I was soaking one of the Egger’s feet one night next to the brooder when the chicks were only a week old. The older Egger got a wild look in her eyes, darted glances all about the cage and had her mouth hanging open! Yikes! She scared me a little! Yet the Eggers are still my favorite. No, they do not have fluffy feathered butts like the others, and when you need to catch them they run much faster. They can be a pain!
But now we have a coop full of young, overactive Rhode Island Reds. They are taking a very long time establishing the pecking order. Bumping chests, flying at each other in the air and pecking like mad! Makes me wonder if we have roosters in this batch again! If not is this a sneak peak of a future angry flock?! Double yikes!
Well, I guess we will see! Wish me luck!
Watch the older chickens checking out the Littles on the their YouTube channel:
We spent a lot of time creating a nice predator proof but beautiful looking base around the ladies Tajma Coop! Lovely decorative rock that’s also functional. So what do the ladies do? They dig! They look like they are digging for China but what they are really looking for is worms. Apparently the best worms are under 4 inches of expensive rock! this digging has gotten so bad that they have literally blocked doorways with mounds of dug up stones. We had to get some landscape blocks to cover the rockery and keep the doorways accessible.
Watch one of the ladies digging on their YouTube Channel:
Today is the big day! The chicks are finally moving into the coop! First I had to tear out EVERYTHING and clean every surface. It’s a long job to do it right.
It started with shoveling out all the used pined shavings and dumping them into the tractor bucket, driving them and dumping them into the compost pile. Since we were using the deep litter method over the winter this meant 5 trips! A lot of compost!
The feeders, waterers, roosts and nesting boxes were all moved out. Then I swept everything out. We installed linoleum on the floor so it was very easy to sweep and clean. To make sure everything was clear of any debris from the older chickens I pull out the shop vac next and vacuum every surface in the coop. I find it’s cleaner in the end this way because adding water to a dusty surface just makes the dirt stick. If you vacuum first then wash, its super clean!
I wash everything with dish soap and a little oil soap to smother insects. Then I spray with a very diluted bleach water to disinfect. After it’s dry I spread diatomaceous earth in the cracks of the wood in walls, floors and especially around the windows. This prevents pests from getting in.
Spread some pine shavings down and we are ready to move the chicks in! Because it’s so stressful for them we tried to put them in boxes to move them but it seemed to stress them out even more. So we ended up grabbing 2 at a time and walking them outside and into the new digs! They love it! Space!!
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:
Look at how big the littles have gotten! This is week 6 and they look like little velociraptors! I call it the ugly teen years. They are not very attractive!
Did you know that birds were the original dinosaurs? Ever wonder why the T-Rex has tiny hands? That’s right.Today’s chickens are descendants from dinosaurs. Possibly even the velociraptor. There is evidence of a dinosaur bird that looked like an emu, ran like an ostrich and super vicious. All birds of today came from that bird. Explains these girls attitude and smarts!
Anyway, just like teenagers I have to keep them from escaping their room. At first there was only one girl flapping her wings and jumping up to the edge. I would pet her for a little bit and then put her back in. Then it was two, then three and now we are in trouble!
Normally at this age we would put them in the coop but we are still having snow storms. It’s too cold out. Plus we still have our big ladies in the coop! We are in the process of putting together a nice new home for the ladies in the barn. We can’t just add 20 new girls the coop. That’s too many chickens for the space. Plus the big ladies are too set in their ways so would not be very accepting of the littles. Mixing could literally be fatal!
So now what do we do? We build a cover for the brooder which finally stops the madness. That’s the solution for now.
Watch one of the littles try to escape the brooder by watching 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!