A Fiber Farm Blog

Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Stress in the Henhouse!

It has been a stressful few days in and around the chicken coop!  I have enjoyed having my hens (and all those fresh eggs) so much that I wanted more…….both chickens and eggs that is.  Right around the 1st of March, I purchased 8 new chicks (hopefully all hens) to bring home to the farm. 

Tired Little Chicks

I have been keeping them warm and safe in a big stock tank in the garage and they have grown like little weeds!  It has been somewhat of a challenge this spring as our weather has been cold and wet.  The chicks survived one big snow storm, a short power outage and many freezing nights but are doing well.  So well, in fact, that I had to get them out of that stock tank!  They were just getting too big.  So last Saturday they were put in the coop with Mr. Puffycheeks and the hens.  I’m not sure now that this was the best way to introduce them to each other, but at the time it seemed like the best option. 

We have been letting the hens and Mr. Puffycheeks, our rooster, forage around the yard all day for some time now.  They all go back into the coop at night where they are content, sheltered and safe.  On Saturday, when we added the new chicks, we kept the coop enclosure shut.  I didn’t want the new chicks running around too much until they knew where there home was. 

On Saturday, the chicks hid in a corner of the chicken coop and rarely if ever came out.  The hens and Mr. Puffycheeks were a little mean to the new chicks, especially that first day.  I can tell you, none of my feathered friends were happy on Saturday.

 

 

Hiding in the coop_edited-1

On Sunday, we opened the coop door.  The hens and Mr. Puffycheeks came right out and enjoyed their day.  Sunday morning the chicks were again hiding in the corner.  But by the afternoon they were out in the chicken coop, eating, drinking and trying out the roosting bars.  They seemed to be fine as long as the hens were out in the yard.  I don’t believe that any of the chicks made their way out of the coop at all on Sunday.  Things did seem a little less stressful once they were all in the coop and settled down for the night.

Chickens in Coop 1

Chickens in Coop 2

Chickens in Coop 3

Ethel was not very happy that I was invading her privacy during one of my visits to check on the new chicks!

Ethyl Requests Privacy_edited-1

It wasn’t until Thursday that the new chicks began to venture out of the coop.  They are still very careful around Mr. Puffy Cheeks and the hens but it is getting a little better every day.  I can’t wait till they are all one happy family!

 

 

Look what we got today!!!

Our first colored egg!  I had been waiting and waiting and had almost given up.  What a nice surprise!

Colored Ege

Chickens’ Day Out

Sunday was a beautiful day here in Missouri, especially for February.  It was unusually mild, mid-50s and just a nice day to be outside.  So it was the day I decided to let the chickens out of their coop.  As the weather gets nicer I plan to let them out most of the day so that they can forage around and enjoy more space.  It was a little nerve wracking, letting them out of their safe space. I wondered if I would be able to get them back in the coop.  I was also worried about how our dogs Balto and Shadow would do and if they would bother them.  Balto is our new LGD and judging by the calm, protective way he had acted around all our other animals, I felt he woul be fine.  But I had no idea how Shadow, our black lab, would react.  But the time came when we were ready to let the chickens explore more of their world.  Chicks Day Out 1

We opened their door……

Chicks Day Out 2

And it didn’t take long at all for them to venture out…..

Chicks Day Out 3

Balto took a good, up close (and rather personal) look to make sure all was well…..

Chicks Day Out 9

Then while the chickens were exploring the new world outside, Balto was curious about their world inside…..

Chicks Day Out 5

Shadow was perfect around the chickens…..didn’t scare them or bother them in any way.  Everyone got along beautifully.

Chicks Day Out 7

Chicks Day Out 8

The chickens wandered a little further than I though they would, but when I went out around 5:00 to get them inside and safe for the night, they were already settled down back in their coop.  The chickens first day out went really well. 

Chicks Day Out 10

Afraid of the Egg?

It has been really exciting around the farm this week because our hens are laying their first eggs.  From our 5 hens, we got 14 eggs last week!  Unfortunately 6 of the eggs we ended up throwing out as we weren’t sure how long they had been sitting around before we found them.  But now that we are in an egg gathering routine (and have hopefully found all their hiding places) we will not waste any of our eggs.  So this morning I had 8 of my hen’s eggs that I was ready to scramble.

Egg 1

But, all of the sudden it occured to me that I had never had an egg like this before.  In all of my 50+ years, as far as I know, I have always had eggs bought at the grocery store.  Now I know this isn’t a good thing.  I have heard all about how bad store bought eggs can be and the deplorable conditions that laying hens are subject to, just so I can go to the grocery store and purchase eggs.  That is one of the reasons I moved to the farm, purchased my chicks and have read book after book on how to raise them so that I will know what I am eating.  But when it came time to actually use my first farm raised hen’s egg, I will admit it felt a little strange.  I don’t know what I was afraid I would see when I cracked open that first egg, but this is what I got……..

Egg 2

Beautiful looking eggs!  So I whipped them up, added some milk like my family likes and prepared them for the stove.

Egg 4

I scrambled them  up……….

Egg 5

and put them on a plate.

Egg 6

They were delicious and I can now say with confidence, I am no longer afraid of the egg!  I am proud that we are raising our hens humanely (they are actually quite spoiled I think).  They have room to grow, a safe place to nest, and have healthy food and plenty of fresh water at all times.   And now, they are producing delicious and healthy eggs!

 

Eggciting Day!

We had an unusually warm January day today, so I thought I would take advantage of it and work in the chicken coop a bit.  Nothing seemed unusual or amiss when I went out.  Larry was crowing as he so often does, just to annoy me it seems (he is supposed to be a hen afterall!).  But otherwise everything looked normal, the chickens were spending the afternoon outside, waiting to see if I had brought out any special treats for them.

Typical Day

But when I went inside the coop, I found them.  Three beautiful brown eggs! 

Eggs!

I was shocked that I have eggs this early, I was really thinking it might be several weeks away.  What a nice surprise!

Chicken Update

Thought it was about time I gave you a chicken update.  They are at 21 weeks old now.  From what I have read, they could possibly start laying eggs around 22 weeks….assuming that they have enough daylight.  We do not have electricity to their coop, so cannot add any light to make these winter days seem a little longer.  So I have prepared myself that it may be several more weeks before they begin to lay eggs.

Last Saturday we had a nice warm day so we spent the time getting their nesting boxes ready.  We did have their nesting boxes placed on the floor of the coop so they could get used to them.   But on Saturday Jeff built a table or bench of sorts to put the nesting boxes in and get them up off the floor.  He used all reclaimed wood we had there at the farm and picked up the kitty litter tubs at our local recycling center.

Nesting Boxes

The chickens had to explore all under their new nesting boxes and peck at all the screw holes and corners to make sure that all was acceptable to them.

Under the Nesting Boxes

The bad news is that we will not get eggs out of all of our hens because, alas we have a couple of roosters in the group.  Larry (bottom row, center), whose name used to be Laverne, has been crowing constantly.  He is definitely the top chicken of the group and is a bit of a bully.

Larry & the Ladies Minus 1

And, I couldn’t resist sharing these cute little chicken bottoms with you.

Chicken Bottoms

Hopefully my next chicken update will include pictures of our first eggs!

 

Oh Happy Day!

The chicken coop is now complete and this weekend the chickens were put in their new home.  They had the best time exploring and pecking around. 

There are still things that I want to do, but for now, the chickens have plenty of room and a safe place to spend the winter.  Next spring, we will work on replacing some of the rotted boards, paint the coop, stain the wood, and work on the windows so that they are comfortable when it gets warm next summer.   I am also reading a book called Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom in hopes that by next spring I can do some landscaping in and around the coop that will add beauty to the coop but be healthy for the chickens as well. 

I couldn’t wait to get in with the chicks and take pictures since I finally had some room and plenty of good light.  But do you know how hard it is to get a good picture of a chicken when it is running around, pecking at anything and everything?  Plenty hard!  I picked out some of the best so you could enjoy seeing the chickens as they explore their new home.