June 07, 2011

Our Chick Diary – Week 6, 7 & 8

This past few weeks our chicks have grown at a remarkable rate.  By the end of week 6 their 9716brooder box was looking a bit cramped.  We took the girls out daily if the weather would allow and they have expanded their roaming area in our backyard.

We only thought we heard occasional clucks before; the past weeks we’ve been hearing lower full cluck sounds.  The chicks still peep, but I don’t think it will be for much longer.

This particular chick (on the left) likes to pull on my clothes. Skirts, shorts or capris, it never fails; I’ll feel a tug and look down and there she is.

One of our chicks has started climbing up us to get on our shoulders.  It kind of surprised me the first time.  I was sitting in a chair and she jumped through the9708 side arm section, and climbed up my shirt until she was sitting on my shoulder.  A while later, she did the same thing to Steven (my hubby).  He ended up with 5 chickens on him at once.  Before long they were jumping and flapping from the ground to our shoulders while we were standing.  One likes to sit on Mattie’s head! This is almost a daily occurrence now.

As for other new behaviors, the chickens which up to this point have really lived up their name (running for cover, and ducking or freezing at loud noises) are now big brave chickens.  They walked right up to Steven while he was using his circular saw to see what he was 9668doing.  One decided to rest right by his air compressor.  They are obviously feeling quite comfortable in the yard. They are also very curious.  They think they have to be right in the middle of whatever you are doing.

Our chicks did get moved into their coop finally.  We are not finished with it yet, but they really love it!  We put 4 inches of pine shavings in the bottom of the coop.  We used plant hangers to hold our feeder and waterer off the floor.  WOW!!!  This has really made a huge difference in cleanliness.  They no longer stand on the rims because they 9697will sway if they do. They also don’t get so much debris from scratching in their dispensers.  It’s nice. We’ve hung some outside as well.

Buffalo gnats have been a part of our last week or so.  This is our first experience with them.  Buffalo gnats are mean little things that can actually kill your chickens. I first noticed the chicks shaking their heads, and then saw a greyish black place by the comb.  It was a gnat.  They typically attack the head area, especially around the comb and waddle.  Some friends of ours sprayed their chickens to relieve them of the gnats and the next morning all 46 were dead.  It was just horrible. As you can imagine we were quite concerned and starting researching these pests.

We found out that the gnats life cycle is short, so if we can last a few weeks we’ll be good.  We also learned that they don’t like being within walls.  Even if your chicken coop or barn is open and  ventilated, the Buffalo gnats won’t like being in there.  I wondered if this was true and for us, it was.  The gnats only bothered9704 our chickens when we had them out in the yard; when they were back in the coop they were just fine.  So they have been confined to the coop except at night for a few hours.  When our chicks are out in the yard, we kill any gnats that get on them with our fingers. No chicken blood for those pesky boogers!

We added some branches for them to roost on until we could find something else.  I was looking for an old wooden ladder.  Sure enough I realized we had one in the shed.  The ladder was 14 feet long.  We cut it into three sections; two at 5 ft 4 inches and the other part that was left over is the perfect size to put under the door.  We are happy! The ladders are not fixed in permanently yet since we will still be adding nest boxes and I haven’t decided exactly where I want them yet.

The chicks are so funny, when we check on them throughout the day and at night (with a flashlight) they look at us through the window and come over peeping.  We ♥ our girls and they love us too!9709

This past week has been very hot and humid with temps in the triple digits.  We’ve been quite concerned about our chickens and make sure they have plenty of cool fresh water.  Their coop is shaded through the day so it doesn’t get as hot inside as it does outside.  One day in particular, I researched chickens and heat, because I worry about these things…. I found a site that said chickens love watermelon and it really rejuvenates them in the heat and gives them a fluid boost.  Since we had two slices left in the fridge, I cut them up in small pieces and took them out in a pan.  I set them in the coop and the chicks just looked at them.  I picked up a piece and dropped it and of course they had to peck at it.  As soon as one chick picked up a piece, the others started chasing her to get it for their own.  I started dropping pieces and they started gobbling them down.  Eventually they realized that what was in the pan was what t9715hey were eating and I left them to it.  The pan was clean when I returned.

Our chicks are pretty calm and peaceful in the morning, but in the evening they are quite excited and make lots of noise.  As a matter of fact, we had about 3 nights of near chicken riots when putting them back in the coop.  We would put them in and they would jump and flap and fly right back out. It was crazy.

Then an unexpected thing happened; one evening the chickens starting flying into the coop on their own as the sun was starting to set.  We were surprised!  We helped others into the coop and they stayed!  It was crazy!  Last night Steven leaned a board up to the door and they went right up it and in again.  We guess they have finally figured out that they want in the coop before the sun goes down.

We still have many things to do for our chickens.  We need to get the real people door on the coop and finish up our sliding chicken door which will raise9682 and lower by a rope.  We need to get some more braces on the legs and also reset the window on the right side so it will open. Once we reset the window, we can put up the rest of the weathered siding.

Eventually we will put their nest boxes in.  We expect our chickens to start laying eggs in August.  We also need to get their fencing up.  We plan to fence in an area they can go in and out of during the day on their own.  In the evening we will let them have full run of the back yard for a few hours.

In the event you were wondering about Hank and his love of chickens, here is a final picture with him.  He is a happy chicken dog!

Unless something exciting happens, I plan to post monthly now in Our Chick Diary. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

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