The past few days was the first big snow storm out chickens have seen. They didn’t like walking in the snow so much. Anya made a snow maze for the chickens. The funny thing I’ve noticed about chickens — and remember, these are birds that can fly (well, for short distances) — is that they get stymied by two foot walls. The whole flock will be standing on the other side of our courtyard wall, chattering and cocking their heads at the wall trying to figure it out. Well, 18″ of snow works the same way — one chicken “cheated” at the maze and just flew into a different section, but they generally hit a head end and meandered around until someone accidentally worked their way back into the main part of the maze.
And she added a prize at the end of the maze
I wanted to grow a little treat for our chickens to eat as winter sets in and green leafy things become scarce. I took about half a cup of wheat, a quarter cup of barley, and a quarter cup of oats and mixed the seeds together. I covered the seeds with water and soaked them for about 20 hours. I then spread the seeds in a 8″x8″ aluminium tray that has holes poked into the bottom. This sits into its plastic lid to keep from dripping water everywhere. Twice a day, I run water into the tray and let it drip out. No soil used — the roots and seeds form a fairly solid mass as the seeds sprout. One week later, I have lots of bright green shoots. Hopefully they think it’s a tasty treat!
We put together a chicken tractor to give our chicks to keep them where they’re supposed to be. We’ll put a tarp over one half of the tractor so they’ll have somewhere to hide when the eagle come about (and a place to hide from the rain). And it’s got a low-motion swing!
We used a 1×4 for the swing and mounted the rope to both the top and bottom of the tractor. This approach leaves the swing move a few inches each way, but it doesn’t swing when they hop on and off. They seem to like it — I’ve seen each chicken hanging out on the swing today.
Scott started putting together a mobile chicken tractor. The metal tube is repurposed from one of those canvas covered pavilion things that came with the house. Massive wind storm, years ago, took it out. It’s been a hop arbor and now a chicken tractor. Since it articulates a little bit, it fits the contours of the ground. We still need to mount some fencing … well, sand it down a bit and repaint it too! But it’s a large, portable space for the chickens to roam when we’re not hanging out in the yard keeping an eye on them.
Scott built axles and wheels to move the chicken coop across the yard. We jacked a side up, slid the axle underneath, and lowered the coop. Repeated the process on the other side and, voila, a mobile coop. We pushed it because we needed to adjust the angle of the axles to make a few turns. But it moved surprisingly well.
Success! We removed the plywood around the playhouse base and tried pulling the playhouse down. Nothing. It’s an odd combination of flimsy and sturdy, but sturdy won out. Scott wrapped a chain around the front 4×4’s and cut through them. For safety, he tacked in two non-cut 4x4s to act as braces while he cut the structure. Pulled again and nothing — those two braces held the entire building.
Then the took other dimensional lumbar and threw it like a javelin at the two braces. A single brace still held the whole building, but after the second brace was removed … we finally have success. It came down in one piece — there are a few dings and the front porch was damaged. But we’ve got a little building at ground level. Now to flip it, clean it up, and get the chickens moved in.
There’s a playhouse that came with our house that we’re going to repurpose into a chicken coop — we just need to sort out some safe way of getting it off of the base.
Anya keeps telling me that chickens grow up so fast … which is both true and so funny coming from the Anya who also seems to grow up really fast. The little balls of fluff are half feathers now, and getting bigger (and more chicken-like) every day. We had our first escape yesterday. I’d clipped a mesh over the top of the brooder when they first started fluttering. But one of the dark-feathered birds was roosting on top of the chicken toaster and pushed her way out of the cover. Now we’ve got more clips, and it seems to be secure.
And they love going outside to play. We’ve had a few really busy days and haven’t been able to take them out. Tomorrow looks a little cool, but the weekend and the first few days next week look like perfect chicken playing weather.
Our little balls of fluff are growing feathers … Joyce’s white feathers are coming in on her wings and tail.
Sunshine’s feathers are coming in on her wings and just starting on her tail.
Lots of little feathers!
Our little girls had their first adventure outdoors. One advantage of getting chicks late in the year like this ? 90 degree days. Plenty warm enough for these little ones to enjoy exploring. We’ve got a fence around the hazelnut bushes, so Anya brought them into that grassy area. At first, they stayed close to one of “their people”.
But, as they spent a little time checking out grass and dirt near us, they started venturing around the yard.