Monday, October 3, 2011

Photo time from a sunny Sunday afternoon with the hens.

Eggs from Sunday breakfast. 2 are a plain brown and 2 are brown with dark brown speckles.
All 4 hens out in the yard foraging.
Why are the chickens checking out my herb garden? That oregano is not for you Tara and Merrill!
Find the hen! Willow (or possibly Tara) foraging in the herb garden. She was kicked out after this photo was taken.
Merrill (in the foreground) and Henrietta (in the background) scratching in the grass. I know Merrill found at least one worm that afternoon.

A close up of Henrietta with Merrill poking her head in the shot.
Have you hugged a chicken recently? A photo of me holding Willow after she again tried to go into my herb garden. STAY OUT OF THERE GALS or risk being picked up and moved!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rain rain go away!

This week marked our 12th egg from the chickens. We have now collected over a dozen wonderful eggs and the hens just keep laying more. We are up to 2-3 eggs a day.

This morning I was outside doing the weekend coop clean and getting the hens fresh food and water when it started raining. The hens were scrambling to get out of the run and into the hen house. Meanwhile, I am in the hen house scrubbing and cleaning. Tara came over and pecked me and the brush. Willow started whining at me to get out. It was a frantic dash to finish cleaning out the coop as I was getting more and more soaked by the rain. I hope the chickens know how much I like them ... but I think they are just annoyed at me for keeping them out of their warm enclosure as it was raining.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Our total egg collection count is now up to 3. Yesterday evening I went out to the herb garden to grab some things for dinner and Tara was in the process of laying an egg. Willow and Tara are ahead of the curve in our mini flock. I gave Tara some sage and basil as a reward for her yummy present. She loves sage and pecked at my hand trying to get more.

Our first egg breakfast. A lightly buttered slice of bread, one egg cooked over medium with the yolk cracked (oozey goodness!), and a cup of coffee. The yolk was very orange and it tasted wonderful! It wasn't much food once it was shared between 2 people but it was still very tasty.
So far we have only eaten one of the eggs. The very first egg was shared as part of a teeny tiny breakfast on Sunday morning. For scale reasons I included the fork in the photo.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A witness for egg #2

In the mornings, as we give the hens their food and water, they hint rather strongly that they want to go out into the yard. Willow literally pushes up against us to go outside. Nudging her back into the coop is a morning ritual. We let them out in the afternoons/evenings but never in the morning. The chickens disagree with our executive decision and every day they stage a mini-protest and ask to go out. Sorry ladies, but you have to wait until we get home from work and can watch over as you forage. Rules are important (though they can and do get broken on weekends when we are home). Also, if they seriously want to protest I need to see some better signs or at least an awesome drum circle. Have they not learned anything from living in Wisconsin?

This morning I was greeted by 3 out of our 4 hens as I gave them food. When I poured a new pile of grit it was still only 3 hens. After I had taken the water dish out, cleaned it, added fresh water, walked back to the coop, AND put it into the run there were still only 3 hens. Then I heard it: a squawking, a clucking, a flapping of wings, and one loud final squawk. After the ruckus Willow came wandering down the ramp into the run. I opened up the nest box and found a freshly laid still warm egg waiting for me. At least now I know why she wasn't pushing to get outside this morning... she is the first of our hens to start laying eggs!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A first....

I was finishing the coop cleaning tonight and when I opened the nest box lid I got a wonderful surprise: our first egg!!!

Our very first egg from our backyard hens. It is small, fits neatly into my palm, and is a very pale brown. (pre-rinse)

A close up of the egg once it was washed/rinsed. It is a gorgeous brown color with small brown spots all over the shell.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hug a chicken

We were cleaning out the chicken coop today and let the chickens out to wander the backyard. Willow was being especially friendly so she got picked up and hugged. Have you hugged a chicken today?

Willow is now friendly enough that she can be easily handled. Here she is being held up at chest height with no resistance or complaint.

Tara (black and white) and Henrietta (black and orange) wandering around the backyard.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Weed eaters

This weekend we had some gorgeous weather so we let the chickens out of their coop while we sat outside reading. They very kindly went after the creeping charlie (weeds) in the backyard for me.

Come out, come out, wherever you are! The door is wide open. A photo of the chickens coming out of their coop.
Merrill hanging out on the grass and weeds enjoying the beautiful weather.

Henrietta and Merrill (the two golden laced wyandottes) out on the lawn.

All 4 hens hanging out together searching for worms and bugs.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Snack time!

An orange daylily from the daylily bed behind the chicken coop.

It is a 3 day weekend here for us due to the 4th of July. We had intended to spend part of today building a portable 10 foot by 10 foot enclosure for the hens so that they could wander around more of the yard. Sadly, we found out today that we had bought the wrong kind of 3 way PVC connectors and after looking around town we can't find the correct version. So, the portable coop will have to wait until the online order gets shipped unless we find them in a specialty store in town. *shakes fist in the air* Darn you different types of 3 way connectors, darn you!

So instead of building a coop we ended up relaxed with the chickens for awhile this morning. They got to snack on some tasty weeds and they will get their own salad at dinner time tonight. The chickens have recently been getting mini salads when we have our own larger versions of salads at meals. They are spoiled!

Willow and Tara in the hen house, with the door open, being hand fed some weeds. Yes, these gals are in training to become my personal organic weed control.

The gals have been growing up quickly. I no longer have peeping baby chicks and instead have 4 hungry pullets (a chicken less than ~1 year old is called a pullet).

One of the golden laced wyandottes (left) and a barred plymouth rock (right). The gold feather with black edging coloration is finally emerging on the chests of the golden laced wyandottes.

All 4 of the chickens scrambling to get into the hen house. They are standing on the ramp with Willow half blocking the doorway as the other 3 chickens attempt to scurry inside. I suppose they decided their photo shoot was over for the morning.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Long time no post

It has been a long time since I posted. I apologize for the lack of chicken photos and stories. Real life got in the way of internet fun for me recently. I got sick (the flu and pneumonia) so I have not had the energy to update. But I am finally starting to feel better again so there will be more posts soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quick update

By nightfall on their first day outside the chickens were all  tucked into bed cozy in their hen house. They went in by themselves and went to sleep in a big pile.  Adorable!

Outdoor adventure

Today was a special day for the flock. It was their first day outside!!!

Last night we set up their luxurious outdoor palace (the cute coop I mentioned a few months ago coop photo). We put out a new feeder and a new big water dish in their run. We poured out an area of grit for the hens and created a pile of sand for dust baths (chicken spa in a bag!). This morning we took the old smaller food and water dishes out of the brooder box. We removed the bricks that were acting as stands for those dishes. We apologized to the hens as we lifted the chickens' home to carried it down the stairs and into the wild unknown lands of the big and scary backyard. The gals were all chirping and moving around the brooder box frantically as we made the journey. Their chirps were understandable since their home was literally being lifted and moved around through the house. We set the box down on the ground and moved the chickens one by one into their new home. We placed them into the hen house so they could see that cozy location and we hoped they would also check out their new roost.

A close up of Tara eating at their new food dish with Willow getting in a few bites of food herself in the background.

Of course, the very first thing every chicken did upon being put into the hen house was take a slide down the ramp into the run (the outdoor area that touches the ground). They ran straight to their new food and water dishes and never looked back. We have such hungry and thirsty gals! At four weeks old they are still growing and they eat as much as they can gulp.

The chickens checking out their new spa treatment (an area of sand for dust baths). Henrietta and Merrill are hanging out in the dust. Tara is in the foreground and Willow's tail feathers are visible on the left of the picture.

This morning they were still having trouble using the ramp. They would go up two steps and slide back down. That afternoon when I got home from work Willow and Tara were standing 3/4 of the way up the ramp just relaxing. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any of them in the hen house. I have seen then take shelter under the ramp, which is not exactly the same comfort level as a warm protected hen house.  If they do not go into the house by dusk we will move them into there ourselves and close the little hatch door behind them. Hopefully they will go in of their own choosing since we don't stress them out too much by forcing them into the hen house. Silly chickens, don't you know what is good for you!
Willow and Tara standing toward the top of the ramp leading into the hen house.

Anxious momma hen

Today is the first day for the chickens in their outdoor coop. I am at work right now and all I can think about is going home at the end of the day and running to go check on them. I am one anxious momma hen.

It was raining today. Did the little flock figure out how to use their ramp and hid in the warm and dry hen house during the storm? Or were they still unsteady on the new surface and ended up taking shelter under the ramp? Did they find their new sand pile and take a few sand baths? I am curious as to how their first day outside treated them. Now I really wish I had an outdoor chicken camera set up.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Say hello to Henrietta

It is time to introduce Henrietta, the official hen of She is named by our friend Terry who runs that website (which you should all go check out now). Ok, are you back from checking out his site? I'll wait....  OK, welcome back!

Nostalgic photo of all four chickens back when they were little fluff balls. Henrietta is the furthest back, standing at the food dish. She is looking up and forward at the camera.

Henrietta is one of our two golden laced Wyandottes. She will grow up to have pretty golden feathers that have a black rim/edge. She and her sister Merrill (the other Wyandotte) are the shy set in our mini flock. They don't like to be handled as much as Willow or Tara.

Henrietta just over a week ago (photo taken May 4th). The golden spots on her head are clearly visible and her wing feathers were really starting to form. At the time she was still a mix of fluff and feathers and her tail feather were just starting to emerge.

A few things make Henrietta special. Clearly, she has the most unique name of the four chickens. In terms of looks, she has the golden head patterns/color splotches. She is a very pretty chicken. For personality, I think of her as the one true chicken in the bunch. I am betting she will be the first to lay an egg. She has the most clear instincts of the group. When she was first put into the brooder box she instinctively looked for a mother hen. She would push her head under the chests/wings of the other chicks. Clearly this strategy never worked for her since she was the same size as the other mini chirping fluff balls, but she remained determined to find a mamma hen. She is also the digger/scratcher of the group. Henrietta digs down to the bottom of the box and pecks at the ground. I assume she is looking for worms and bugs. Sadly, she won't find them there but I imagine that she will be the first to find one outside and show the other chickens how to hunt for treats.

Awkward teenage years

The chickens have been growing quickly. They now entered an awkward stage in their growth; I think of it as similar to teenagers when you are trying out your new body/new self but are not fully grown yet. The chickens are at that stage in many ways. They are mostly feathered now, with just a bit of fluff left on their heads. But they are not yet full size and they feathers are not fully formed. The temperature in the brooder box has been slowly decreasing week by week and late this week they should be ready to leave the only word they have known and venture out into the big bright unknown world of the great outdoors AKA the backyard chicken coop.
All four chickens hanging out at the back of their brooder box. Henrietta is trying to stand in the food dish (what a silly bird). Willow is eating. Tara is facing the camera. Merrill is awkwardly standing on a perch.

Willow seems to be very ready to enter this bright new world. Every time I go to clean the brooder box, get them fresh water, or add new food she comes leaping up and lands on the edge of the box. She is ready to leave that room. Henrietta and Merrill still tend to just run to a corner if I open the lid. Tara just wanders around and stands wherever I am working/cleaning in their box. She is always in my way.
Willow standing on the top edge of the brooder box. She has grown a lot! It now takes two hands to firmly hold the chickens. They are no longer little fluff balls. They look more and more like adult chickens every day.  Merrill is visible in the background of the photo standing in front of the food dish. Feathers are now visible on her legs. They grow up so fast! Pardon me, I am having nostalgic thoughts of fluff ball chicks.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pardon me, miss, but did you know that your tail feathers are showing?

The little flock has been busy growing since I last updated the blog. They now all know how to use the perches and jump around when someone tries to grab them. Because they are so jumpy we decided to add a roof for their brooder box earlier than we had anticipated. We don't want any loose chicks. They would get cold and lonely out in the big bad world of our guest room.

The brooder box set up. Shows a large plastic container, filled with bedding, food, water, and 4 little chicks. A heat lamp is suspended from a ladder with a chain. The height of the lamp can be adjusted to change the temperature in the brooder box. The simple lid/roof is made up of two scrap pieces of wood with chicken wire stapled on them.

The chicks have been eating a lot, drinking a lot, pooping a lot, and growing noticeably day by day. The largest changes are in the emerging wing and tail feathers and in the larger overall size of the chicks. It was once possible to easily pick up and hold them with a single hand but that is becoming increasingly difficult. We now find ourselves using a second hand to lift the little chirping chicks off the brooder box floor.

Willow being held between two hands. Her black and white barred wing and tail feathers are visible through her chick fluff. They grow up so fast! This photo was taken two days ago.

Merrill being held between two hands. She is a pretty black and golden chick with a distinctive golden stripe above her beak.
A close up photo of Willow taken today. Her black and white barred feather pattern is becoming more evident day by day. She has many more feathers than she did two days ago.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meet Tara

While I can tell our four chicks apart, I imagine they just look like dark colored balls of fluff to everyone else. As their momma I feel a need to remedy that situation. How can people not recognize my little chicklets? So in this post I will describe Tara in some more detail and I will do so with her other feathered friends soon.
Tara. A mostly black fluff young chick with white spots under her eyes, a white tail end, and white fluff and feathers at the bottom of her wings.

Tara will one day grow up to be a bantam Barred Plymouth Rock hen. Basically, she will be a smaller chicken (1/3-1/2 the size of a standard chicken) with pretty black and white almost striped pattern on her feathers

Tara is our explorer. She is the trail blazer of the four chicklets. She was the first to use the larger water dish, the first to eat the food, the first to try to fly (which was a completely failure and resulted in falling flat on her chest and beak), and the first to successfully use a perch. When we initially brought Tara home she was recognizable as the black and white fluffy chick with the white spots under her eyes. She now also has a beautiful set of white feather at the lowest part of her wings. She is growing quickly, with feathers replacing fluff at an astonishing rate.

Tara standing on her perch. The few white feathers on her wings are visible here.  The other three chicks are in the background eating and Merrill is stretching one of her legs as she leans down for a snack.

Their first weekend

Our chicks are 7 days old. They grow up so fast!

This weekend was a series of first events for our baby chicks:
  • the removal of a top layer of newspaper meant the first time on bedding and also meant a lack of reading materials for the little peeps
  • the start of feather growth mixed with very adventurous chicks meant the first awkward failed attempts at flight (no one thought to explain to them that chickens are not meant to fly across their brooder box)
  • a fake branch added to the brooder box resulted the first failed attempts at standing on a perch -- basically they would jump up and then immediately awkwardly fall off
  • one day after the perch installation was the first SUCCESSFUL extended rest on a roost/perch
The four chicks on their new brooder floor of aspen shavings. Henrietta is in the process of digging a hole down to the newspaper and is getting shavings into her grit and is even tossing them up onto Willow.  This digging is serious business!

Henrietta, Merrill, Willow and Tara met several new people this weekend. They were clearly not as excited about these meetings as the humans were. People: Oh my goodness! Look at the fluffy adorable chicks!! Can I pet them? Can I hold them? So cute!!! The chicks: Not more of these tall creatures... Seriously? Why do they all keep picking us up? I will peep at you if you touch me. We were comfy right here and we don't want to move. I'll peep. I'll do it!! You think I am not serious? PEEP CHIRP CHIRP PEEP PEEP.

Extra human attention also meant time for extra treats. Overall the chicks enjoyed their finely chopped up hard boiled egg. Unfortunately, one of them decided that it was a fun thing to stand in rather than a food item. It was not intended as a toy, but at least that meant the treat was not ignored. Sadly, not all the moments with human visitors are pleasant. The four chicks were blissfully oblivious to the scary moment when one of my parents left the door to their room wide open. That mistake was just asking for one (or all three) of our house cats to wander in and meet the baby chicks and I cannot imagine that animal introduction ending happily. I quickly closed the door as soon as I realized that it had been left open and no animals were harmed in what will now be called "the incident".
Henrietta standing in her treat of chopped up hard boiled egg. Tara is attempting to eat some of it, but Henrietta's rear end is firmly blocking the way. Willow is pointedly uninterested (she refused to even look at the egg!)  while Merrill was pretty meh about the whole situation. Merrill was more interested in water than in a food treat.

This weekend was the chicks first time on a floor of aspen shavings rather than newspaper which meant that Henrietta's favorite activity was scratching in those shavings in search of food. I assume she is looking for bugs or worms. I don't know how to explain to her that all she will find is a layer of newspaper under those shavings. Perhaps I am wrong and she is actively trying to uncover the paper. She might miss reading the fake headlines from The Onion newspaper. Perhaps the other chicks tell horrible jokes and she is looking for something amusing. But from my point of view she is just kicking shavings into her water dish, her food dish, and her bowl of rock grit. I am constantly taking soggy shavings out of their water and redistributing their floor cover. Why does this momma have to clean up after the mess left by those little peeps? Can't they just learn to clean up after themselves? Every time I go in to fix things, Henrietta comes over and digs another spot down to the newspaper layer. Who will win this war? Who will be more stubborn? Will there be a flat layer of shavings on the bottom of the brooder box or will there always be spots of newspaper showing? (for the record, I vote for Henrietta)

Tara standing firmly on her perch as two of the other chicks stand in the background.

So now it is onto week 2 for our little chicks. Hopefully they will stay healthy, happy, and adorable! They are soon going to enter an awkward half fluff/half feather stage. I will be missing these fluffy little peep days soon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First full day

Our little chicks have now spent their first full day in their new home. After the initial loud peeps and chirps of the first few hours they calmed down and accepted their brooder box. The girls became calm, quiet and made contended sounds instead of stressed out chirps. They just needed some fresh food, water, and a warm place to call home.
The 4 baby chicks as found first thing in the morning. They were sitting together warm and cozy in front of their water dish.

Much to their dismay I woke them up this morning when I entered the room. Darn you momma hen! We were napping, why did you wake us up? *chirp chirp* Henrietta, Merrill, and Tara quickly ran over to the water dish for a long drink. Willow, the most stubborn of the little chicks refused to get up from her nap.

Henrietta, Merrill, and Tara all drinking from the water dish as Willow sits back with her eyes closed. Why, oh why, are we interrupting her nap time with these mean photos?
All 4 chicks at the water dish. Tara is attempting to stretch out a leg (it is morning after all and she had just woken up, it is the perfect time for some morning stretches) but Henrietta is shoving through the pack to get to the water dish. Poor Tara fell after Henrietta pushed her way to the water.

After a nice long drink, the chicks awkwardly walked over to the breakfast table for some yummy organic chick starter. I promise, it tastes better than it sounds. At least it must because the little fluff balls love it! They eat it, they kick it out onto the newspaper, they pick at it there, and they even scratch in it. Willow eventually joined them but only after she had about 3 more minutes in the warm glow of her heat lamp. The early bird catches the worm, but since she doesn't need to hunt for her food she was in no rush to make it to the breakfast table.
Henrietta, Merrill, and Tara eating out of the temporary feeder. It is a little cardboard box lid filled with their yummy organic breakfast. Tara was picking out the corn pieces and attempting to gobble them all up before anyone else found them first.

After a long drink and yummy meal the chicks spent the rest of today learning how to stay steady on their wobbly new feet. They are much better than they were last night and have been running around the brooder box. Sadly, much of the running has been away from their momma hen. The 2 barred plymouth rock girls (Willow and Tara) are relatively affectionate. They like being pet and handled. The same cannot be said for the 2 golden laced wyandottes (Henrietta and Merrill). They still run away when a person's hand is in the brooder box. We are hoping that they will become more accepting as the days go on. Within the next few days we will bring some treats for the little peepers in hopes of teaching them that human hands are good and are not there only to lift them up into the air and check on their health condition. This momma hen wants to make sure they are healthy but she also wants them to be happy little chicks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Welcome the new peepers

Say hello to -->
Willow, Tara, Merrill, and Henrietta (whose full name is Henrietta the Official Hen of thanks to a friend of ours).

Close up of all 4 baby chicks in their brooder box. The 2 barred plymouth rock which are black with white spots are on the left (Willow and Tara) and the golden laced wyandottes which are black with golden spots are on the right (Henrietta and Merrill).
Henrietta was the first to understand the concept of water. We dipped each of their beaks into the water but she was the first to go and drink on her own. She is also the first of the hens to use the temporary water dish as a bath. 
Henrietta taking a bath in the temporary water dish (an overturned tupperware lid) as the other chicks watch her.

We currently have the main water dish and a smaller temporary set up of an overturned tupperware lid for filled with water. The chicks were having trouble staying steady on their feet and found the overturned lid easier to drink out of than the larger dish. Once they stop being quite so clumsy that will be removed.

Our cats are rather confused by all the peeps and chirps coming from the closed off guest room that is housing the brooder box. Hopefully they will not try running in there one of the times that we enter the room. The baby chicks are not cat toys.

In case you were wondering, the chicks are currently living on The Onion newspaper. We want our chicks well read and enjoying the fun parts of life.

Delivery date (maybe)

The baby chicks were scheduled and guaranteed to arrive by noon today. At noon there was no word of the baby chick arrival at the post office. That is when I started to worry and so far it has been a stressful experience for me. After several hours of phone calls, including ones out of state, the chicks were finally located... sort of. Right now they are in the state and within a 100 mile radius of their new home. Hopefully they will get here tonight and we will be able to bring the chicks home with us. The post office has several notes saying to call me the moment they arrive and I believe every person at that post office now knows about me and my live animal delivery. I imagine they will go home tonight and tell their friends and family the story of an anxious woman calling them frantically trying to locate her 4 "lost" baby chickens. Will they be delivered today as expected? I am not sure, but I am hopeful.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Garden work

This weekend greeted us with beautiful weather. We are expecting severe thunderstorms tonight but all day Saturday was gorgeous and so far this morning it has been sunny, warm, and wonderfully spring like. So that means it is the perfect time for some garden work!

My flame orange/red garden shoes on their cedar spike rests.

Our vegetable garden is a 4 foot by 8 foot raised bed. From that relatively small space we harvest a huge array of fresh produce in summer. Our fresh herbs have been living alone in another part of the yard in pots for years and years. But they will no longer feel alone and separated in their pots. They called for their freedom from tiny pots and we listened!
A 4 foot by 4 foot raised garden bed eagerly awaiting herbs.

Because we love our raised vegetable bed, we now built a 4 foot by 4 foot raised bed for our herbs. Our basil, cilantro, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, dill, and chives will find a new home this spring in their own happy raised bed. Sadly, the mint stands alone. It will remain in a pot so it does not spread and take over the whole raised bed. Poor sad mint :-(

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken coop

Picture of the chicken coop sadly lacking chick inhabitants.
The chicken coop lies in wait. The hens won't move there until late May but I think it is the cutest coop. I love the little door and window. Adorable! I added ceramic eggs to the nesting boxes already so they know that is where they should lay.

Waiting on chicks

I live in the city but I will be raising a small brood of chickens soon. Four adorably fluffy 1 day old chicks should be arriving by mail the week of April 18th, 2011. City ordinances allow for up to 4 hens in an enclosed outdoor coop so our house will soon be entering the exciting world of chickens. I am starting this blog as a way to update friends with stories and photos from my upcoming adventure.

Right now I am impatiently waiting for my little baby chicks so I can start telling tales of New Chicks On The Blog.