April 26, 2013
Last Monday, little Olive looked like this, and then literally grew up overnight. I'm not kidding. I went in to check on their food and water before going to bed, and I thought to myself, "Why are you still so tiny?" The next day, she wasn't so tiny anymore.
Don't get me wrong. She's still the little one, and definitely the cutest, but I'm glad to see that she's feathering out. I know I say this every week, but I think we're finally ready to move the chicks to their big brooder in the basement this weekend where they'll stay until their coop is ready, and the weather is nice and warm.
To supplement their medicated chick feed, I've been experimenting with various treats. At first, they seemed to shy away from anything too wet or sticky, but now they're a lot less picky. So far, they'll eat (with enthusiasm):
-hard boiled egg
-greens (lettuce, radish greens, spinach) - they love their greens
-bits of corn tortilla
I usually try to chop or crumble their food for their tiny beaks, and almost always mix whatever I feed them with a spoonful of yogurt to make a mash. I read somewhere that the bacteria in yogurt is supposed to help their digestives, and they seem to really like it.
If I haven't mentioned this before, backyardchickens.com is an incredible resource for chicken owners. I refer to the site for almost everything nowadays, from chicks to coops. Here are just a few things I've found myself typing into the search bar this month:
"Chick with lopsided chest."
"Chicks collapsing to one side under heat lamp."
"Chick poo, clear liquid."
"Are my chicks going to die?!"
Above are a couple pictures of said chicks collapsing sideways under the heat lamp. At first, I panicked, and thought they were dying from heat exhaustion. Luckily, I found a few posts from people who had the same question in the forums, but were told they just like to sunbathe. Now I just think it's funny to watch, and use it as an opportunity to examine how their feathers are growing in under their wings.
Oh, and the lopsided chest thing? That really freaked me out until I read it was just their crop where they store food until it has a chance to digest. I knew they stored food in their crop, but I had no idea a full crop would make them look so crooked.
Honestly, for the first week or two, every little strange thing I witnessed about my chicks had me convinced they were going to die, so I'm really grateful for the resource.
As for the coop, we're making progress. Over the weekend, Matt hacked, sawed, and hammered away at scraps from our ugly bathroom remodel, and was able repurpose some of the material for a new nest box for the girls.
Also, to help make our coop as safe from predators as possible, we've dug a trench in the yard for the hen house and chicken run. We're hoping to protect the perimeter with about a foot of underground hardware cloth to deter unwelcome diggers. Unfortunately, we had to deal with an old tree stump that was right smack-dab in the way of our trench, which, as you can see, was quite an accomplishment to remove.
Then hen house is almost done. We've actually got all the windows and doors installed, and are in the process of priming, painting, re-roofing, and lining the floor with vinyl. Once that's finished, we'll pop it up on a stand and stick it in the ground. Hopefully I can show you that process in next week's post, and we'll be well on our way to constructing the chicken run. So far, we've spent less than $200 ($100 was Amazon gift cards) on materials, but I'll give you a total once the whole thing is finished.
Here are a few more shots of the girls. Anyone else notice how difficult it is to photograph a chicken? Sigh.
Have a great weekend!