Week Four

April 26, 2013

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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.

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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
-oatmeal
-yogurt
-bread crumbs
-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.

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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 panting."
"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.

Nest box for the chicken coop.

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.

Trench for the chicken coop. Matt: 1, Stump: 0

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.

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Dog house to hen house.

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.

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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!

5 comments:

  1. I remember the frightening times when I thought my chickens were dying. They get in to some strange positions and once I thought several were having a seizure at the same time..no..just a dust bath, ha! Then the time when their beaks were all open and wings were held out..just hot.

    You are so smart to dig down to keep the unwanteds out, we thought of that 'after' the fact.

    Love seeing how they are growing and the progress on the house.

    You and Matt have a fun weekend. xo

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  2. In love reading about your chicks!! My husband and I just got 7 chicks of our own (4 are 9 weeks and 3 are 3 weeks). I totally understand all of your concerns...I think I've searched the same over the last few weeks!! Can't wait to see what they look like all grown up!

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  3. They are looking very good! My Buff still sprawls spread-winged on her side in the dirt to nap, looking exactly like a chicken that's been shot dead. After a few years, I've gotten used to it.
    Those are gonna be some healthy hens!

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  4. That's so interesting, there obviously is a lot more to chickens than I thought! Olive is so cute :)n
    Can't wait to see your finished hen house!

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  5. From what I've seen on my in-laws' smallholding, chickens will eat anything. You seem to be giving the a great mixture of stuff.

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