Monday, August 16, 2010

Quite the Dilemma

Nothing much to report these past few weeks. The chicks are no longer chicks. They are getting ever bigger and within a few more months I may see my first egg. It’s a good thing I had opened the attached run for them as the coop alone has quickly become too small to keep them confined in all day. However that in itself has created an unforeseen dilemma.

Every time it rains (and it’s been raining for the past 2 days here in Brooklyn) the dirt in the run gets quite muddy. The girls don’t seem to notice and run all about in the mud. Then they come back into the coop and run all about; jumping on top of their nesting box and their waterer, running through their feed box, hopping onto their roosting pole, etc. Basically when I come home from work in the evening, the entire coop is covered in poop and mud.

I tried to clean the mud and the poop by spraying a hose into the coop and flushing everything out. But where does the water end up? Of course it leaks right back into the run and creates more mud. This is a vicious cycle of cleaning, getting muddy again and repeat. I’m almost afraid the only option I have is to clean the coop out allowing the water to drain and create the mud, catch each pullet and clean their feet, close off the coop exit and confine the clean birds in their clean coop. Quite the dilemma…

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So I Got A Little Sidetracked

It's been a while since the last post, I admit.

Since then I have completed the chicken coop the way I wanted it for the summer. I'm not sure yet as to whether this will last throughout the winter so instead of walls I've surrounded the 4 sides of the coop in heavy duty chicken wire, leaving one side unattached aside from a hook that keeps it closed so that I would have access to the inside.

Unfortunately I learned about 2 weeks ago the lesson that a door only works when it is closed. With a heavy heart, I'm sad to announce that one night the door was left unhooked and with the tenacity of a hungry stray cat, the door flew open and released all the chicks. From the there it was a game of cat and mouse or rather cat and chick. Another of the Golden Comets was taken in the night as the others ran for cover under the large squash leaves growing in the garden. By the time I had awoken the next morning to feed them, my mother had already coerced the still shaken chicks out from under the crops and placed them back in their coop, doors hooked and all.

I've also used the remaining chicken wire to fence off a section of the back yard, under a big cherry tree, for the girls to roam free in and peck at the bugs. The bird seed that they end up kicking out of the coop as they scratch and peck at their mixed feed ends up in the run and after a few rain storms grew into a nice thick patch of grass that the girls just go crazy for. It's probably their most favorite food. That and any type of weeds I can find growing in the cracks on the ground.

Pictures will come in the next post.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

RIP Chickie

I received the text from my brother at 1:12 PM this afternoon. I had just sat down to enjoy my lunch when the bad news came. The text said it plain and simple "black cat ate one of the white chickens....."

My father had let the chicks run loose in the yard just as they had yesterday. He then went out and returned an hour later to find one of the Golden Comets missing. He searched the entire yard with my brother until they finally spotted under the patio stairs was a small pile of feathers and a severed chicken leg. A stray black cat was seen running from the yard when they came out to investigate.

The chick never had a chance. It was very disheartening, especially when I had dreaded this day and hoped it would never come. I hadn't even gotten the chance to name her yet. There is one good thing to come of this though. I am determined now to finally finish the chicken coop I had started and construct a run for them to safely dig around without another incident. Until today I had been putting it off; telling myself that they are still small and they wouldn't need to be placed in a coop or need a run. Now I know better.

RIP Unnamed Chick

Monday, June 28, 2010

Getting Big

It’s been a little over 2 weeks since I brought my little chickies home and they have grown quite a bit already. When I got them, they were all fuzzy and cute. It must be all the protein in their feed (I mixed the 5 lb bag of chick starter feed with a 10 lb bag of high quality bird seed from Walmart) but they have grown a lot bigger and when I pick them up they definitely feel meaty and muscular. They’ve also been getting lots of bugs and greens from eating the weeds in the yard.

Their feathers are starting to grow out. Their wings seem to be fully feathered while their back and tail feathers are making their appearances. They’ve grown so much that I no longer have to pick them up individually to let them run loose in my backyard. They’ll fly out themselves now. I’ll try to get a picture of that one day.

Their temporary home at night

They like to hang out and hide from the sun under what will one day be their coop.

Scratching at the dirt for weeds and bugs.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finally got around to getting chicks

This is somewhat of a late post in the sense that it should be dated 06.11.10.

Over the past few months I've put much thought into raising chickens in my backyard. It started out with a late night aimless web surfing session which somehow landed me on a Craigslist posting by a woman in Coney Island giving away a rooster she accidentally received in her recent order of chicks. The thought of raising chickens had never crossed my mind until then but afterwards I was definitely intrigued. I began looking up any information I could on raising chickens on the web. "Backyard Chicken" as deemed by many is a movement by many suburbian and city folk who raise their own chickens in their homes/yards. Everybody has their own reasons; from fresh eggs to more humane treatment of animals and even to use chicken poop as fertilizer. My reason, a little of everything but mainly just for the experience.

I drove out to New Egypt in New Jersey with my girlfriend which is a solid hour drive away to purchase baby chicks from their local Agway. They order chicks from a farm and they keep in stock throughout the summer. Breeds will differ from each order. One time I had called and they had listed out to me over 10 different breeds. When I arrived they were only carrying Rhode Island Reds and Golden Comets. Since the minimum purchase as required by state law is 6 chicks, I got 3 of each.

Although I really didn't want to, I ended up purchasing a bag of medicated chick starter feed. I would much rather have fed them organic things but with their little mouths and being my first time, I just didn't know what I could even feed them.

As I was getting gas on the way home, I decided to pick up one of the golden comets to hold in my hand. She flew out of my hand and landed on the dash board.