If anyone ever tells you that moving to a rural area will be relaxing, I encourage you to look them in the eye and tell them that they do not know what they are talking about. Seriously, they have no idea. Life is so full in the country, that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done! I’ll start with my new obsession – if you can call it new – it’s been over a year since I started in with this one. What is it, you may ask?
CHICKENS! Yes! I have chickens! I don’t know if I am alone in this, but until this past year I never had any idea how amazing chickens are! Sure, I know they are good to eat, and they give us eggs, but did you know that they have incredible personalities? Did you know that they are affectionate and loving? They are! I was pretty stunned by this!
It all started with a trip to the local farm store. We were there for something else, but I took a stroll through the department with the chicken supplies, and they had the most adorable chicks, ducklings, baby turkeys – what is a baby turkey called? – cool, just looked it up – a baby turkey is a poult – itty bitty quail chicks and something I’d never seen before, a chukar. Turns out, a chukar is a species of partridge. I was immediately smitten.
I know myself well enough to know that I can’t raise something, then slaughter it for meat. I admire people who can, because they know where their food is coming from, how it was treated while it was being raised, and what it was fed. All of that is something I know in my head, but I tend to make friends with the animals in my care, and quite honestly, I know myself well enough to know that they would all end up being pets. That meant that any of the meat birds were out of the running. Ducklings are amazingly cute, but we don’t have a pond, so that wouldn’t be fair and I am not ready to build a pond at this point. Chicks it is! I went back to that department every week for the first few weeks we lived here, and in between visits I researched what I would need, what they eat, how to see the signs for an ill chicken, pretty much everything a beginner needs to know. Finally, I had it all in place. I had a great 2 story coop set up, coop on top with an enclosed small run underneath. I had an indoor brooder pen where the babies could be while they were small. Food and water feeders, food, shavings, a chick heater, nesting box liners for when they grew up . . . it was time! Back to the farm store we went.
Because they were all so cute, it was a good thing that they only had two different kinds of chicks in the store, or I would have come home with far too many. Little chicks are sweet and all, but they grow like wildfire and my grown up coop was only good for about 6 chickens, tops. I ended up with 2 called Golden Comets, and 2 Silverlaced Wyandottes. Aren’t they cute?
These are my Golden Comets – the one on the left is Feather Locklear, the one on the right is Chik’n Biscuit.
These are my Silverlaced Wyandottes – the top picture is Chik’n Biscuit, the one below is Bawk-Choy. Before you wonder about the food names, we were really hungry the day we went to pick them up. Names come from somewhere, right?
Chicks grow up quickly – so quickly that at times it felt like they were doubling in size overnight. What we ended up with were gorgeous birds! I’m leaving out a lot of fun things, but nobody has time for all that right now – suffice it to say, these silly girls make me laugh every single day, many times a day. Now that they are adults, they faithfully provide enough eggs each week for three households, and they give so much affection. When they hear my voice, they all come running to the gate of their run, talking their chickens faces off to tell me about their day. They are all very treat motivated, and Feather will hop up and down with some pretty impressive vertical jumps to get to the treat bag! She’s the first to run up and wait for me to give her a hug – she will tuck her head under my chin and rub her beak against my neck. Biscuit will tolerate the hugs pretty well – she prefers getting petted without being picked up so much, but once in my arms she will also snuggle down for some cuddles. My Nugget, well, she’s a bit shy. Once I am able to pick her up, she will snuggle down and allow the cuddles, and she’s the softest of them all, and so incredibly sweet. BawkChoy had to go to a new home. The hen I anticipated, ended up being a gorgeous rooster, and quite honestly, the ratio of 1 rooster to 3 hens is far too much rooster to go around. These happy bachelors need more of a harem to keep their enthusiastic lovin’ spread around. My girls were exhausted by his attentions, and precious Nugget was actually quite frightened all of the time. She would try to hide every time he came around. I was able to find a home for him where he would be the only guy in a flock of 24 hens, and get to free range in an apple orchard. His new owner even said she’d let him keep his name. I was happy with that. She sent a video of him already making new “friends” within about 30 minutes of being released in his new home.
The other day I looked over from where I was working in the garden, and saw Moose sitting outside of the chicken run, and all 3 chickens standing inside, all 3 chattering away at him, they’ve all been buddies since he poked his hairy head into their baby brooder pen when they were barely a week old. As soon as I walked closer to get a picture, Moose wandered off and Nugget went back to scratching for food away from the fence. I was able to get a couple of pictures of the girls though.
Biscuit on the left, and on the right is Feather.
Nugget, as usual, hangs back a bit, and sadly, the fence blocked her adorable face, but she really is one of the sweetest things ever.
This handsome guy is Bawk-Choy, and I hope he is living his best life with all of his feathered girlfriends.
This spring, after a year of learning all about what to do, and what not to do, with my new obsession, I found myself again haunting the chick aisles at the farm store, and then it happened . . . the chicks were again filling my heart with glee. This time I ordered a small chicken coop with a small run under it – in anticipation of my new babies growing up and needing to be outside of their baby pen, but not yet being big enough to mingle with the big girls. We needed a transition house. Baby pen was ready, new chick food was purchased, big girl pen was on the way . . . it was time to bring home my new family members. This year I went with 2 Australorps – known for being very friendly and sweet, and a Bielefelder. I actually had 2 Bielefelders, but sadly, one of my babies died about a week after we brought them home. I’m not going to lie, I cried really ugly tears for quite some time. My heart broke and is still tender from the loss. I see my little one out there without her sister, and it makes me a bit sad. After I brought her home, I found out that this breed of chickens is known for being gentle giants – so far she looks to be the same size as her pen mates, but who knows what will happen she is full grown.
I’d like to introduce you to my new babies – keeping the food theme going – we have Chik’n Noodle, Chik’n Giblet and Chik’n Dumpling – Chik’n Pattie went to chicken heaven.
As always, Moose needs to check on his babies every day. They warm to him quickly and by the time they are living in the big girl pen, they will run to the fence to visit with him, just like their older run mates do!
In just two weeks, these girls were outgrowing their baby pen, so we put them into their big girl pen/run during the day. It still gets too chilly out at night to leave them out there, so they go back in the baby pen at night. Also, we are putting together a new, bigger run, and I don’t feel comfortable leaving them out in their new coop without the chainlink fencing around them as an added layer of protection from predators. It’s not all that clear, but you can definitely see that they have grown!
Over the next days we are putting together the big run for them, and moving the big girls large coop over to the new run, and moving the littles to the run also. We’ll be able to have everyone all in the same place, complete with new toys, a pool for the summer (did you know chickens LIKE water? They can swim, though you don’t want to have anything deeper than a few inches – once their feather get saturated they’ll sink like a rock. The water is a nice relief from summer heat though.) Once we get it all together, I’ll do an update post to show you how great it is. They’ll be closer to the cabin, and I’m setting up a little table and chair outside the run so I can sit and have conversations with my chickens. It’s remarkably calming!
Until then, have a safe and healthy Memorial Weekend – and in memory of all of our Military Heros who gave their all for our country, your sacrifice will not be forgotten.
God Bless You!