Friday, August 31, 2012

Gang on the Front Porch

Gang on the Front Porch-----

The birds are doing their daily 'Shade Chase' and now they have it down pretty well.  We start the morning all over the place. But the Sun starts cooking by 10 AM. Most birds go to the West side of the coop and some stay on the front porch. Then in the afternoon there isn't too much shade except on the front porch. Later in the afternoon the east side will get more and more shade.
 You can't see the shade tarp off to the right. The wind has been flopping it around so much that the birds won't stay there even if that is where the water and food trays are.  Today I tried to fix that by stretching a rope below the tarp and above the tarp so it can't flap so much.   There wasn't much wind today and there were about 30 birds under the tarp tonight.  So maybe I have figured something out. If it works, I'll have a picture next time.
Yesterday I realized that I only have 6 bags of organic feed.  I think a bag lasts 2 days now. I am not feeding so much because they are picking out the yellow corn chips and ignoring the white fine-crushed feed.  Now I have been Not filling trays until they are mostly empty of everything.  Some of them meet me at the gate and garble at me until they get me to realize I have to get some feed in the trays....
Oh, they love zucchini.... especially the big ones.  They can really peck them apart.

This is cool..... Yesterday I was doing something down in the field and I saw a hawk circling them.  When I got closer, the hawk had moved off to the west. But All of the birds were on the porch-tight to the coop wall, standing, and watching the hawk until it circled out of range.  Chickens are not so dumb.

Well, it is hot, dry and baking out here.  Last week the leaves on  a big pretty birch tree turned completely yellow and in 2 days the branches were bare.  Another different kind of summer season.  Tomorrow I water the gardens again. I guess you just do the next thing.

Be well everyone.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cool Chicks

Cool Chicks-----

In this picture the birds are in the shade next to the coop. Those are white fence slats that don't let the birds under the coop.  It is cool under there and breezes come blowing through too.

The birds are out every day and we are getting into some routines about how the day goes.  I get out as early as I can, about 6.  I open the coop doors and take the 5 G waterer out and refill it. When I finish that and look around there are about 20 birds out in the clover pecking at things.  When I get the feeders out and fill them, I put them under the sun tarp.  By then half the birds are out. Full feeder are a big attraction!
 It is a treat for me to watch them exploring and figuring things out.  Today I broke some  oversized cucumbers in the yard.  In a moment the pieces were surrounded by pecking birds.
 Then I go into the coop, invite everyone out, clean the bedding, add more shavings, open the windows and close the door until late PM [or storms or hawks].
I come back in mid-afternoon, fill the feeders, check to be sure they have moved to the shady areas, and just watch. Today the tarp was flapping and snapping in the stronger breezes today. So I moved the poles and reset it. it seems more stable now.

Tonight I moved the waterer and half-full feeders inside. I lowered 2 windows for overnight, and left the door open. Some birds went right in. I'll go back soon to invite the rest inside and close the doors for the night.  The birds don't move when it gets dark, their wisdom, owls fly at night.  So if it is a twilight like now they are probably in the coop already.  So that is the day today. All of us did well!  Hope you did too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chicks Getting Out..

Chicks Getting Out....
The babies are almost 4 weeks old; their feathers have them pretty well covered, they are healthy, they have attitude,  and their clover is out in the yard waiting for them.

Most of them caught on to the idea of moving to keep in the shade as the Sun moves through the sky.  I put up a shade tarp but the wind flaps it.  So they prefer the shade of the coop or the green wind fence.  I can put up more green fences so the grass is shaded too.  The last two days the Sun has been powerful.
Today  I must have gone over to the coop 8 times to check on how they were doing, or putter with something, or stay around when I saw the hawks circling.  That wouldn't be a big deal except that I am wearing a 'Star Wars Boot' to rest my left ankle.  I did something to my tendon and 'positive thinking' wasn't getting it healed.  Anyway I sort of have to hop like a cowboy... Or I ride around on my little mower tractor. It is sort of like a green mobile chair for off-road.

The ground is really dry out here. We were between the clouds on the last round of thunder storms.  I picked some zucchini and tomatoes.  The plants seem like they are just 'holding,' waiting for more rain. It has been like that a lot this summer. I do some watering but it is just not enough. I am bringing in the onions and some of the potatoes that have vines that have dried up. We got good sweet corn but the stalks were like little mutants. But they put out really nice cobs. Nature is funny sometimes-- how did they get the signal to make cobs when they weren't 3 feet tall?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wonder Chick at 15 Days

Wonder chick at 15 days old.....

This little girl is just being a show-off, or getting ready for the Chix Olympics!!  They love to run and they will climb on anything they can. In this picture the heat lamp is making an orange spot in the background. I try to keep the temperature around 80 degrees.  Usually I have windows open too, so that the humidity doesn't get too high.  I check in with them at least 5 times a day.
You can see the feathers they are growing.  Also you can see  the seams of bare skin that show where they are outgrowing their feathers. Every day they are getting bigger.They have tripled their coop area. They are starting to use an adult feeder and a bigger watering jug.  It will warm up next  week and they will have more feathers to handle the range of temperatures.  Then I will get them moved into the main coop area.
I have been feeding them a mix of Organic grains. This is the first time I have used this feed.  It seems to be going well.  When I refill the feeder I make a mush of the uneaten feed, so they eat everything without them totally emptying the feeder. Each morning I have been bringing in a big bouquet of clover plants. They start pecking on the clover heads.  When they get outside their whole yard is planted in clover.
So far I am behind in my yard fencing..... it is about 50x100 and I have got a lot of fencing to do yet! I'll make it my big project tomorrow.
Sunday I had a big day in the woods. I put my chainsaw in the trailer and spent the afternoon clearing the wind-falls off the trails.  It was glorious! Then I made a mistake and hurt my ankle. When I came  back to the cottage, Stoney got ice on my ankle and took over chicken care for the next two days. I am so lucky that she 'has my back'.  So this has been a week of hobbling, limping, icing and walking slow. Today we went up on the hill and watch the storm clouds blowing over. I am so lucky.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicks getting their Lunch

Chicks getting their lunch.....
The chicks are 6 days old. Each day I am aware of changes and growth.   The term 'doubling' seems to apply. They need twice as much water, feed and space.  In the next few day I will be introducing a bigger water jar and bigger feeders. I have been giving them clover and corn cobs to try out different foods.
These little birds love to run. Now they can turn, stop and jump. At first they were just running until they hit something.
This morning when I came out the birds were in the corners away from the heat light. A few days ago they were all sleeping under the light. And when they first came, they were under 2 heat lamps day and night. It is in the 70's during the night. So today I shut off the light for the day and took out the divider. Now they have the whole little coop room to run and spread out. So tonight when I turn on the heat light [It is cold for a few hours...], they can sleep in their comfort zone.  I think they need some external heat until they get their feathers. But this way they can choose. I'll see where they are sleeping in the morning.
Yesterday I worked on the outside yard. I pounded in the t-posts for the outside yard. The ground is so dry the clay soil and stones didn't make much resistance at all.  It may have helped that I was standing in the wagon box, so I had really good leverage.  In the afternoon I sculpted the hillside around the coop door.  I had to bring the ground level up about 12 inches on the length of the building so the birds can walk in and out easily.  Also if we ever get rain, then the water has channels to go around the door area. Well, raking dust is not easy.
My arms and hands insisted on a vacation day today. So hooking the fence on the posts will happen tomorrow. I haven't done much fencing since before my surgeries, but I think I am strong enough.  Let's see, Fence, Door, hooks for the shade tarps, a skirt around the building and I will have the yard completed!!  This will be nice. It is a much bigger yard than I had before.