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Anna's Bonne Bouche

Determined to bloom where I am planted, no matter how rocky the soil.

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Having Hens

School’s Out and Chicken Math 

I am finally done with my Coding course! Hooray! After six months of intense study and testing, it is finished.

The last several months I have been focused on just getting through it, and trying to avoid distraction.

TRYING  being the operative word there.

It is done though, and all I can do now, in regards to my new education, is wait for my certification to come through in the next few days and polish up my resume. I have to complete a year of internship before I can call myself a full fledged coder, but the hard part is over. Now I can get back to normal life and start paying more attention to some things I have been neglecting, lately.

The Poo-Princesses  turned 1 year old in May.  They have filled out wonderfully,  and seem to be happy with their routine of bug chasing, garden digging and treat begging.

Doodle even enjoyed some shoulder sitting on occasion.

Looking beautiful for pictures has also been a pass- time.

My husband and I were proud of ourselves! We managed to keep the girls happy and healthy for an entire year. In return for all our efforts the girls kept our yard bug free, and also kept our compost pile nicely turned.

The fresh eggs arrived daily. We had many 3 egg days, which were always good days.

Once, we even had a 2 and 1/4 egg day. Fairy eggs are so weird.

June and July brought the intense heat and humidity we always expect here. My husband and I made efforts to keep the Poo-Princesses cool by giving them a pool to splash in, which seemed to help keep them comfortable.

They also spent time lounging and napping with the dogs on the patio, in front of a big fan during the most hot afternoons.

The only real trouble we had experienced up until this point was keeping the dogs out of the chicken feed. We had been propping the door to the coop slightly open to with a milk crate, trying to block access to greedy dogs, while allowing the girls free access to the coop, their food, water and egg box. This was unsuccessful.  We were going through layer feed at an astounding rate, and the dogs were not eating their dog chow, but still getting fat.

We then started using the egg door for the girls to gain access to the coop, intend of the big doors. They found this confusing at first, but soon got the hang if it. Using the milk crate as a step, they would hop up into the coop, lay eggs, drink and eat, while the greedy, fat dogs were denied the chicken chow. This worked really well, and we were proud of how clever we were.

Then tragedy struck.

One especially hot afternoon, our beloved Easter Egger, Cookie, fell to a  freak accident. She managed to trap herself beneath the milk crate in the sun. It is a terrible  mystery to us how she overturned the crate, got beneath it, and then turned it back over onto herself. I discovered her there while doing my afternoon chicken check. I was too late, however, as she was already suffering the effects of heat stroke. My beautiful girl died in my arms as I desperately tried to cool her.

It was an awful moment. My husband buried her in the yard, as I could not bear the thought of throwing her away or turning her to soup. As one of the original members of the Egg-cellent Egg-speriment,  she deserved better. I spent that entire next weekend terribly sad. Thinking of it still, now a month later,  makes my heart wrench a little. The remaining girls, Jewel and Doodle, seemed lost in the yard, also. They acted like they weren’t sure what to do without bossy Cookie directing the flock.

We almost immediately did away with the cursed milk crate. My husband quickly fashioned a sturdy ladder that hooks securely onto the lip of the egg door, so the girls can access the coop safely. They weren’t quite sure about it at first, but got the gist of it in short order.

We had our first experience with chicken math through subtraction of one. This was such a blow to me that I was content with keeping only my two remaining girls. My husband and family encouraged me to try and find a replacement for Cookie, though.  After a few days of mourning my sweet pet, I set upon the task of finding another princess for my little flock.

It didn’t take long before I found a highly rated chicken farm selling young pullets, about an hour and a half away from us. The knowlegable owner was extremely helpful and friendly in our selection of two new birds. We knew we were pressing our luck with our town codes with the addition of two, but it is not good for a chicken to be a singleton. We couldn’t expect our new girl to live out quarantine alone for 30 days, and then try and blend with our older girls successfuly.

We chose a beautiful 3 month old dark brahma pullet, now named Checkers, and an adorable 9 week old grey splash silkie, whom we named Mokey. I had always wanted a silkie hen. They are just so fluffy and cute with their extra toes, purple skin and tiny, fluffy bodies. Even though they were differnet sizes and ages, the two new princesses got along fabulously, having been together in the baby pens on the farm. So, having made our selections, we brought them home and settled them into a modified giant dog crate for the duration of their quarantine.

Chicken math again, now plus 2.

The resident Poo-Princesses seemed a bit confused and very interested in the new arrivals.  We tried bribery with watermelon slices and meal worms to distract from the new girls sitting on a table on our patio area. For the moment, all seemed well.

Three days into quarantine,  we lost sweet Mokey to a river snake. The offending reptile was  nearly 4-1/2  feet long, but no bigger around than my thumb. He snuck through the bars of the crate in the night and killed my new silkie baby. Hearing the commotion, my father quickly alerted us to something going on outside, but we were too late.  We killed the snake, and quickly secured the crate, and poor, scared Checkers, in our workshop.

Once again, chicken math, minus one.

Traumatized Checkers spent the next day in my  husbands lap, or following us around the patio during her yard time.

We couldn’t let Checkers stay alone, however. The day after losing little Mokey, we made the trip once again to see the friendly chicken farm to select another bird. The wonderful lady farmer was understanding of our situation.  Although we were new to the pitfalls of chicken keeping, she was an old hand at it, and sympathized with our sad situation. 

Somehow we managed to come home with not one but TWO new silkie chicks. I blame this on my mother, who said if we were getting silkie chicks we might as well get two. I, of course, was  not hard to convince that this was a great idea. After all, silkies are so small and so odd looking, do they even count as chickens? As the lady didn’t have any more older silkies to choose from, so we selected some 4 week old babies.

Chicken math, plus 2.

We now have a partridge silkie, named Bella, and a black silkie, named Stormy. We hope they are hens, though it is too early to tell. We also think Stormy may be younger than 4 weeks, but she (?) Is by far the bossiest. She may very well be the new top hen for this new part of the flock. We will see.

Checkers has taken to the new babies very well. She has been a great mom to them, despite being just a baby herself. She has also decided she likes being a lap chicken, often hopping up and making herself comfortable whenever we are sitting outside on the patio during their outside time.

We try and let them outside during the cooler parts of the day for some bug hunting and exercise. They like stretching their wings and legs with what we have been calling the “zoomies”. They dash about, play fighting, hopping and jumping, squeaking and squawking, and just being happy healthy girls, before falling to into a feathery pile for a quick power nap.

Jewel and Doodle are not impressed. We have begun  to call them the evil step sisters. For a week we moved the big coop into the workshop while our temperatures soared over 100°F. The coop and crate facing eachother, so the girls can see one another. The Evil Step Sisters have been very vocal of their disapproval of these new interlopers. Often rushing the babies and trying to peck.

This situation, compounded by the heat, has lead to Jewel being stressed out. She has been laying shell-less and rubber eggs this last week. Despite being on layer feed, having free choice oyster shell, and some additional supplimets, she struggles with her usual laying. She continues to eat, drink and be active, but we keep an eye on her health a little more closely.

We will have to watch this situation, as in another few weeks we will begin to integrate the two flocks.  We hope for the best, and also hope, for the moment, our chicken mathematics lessons are done. 

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

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November’s nearly over and so far we have been blessed with wonderfully mild weather. Where as my northern friends hunker down under blankets of snow and ice, we have been enjoying sunshine with intermittent rain. It has been warm during the day, and cool at night, and has been very pleasent. Not to thumb my nose at my friend’s pain, but we are still walking around in short sleeves and sandals.

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However, the frigid weather my northern friends were enduring finally managed to edge its way to us last week. Freeze warnings prompted us to wrap our outside pipes and move our succulents near the vent of the hot tub.

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We covered the lettuces and radishes with tarps in an effort to keep the frost off of them. We didn’t cover the plants that were either dead, dying or mostly decimated in the latest rampage of destruction by my greedy hens.

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We also covered the herb garden in plastic sheets. I had mixed feelings about it, as none of the herbs I planted in September have grown much. I covered them anyway. I suppose I am just hopeful they will eventually become bigger, more edible plants.

We also covered the hens’ tractor in a big tarp. The wind was picking up, and was quite cold. So we took the opportunity to cover it on 2-1/2 sides, just to keep the wind off of the girls as they roost up at night.

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My chickens are built for this weather. These hens are big bodied and densely feathered, making the cold weather much easier for them to bear than the summer heat. They never roost up in the enclosed part of the tractor, which was specifically built to shelter them. They only go in there to lay eggs or grab a nibble of oyster shell. Otherwise, they roost in the open part or mill around down below.

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So, we just tarped it over to keep that cold wind off of them and help trap some of the warmth in.

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With the cold night looming, I decided to change up their nightly treat by adding some warm, cooked oatmeal to their usual fruit and veggie snack. They acted like they have never eaten before in their lives when I served it to them. Cookie stood over it, gobbling greedily, ready to defend this amazing food from the other girls. I had to chase her off to make her share. I wanted all my girls to have warm, full crops, ready for the freezing night.

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I think it froze for maybe an hour that night, if at all.The next day the Poo-Princesses toddled in the yard, all fluffy, sticking to the sunny spots to forage.They would occasionally take a break to snooze in a warm lap.

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Cookie even cuddled under my sweater for a moment. This was a forced cuddle, however. As you can see by the annoyed expression, she really didn’t want it. It was more of a “time out” for tearing up all my radishes. The sweater wrap was to keep her from pummeling me in her efforts to flap to freedom. She is the top hen and has things to do! “I don’t have time for this time out, Mom.”

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The girls (and plants) made it through the first fall freeze none the worse for wear. The uncovered plants showed no signs of freeze at all. My Poo-Princesses are back to harassing me for my morning coffee and chasing the dogs away to get a peck at the beef knuckle.

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One thing that does suprise me is that there is no decrease in the egg production in these shorter days. In my research I had learned, that as the light decrease so will the amount of eggs. We are still getting two to three every day, maybe it is because we still have 12 hours of sun. To keep them laying regularly, I had thought to rig up a light on a timer for them through the winter months. I have since decided against it.  It is not necessary to add stress to their young bodies, and we are far enough south that it probably won’t be much of a problem in the future.I will let them do what they do naturally.

I really have no need to force them, as they lay so many eggs. I have taken to writing the lay date on them so to not confuse the old eggs with the new. I am hoping to find an egg skelter, and do away with the dating of the eggs. I haven’t found one yet. Maybe I will get one for Christmas. (Hint, hint, my dear husband)

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We have since returned to our warm days. Our flowers are still blooming. I still enjoy sitting on our back porch with my coffee in the mornings, even if I have to don a sweatshirt and slippers. However, by the afternoon we are back to short sleeves and sandals.

So sorry, my northern friends, for your frigid weather and icy roads. Well, maybe I am not too apologetic. This lovely weather comes at a cost of blast furnace summers with raging humidity. So there is that.

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I Have Learned: Chickens are Noisy

When I first started researching backyard chickens one of the things I read was that hens are pretty quiet.

Where roosters have their mighty crow, hens just kind of titter and cluck quietly. Little ladies of the lawn, they waddle about, having quiet conversations about tasty treats and the best places to roll in the dirt.

Lies,  I tell you! LIES!

Or maybe it is just my girls.
https://youtu.be/URffZmojgsQ

They squawk loudly when they want out of their tractor in the morning. If they aren’t squawking, they are are running their beaks up and down the chicken wire. It is a bit like prisoners bang their tin cups against the prison bars in movies.

https://youtu.be/39omhePaDSE
When one of them lays an egg, they ALL crow proudly, “We have made eggs! We must now sing the song of our people, so the nice lady will come for them and bring us treats!”

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When I move the coop, they set up a fuss that I am not moving fast enough. Coop moving day means fresh layer ration.  Which somehow must be better than that which is in the feeder currently… and treats.

https://youtu.be/DmOdYN-oKqo

They fuss over the laying box and who gets to use it first.

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I added a second box to ease tensions, but they don’t care. They want the box the other hen is using, because you know, chicken logic.

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They squawk when it’s time to change sides of the yard for grazing.

They fuss when someone is in the workshop for any reason other than treat getting.

They screech when they think someone ate more meal worms than they got themselves.

They sing the eggs song BEFORE they lay an egg, like advanced warning to have the treat ready.

They argue over who gets the middle spot on the roost at night.

They are just loud. 

I am so glad I have forgiving neighbors. Then again, they probably think this is not as bad as the braying donkey about a 1/4 mile up the road. Nearly everyone has a dog here. We have loads of squirrels to bark at, and they have loud conversations with eachother, occasionaly.

It’s all relative,  I suppose.

In the Poo-Princesses’ defense,  they are not always noisy. They do have the quiet conversations while grazing the lawn most of the day. They are quiet in the evenings at roosting time after they have settled the middle spot debate. They coo and purr at me when they want pets. They definitely are not as loud as a rooster. Their occasional commotion doesn’t make me love them any less. I also have heard no complaints from the neighbors, or city.

I would not, after having this experience,  recommend backyard chickens for those living in politely quiet neighborhoods. I certainly wouldn’t recommend sneaking them into neighborhoods ruled by iron fisted HOA’s. If those chickens are anything like mine, you most certainly will get caught. I heard re-homing hens can be difficult in the city. The odds of them ending up in freezer camp, high. 

Not that I am objectionable to freezer camp. However, those who have lovingly raised their little fluff balls as pets might be upset at such a fate. I get it. It’s okay. I kind of feel the same about my own pet hens, but this is a subject for another post.

Yes, chickens are noisy. It is just the way they are. If you decide to bring your own chicks home, for whatever your reason, do some research first. Talk to your neighbors. Find out what your community and municipality rules are regarding the keeping of poultry.  Make it a good experience for everyone by making sure everyone is informed and ready for the occasional chicken outburst and daily egg songs. 

It’s just neighborly, and part of responsible animal husbandry.

It helps, too, if you bribe your neighbors with fresh eggs.

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We Have a Winner!

I was going to wait until my scheduled posting time this weekend to share this, but I am too excited.

We have a winner in the Great Egg Wait.

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Cookie laid her first egg this morning, and I was there to watch!

I guess this answers the question of if she is a roo, as I witnessed the event in person.

I had wondered what was going on this morning when I went to let them out for yard time. They were all singing the egg song and complaining LOUDLY, for THE ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD to hear. Cookie and Doodle were both jockeying for the nest box. They took turns going in and scratching and sitting. Cookie was especially desperate. She would run around, proclaiming her discomfort in the most noisy terms.

I really thought Doodle was going to do it. In the end, though, I let Jewel out of the coop, as she was just being loud and distracting. She showed no interest in being in the nest box, just crowing her solidarity to the cause. Doodle toddled after Jewel into the yard, and did her bug hunting. No longer looking for a place to squat. No eggs, yet.

Then it got quiet.

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Cookie was the only one not to leave. She stayed in the nest box, shifting around and covering herself in wood shavings. Then she got real still.

Now I want to say I got video of the great event. I just knew something was about to happen any minute.  I had gotten some video of the girls singing, and a bit of the musical nest box number,  but two minutes before it started really going down, my phone’s battery dies.

Gah, of all the nights to forget to put it on the charger!

After sitting quietly for another minute,  Jewel started to get all bunched up. She stood up, straining a second, then PLUNK!, out came a pink egg!

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It was so great to be there for the first lay!

Cookie rolled it under herself, and sat on it. She seemed to know what this was all about. She continued to cover herself in wood shavings until I took the egg.

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It is not what I expected, actually.  I had read first eggs were sometimes oddly shaped, rubbery or rough, and usually tiny. This pink shelled egg is medium sized with perfect shell outside. I haven’t cracked it yet to see the inside. I am saving that for when my husband gets home from work. He had to put up with the flurry of frantic texts this morning from me. I was very excited. He should at least get to share in the egg reveal.

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Congratulations Cookie on your first egg! It’s been a long wait, but worth it. You are my top hen, and first into everything. It makes sense you would be the first to lay and show the girls how it’s done! I am so proud of my fluffy girl!

We are also, really, really glad you are not a roo.

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Great Egg-spectations

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My girls are 22 weeks old. They should start laying any time now. At least, I hope so.  I find myself gazing, wishful, upon those fluffy petticoats. Hopeful, that soon those backsides will produce something other than poo.

We are digging deep for patience. Those eggs will come no faster for us wanting it to happen.  We are just anxious to see our first steps in the Excellent Egg-speriment bring results. So, we wait, with great expectation.

These ladies represent an investment in money, time and quite a bit of sweat equity. If anything happens to these girls, getting new chicks would be difficult, and we would be back to waiting six months for them to mature. So we wanted to be sure to do it right the first time, if we could. Or at least the best we can do, given our circumstances. We are really hoping all our work will end in a reward of fluffy omelets and fall baking. I really want some eggs!
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Our chicken tractor even has this handy door on the side for us to collect those little treasures from the nesting box. We hope to someday use it for its intended purpose.

We built the tractor to be solid and had a little ramp/ladder to help them climb up to the coop and roosts, when the girls were first put in it. We  lined the coop with wood shavings and sweet pdz to help keep it clean, dry, and smelling fresh. I even add a pinch of a herb and dried flower blend I ordered on amazon to give it a nice smell for the girls.

We painted it in these tropical colors, in a non-toxic, outdoor paint, that was durable and easy to clean. The choice of colors was mostly because I wanted something that absolutely said,  “These  chickens are pets” to the local ordinance enforcement folks.  This coop practically shouts, “Spoiled lap chickens.”.I also happen to like these colors. Very happy and beachy.

They also have  a rubber tub filled with sand and DE for them to bathe in. It helps them stay comfortable and keeps them mite free.
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This is all about their comfort, after all.  We want them to be happy hens and just do what happy hens do. The bonus to us is that includes eating bugs and laying eggs.
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We try to feed them well. Making sure they eat mostly their feed ration, but adding some supplements. We give treats, but keep them to a minimum. Fat chickens don’t lay eggs and have health problems. We would like to avoid all that. What we do offer is usually raw vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts, and dried meal worms.  We are now offering crushed oyster shell for calcium, to make those eggshells strong, and larger grit for their crops. The rest is foraged by them.
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They do forage. Here lately they spend a great part of the day strolling the yard under Sampson’s watchful eye. He has gotten really good with them, and we are glad we can trust him with them alone.

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They do come up to the patio and throw dirt around.  I forgive them because, well, they are chickens, and they will do what they want. When I am not looking, what I want is irrelevant to them if a crunchy bug or tasty seedling is involved. I have learned to take precautions.  Anyway, these girls are great entertainment and pretty cute. And… well… eggs.
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So now, at nearly six months in, the remaining question is who will lay first?
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Will it be Cookie, the Easter Egger? We are pretty sure she is a hen. We sent pictures of Cookie to the people we bought the chicks from. They are pretty sure she is a hen. So, we’re pretty sure she’ll lay.  She is acting more like her sisters, though still boss. Starting to do the submissive squat and her comb is turning bright red
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Could it be Jewel, our Lavender Orpington?  She is the biggest. Her comb and wattles are really getting red, now. No squatting from her, though. Just eating.
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Maybe it will be Doodle, the Silver-laced Wyandotte.  Her rose comb and wattles have been red the longest. She has been squatting for a couple of weeks and her backside has gotten extra fluffy lately.

It’s anyone’s guess at this point! Oh, the waiting! It’s tough for this first time chicken keeper.

We just watch and wait. Letting them do what they do and hope they aren’t laying somewhere in the yard.
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Every morning, when I let them out, I do with a great expectation, hopeful I will see a  precious egg in that nest box. Hasn’t happened yet, but we are hopeful the Poo-Princesses will soon bestow gifts to their loyal pooper scooper and treat bringer, for a  job well done.

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I Have Learned: Chickens are Eating Machines

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Chickens love to eat and can put away some chow. They will try to eat just about anything once. They then decide if they like it. Even if they like it, they will try to walk through it with poo feet, or make what seems like an organized effort to poo on it.

Poultry seasoning, I guess.

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We made some pvc feeders to keep their food from this fate. Food costs money, and we are about saving money here. The less waste, the better. These seem to keep the poo out of the food and the girls have to work a little harder to waste it on the ground. We have one each for food, grit and oyster shell.

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We also rigged a water cooler to a pvc nipple waterer to keep their water fresh, cool and poo free. They still like to play with it and make puddles.

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We try to keep what we feed them healthy. They have been on store-bought feed from the beginning. We do not use organic feed, but we use a  good brand that has the balance the girls need to be healthy hens. We currently are weaning them on to a layer ration. We keep the treats to fresh fruit and vegetables, sprigs of garden herbs, meal worms and a treat mix I put in a little boredom ball for them to kick around.

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They have their preferences. Watermelon is like Crack for them. Seeing them dive into a wedge has been a source of entertainment many an afternoon this summer.

They also get yard time twice a day to stretch their wings and forage. They love bugs, and we love that about them. They also enjoy browsing my garden for bugs and other tasty items.

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My seedlings have suffered a few losses to a greedy girl a couple of times. They have been known to kill snakes. They also have a particular taste for spiders, so I can forgive them a few snacks of baby lettuce and thyme.

Although they have a balanced diet in their ration, I add a little brewers yeast and dried seaweed to it for a little help with their digestion and a little kick of extra nutrition.  I also rotate in a little apple cider vinegar in their waterer once a week to aid in digestion and nutrition.

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I found many great blogs on the subject of chicken nutrition online and in Pinterest.  I have seen many different opinions on what is best. Some people make their own feed, some only use organic, some add supplements to store feeds. We chose the option best suited for us novices and went with what we did. The girls don’t complain. They are eating machines. They are always on the lookout for their next tasty treat. Even if it is on someone elses plate.

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Jewel gets especially impatient at feed time. Often checking on my progress in the workshop as I mix their feed and get the cleaning buckets together.

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Anything is game to these eating machines Well, maybe not anything. They will hide green beans under rocks.

They really hate green beans.

I Have Learned: Chickens Need to be Kept Safe

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There can be no doubt that the world is out to get chickens. Sturdy housing needs to be provided, or there will be trouble.

Although our cats or dogs never got to the girls during their time in the brooder, we took no chances. We used a hinged storage container with locks. We cut a window in the top and used 1/4 inch welded hardware cloth, screwed in place with wood trim. It worked well, and was tested often by fat cats checking out the new “chicken exhibit ” in the house.

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When the girls got their first feathers in and the weather outside was usually in the 80’s, they moved to their tractor outside in our yard. I will say they were about six weeks old, but really it was closer to five.

They were ready, and I was ready to stop cleaning out the brooder three times a day.

So much poo. I am not even kidding.

We bought the plans for this chicken tractor at http://www.thegardencoop.com , and it took us a few weekends to put together.

It is sturdy. The girls are comfortable in it. It is movable. It is also heavy. I get my workout every other day when I clean it and move it to its new spot. It is giving me great shoulder  and thigh muscles. I only suggest to just watch where you put your hands inside. (See: Chickens are Messy). It’s really nothing more than what a good hose with spray attachment can handle, though.

As we have an abundance of raccoon, coyotes,  foxes, feral cats and dogs, and wild pig In our area we needed something that could hold up under some stress. It has so far, survived an attack by our 95 pound lab mix in a fit of jealous doggy rage. Not too worse for wear.

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He was sorry after. In his defense, he has kept our yard bird, squirrel, raccoon and opossum free the last seven years. He patrols a strict airspace. He chases off anything that comes in it. That includes airplanes. None have landed in our yard yet, so I guess he keeps those away as well.

He felt very displaced when we were spending so much time with these “birds” and not with him.

He has since worked out a trade with the hens. He keeps the many patrolling hawks out of the yard while they forage and they will keep making the magic tasty treats (i.e. poo).

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This is why we tell people we don’t want our dog’s kisses.

I Have Learned: Chickens are Messy

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I do not have photographic evidence of said mess. I will spare you the sight. Instead I show you how cute my girls are, because it almost makes up for it.

They play in their water. They play in their food. They walk in their poo and then all over everything.  THE POO is relentless.

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Be prepared.

I actually looked up how much birds poo in a day out of concern there might be a problem with my chicks.

Did you know some breeds of bird can poo up to 200 times in a day? I didn’t know that, until I looked it up.

Although my girls are not quite that bad, they can hold their own in that ranking. We have dubbed their chicken tractor “The Fertilizer Factory”.

Our lawn and garden thanks us.

We have compost cooking for spring use in the garden from the poo we can gather. It mostly falls in the lawn beneath the tractor.

I move the coop every other day. Well, I mostly move the coop every other day. The longer the tractor sits the more damage they will do though grazing, but mostly the poo. It will burn your nice green lawn just like any other animal will.

I move my tractor to new lawn to keep it clean under the girls so they don’t get poo feet, and then water the old lawn generously after to help keep it from burning.

Leaving the tractor for too long will result in that spot becoming a stinky moon-scape. Not a good look.

It is also helpful that St. Augustine grass is very hearty.

The girls are also a bit destructive.  They climb on things when they have yard time, looking for treats. They pull blooms off of plants. They break the cacti. They dig out tender seedlings and then throw dirt everywhere. They knock over pots and then throw dirt everywhere. They take dirt baths, go over to clean spots and then throw dirt everywhere.

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They can do all this and poo. It’s a talent, really.

Having chickens loose in the yard reminds me of when I had to baby proof the house for my children.  Turn your back on it for a minute and these girls will find that thing I forgot to pick up and either eat it, knock it over or poo on it. It is amazing.

I am sure glad they are cute.

I Have Learned : Chicks are Adorable

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Baby chickens are really adorable.  They are fluffy and kinda toddle around. They make cute little noises. They enjoy exploring when they aren’t sleeping, eating, or playing with the waterer to make puddles to splash around in. They will fall asleep in your hand. They enjoy small treats and get excited to see you when  bring them. They are curious and, like human babies, explore everything with their mouth.

When I ordered my three girls online, I picked two dual purpose and one colored egg layer. I  wanted good candidates for the Excellent Egg-speriment. They had to be larger bodied birds that lay well. They needed to be docile and not fight with me or each other. They had to be good foragers, but not hate living in a tractor in the backyard. I can only have 3 total chickens in this area, and no roosters.

I decided to try a mix of breeds and see what we liked and liked us back. Then later, we could make an informed commitment  to the larger flock we plan for once we settle on a property.  Out of my online searching I found references so several breeds that fit the bill. The chickens I ordered were my favorites.

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The Lavender Orpington is Jewel.

Jewel is not a recognized breed of Orpington, currently.  Though, that is changing. She is a color called self blue, meaning she colors in a soft gray. Purple is my favorite color. Purple+chicken found my happy place. She is a sweet girl. She will let you hold her, if you can catch her or you have treats. She is a lap chicken if you bribe her. She will let you take a selfie for watermelon. She and her flockmate, Doodle are my dual purpose breed favorites. She was so fluffy as a baby! She has a Lavender cast to her feathers when she isn’t covered in dirt from bathing… or poo.

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Doodle is a Silver Laced Wyandotte.
She, and Jewel are both heavy breeds and will turn into large birds. Weighing about 6+ pounds each. This is a big difference from how tiny they started out at.

Doodle is also a sweet girl. She doesn’t want you to hold her. She is even making a face in this picture. She will tolerate it for my husband. When it comes to others, and myself, she will promptly let you know how undignified she thinks it is, and flap and squawk and kick until you put her down.  Though she is always squatting at my feet. She doesn’t mind petting. She just likes her feet on the ground, thank you.

She is also my loudest complainer. If she isn’t getting what she wants, she will make sure you hear the discontent from across the yard.

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The colored egg layer I chose was an Easter Egger, also not a recognized breed.
Cookie is a mix of Amerucana, a bearded breed that lays blue eggs, and another breed.

We have no idea what. We didn’t ask.

She may lay any one of a number of different colors, from green to blue or, even pink. I just thought it would be interesting to have colored eggs to cook with.

She has always been the top of the pecking order, straight out of the box. We actually thought she might be a roo. We are still, as of yet, not completely assured she isn’t. She is a good protector of the other two. Always first to the treat bowl and not scared of anything. This bird makes the dogs nervous.  She (?) Is friendly though. She can be herded, but also prefers her feet on the ground. Though, if you can catch her, she doesn’t mind a good massage.

They sure are cute as babies.  It’s a good thing, because there are other things that need to be made up for somewhere. Also, enjoy the fluffy cuteness while it lasts. Within six weeks they are ready for the world, so to speak. Looking a bit more awkward.

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I still think they are cute, though.

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