October 24, 2014

A grand day out

The weather is beautiful: cool nights and warm days. The chicks are growing by leaps and bounds and I thought early this week that they might enjoy a change of scenery from the coop. These are cautious little hens though and it has taken a couple of days for them to venture into their part of the chicken yard. There was a lot of lounging in the door opening with wings outstretched and it was obvious everybody enjoyed a sunbath.

As I came to do chores this morning everybody was clustered at the door as if to say: today is the day, we are going out! It still took some hours for Cindy and Layla to take the plunge, but all except Marilyn has had their turn. They are all starting to suffer from "flap attacks" so I am glad we heightened the fence to 6 feet.

They all know where the water is and how to get back inside, so all's good.

October 18, 2014

House guests

Yesterday our friend Mary came and picked up her dogs after a vacation in New Zealand. The house is just not the same without Emma's sisters. Both Dan and I love having wall to wall dogs around our feet. Not all dogs will do: Labradors are tops in our book. This coming from previously confirmed German Shepherd Dog, and GSD-types, lovers as we have shared our life with them for about 30 years.

Emma's sisters are Claire (middle), who is two years Emma's senior and shares the same parents, and Emily (right), who is two years Emma's junior and has the same mom but a different dad. The Sisters, as we call them, look a lot more alike than Claire and Emma, who might have taken after their dad. It may have a little to do with the fact that Emma (aka Queen Buttercup) is a fat girl, and the other two are thin and lithe, as behooves dogs who belong to a vet.

All three are sweet dogs and easy to care for. There is some barking at and chasing of coyotes, some rolling in unsavory items and eating various desert delights, but overall they are very happy just lying around and being loved.

We look forward to a return visit in about 10 days. Meanwhile, Emma is catching up on sleep and attention.

October 16, 2014

Growing up

Our little chicks are a bit over 3 weeks old now, and not little any longer. So far they have been living in safe and secure shop/shed in a large horse feeder with a fan during the day and a heat lamp during the night. Like all young animals it is eating, drinking, pooping, sleeping, with the occasional wild hair to chase a bug or try-out of wings.

Yesterday we heard an overly loud peep and found one chick missing. Marilyn had flown the tub and was hiding behind the tool chest. Obviously it was time to move.

In introducing a new flock to the older hens before, I divided the coop in half with chicken wire so everybody could see each other but there was no direct contact. It was a successful scheme so I had already prepared the coop and this morning we were ready to bring the chicks to bigger quarters.

Most of their down has now been replaced with feathers, and I think they will be beautiful birds once past this awkward adolescent stage. I like this breed because you will be able to tell the hens apart, and they have already all been named. They are changing so quickly now though that it is sometime difficult to say who is who.




The new quarters.

Fort Nocks

After having lived for years in peace with the coyotes, a new, more wild/aggressive, family has moved into the neighborhood. Up to this year we never lost a hen to predation with the chicken yard just being fenced in 4 feet tall chicken wire. The coyotes just cruised by, possibly licking their chops, and that was that.

I don't know whether these animals were emboldened by being able to help themselves to apples on the trees, but they now think they own this place. In the spring they started digging at the backside of the yard and made off with 3 hens in one fell swoop. We reinforced where they had dug down, but that same week another 3 disappeared.

So we retrenched, now being down to less than a ten chickens, we limited the yard to the part fenced in 4 foot field fencing, adjacent to the coop, and installed additional chicken wire on the bottom to discourage digging. For a while all was well until this week when the dogs found a lot of feathers on our walk around the property and we were down yet another hen. There was no sign of digging, so based on the evidence presented, a coyote jumped the fence and made off with a hapless bird.

The gloves are now off, especially with 6 young chickens about to be introduced into the coop and the coop yard. Over the last couple of days we increased the fence height to 6 feet with more field fencing and reinforced more of the bottom. The place is now Fort Nocks.

We are down to 5 hens: Goldie and Isabella from our original flock, and three Buffs, one of which is suffering from PTSD and has not left the coop since the last incident. I feel fairly confident that we have the coyotes number now, which is a good thing because the new chicks have outgrown their tub in shop/shed.