Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chicken Coop: In Construction

The beginnings of a chicken coop gone crazy...

We initially were going to go "small & mobile", however the coop is getting to be quite the accessory here at our household. Cowboy is going to build the run separately and then bolt it to the coop so that take down is easier when it comes time to move. As the thing is getting framed, I'm a touch concerned at how many people this "chicken tractor" is going to take to move it around the yard for our chickens to free-range. Whenever I quietly mumble with concern "this is getting to be big isn't it?", Cowboy reminds me "You did come home with seven chickens babe. Seven....not three or four. Seven."

Right.... (insert teensy "oops!" here)

Well, I'm quite excited over the whole thing and can't wait to paint it regardless!

 Cowboy was laden with pride (he loves his truck) to be able to toss all our plywood and 2x4s into the bed and pop up the gate. Nothing hanging out! Sure beats lugging our utility trailer around for these kinds of purchases.

 Back wall where the nesting boxes will be located, hardware cloth will be on the bottom part for an under-coop mini run. 

 Cowboy hard at work. Hmmm I think we might need to invest in some saw horses.

We found this pretty window at Habitat for Humanity! This will go above the nesting boxes for some natural light and warmth in the winter. 

While Cowboy was cutting wood and nailing boards, I mowed the lawn which had gone through a serious growth spurt with all the rain recently dropped on us. After I cut most of the back, I brought the chickens out to play in their mobile run. They are getting used to the outdoors and instantly start pecking, hopping/flying around, and hanging out on their perch once inside the run. 

 Mildred (though both of us keep forgetting her name. We may need to rename her), Penny, Buffy, Martha, Agnes

 Martha, Buffy, Penny, and Lucy in the background

 I can't believe how big they are growing and how puffy they are getting with all their new adult feathers. They still have downy heads which creates the look of "bed-head" some days. I just want to spit on my fingers and slick down their fly-aways!

Last week I purchased a small little bag of chicken treats to which Cowboy wrinkled an eye at me over..."their not pets, they don't need treats like the dog". Uh huh, sure their not honey. I refrained from reminding him that he was the one who A) insisted on being able to name two of them, B) has a "chicken folder" on his laptop of continuously growing kick-ass ideas for chicken coops and C) comes home slightly giddy from work telling me about the people he's talked to about our chickens.

These bag of treats were dried meal worms and looked absolutely disgusting. Ick. The bag said in bold letters "A Feeding Frenzy!"

I took three deep I-can-do-this breaths, reached my hand in the bag, scooped out a small handful of those prickly worms, and sprinkled them over the tiled bathroom floor. The girls were lazily exploring around my legs, pecking at freckles they insisted needed to come off, and searching in the corners of the bathroom floor for delicious morsels (their indoor free-range time outside of the brooder box). They instantly came to attention, scurried left to right, and started pecking furiously! 

It was pure calamity. Mildred came hobbling over to me with a little blood droplet on one of her nails. Somebody had pecked at it and broke the tip of it off down to the quick. Poor girl! I held her with a tissue against her toenail to stop the bleeding. It wasn't bleeding too bad but I felt sorry for her. She wanted to get back in the fight for more worms. Next time, I figured we needed more space for these treats and probably sprinkled in grass to make the hunt a little more challenging and safe. It was hilarious to watch their instincts take over and to see what appeared to be them having a ton of fun over the whole thing. Meal worms...who knew?

Cowboy decided this meal worm fiasco was their training for being professional bug killers. We have a horrible time in the summer/fall with earwigs (don't even get me started with the "coffee-mug lid incident". I still cannot take a drink out of my mug without first checking to see if anything is curled up in the lid) and boxelder bugs. We're hoping we can move the run around the house during this time and the chickens can eat their hearts out!

At this point the sun was starting to fade, they were all lined up on the perch with their feathers puffed up. They looked like little old ladies with their heads tucked down in huge coats too big for their bodies. I figured it was just starting to cool down too much for them to be comfortable so back inside to their box and up to the cozy warmth of the bathroom tub they went. 

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