Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What are the odds?

So, I'm out of town for work.  Last night, I had an informal dinner with a client before an evening business meeting.  We were chatting about work related things when her phone rang.  She looked a little embarrassed, but excused herself and took the call.  I heard something about checking temperatures, making sure "they" were comfortable.  She got off the phone and apologetically said, "That was my husband.  I just got chickens."

I almost fell over!  Needless to say, we were completely distracted from our discussion of nonprofit boards, fundraising, etc.  It was all about our chickens and comparing notes.  We both spent several years researching, chose breeds known for friendly temperaments, good egg-laying, and cold-hardiness.  We also wanted a good mixture of colorful birds and a colorful egg basket.  Not surprisingly, three out of six of  our birds were the same breeds:  two Easter Eggers and a Silverlaced Wyandotte.  

I was relieved to hear I am not the only crazy one.  Marcia admitted to sleeping with the baby monitor since her chickens moved out into the coop a few days ago.  (Her babies are four weeks old.)  My chickens are now six weeks old, but I was out in the yard at midnight, with a flashlight, checking on the girls every night during their first week in the coop.   

After sharing pictures of our babies and their coops, and having a good laugh, we got back to work. But somehow, our chickens kept sneaking back into the conversation!

6 weeks

Hard to believe how much they have grown!  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chickens and Dogs = Danger

I was innocently checking on the girlies, while the dogs had a chance to get out in the yard.  The house has been under construction, so their backyard access has been a bit challenging.  Anyway, Loretta flew right past me, out into the grass.   Ellie (Golden Retriever) and Isabel (Heinz 57 - I think with a bit of Sheltie in her) went crazy.  CHICKEN!!!!  Fortunately, Gertie (Goldie- Newfoundland Mix), is afraid of our feathered friends.

Joe and I made a mad dash to grab the hounds - and I was able to get Loretta safely in my arms - and back to the coop.  Poor girl!  I'm anxious to give them a chance to roam the yard, but clearly, dogs must be securely in the house to do this.  It was frightening!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I love my chickens

I'll admit it.  I was a little nervous about taking this on, which explains why I researched it for about 3 years before finally moving forward. I was worried about investing a lot of time, energy and money into this project.  What if I hated it?  Could I risk giving my husband a little more fuel for his fire?  Clearly, he already thinks I'm a little nutty.

Getting the coop and moving the girls outside was a big deal.  To me, birds do not belong in the house. But of course, the babies were different.  Well, I was not prepared for how quickly they would grow.  I checked them every morning and every evening, and I saw changes each time I looked.  It was fascinating!  And I realize they are not done growing and changing.

Without a mother hen to show them what to do, the first two nights the girls prepared to settle in for sleep in the grassy run.  Noisily, they piled together in the cold grass.  Although it had been a beautiful day, the temperature was dropping to the 50's overnight.  They were not happy!  I scooped them up and put them to bed inside the coop.  They immediately settled down and went to sleep.  And yes, I do have a heat lamp up there for cold nights.

Last night things were different.  As it got dark and chilly, they got noisy.  Lucy was the first to head upstairs, followed by Maggie.  The others ran around underneath, chirping loudly.  Lucy and Maggie peered down from the safety of the coop, calling to the others.  Within about ten minutes, everyone was upstairs, ready for bed.

One of the things I really like about our coop design is the open "stairway" to the run below.  It allows the girls to decide when to get up in the morning, and when to head to bed, alleviating us of the need to "rise with the chickens." I'm not particularly fond of early mornings, so this works for me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Coop Pics

Which Came First? The Chicken or the Chaos?

There are certain people in this world who wake up every day with the preformed thought, fully articulated before their eyes are halfway open (possibly carried over from some blissful and manic dream) that, "My life is pretty good, but there's way too little chaos and confusion in it; I wonder how I could change that." Still others go through the day thinking, "Wow, my life is really chaotic and disorganized.  What I'd really like to do is test the limits of my ability to cope with chaos and disorganization; I wonder how I could do that."  Whatever the time of day, this is invariably followed by, "I've gotta have three cups of coffee first; this is gonna take a lot of energy!"

At the extreme end of this hypothetical chaophilic scale (people like this often make up their own words -- like this one which is a fancy and scary word meaning 'chaos loving' -- probably because the English language, like all man made institutions, is too precise and rational) are those who think, "one farm animal in the backyard of my suburban home would be just plain boring; I need at least half a dozen."  When they were single, you can bet dollars to donuts they followed a  natural and orderly progression from there to "I need a partner who won't mess up my chaos with his own chaos [yes, these people are usually women; sorry, but it's true].  If only I could find someone who scores high on both the 'buttoned down' and 'tolerant' indices."

Happily for them, there is a yin to their yang, the maniacs who marry the type of person who wakes up every day thinking, "what kind of crazy, chaotic activities (editor's note: plural intended) can I add to my buttoned down beloved's life today?"

As you may have suspected by now, I... am just such a yin.  And Elizabeth is, well, she's the crazy chicken lady.  Yes, go ahead, it's safe.  Go ahead and call her Crazy Chicken Lady.  It's her own term of endearment.  She likes it!  How crazy is that?

Let's be honest: I, myself, would probably never have gone out of my way to ensure that every morning, when I look out my back door, I see chickens.  I never wanted four hamsters, either.  In fact, I never wanted one hamster.  Or three bunnies.  A turtle with a broken shell.  A used guinea pig.  Four frogs.  Or their crickets.  Or the tadpoles who would have become even more frogs had not one of the frogs I didn't ask for but got anyway - Scratchy (and proud of it) - hadn't been so darn vicious.  What's that, you say?  "I'll bet you had them anyway hahaha!"  Darn right I did.  I had ALL of them.  (I never asked for the three bats that found their way into my house over the years, either, but that's probably nobody's fault.  Probably.  At least they didn't stay long.)  What's next?  Bees?

So, entropy being what it is - that is pretty much its definition, "it is what it is" - and overruling such things as "conservation of energy" in the conservative, orderly hierarchy of laws in my ideally conservative, well ordered universe... I have chickens.  Not just one chicken.  Half a dozen chickens.

At least they are out of my house now.  At least they're out in the yard , where they provide an endless incentive for my three dogs to bark.  A possible side benefit is that they may scare the poor little things into a heart attack, thereby giving me an excuse to say, "Quick!  Call the pediatric bird cardiologist."  'Cause I like saying that (don't ask me why; I don't know).  That's a triumph for a "store bought eggs" kind of guy.  If you say, "dozen," I say "eggs."  If my wife overhears you (and she will, because she's always looking for new "ideas"), she will say, "chickens."  You say "chaos," I say "theory" ... and she says, "Yay!"

In fact, she overheard the title of my post and immediately blurted out - you guessed it - "CHAOS :D"


Primed, waiting for paint.  Our new hen house is made from recycled materials. Notice the tires on this side.  The other end has handles so the entire coop can be moved "wheelbarrow style" around the yard.  Love it!
Is this new home a birthday present?  The girls are one month old, today.