August 15, 2012

Wind, Rain, Hail And Sleeping Chicks

The chicks have been living full time in their coop for about five days. Last night we had our first severe-weather event. In the middle of the night we woke up to the sound of hail slamming against the windows. Our summer has been long, hot, and dry and we needed the rain so I'm not complaining. It was the middle of the night and we had know idea how the chickens would react to a storm like this one - not to mention how the coop would hold up. Normally the coop can be seen easily from our upstairs bedroom window but since the rain was being blown horizontal we couldn't see anything.  We weren't worried, exactly, we just wanted to be able to confirm the coop and its residents were okay. When the storm let up enough Harry went out and checked the chicks and coop. It seems the chickens were asleep - not ruffled at all by the storm - and the coop was dry, no leaks anywhere. I guess no one told the chicks they were supposed to freak out and run in circles squawking.

We don't live in coastal area with hurricanes to worry about but we do live in an area that is very susceptible to tornadoes. We get fast moving thunder storms and sudden straight-line winds called derecho (they're referred to locally as Hurricane Elvis)! So weather disaster preparedness for us includes a lot of different issues...power outages, flooding, flying debris and trees and limbs coming down anywhere. We already have a safety plan for our family -and we are lucky enough to have a basement to go down into (as we have many times). We have a small generator to keep fridge running, flashlights and batteries, first aid kit, etc. Some of the items in the first aid kit can be used, if necessary for our dogs and cat. I need to add to the kit some items that will help if there are injuries to the chickens. Sometimes what is okay for a dog is not okay for a chicken. Better Safe Than Sorry is a great post on Fresh Eggs Daily.  There's lot of safety and first aid info that you can tweak to fit your needs depending on where you keep your chicks and the type of adverse weather you experience.

August 8, 2012

And The Heat Just Keeps On Coming

As soon as the sun came up this morning we took the chicks from their coop-et out to the big girl coop coop. We have been trying to increase the time they spend outside a little more each day  - letting them get acclimated to the weather and their surroundings. The heat has really made it difficult to keep them outside longer in the afternoons. This morning was a little cooler so I really had high hopes for a long day outside for them. I loaded them up with lots of water and frozen treats. The coop and run are enclosed, so there's plenty of shade. They love being out there and they're so funny to watch! It's like a kids trip to the fair only instead of rides and games it's bugs and grass. I left them scratching, squawking, chest bumping, practicing air-to-ground maneuvers hoping to leave them a little longer today than yesterday.

Easy D.I.Y. Detergent
Back in the house I finally had a chance to make a double batch of my home made laundry detergent (recipe on 'For The Love Of D.I.Y. Page'). In the summer we go through laundry detergent like crazy! With the heat, building the coop, chicks 24/7 and the amount of time we spend outside anyway we go through twice as many towels, clothes, etc.

We're Hot
After running a couple of errands and grabbing lunch, I went out to check on the had gone from a pleasant, not very humid 90 degrees to a sweltering, humid 100 degrees. So much for the extra time outside. They were already panting (panting is one way a chicken tries to stays cool) and showing some heat stress. I cleaned up the coop-et and brought them back in. They burrowed down in their bedding and conked out for the rest of the day.
I guess we will try for a longer day outside again tomorrow.

They do go through an ugly duckling stage. They look like dangerous little raptors for a few weeks...they don't stay that way very long and you love them just the same.


August 3, 2012

Up The Down Staircase...err I Mean Ramp

The chicks are really getting used to their coop and our coming and going during the day. Harry goes out very each morning and opens the coop door for them. Sometimes they are slow coming out and walk down the ramp like sleepy chicks.  More often than not, though, the chickens are up and waiting to make a fast escape. Instead of walking down the ramp one at a time they take off from the top of it. Flying out and doing their flight list check-off in mid air...right wing working -oops no.  I hope as they get older and heavier these flights will not be so wild and crazy.

Clear The Runway!
They know that shortly after the coop door has been open by Harry that I will come out and refill their water, check their food supply, and usually bring a small treat...this morning it was juicy cucumber slices. They hear me come out the backdoor before they see me. They know/hope I'm on my way and are usually all piled up on top of each other in the same corner of the run trying real hard to look pitiful (remember by comparison if these chicks were human they'd be thirteen yrs old)!


There are rare moments when they politely allow each other access to the ramp.

Carmen and Tallulah go nicely up the ramp.

Tallulah - taking her time.

Julie Newmar and Carmen Miranda telling Tallulah 'Ok, move it now'!


Addendum:  At about fourteen weeks they are even wilder and crazier. Evidently they don't gain much weight as the get bigger and fluffier. 'Fluff' weighs nothing! They were taking flight and landing on the top of their hen house...not good. Our yard is fenced-in but all the neighbors have dogs so one swoop to the top of the fence then over to the other side would not turn out well. We barely clipped the flight feathers on one wing of each bird. They didn't seem to mind be held and petted and didn't even notice Harry's careful clipping of the feathers. They can still take flight if needed but not enough to go over a fence.