The Great Chicken Transfer

A couple of weeks ago, the chicks I raised were ready for life with the big chickens. There’s some timing involved with a new coop, transferring a flock and getting everyone settled.

The hand-raised chicks couldn’t move from their home in the garage to our small coop because it was already at capacity with 3 adult hens and three teenagers. We were waiting for our new, bigger coop to arrive so that two teenagers and two of the garage chicks could go with the little coop to said sister, Mary.

The new chicken palace framed by mountains in the distance and my straw bale garden. You'll hear more about that soon!

The new chicken palace framed by mountains in the distance and my straw bale garden. You’ll hear more about that soon!

While we waited those last few days for coop delivery, the garage became noisy; the gang of four was ready for new quarters. At my sister’s place, farther out in the country, they set up a pen that would attach to the small coop. The youngsters would spend days in the pen to allow them to settle in and get bigger while Mary’s cats adjusted to living with birds. The bigger the bird, the less interested the cats are.

Finally the day arrived. Our coop, complete with wheels and a pen, came rolling up the road on a flatbed truck. It was a sight to see and it is a palace! We positioned it in the yard, set up the pen and hid the old coop in the garage to avoid any confusion.

Ruby, our golden comet hen, circling the new coop.

Ruby, our golden comet hen, circling the new coop.

Using dried mealworms and lots of raisins, we lured all eleven chickens into the new coop. They inspected it thoroughly, clucking and cooing as they went in and out of the doors and  each of the six nest boxes. I put an egg in one of the boxes to let them know where to lay theirs. Chickens are very open to suggestion. The transition was smooth and just before dark, everybody lined up and walked up the ramp to their new home. I am always amazed that chickens put themselves to bed every night without being told.

photo-1The next morning they tumbled out of the coop door ready for breakfast. The three one-year olds visited the nest box with the decoy egg and one after the other, laid perfect eggs of their own. Mary’s husband, John, arrived with his trailer and we loaded the old coop and gear. That night, we plucked four young chickens from their perches while they slept and magically transported them to the old coop at its new location. They never knew what hit them.

So everybody is happy! To read more about how her flock is settling in, check out Mary’s blog at www.mentalfarmer.com.

 

 

Periwinkle Raised Beds

It finally feels like spring is really here. Just a few days after all that snow, the wind stopped and the sun came out big time.  You can pretty much see the grass growing. Paul ordered parts to tune up the miniature John Deere and that’s a true sign!

photo (11)He also built new raised beds that I painted periwinkle blue. They are waist height so we should have fewer weeds and no bending! The heirloom, cool weather plant starts are already in and seeds are germinating in the garage for planting after our frost date.

I learned the hard way not to let the warm days fool me. One year we yielded to temptation and planted on the first of May; guess what, a hard frost on May 9th. I may have uttered an inappropriate word or two as I replaced all those frozen plants. The old folks around here say not to plant tender things until after Mother’s Day and I’m taking their advice!

The four-week chicks have graduated from the laundry room to the garage. They’ve outgrown their large plastic tub and live in a huge box courtesy of the new book shelf in my office.  Paul made a frame with hardware cloth for the top to contain the flying chicks. They are light and have big wings so can really fly!

photo (12)They spent their first afternoon in the yard and loved it; started scratching and pecking immediately. A frenzy ensued when I tossed a few earth worms into the pen. I’m always amazed that they know what to do without having a mom.

Baby with her eight-week old flock. That upright tail is a classic characteristic of her breed, Sumatra.

Baby with her eight-week old flock. That upright tail is a classic characteristic of her breed, Sumatra.

The 8-week olds look like real chickens now and are spending a little less time with their Mom, Baby. Baby is a Sumatra, a breed from Indonesia that likes the woods and jungle and doesn’t like containment. Before she had chicks, she slept in a tree. Now she sleeps in a nest box in the coop with her wings over all three even though they are pretty darn big. The four of them spend a good bit of time in the woods, coming home at night to sleep with the flock.

We anxiously await the arrival of our new, larger chicken coop and expect it within a week.  Independence approaches for all the chicks and they’ll need perching space inside at night. In the meantime they own half the garage. We’re thrilled to have the laundry room back and look forward to reclaiming the garage too!