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Chickens Grow Fast!
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The little guys have gotten much bigger. They now have detectable weight!



This is from the 19th, as a nice size comparison with the earlier photo:

They sprouted wing feathers quickly, and have been following that up with tails and body feathers. Their heads are starting to look disproportionately small, since they're still covered in baby chick fluff, and the undersides of their wings are totally naked as yet.

They're much flappier now, and can fly/jump surprising distances. Flapping is much more effective than peeping at attracting the dog's attention, which is a bit unfortunate.

On the 20th, they figured out how to roost:


On the 26th, Brooks helped me get some actual good pictures outside where there's light.

Note the enormous visual changes in 6 days.

They thought the grass was pretty cool, and attempted to eat various bits of it. They didn't get very far with that, because every time one of them would pick up a flower petal or bit of stick or whatever, the other one would immediately run up and try to take it away, so there was a lot more tussling than sampling going on.

The coop is progressing. The foundation has been constructed and had hardware cloth (to stop digging creatures from getting in) stapled to it. We need to dig a big trench and bury the foundation with some concrete at the corners to provide a nice stable base for the rest of the structure. Brooks and Cathy have been busily cutting pieces for the enclosure panels; once those are all done they will be assembled and painted, along with the actual coop parts; then hardware cloth gets stapled to all that, and the various panels and parts are assembled into position. So there's a lot to do yet. I should buy paint, since once I get the foundation buried painting is the next thing I'm competent to help with. I'm thinking dark green on the thin supports and a sky blue on the large flat areas of the coop. Maybe stencil some flowers or eggs or something on there.
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Ooh, someone on my flist I can chicken-geek with!

Here's the thing -- one of the places that I work owns an organic farm (they send their clients there for work-therapy) and they have chickens (two hens) and they will let Luke and I get a couple of chicken and take care of them there.

I don't know what kind of chickens the hens are. One is light brown and one is black with white speckles. The brown one is fatter.

I'm thinking of getting a Sussex or a Plymouth Rock. Maybe one of each?

Plymouth Rocks are lovely birds -- that's what Blacky, the chicken we had when I was a kid, was.

I favor one of each because then they're easier to tell apart. :)

I hear that integrating birds into an existing flock can be pretty tricky, so if yours are going to be housed with the existing chickens at the farm, you'll need to keep them separated until they're all grown up and introduce them slowly (separate the pen/coop so that the two groups can see each other but not mingle for a while). I have found http://www.backyardchickens.com/ an invaluable resource.

Edited at 2010-03-30 02:23 pm (UTC)

may I come see your chickens? They look interesting.

Absolutely! You could drop by this evening after dinner (say between 8:30 and 10:00 or so) or send me an e-mail and we can figure out another time.

Very cute! Do you have a coop built already? Chris and I might get chickens next year... too many projects already this spring and I need to establish some "here, have some food!" goodwill with the neighbors before springing the chicken idea on them. Hens aren't loud, but it's an HOA no-no, so I need neighborly cooperation. :)

We're working on the coop, but it'll be a while before it's ready. The chicks have another week or two with the heat lamp[1], but after that they'll be ready to go outside as soon as there is a safe outside to put them in. If they outgrow the cage in the meantime, we should be able to block off the damaged part of the airline crate Galen broke and keep them inside for a bit longer, so there is not a super rush. (Though I don't know how we'd put a roost in there, and they do seem to like their roost.)

[1] The switch from higher-wattage to lower-wattage bulb meant we didn't get quite the smooth decrease I wanted, so I've lost track of exactly where on the schedule we are, but based on the chickens' behavior the current temperature is about right for their current stage of development.

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