Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yard Birds?! More like Deck Birds

I was cleaning up (read:  tossing toys into the play room) after breakfast and I noticed Andrew, Ben Franklin (the cat) and Annabelle all standing looking out the back sliding glass door.  Annabelle starts happy-yelling and Andrew says: "Mom!  The chickens!"

Oh no. 

In all fairness, my quick camera skills are non-existant.  This is actually them leaving and me pleading with them to stay so I could take more pictures of them.  They stayed up there for a good 30 minutes until the blogging light blub went off. 

Anyway, whenever they're "free range" they always make their way up to the deck and peek in.  And more than likely we're there eating and Andrew is immediately finished and wants to feed them.  So I let him, with the door 1/2 way open. It's fun for everyone involved.  Except maybe Ben Franklin.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Key Word Here is Backyard

It shouldn't come as a surprise that I like to talk about chickens, in particular- our chickens.

One of the first questions or variation of question is:  Where do you live that you can have chickens?! 

The answer:  They live in our backyard.  We live in a subdivision.  We don't even have 1 acre of land!

The next question normally is:  Don't they mess up your yard?

Answer:  Not any more than the dog does.

Here's our backyard:

Here's how close we are to our direct neighbor...

And our neighbor behind us:

Subject topic #2: Do they mess up our yard?  Not really.  Since we have a chicken tractor, we can pick it up and move it around the yard every so often.  We chose Saturday.  We'd like to move it more often, but it takes two adults to carry it.  In this picture, the numbers represent the order of placement.  Chronologically, we had it in the first spot pictured (indicated by #1).  And so on... There is a patch of dead grass and visible dirt, but that's from the play set that was recently moved. 

This is a closer view, without the numbers.  You can see how the grass is greener from the, ahem, raw fertilizer.  For full disclosure purposes- the little dirt patch here is from the chickens.

Where are the chickens now?  Under a tree in the shade.  July is the magic egg month for them and if it's too hot that can delay egg production (or so I read). And we wouldn't want that!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Actually, this is my first rodeo

Ugh.  Where's a wall to bang my head upon?

To bring anyone up to speed... I started out with 5 straight run (not knowing male or female) chicks.  One turns out to be a "sure thing" rooster. It's obvious he's a male.  He's got this bright, gorgeous comb and he just acts like your stereotypical rooster.   I sold the "sure thing" rooster and a pullet (young female) as a pair, as to not split them, not even a week ago.

We have 3 chickens.  Currently, in the backyard, 3 chicks.  I want 3 chickens.  I want 3 hens.  I have 2 pullets, and ANOTHER cockerel (young male). 

Yup, that's right.  I sold a female thinking I had 4 females.  Turns out, I had 3 females and 2 males. I now have 2 females and 1 male.  Currently, in the backyard.  Two females, one male.  I sold a female.  I had the three I needed/wanted!  I SOLD THE WRONG ONE!  I had the right number to have 3 females, to have what I wanted!!

Are you understanding my frustration?!

In my newbie/city girl defense... Four birds were a different breed.  One rooster was a Barred Rock and the other rooster is the single Black Australorp.  I was comparing comb height and behavior of those Barred Rocks to the comb height to the Black Australorp.  Apparently, the rooster characteristics of the Black Australorp are slower to develop than the Barred Rock.

Now what?  Start over with more chicks?  Pay more for older SURE THING pullets?

I guess I have to research adding new birds to the flock.  I don't think it would be fair to get just 1 "new" bird. But I want three!  Four might be too many.  We have space for four... Hmm, maybe I should research just having two birds.

This is him, and I really liked her. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rainy Day JENGA!

Day 1 of Spring Break and it's raining. Boo.  What are we to do?  We're cutting down on the tv watching (seriously, great timing...) and maybe there's a movie night in the making for tonight, so...
We're gonna play Jenga. 
And eat grapes.  
In our pajamas.

Such concentration...
Such suspense...

Can he do it?


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Finished Chicken Tractor

It's finished! Just for full disclosure, we were inspired by one of the Catawba ConvertiCoops designs. We were trying to stay "green" (read: cheap) and so used Heat Treated wood pallets.  I wasn't the one working with them, so I say they were worth the effort of pulling them apart and weeding through good wood vs not so good wood. Ask James, he might have a different answer. 


Closer look:

Added shingles for the "upstairs" roof:

Nest Boxes:

Inside of the "upstairs":

Almost all done!

All done!  Time to move it to the backyard, and add chickens!

Finished product in action:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chicken Tractor

A chicken tractor is a moveable chicken coop!  James is making us one... Andrew is being a great helper!  Winnie is being a dog. 

I asked "What are you guys building?"  Andrew's pointing at the frame for the Chicken Tractor:

They're using a chalk line before making the cuts.  This big piece will serve as the upstairs floor:

Closer look at the Chicken Tractor.  And Winnie, being a dog:

A very good dog:

Chicken Crazy

Backyard Chickens.  I've found a hobby. 

We made the decision to get some chickens a while ago... and we took action about 4 weeks ago and bought "some" chicks.  I did some research and after consideration for good egg layer breeds, backyard breeds, overall appeal, I decided (and I mean I decided, since James is maintaining his cool and "doesn't care" attitude) on Black Australorps. 

These are adult Black Australorps, rooster on left:

(Photo from

These are Black Australorps chicks:

(Photo from

Cute hunh?  Anyway, I called a local hatchery 4T's Hatchery, and asked for 4 Black Australorp chicks.  We got 5, since it's "straight run" which means a gamble of male and/or female.  He gave us a price of $8 for all 5, and he'd take back any we didn't need.  We wanted 3 pullets (females)- so any remaining females and/or roosters in the bunch.
Fast forward 3 weeks.  How can you tell a rooster from a hen?  Well, the comb (top of head) and waddle (neck flappy-part) grow faster in males than females.  I watch them (because I'm crazy) and notice their behavior and talk to them a little (told ya, crazy!) and am willing to bet maybe 2 of them are roosters based on compared comb heights.  I'm also noticing that the feather patterns are different.  Four of the five are getting feathers that look more grey than black, and have white tips.  Well, I know nothing about feather patterns and molting to permanent feathers- so maybe they'll darken.  Who knows!? 

Long story short- I realize that the 4 out of 5 are actually Barred Rocks.  One is a Black Australorp.

These are Barred Rock chicks:

(Photo from

Yeah, pretty similar. I love these birds and don't want to start over, so I research the mighty Barred Rock.  Same characteristics, good egg layers (Barred Rocks are actually considered dual purpose birds, but I don't care to think about the other purpose right now...) good temperments- the Barred Rock is very curious... and a great backyard breed.  Sign me up for the Barred Rock club! 

This is a Barred Rock hen (I like this picture because she's running!):

(Photo from

This is a Barred Rock Rooster (Oh, he's fancy, hunh?):

(Photo from

I'm 100% sure that 1 out of the 5 is a rooster.  And sadly, I love him.  It's sad because we cannot keep him.  We have no use for a rooster.  (Yes, chickens lay eggs without a rooster present.) 

If you haven't noticed, all these are photos from other sites.  I will be taking my flock outside today for "yard time" since their chicken tractor is still under construction, and will take some pictures of MY chickens. 

What's a chicken tractor, you ask?  Stay tuned for more Adventures with Chickens...

(Adventures with Chickens... who says that?)