Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Big Day for the Chick

The chick that moved into my living room the week of Christmas is now a few days over two months old. I am not positive, but I'm pretty sure it's a girl. I named her "Hope" as I have been sincerely hoping she's a girl since she came! The mother hen, "Sylvie," has been a very good mother. The two of them have spent the last couple of months in a soft dog crate next to my dining room table, watched intently by the dogs and cats.

Since I am fairly sure it's a girl, pretty sure that the chick has enough feathers to stay warm now, the weather is getting a little more mild, and I think I have Sylvie's leg mites under control, I decided they could move outside today and start getting to know the other chickens. Sarah, the head of the pecking order, can be mean so they will be separated and getting to know each other across some chicken wire fencing for a couple of weeks. So, I divided the chicken coop into two parts. The existing four chickens have the coop, and access to the door to the pasture (where free ranging is allowed as much as I can manage). The new two have access to an old dog house type plywood box filled with wood shavings, and of course food and water. They have about two to three times as much floor space as they did in the crate, not counting their shelter box, which is probably about the same size as the crate was.

They both seemed excited to get to see the outdoors, although it was overcast rather than sunny today. They explored their new space and talked a lot. Hope seemed really interested in everything. The other chickens did a lot of looking and clucking across the fence when they came home to roost and saw the newcomers installed. I'm a tad worried about taking them from a normal inside temp of 65 to the outdoors (currently 50 and falling for the night down to an expected 38 degrees). But, hopefully they can adjust - they have a nice little shelter, and a lot of dry wood shavings to nestle in, and they will be out of the wind.

The division in the coop is movable and constructed out of an old shower curtain, some bags, an old ladder, some wood for a frame, and chicken wire. I'm hoping to leave it up for 2-3 weeks and start integrating the chickens gradually with some supervised free ranging. Sarah and Athena are both a bit dominant. I don't know how Sylvie will fit into the pecking order, but I am sure she'll defend Hope.

To celebrate the big day, all chickens got a special dinner: wheat bran, minced garlic, millet, and minced hot dogs. (They love the protein and it's not exactly bug season). They go nuts for this mix every time. Hope makes little happy sounds while she eats. Sylvie and Hope are both so used to having cats and dogs next to them that they let Pepper (the cat) sit right next to them (across the chain link) while they ate.

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