Chicken Chat

I thought I’d share a little update on my baby chickens.

Today the Belles are 14 weeks old and huge! Well, at least they look huge to this chicken mama. No eggs yet and I don’t expect any for another couple of months. You will remember that I have Buff Orpingtons and purchased them through my local feed store when they were 2 days old. Looking back at photos, I can’t believe how quickly chickens grow. No roosters yet; I may have all hens. yay!photo 3

My morning routine consists of sitting in the run with the girls. I usually bring them a treat and after they eat, they sit in my lap for a few. We chat 🙂 and then I run a quick rake to clean the coop.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

1. Chickens grow fast!

2. Chickens have hot feet.

3. To avoid dirty chicken foot prints, always wear an apron when visiting. I have quite a few vintage aprons from my grandmother, one even has chickens on it, and I keep them near the back door.

4. Chickens are friendly and cuddly. I get chicken hugs and they like me to scratch the top of their heads. Georgia doesn’t like to sit in my lap, but she does like to jump up on my shoulder to sit. This can be a problem – see lesson no. 5.

5. When chickens are sitting on your shoulder, avoid eye contact. I say this because hubby had Georgia on his shoulder and he turned his head to look at her and got his eye ball pecked. Yes, a chicken will peck your eye out. He didn’t have any damage, but his eye ball turned bloody for a week. I try to keep them off my shoulders, but Georgia can be persistent.

6. Deep litter method did not work for me. I like a tidy hen house. Instead, I switched to construction sand in the hen house and in the run. I use a small rake in the run and then pick up with a large kitty litter scoop. I then scoop out the poop from the hen house. I do this every day and it takes all of two minutes. The poop goes directly into the compost.photo-2

7. If it’s warm outside, my girls like to stand in water to cool their feet. If it’s really hot outside, I have a gallon jug of water in the freezer. I place the frozen jug inside the hen house to cool the air.

8. So far, my chickens don’t like mashed potatoes, nor marigolds. They do like rice, grape leaves, stevia, lettuce, cucumber, corn, watermelon, strawberries, and sunflowers seeds.

9. Hens are fairly quiet. The only time I hear them is when they fight for their spot on the roost at sunset. Otherwise, a few squabbles here and there. They cluck a little when they greet me, but even that is fairly quiet.

10. I have a labrador, Shelby, and so far no issues. I mean, they’re not best friends or anything, but Shelby ignores the chickens and the chickens keep an eye on the whereabouts of the dog.

11. The compost is awesome! Everything goes into the compost bin. I turn the bin every other day and it still smells like rich dirt. I was concerned there would be an odor from the added chicken waste; I am pleasantly surprised.photo

12. No chicken smell. Maybe it’s because I tidy up every day, but so far little-to-no odor from the girls.

13.  About 1/2 hour before sunset I let them out of the run to the side yard to scratch around. This is perfect because when the sun starts to set they head to the hen house on their own; I don’t have to chase any chickens into their run. Pretty smart, eh?


Sunbathing Chickens

The first time I saw my baby Bella look like this, I just about had a heart attack. What could be wrong?

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Well, it turns out that chickens like to sunbathe. Bella, in particular, is a sun worshipper. She plops down on her side to spread her wing out. She still keeps an eye on what the other’s are doing so she can jump up at a moment’s notice to join in the activities. One second she’s running around and the next second she’s sunbathing (even on my arm).

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Three weeks old. Feather’s are growing in very quickly.

IMG_6640Sleeping babies outside in the run.

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In the run during the day for a few hours and I bring them inside in the late afternoon for the night. Not quite old enough to stay outside at night. Maybe next week. I did catch them all taking a nap inside the hen house this afternoon so that is a really good sign.

This is sweet Annabelle preening her new feathers. She likes to burrow into the crook of my arm to doze. I imagine she would do the same under her mama’s wing.

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I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart, but it has been really easy to see the differences. Distinctive personalities and looks. I won’t know if I have any roosters for a while.


The Hokey Pokey

What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?

Hey, Izzy, come do the Hokey Pokey!

HP 001What? You’re doing the Hokey Pokey?

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Hit it girls.HP 003You put your right foot in

HP 004You put your right foot out

IMG_6585Wait…is this my left or my right?

HP 006You put your right foot in

HP 007And you shake it all about

HP008 Look! A worm!

HP 009


Baby Chicks Have Arrived – Meet the Belles

chicks 001aAfter doing a lot of research on a breed of chicks, I decided on Buff Orpington.

Bella dozing off to sleep.

Bella dozing off to sleep.

There are many reasons why I chose this breed: 4-5 eggs per week, good mothers if I need a need a hen to raise future chicks, dual-purpose bird (meat and eggs), don’t mind being cooped up but also likes free range, winter hearty, does well in hot weather, but mostly because they are so friendly. I learned that Orpingtons are sometimes at the bottom of the pecking order because they are not usually aggressive, which also makes them a good match for children. Ahem – and this gal who really just wants to hold and pet her chickens!

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Izzy (Isabelle) on the right and Bella on the left.

I visit the brooder several times a day because I want them to get used to me picking them up. Isabelle usually runs to greet me and jumps up into my lap. She’s the most friendly of the bunch and will fall asleep in my arms. Bella is usually right behind Isabelle. Lets me pick her up without a problem and sits in my lap. She has the darkest buff coloring and is a fluffy fat ball. Annabelle is more beige in color and the smallest. She tolerates being picked up, gives a little chirp and will sit in my lap for a bit and then she’s done. Georgia is the largest of the Belles. She’s very inquisitive and wants to see what’s going on, but she will squawk and run if I try to pick her up. She refuses to sit in my lap. chick 004 I realize that babies of anything are adorable, but seriously? How cute are these girls? chicks 002 Not quite a week, and you can see that they are already beginning to get their pin feathers.