Moving Chickens Into Their New Home...Days 2 & 3...The Rest of the Story!

Moving Chickens Into Their New Home...Days 2 & 3...The Rest of the Story!

Day Two August 18, 2013

Wouldn’t you know it would be my luck that our mild weather would suddenly soar to 100 degrees in our backyard the first day I have my new chickens! I ran out at 6:30 a.m. to visit the girls and instead I watched through their coop window as they sat on the roost… sat on the roost…and sat on the roost! Though I begged and pleaded and offered treats they would not come out.

After church we headed out to check on them again and found them, in the coop, mouths open and panting. I read that is a sign of overheating, so we searched for a frozen bottle, which we couldn’t  find, and then settled for a cold liter of 7 up to lay in the coop to cool them. A few hours later, they were still in the coop and still panting so I added a shallow bowl of cold water and a piece of cantaloupe. Thinking they really needed some moisture I picked a few grapes and added those. They ate what I offered but when I tried to entice them down the ramp with a grape every few steps they looked at me as if to say, “Really lady, that’s the best you’ve got!”

I am noticing one rather unpleasant thing…flies are appearing out of nowhere. There are lot of flies all inside the coop and we’re not even dealing with much poop yet! Maybe the wire section of floor under the roost should be wood with shavings. I thought the wire with a metal tray under the roost would work well but wet poop in a tray is worse than when it’s mixed in with shavings and drys some. I guess this is why my granddad used to say, “You learn by doing kid!”

Out there a few minutes later, I went inside the run and offered grapes by hand. Just about the time my arm went numb and my eyes were stinging from drops of sweat (my grandmother said ladies don’t sweat, they glow, but I don’t think she ever stood in the sun in 100 degree muggy heat trying to entice a chicken off a roost!) the Wyandotte edged her way across the roosting branch and ate a few from my hand. She does seem to be the leader since she nipped the poor Sex Link when she even looked at the grapes. The Barred Rock looked annoyed but approached a little closer and appeared to be thinking about a bite. However, I started feeling lightheaded and thought about what a sorry obit it would make if I died trying to hand feed chickens in 100 degree heat, straddling their ramp, with my head stuck in the coop! This is ridiculous  no wonder my farmer friends laugh at newbies!

4 pm…they still haven’t had any water or any of their feed and its getting hotter in the coop but cooling off in the breeze outside. What would I have done if my children gave me this much trouble when they were growing up? Would I let them run the show like this? I was a high school teacher for Heaven sake! I can handle a room full of testosterone filled 18 year old boys and I can’t get cooperation from three timid chickens? Okay ladies the gloves are coming off! John and I agreed opening the big doors in the back of the coop would probably scare them right down the ramp and into the run. So, hauling a big ladder out of my way and cautiously removing the raccoon proof (I hope) latch we installed, I pulled the doors open with a stern, “Move it girls!” Off they went! Down the ramp with the head hen (which  seems to be the Wyandotte) in the lead, the Barred Rock following and the timid Sex Link trailing behind, looking back at me with a look that said, “Don’t put me out there with them!”They went straight for the water, then the food. Well, the two did. They never let the timid hen get near them.  After I ran for my camera and snapped a few pictures she dashed up the ramp, into the coop and up on the roost facing the wall. Oh well, I tried…It’s only 88 degrees now so maybe she won’t cook in there. If they think that was stressful I guess I won’t tell them my little granddaughter is on her way to see grandma’s chickens tonight!


When the Sex Link tried to run down the ramp she slipped and seemed unsure of how to manage it.  John (who doesn’t want chickens and isn’t thrilled with this whole backyard farm thing) decided she needed a wider ramp so he promptly tossed the old one and built and installed a new, wider version! Chickens really grow on you!IMG_0980

When my 22 month old granddaughter arrived a little later she loved the chickens. What she wasn’t so crazy about was the shavings getting all over her new sandals! Lifting first one tiny foot and then the other she exclaimed in distress, ” Oh No!” Luckily the girls started moving around about then and grabbed her attention.  Then she discovered the feeder. Lifting the lid she grabbed a tiny fistful of feed and marched right up to the chickens to give them a bite. The Wyandotte (who I’ve decided needs to be named “Lucy”…don’t ask me why, just fits) made a hasty retreat up the ramp followed by the Barred Rock (who seems to look like a “Lacy” all of a sudden)…and, of course, the Sex Link was nose to the wall on the roost already. Over and Over Hannah went to the feeder and dropped a tiny bit of food at the top of the ramp. When she tired of this we went to pick apples and tomatoes from the garden and then settled in to sit by the coop and watch the girls peck around for the treats she’d left them.  What fun to cuddle a grandchild and watch chickens together!IMG_1006 IMG_1008

Later in the evening, sitting on the patio swing with our other granddaughter, Emma, only five weeks old, we decided to wander over and check the chickens again. Poor little Sex Link was sitting all alone in the coop.  I decided to do the barn door trick again and get her to go out since she still hasn’t had water since yesterday. She ran to the opening but wouldn’t go down the ramp since the other girls were down at the bottom. My daughter took the baby and I went into the run. The funniest thing happened! I’d have thought it was my imagination if my daughter hadn’t been standing there and thought the same thing. That little Sex Link didn’t move an inch as I walked over to stand right beside the ramp. Then she looked up at me and calmly marched down the ramp toward the other girls who immediately ran for the ramp and up into the coop. As long as I stood by the ramp, they stayed inside and she wandered from the food to the water like she owned the place! Finally! Once I knew she’d had a drink and some food I left them on their own to go have pizza with the family. Looking out the dining room window we could see them all walking around and eating…together! Maybe the pecking order thing is established and everybody knows their place and we can all live happily ever after now! IMG_0991

Chickens  Day 3  Monday, August 19, 2013

Checked on them in the morning and all three were out in the run! Gave them some chard leaves and enjoyed watching them figure out how to share. I’ve noticed another little problem. There is no way to keep the door to the run shut when I’m inside with the chickens. It always swings open. So, off to Home Depot for a hook and eye which John installed…much easier not to have to hold the door closed when you are in there! Now we’re hunting for a piece of plywood to replace the wire flooring under the roost so it will be drier and easier to clean! Everyone is getting along, Lucy and Lacy have names and it seems the brown Sex Link is destined to be called “Little One” and the pecking order war seems to be over.  Now if I can just find some wood shingles to finish the roof….IMG_0983 IMG_1045

Note: Just realized the feed we bought,Purina Layena Sunfresh Recipe is for laying chickens. Since we have pullets who are not laying, I called Western Farm to see what they recommend and they explained you need a feed with 20-22% protein for young chickens and mine has only 16% and is for layers.  While it wouldn’t hurt them, I decided to go buy the higher protein feed to use for the next month or two and save the other for when they’re older. There is so much to learn!

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