Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chicken News

We lost a second chick, so we are down to 27, which is the number of chicks I actually paid for.  I don't feel like I'm out anything.  The Pirate never did figure out that the first chick we lost was the runt she liked.  She simply began calling the next smallest "The Runt" and now calls one of the larger chicks that, claiming that it grew.  Reality is apparently still fluid to a nine year old.
We now have 7 Blue Andalusians (only one of which is "blue" - a good sized rooster that is leery of me because I had to catch him and toss him in the coop this evening).  One of the smaller Andalusians is the friendliest of all the chickens - she comes right up to me, and doesn't struggle when I have to pick her up to move her somewhere.  There are still six Polish Top Hats, only three Barred Rocks, six Partridge Rocks, and four Buff Rocks. The meanest chicken of all is a Buff.  It bites.  It's name is Fricassee.  Because that is its ultimate destiny. 

Yesterday was the chicks' first day out of the coop, loose in the pen around the coop, which I fenced with chicken wire, after digging an 8 inch deep trench to it, and sinking some metal posts, and cussing about this not being done sooner.  I ran out of chicken wire three feet short, and so have concocted what El Jefe refers to as "an expedient solution" and what I call the White Trash Chicken Yard Door... because I took the door off the shed that is coming down, put it on its side and wire tied it to a post at one end and leaned it again another piece of wood at the other.  Ugly, but it works.  They haven't escaped yet, which is a good thing considering how the dog circles their pen, and occasionally lunges at the chicken wire (whereupon I holler at him and make him go sit in his crate, which works about as well as timeouts do on my youngest child, that is to say, not at all and stopping no behavior whatsoever).    I'm not sure how to train him to leave them alone, which we WILL have to do, since they will eventually be free-ranged.  I suspect I will have to locate the shock collar.

Speaking of training, I am currently discovering whether it is possible to train the chickens to go into the coop in the evening on their own.  Yesterday, I had to pick up every freaking-out chicken in the yard and put it in the coop.  Many were highly unhappy with me for this.  Today, about a third of them walked (or flew) in when I put their food in the coop.  The others required more physical convincing that the coop was the place to be.  The last chicken, of course, was a royal pain, since it figured out that it could hide under the coop (it's built on cement blocks), and I had to get after it with the rake, repeatedly, to get it to come out long enough for me to corner it and manage to grab it successfully. At least all 27 of them are tidily put away for the evening.  I do admit I like to throw a chair over the fence and sit in the pen and feed them and watch them behave like velociraptors whenever a fly gets near.  And the chicken dance they've been doing establishing their pecking order is highly amusing, too.  Think Cossack, and you'll have an idea what it looks like.

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