Brooding Coop for Chicks

Animals No Comments »

We wound up with 13 chicks and a very motherly broody hen who needed a safe home. We recently moved Not Blanch into our mudroom, while she was hatching her eggs to get her inside out of the storm, but it didn’t take more than a few days for them to over-stink the room. It’s almost November and is getting colder and wetter by the day. Now that the hatching is complete and everyone has had a few days in a warmer, safe home, we’re ready to get a brooding coop built for the new family to move them back outside.
We feel pretty strongly about not separating mother from her babies, but we just don’t have enough room for them to stay indoors, nor do we feel that would be ideal for them. Plus, Not Blanch, our buff orpington, has proven that she is nothing less than a very dedicated, doting mother. I have great confidence that she will keep them warm, safe, and protected outside, if we provide a coop and run. The reason we are not moving them in with the other adult birds is because I just don’t know how the others will react to the babies, and we don’t want to stress anyone out if it can be avoided. Read the rest of this entry »

Broody hen in cold weather

Animals No Comments »

The eggs have begun hatching! To my inexperienced self this is such a surprise! Our broody hen, Not Blanch, went broody in the beginning of October when temperatures started dipping down in the low 40s from time to time at night. We had a number of cold rainy days, as mentioned in the previous post about Moving a Broody Hen. Not only did it seem to me that the weather was working against our broody buff orpington, we worried that having to move her and her nest would disrupt the process enough to break her of her broodiness.

On day 21 of incubation, the typical time it takes to hatch an egg, I was away at work and expected to get a call that the eggs had begun hatching. We’ve been dodging rain and wind storms since Not Blanch went broody and this was finally expected to be a nice couple of days when the chicks were due. Day 21 came and went and no changes, the same with day 22. I was beginning to expect the worst, with the all the adversity Not Blanch and her eggs had endured, but still tried to remain hopeful that one or two would hatch.

Day 23- another rain storm was on the way. We were gone in the morning and upon returning around lunch time, I was certain I saw a little dark ball in front of our broody hen. It was dark inside the brooding cage and with all the shadows I couldn’t be sure. By the time I retrieved a flashlight, Not Blanch had repositioned and the dark mass was gone.
I checked back a little while later and was so gleefully surprised to see two chicks!

broody-hen-hatching-chicks Read the rest of this entry »

Moving a broody hen

Animals No Comments »

At about the 10 day mark, the forecast took a turn. This weekend should bring a substantial rain storm FINALLY (we’ve been hoping for this all summer). Only now we’re faced with having to move our broody hen, Not Blanch, and her nest. As mentioned in the previous post, she chose a slightly exposed location and one that will guarantee she and her nest get flooded with the 3-8″ of rain we’re expecting this weekend. I stress about the prospect of moving her nest and having her reject her eggs, but know that all of her eggs are doomed if we do nothing.
I decided to relocate her to a large covered dog crate, positioned as close to her original nest as possible. I put a layer of dirt in the bottom of the crate, then straw, and wood chips to fluff it up a bit. I then gathered the dry leaf material she used in her original nest and tried to recreate her masterpiece. This dog crate will serve as her maternity ward or brooding cage.

broody-hen-clutch
I had read that the best time to relocate eggs and a broody hen is at night, but decided against that for my own safety. I don’t like to be out working past sundown alone. I made sure Not Blanch, our broody hen, could see me move each egg carefully to its new position. I wore garden gloves because as any good broody hen will do, she pecked and fluffed and complained each time my hand got close to her. I spoke quietly and gently to her as I worked and once her nest was moved, I moved her too, ignoring her protests.

moving-a-broody-hen
She sat for about 2o minutes, then my heart sank when I saw her pecking around with the rest of the hens. I reminded myself that this was about her usual time to take a break. I checked back a few times and finally saw her trying to make her way back through the maze of odds and ends next to the garage to her nest. I watched her from afar and again my heart sank when she turned around and walked away. She tried a second time and I walked closer to see what she was doing. She seemed to have forgotten that her nest moved.Not Blanch stopped short of the new nest location, where the original nest used to be, then left again. I tried to get her back on the trail by spreading scratch to her eggs but she wasn’t interested and sadly headed back to the general population. I wasn’t ready to give up, so I quickly caught her and placed her back on her nest. Once back on her nest she seemed to be fine.

moving-chicken-nest

I was worried that the commotion of the day’s events had broken her broodiness but currently she seems to have picked up where she left off. I put food and water in the brooding crate with her so I could close the door and leave her in there for a while. I’d hate for her to go for her walk on her break tomorrow when I’m away and get lost on her way back.
After checking on her just before bed she is still sitting on her eggs like a good broody hen.

broody-hen

Broody Hen

Animals No Comments »

What we initially thought was a casualty to whatever lurks in the forest turned out to be a broody hen. Our buff orpington, who goes by the name of Not Blanch, was missing during our routine head count at bedtime. best-broody-hen

She was no where to be found in the dark and we went to bed a bit worried but hopeful she’d reappear in the morning. No such luck. Not the next morning either. Read the rest of this entry »

Backyard Chickens

Animals No Comments »

We’d like to introduce our (not so new anymore) flock of chickens. They were a spur of the moment birthday gift to me; stumbled upon a for-sale ad and had chickens in the backyard the next day. I loaded up the kids and drove the hour and 20 minutes to the “chicken lady’s” ranch to investigate and potentially bring some layers and pullets home all the while the “coop” would be made ready. Check out the DIY chicken coop we put together in a couple hours.

backyard-chickens

We wound up bringing 2 laying Rhode Island Reds, and 10 pullets in the following breeds: Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, Leghorn, Buff Orpington, Blue Wyandotte, and some combination of Ameraucana, Araucauna and Easter Eggers. A sweet Austraulorp rooster introduced himself while we picked the girls out and happened to be looking for a home. I was on board for some extra chicken protection, since we planned to free range the girls, so we took him home, too.

black-australorp-rooster

See the fence in the background of the first picture? That was the solution to our quickly dwindling flock of chickens. We lost both layers within the first 2 weeks, as well as 2 pullets to predators. That experience was just a glimpse of what I imagine it feels like to lose a larger investment to predators. You feed and care for livestock, hoping that it will pay off eventually. Instead we gave the local wildlife some pretty tasty meals. Cycle of life, I get it, but not my critters. A fox was witnessed carrying off Betsy (our layer) but we never saw any evidence of the other attacks. For a few weeks our rooster’s fate was in limbo as he was clearly not offering any protection for the hens. After we put the fence up, our nerves calmed a bit, and we decided he could stick around.

 

DIY Chicken Coop

Animals No Comments »

Our new flock’s chicken coop is a re-purposed 7×2 galvanized steel shed, like this storage shed, that we had picked up for a real bargain 5+ years ago. We had been using it to store some things that could easily be rehomed and agreed this already built shed would make a quick solution for a chicken coop.

storage-shed-chicken-coop

After relocating it, propping it up on some railroad ties to raise it off the ground and giving it a solid floor, we were ready to finish it up for the birds.
We erected a chain link dog run that we weren’t using around the coop, covered it with extra lattice that we had, and secured it with wire.
We added severalĀ  small windows around the top of the coop for ventilation by cutting out the window in the steel and securing wire mesh tightly to keep intruders out.

chicken-coop-perches recycled-chicken-nesting-boxes

We hang the water and feeder from the ceiling to reduce the amount of sludge that gets kicked in them.

We plan to eventually get around to sprucing it up a bit, it does look like a prison, but it serves its purpose as a DIY chicken coop and it was no money out of pocket.

Introducing….BEE!

Animals No Comments »

We’ve been tied up with many chores lately, hence the lack of recent posts. One of said chores is training and entertaining the newest member of our family, 4 month old standard poodle, Bee.

standard-poodle-puppy

She’s been with us for a week and adjusting well. Our other standard poodle, Moose, has been playing the role of mentor and seems to be helping Bee get into the the swing of things here at our home. Read the rest of this entry »