Tag Archives: winter housing

Dawn in the chicken dome

I’ve changed the dynamic in the greenhouse these days by moving the little hens out of the teenager house and into the big coop.  Every night I reach into the teenager house, gropw around and pull out the four hens and Yin and Yang, put them in the big coop and leave the roosters.

Hopefully they’ll learn to go in the big coop by themselves soon.  Then I leave the roosters locked up until last in the morning, after the hens have had priority seating at breakfast.  The boys have an entirely different attitude, now that most of the birds are already about their business when they come out.  They don’t act so important.Yin and Yang and a young white hen aren’t sure about how to get out of  the coop in the morning either.Mushroom run!  She’s got a mushroom and just wants to eat it in peace.  (The lads are still locked up in the frat house there) A few guineas on their fave hay tower.

Brown Bonnet is outside now, in the Chickery 2.0.  She already has an avid suitor.  I’ll be your baby daddy! 

At night she goes in the box with the brood, and we close the box and carry it into the house, and then back in the morning.  The chicks are still so little, I don’t want it to be too much of a strain on her to keep them warm.They’re under her here, but all you can see are a couple little feet sticking out.

Back at home

I’m home!

Whoa, this guy has grown up!  I didn’t recognize him for a beat.  When I left he was a teenager.These two think well of themselves.  No self-esteem issues here.

The Brahmas persist in using the roof of the chickery as a hangout spot, and they’ve had some friends join them. (Snow White and the dwarves were reinstalled in protective confinement in my absence- they sleep in the covered wagon now inside the chickery)Another rooster doing his best guinea impression.  Very few chickens are interested in perching so high (6′).The inseparables, Yin and Yang, who seems like only yesterday got their pants, but now look like complete chickens, only miniature.  They’re almost always right side by side.  And they like to sit up on a hay bale.

The great escape

When the chickens still had the use of their yards, before winter set in proper, there would be escapes.

Then the other chickens would stand at the fence.  HEY!  How’d SHE get out there?  She’s got all the grass! Once I was working on the deck and a chicken came strolling by.  Once HW hollered up “Hey, there’s a chicken out here!” Prancing by the house.

So serene. The Colonel has both eyes on her though.

Chickens like eating ice.

They’re so pleased with themselves when they’re out by themselves (Excuse me, I’m free-range I’m ranging!), it’s a shame to chase them back in, but necessary.  They’re confined for their protection in the shoulder season.  Hawks and owls are hard at work.

The grass is always greener. The grass gets evenly trimmed exactly six inches on the outside of the fence.

Chickens in trees

Now the snow and ice has socked the birds into the greenhouse, but in the salad days of the shoulder season when they were confined but had a yard, there were adventures.They really loved the pine tree. The Silkies loved the pine tree. And this one loved the pine tree.  She was always going a branch higher, or creeping out along the branch.And got really clever about walking along the branch out of the needles of the pine tree, to a viewpoint.I came out and found this, I’m like “What are you doing out there!?”

Oh, am I in trouble? When I made noises and gestures at her she demonstrated her side stepping skills and scuttled back down the branch to the trunk.  I was just here all along!  She’s going to grow up to be an interesting hen.  She’s clever, and not a joiner.

That explained the mystery of how hens were sometimes escaping from their yard, though.  They were getting out where the mesh didn’t enclose the tree.

They grow up so fast

Everyone is growing up in the greenhouse.  The Chanticleer (and young Silkie) roosters are coming into their oats, so they’re always showing each other their neck ruffs, sorting out their hierarchy.

“Did someone say neck ruff?  I have one I can show you!”    White Chanti roo- still not fully grown! How big will he get?
Snow White. She’s got chicks under her. I can tell by the expression.

The Colonel is in retirement, especially since the rooster formerly known as an Oreo has become huge and dominant. He may not be invited to stay.  I was hoping being aggressive was a stage he would grow through, as he seemed to be cooling enough a bit, but not enough.  We can’t keep any jerks around, if they endanger the health of the flock at large.

Open the coop for a minute…

The guinea keet (keet in a bowl) is ungrateful and aloof and has forgotten all about being saved, and is also about to transition from brown stripes to black polkadots, which is always a sort of magical transformation.  Why are they brown from hatching to mid-size? Camouflage?  Does the arrival of their black feathers mean they are adult in the ways that matter while still not fully developed?

So it begins

When the sun shines, even if it’s minus tens outside, it’s very comfortable in the GH, and the birds lounge around sunning, like it’s summer.  They like to lean on the hay bales, so there are lots of hay bale nooks for them.

Cheeks

 

 

Fowl life in the Greenhouse

The Silkie chicks are in their semi-independent stage (now they have pants).  They aren’t always with Mom, but they are always together.  The Chanticleer teenagers are now very large, still growing every day, and coming into their gender.  White one on the left is the fastest developing roo, and he is refining his crow.   So far he sounds like Frankenstein laughing with marbles in his mouth.  The guineas on the header. And experimenting with their special sticks (they do roost on their sticks most nights.   The Silkie pre-teens sunbathing. The hens are enjoying their designated dust bath.  Note the approaching teenager – Oh, I might get in here… getting rebuffed- Snarl!  No you won’t!  That hen wants it all to herself.She’ll share it with a guinea hen though. It’s so cute when they share. There’s the keet right by the door and plywood, up on the hay bale. Usually all the Brahmas stand on top of the chickery, most of the day.

 

Haybale sunbathe! On the ground sunbathe…What’s in the bucket?There’s the chicks.  Alas, the brown one was lost.  Two healthy white chicks. The Oreo hen chilling under the coop.Guineas chilling behind her. There’s fleece jacket, feathering up magnificently.  She never goes outside, preferring to stay warm.  Her fleece jacket must agree with her.  But the black really shows the dirt!

Keet’s day out!

I was brought out mid-morning to check on the birds because the guineas were putting on an almighty hollering.

The cause?  The guinea chick was outdoors for the first time, having made that big hop up to go through the chicken doorThe guineas were all worked up about it (they’re so familial).  This is the outSIDE!  This is GRASS! (sort of).  The chick is the lone survivor of  a few hatched outdoors, so it may remember “outside”, but it seems it was a big guinea moment nonetheless. Right away the chick slipped through the fence. Here the hens are drawing attention to it- It’s over here!, and it’s barely detectable right by that fence post. Mom came running in, and the chick climbed back in just as easily.

The hen yard is already kind of grim, after freezing, being hammered by rain, and scratched up well.  The chickens loooooove that pine tree through.   They all cluster up under it for most of the day.

This is the Colonel’s flock of girls  – it’s a very large flock, and they group under the pine day all day for a long, relaxed grooming meditation, and often a good perch.  Usually there are 2-5 hens perching in the tree at any time.   I pruned it out for them hoping they’d enjoy it, so it’s very gratifying to have them enjoy it so completely.

At this time of year?

I have two broody hens.  Why.  Why now?  Anyway, a broody hen is about the stubbornest thing there is, so all I can do is give them eggs, see what they can do.  Maybe they change their minds when it gets colder.

The chickery is a duplex again, with the Oreo’s mom (white) and one of the Heathers,   each with a box, sharing the “yard” and snack bar. I covered the chickery with canvas, I was thinking to reduce light and distraction, and especially reduce the chance of birds falling in, because all the birds like to perch on the edge of the chickery.  They switch boxes multiple times a day.  They come out to eat, or poop, and then the other hen comes out, and the first one back gets on the first eggs she sees.  This used to provoke very loud outrage, but now they’ve both learned to just go find the other box, and so far they are pretty responsible.  Snow White’s a proven mama, she raised the Oreos (now gigantic and disrepectful).

Guinea roosts

I hung sticks up for the guineas’ roosting pleasure.  They’re tied off to the purlins about 7′ up, and they swing a little.  The guineas seem to love it, but they are exceedingly coy about being captured on film using it.  I can see them through the plastic up on their sticks.  I can sneak up and catch the last two still holding on, just before they fly down.  But they won’t let me see them all roosted up on it, and they aren’t using their sticks to sleep at night yet.  Still sleeping on the header of the door.

The baby guinea has a new talent.  It can hop up on the baseboard now and run along it behind the ribs. It’s a chick sized highway.

A wall?

The baby guineas were running around on the wrong side of the greenhouse plastic again, sounding like car alarms.  Mom was beside herself, throwing herself at the wall trying to attack me while I scooped up her chicks.  The chicks are funny.  Catching them is the hard part, but then I can stuff them in a sleeve, or pocket, or fold, and they instantly go quiet and still.  Oh, cozy!  Zzzzzzzz.  

That means plugging holes around the perimeter just moved up the priority list.  They won’t last long once it’s cold, slipping out like that.

I was planning to build a wall, harhar, to separate the guineas from the chickens, because the guineas move so fast, en masse,  they zoom through like a guinea train and all the other birds go bursting and squawking into the air.  Because there’s so many guineas, that’s a big train.

But I’m rethinking the wall.

Everyone is getting along so well.  The guineas are exceptionally quiet, with hardly any yelling sessions.  I assume that means they are content.

They’re sleeping on the ground, too.  The guinea mom loves this hay bale cave, and then the other guineas pile on top.