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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chickens Weeks 6 & 7: Everyone is Ready for them to Live Outside

More photos here!

Yes, the chicks are still living inside.  Well, mostly just sleeping inside as the chicks much prefer to be outside in their Tractor.  Since the brooder box still resides in my office, I get to enjoy the sound of them pecking at the plexiglass window every morning.  Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.  They are trying to get my attention in hopes that I will carry them out to the freedom of the Tractor. 

The Tractor, being portable, has been quite handy; it easily moves from spot to spot allowing for fresh grass every few days.  It doesn’t take long for four chickens to decimate a 4x4 area of ground.  First they eat all the grass and unsuspecting bugs, then they set about digging a hole in which to take a dirt bath.  Occasionally they will rest on the perch, a rare time to get a few pictures as evidenced in the link above.  Our chickens rarely stop moving until dusk.

Which brings me to getting them to and from the Tractor:  Getting them out in the morning is hardly any trouble but coming in at night is a different story.  In the mornings, as soon as I open the top of the brooder box, they hop up to the lip of the box (JJ, of course, was the first to master this feat.)  I place some scratch treats in the bottom of a cardboard box and lower them into the box for the short trip outside to the Tractor. 

The trouble comes in the evening when I want to bring them in:  They recognize the box and run away.  I call them and they come back (there isn’t far to run in the Tractor) but getting one to stay in the box while you collect the others quickly turns into a comical endeavor.  Often I can get three inside before any jump back out in which case Alan assists by carrying JJ into the house in his arms.  (Yes, JJ is working it—she is determined to be seen as a pet and not dinner!)

Two Tractor mishaps have occurred:  During an approaching storm a wind gust blew the Tractor over and then continued to tumbling down the yard.  The chicks ran around in a circle, frightened of the new expanse of freedom, allowing the gentlemen building our rock wall time to grab the Tractor and place it over the chicks' heads.  The second occurrence happened when Alan was bringing the chicks inside and, forgetting to close the Tractor door behind him, watched as Goldie escaped through the open door.  It took him some time but eventually he was able to trap Goldie against the outside wall and gather her up for the ride inside.

Many people have asked about when we can expect eggs and we are hoping for some before Christmas.  Technically, the age will be right, but that is the cold weather time in Colorado so they might opt out of producing--even though I am insulating the coop and providing an interior heat source.  Of course, this is all dependent on getting the coop done.  I am taking pictures of our progess, but it has proven to be very slow; two software executives don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the build.  Although I take great joy in imagining them walking in and out and around their new coop, I know I will miss tucking them into the brooder box at night and hearing their low chirps as they gradually settle in.

Speaking of eggs, we have ordered four fertilized eggs to put in the incubator, all of them Americaunas (they lay blue and green eggs!)  The hatch rate is typically about 50% so we are hoping for two out of four in order to round out our set of six.  And one rooster would be nice.  The eggs should arrive next week. 

The question is, will the incubator and the brooder box both be in my office at the same time?