The past few days, when Mal and I have gotten ready to leave the house, I look out back and don't see the chickens and think, "Great! They're hiding in the shade! Smart birds!"
We're still learning a lot and having fun. We think we have at least one and maybe two roosters, possibly three; hopefully none. If they start crowing, we'll have to figure out what to do next. But for now, the one that seems to be trying is still a quiet li'l gender-non-specific cutie pie, though it is definitely larger than the others.
It's been hot, and the birds seem to be doing their best to stay cool by camping out under the green in the yard, or chilling on the back porch (yay! poop!). I put ice in their water fairly early in the day and then try to take them refrigerated or frozen fruit or vegetables at least once a day to give them something to snack on. They REALLY like snack time.
What's kind of cool is that they've adapted to the pigeon loft a lot better than we expected. Chickens are, as James told me, "floor birds." Given that, even though I'd modified the loft with a couple of ramps (one is 45 degrees, which is supposed to be the max they can comfortably handle; the other is about 47.5 degrees), I didn't have high hopes about their utilizing the flight deck.
But they figured it out!
I'm so happy, as it's a bunch cooler out there with a breeze than it would be inside on the floor (which should be perfect for winter).
They don't seem to have ventured into the nesting boxes, which I am afraid will be much to small for them by the time they're old enough to lay eggs... if we have any hens (fingers crossed!). They're about 13-14 weeks old now, so we still have 7-15 weeks before they're mature enough to start laying. Glad they're not having to work too hard in the heat. Also glad that a "cold front" is coming in next week. Hey, I'll take 92 over 98 all summer, if it wants to do that!
We spent a lot of time the first couple of weeks after we got the birds filling in holes at the bottom of our fencing, and around the sides of the gates, where they might slip through the cracks. For a while, it seemed like they found a new egress every day! Including, at one point, getting into the front yard by flying up onto the porch border, and going through the wrought-iron railings onto the front porch, then down the steps, and into the grass in the driveway. Fixed that by moving the porch couch "bed" over a few feet.
Simple, but thus far effective, work-around. They don't seem comfortable jumping up/flying while also trying to get through the rails.
However, all of this is really for naught because of something I witnessed earlier this week.
What's this? you ask. Well...
So, yes, they can get up onto the top of our back fence and, if they want to, into the back 1/3... but so far, they just hop back down on the inside. At least I'll know where to look for them if they go missing!
Thus far, they have been easier to clean up after and care for than the pigeons. This is due largely, I believe, to the fact that during the day, they are basically self-sustaining. They do their business outside, so there isn't as much to clean inside the loft. They entertain themselves enough that I don't feel badly if we don't interact much with them on any given day... Speaking of which, I read that when it's this hot, it's best not to check on them in person very much during the day because they get excited and, therefore, hotter.
That's probably all of the chicken news for now. Here are a few pictures of the babies.
|They were way more interested in the ice-cold water than the corn on the cob!|
|This one seems to be trying to crow. Did you know some hens crow?|
|This one has tail feathers that look rooster-ish.|
|This one looks almost too beautiful to be a hen, but is also the smallest bird we have.|
|Chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool and all...|