The Pecking Order/ Who is Minding the Coop
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She has become more assertive lately and I think she moved from 4 of 6 to no. By assertive I mean she will peck any other hen on the back if they get in her way.
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Thankfully, she only pecks once and the other hen will move. She is one of the first to get treats or eat and she is much less timid around me than she was even a couple weeks ago. This is our stand-in rooster I call Falcon.
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She has taken over security duties and minding the other pullets. She is first out of the coop in the morning to make sure all is well in the run. In the case of the cats causing a commotion, she comes back out to make sure the coast is clear. Last night, I observed her standing on the waterer, alone in the run, with just a little daylight remaining.
Our pullets will reach 20 weeks of age in August so we hope to have some eggs then.
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The coop and run are finally complete and the chickens are infinitely happier getting out and scratching about. After dumping their waterer a couple times in the brooder, it was time for them to move into the coop portion of their tractor.
They did not like the possum. How did they not see him before? Well, serendipitously, my kindly neighbor, Pat, at that very moment, pulled up my driveway in his John Deere tractor to plow the yucky, slushy, icy mess that had developed there, as my husband was away on business for the day and the weather had turned ugly our neighbors are always so helpful like that. I ran up to Pat and his tractor, and the conversation went something like this:.
Thanks for clearing the driveway I was given the warning that this might not go well, and was asked to get a heavy metal shovel, just in case. Pat proceeded to try to scoop the possum up with the shovel, which alternately played dead, then did some acrobatic maneuvers on the shovel trying to get off, then played dead again. He bared a few teeth, Pat commented how ornery he was, and finally, was able to grab him by the tail with heavy gloves on, of course and plop him over the fence. The possum slowly sauntered off, not happy about being removed but apparently resigned to move on.
I thanked Pat profusely, who reminded me that if we didn't shoot him, he would keep coming back, now that he knew where the free buffet was. He added that we could live trap him and take him far, far away, too. I then had the rather difficult task of rounding up the chickens. Now that it was apparent there was an intruder, they didn't want to go anywhere near the coop. I tried explaining to them that they were a little late with their paranoia, and the intruder was long gone. Silly chickens.
I had to pick the hens up one by one and deposit them into the coop, from where they quickly scurried out, and then repeat the process until they finally got the message that it was once again quiet on the home front. Once the hens settled into the coop, Speckles quickly followed a piece of chicken psychology: the dudes will always go where the ladies are.
I went inside and did some research. It turns out that possums do not always just go for the eggs. Hens have been injured and killed plenty of times by intruding possums, and so I consider myself lucky that all we lost was a few eggs. Now we have to come up with a plan. We have obviously gotten too lax with our chicken coop security measures, leaving the coop open from dawn until dusk, sometimes well after dark.
I am aware enough to realize that could very well have been a raccoon, and the damage inflicted more serious than a few stolen eggs. For now, I have gotten into the habit of checking on the coop every hour or two, just to be sure Tags: chicken coop, possum in a chicken coop, stealing eggs from a coop. In fact, the first day it snowed here we already have had about a foot and half of November snow , they wouldn't leave the coop.
They are new to the stuff, after all. We then discovered that if we shovel some paths for them, they will explore a bit, but they prefer not to tramp through the snow. We also discovered that there is an inherent problem with the dog kennel sun shade we used to cover the fenced-in area of the chicken run, for both protection from predators and to provide some shade in the heat of summer.
The sun shade is like a fine, sturdy, slightly stretchable screen, and it does not allow snow to fall through. So right now, it is piled high with a mound of snow, just about stretched to its limits. I think we will be getting up on a ladder today to try and relieve some of the pressure. We will then have to devise some sort of a solution. More on that later With the freezing weather we have been having, we now have a new problem to deal with: keeping the chickens' water from freezing.
Chickens must have plenty of water every day, to regulate the salt content in their bodies, without which they can quickly die. So now that the water spicket is shut off and frozen, this means bringing a pitcher of fresh water out every day, sometimes twice a day, to keep the old water from freezing.
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Additionally, we have re-installed the heat lamp we used when the chickens were just little fluffy chicks. Not only does it provide a measure of warmth and keeps the water from totally freezing overnight, but the red color calms the chickens while they are more confined during these winter months. We've already noticed that poor Hawkie is getting picked on a lot, and she isn't laying anymore. This could be either because she is an heirloom breed Aracauna , which often stop laying in the winter months, or because she is getting stressed So now that we allow the chickens to roam through the fenced-in garden area, after a few weeks, they have finally figured out how to fly over the fence to get to freedom.
The thing is, they can't seem to figure out how to fly BACK over the fence, to get into their coop. Silly chickens! So this means that every afternoon, before dark which is currently at about pm , we have to do a check to make sure the chickens are not roaming out in the open. We forgot to do this check the other night until nearly 8pm, and when I went to tuck the chickens in for the night, much to my dismay, there were only 4 hens in the coop, snoozing soundly on the roost.
Speckles the rooster was nowhere to be found. Surrounded by a dark, looming forest, I panicked. The raccoons and other predators in the area, including coyotes, would be out and about now, and I wasn't sure I could locate Speckles in the darkness. And what if something had already happened to him??
I started fumbling around the bushes and brambles backing up to the coop. I didn't have to search long.
I spotted the silhouette of some long tail feathers hanging from the protruding nest boxes around the back of the coop, through about a foot of snow. And there was Speckles, all huddled up against the outer wall of the coop, almost buried in snow. Poor guy! He was so cold he let me just pick him right up he would NEVER allow that normally- I don't usually even attempt to touch the guy!
Tags: can chickens fly over fences? OK, so this one is going to take some explaining to my family. We are having Thanksgiving at our house this year usually we go to family in Chicago , because my brother and his new wife are flying in from England. But now that we are raising our own chickens and organic vegetables, it only seems fitting that we hold a harvest Thanksgiving- a day to be thankful for and enjoy the fruits of our own labor. And since we did not raise any turkeys, we will not be eating turkey.
Seems logical enough, at least to me My grandmother doesn't seem to be taking it so well. Her response was to offer to pick up a pre-cooked turkey meal from Meijer. What we raised and grew ourselves, and that's mostly it.
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In fact, she would be more than happy to pick one up in Chicago, and bring it up here to Michigan for us in case we didn't have that kind of thing "way out here". So what is exactly on the menu?
Well, our pound chicken, for starters. No, that wasn't a typo. If you've been keeping up with our posts, you may recall that our inability and hesitance to slaughter our own chickens resulted in their getting quite large. I'm a little concerned that the meat might end up being a bit tough.