Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chicks and Hens

On occasion I have suggested to my dear husband, "let's get some chickens". He has been quick to respond with a slight tilt of the head, a sideways glance and a bit of a grimace. I took it to mean he was not too keen on the idea. So be it. After all, the vegetable garden keeps me pretty tied for much of the year.

One of the things we enjoy is the local Home and Garden show, and this year we did again. Lots of similarity from previous years: the home (improvement) was in the large main building and with many of the same participants, while the garden was in another smaller facility, and to our liking, somewhat expanded. We rather quickly strolled the aisles at the main site, then headed out to the other.

We surveyed the vendors, chatted with a few of interest, and as we were nearing the end, there it was, a chicken coop and two smiling faces. We smiled in return and were drawn to their booth and the couple. I told the young man, "I've been wanting one, but Pete's not been too keen on the idea"; to which Tristan replied as he moved his hand over the doorway, "Right here: Pete's Hen House". Laugh, we did.

"Come over here, Pete. Let me show you this".

Sometime later... wired for electricity, heat lamp, the brooder box, four (4) one-week old chicks, and if you buy this floor model, we'll deliver and set it up right after the show. Pete looked at me and said, "Let's do it". My sides are splitting.

"Buff Orpington, two Golden Sex Links, and a Rhode Island Red, all good chicks", he said.

Right after the show Tristan arrived as promised with truck and trailer and some help, but as the rain continued and the hillside proved to be sopping wet, not to mention it was nearly dark, he asked if they could leave the coop along the driveway and return the following Sunday for install. That was fine with us.

The girls would do well in the large cardboard box for a week; they had food, water, a heat lamp, and we would have them inside with us.

The Girls_one week old
The two-week old chicks were patient and growing, and their brooder pen arrived as promised.

'Missy', Rhode Island Red
'Rosie', the Buff Orpington
Two Golden Sex Links, 'Sadie' and 'Sophie'
No easy task ahead: the hillside was satiated from the endless rain. That morning it continued, then snowed, and rained again, but fortunately subsided as they began to work. The first attempt to drive up the incline was aborted_ the truck tires spun in the wet clay.

Plan B. Luckily Tristan had a winch that would hoist the truck to the top of the hill, and then the truck was the anchor, while the hoist steadied the hen house, and the guys rolled it upward.


Putting it in place

It took the entire morning to get this done, and despite the difficult task, these young men never complained, were determined and positive the entire time! An absolute delight to work with these folks, and the quality of construction, well, we couldn't ask for anything better. Should you be in the PNW and are considering a coop, visit the Chicken Coop Store, and tell Tristan we sent you. You won't be disappointed.

Three weeks have passed and the girls are growing, four-fold. Their coloring is beautiful, their wings have formed and the necks are quite elongated. A favorite thing for them to do is jump on top of the feeder. They are quite cute when we talk with them: they freeze and stare and listen, then go on about their business. ...but there is more of the story.

Sophie and Sadie

Missy, Sadie, Rosie

Ms Sophie
Considering it may be September/October before they get to laying eggs, wouldn't it be a good idea to get a few one-year old hens? A lady was selling young ones on Craigslist. Let's go look.

A week later and we were thrilled to collect our first two eggs from the coop. Thank you ladies! And as of today, they have given us 8.

The Speckled Sussex, aka Zelda, has been slow to lay; she has offered only 2 so far and walks around and moans a lot. It makes me chuckle and am considering renaming her Mona.  Undoubtedly she was nibbled upon by the other hens or roosters before we got her, but is beginning to get her comb back and is very beautiful.


First two eggs

I was struggling to come up with a name for the Buff Orpington, and my wonderful husband asked, Why not call her Buttercup? And so she is. Beautiful coloring, as sweet as can be, and look at those beautiful tail feathers.

Buttercup's pompadour
Now I must go see what gifts we have in store.