So ya. I’ve been seriously slacking on the chicken keeping posts. Not because I’m not involved with my birds, but because well, I’ve been a busy girl! At least I feel like I’ve been busy.
So here’s the scoop on the coop, the hens, and the mallard ducks that were originally thought to both be ladies but it turns out one was masquerading as a lady and is in fact a boy. Dude looked like a lady! And now you can watch this impromptu, has zero to do with chickens video of clips from Mrs. Doubtfire to the tune of Dude looks like a lady – which does have something to do with my post!
Ok. Now that we got that out of the way, onto the topic at hand. Chickens. And female impersonator ducks. We are now down to 3 roosters from the original crew of 5. Whew. Two of our Barred Plymouth Rock boys got relocated to new homes where a roo was needed – one to help heal some hens that lost their leading man and the other to help provide some cross-bred fertilized eggs to Rhode Island Red ladies. At least that’s what they told me. I’ve still got 1 BPR and 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte boy to find a home for, otherwise the hubs says they’re going to become freezer meat by the end of next week. gasp. Who knew it would be so hard to find homes for these beautiful boys? Everyone wants hens I guess and aren’t too keen on keeping a rooster to protect their ladies. With only 7 hens needing to be overseen by a male, we don’t have enough hen to roo ratio to keep them from fighting. No fights so far in the pecking order so that’s good news. The Wyandotte boy we are keeping has been named Thor – because he will put the hammer down! hahahaha! I’m hilarious. But seriously, that’s his name.
They all have had their first adventures in the yard, and do in fact live up to the name chicken. They don’t go much further than the side and back of their coop. We even picked up a duck and put him right on the edge of the creek. He complained, loudly, the whole way back to the coop. Well then. So far we are letting them out of their fenced in run a few hours per week. They are always on the hunt for fresh greens, so we keep watch over them so they don’t wander into the garden thinking it’s their own personal buffet. They get fresh greens in between because any weeds I pull from the garden and flower beds go right into the run for their enjoyment. They also get all of our veggie and bread table scraps, as well as scratch. When we mow the lawn, hubs dumps one of the bags of cut grass into the run and they just go nuts! Bugs, fresh greens, stuff to kick around. Chicken bliss. The ducks have a nice little pool filled with water that I change every other day. They enjoy having bath time options and will go into it first thing in the morning. For now, it works for them.
Speaking of ducks, we originally thought we had two ladies. I always thought that the smaller one must have been a runt or the bigger one was in fact a boy and just didn’t know it yet. Then his feathers started to change. I first noticed specks of green around his eye and though maybe he had some grass stuck. Nope, it was feathers. Hubs searched the net and found out the males are colored very similarly to the females up until about 14 weeks old. They do this to camouflage themselves from predators. I bet you didn’t know that either, so you’ve learned a new interesting fact to bust out at cocktail hours and family dinners. Woo hoo! So we have a male and female mallard. I’m so psyched.
Right now our chickens are 15 & 17 weeks old. They don’t start laying until 26 weeks old. Arrrrrgggggh! Needless to say, we’ll most likely have to play some tricks on them by keeping the coop warm and lighted if we want to see eggs before spring. But that’s ok. While raising chickens from chicks can be time-consuming and stressful, eventually it’ll even out. These birds know my voice and touch, and come running to the run door when I go outside. They make sweet little purring noises when I feed them scratch, will jump up to get a piece of cold crisp lettuce from my fingers, eat bugs (except lighting bugs…those apparently taste bad to them), provide nutrient rich compost for our garden, and provide much entertainment for the hubs and I, as well as our friends and family. And someday, they will provide us with eggs. Anything worth having does require some work and some effort, and I’m not against getting my hands dirty. I am glad that I have taken the step to knowing where yet another source of my food comes from – you can’t get any closer than your own back yard.
I have learned that chickens may not be the smartest animals but they do learn quickly. Bedtime starts shortly after the sun starts to set. They have shown me cucumber slices are by far the most coveted of table scrap treats. They have made it known that wearing bedazzled sandals near them is ill advised because they turn into bling chasing whores who will peck at my feet trying to lay claim to the sparkle. They will all gather at the door to listen intently while I talk sweetly to them. They have taught me to take pleasure in the simple little things.
We’ve got some finishing touches that need put on the coop, like finishing the nesting box and trimming the outside to cover the bazillion staples on the chicken wire. We are most likely going to have to put battens on the coop to match the shed since the boards shrunk in the extreme heat we’ve had these past weeks. But our birds are happy and healthy and that’s what matters most. Now give me some eggs!