Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chicken Update

No eggs yet, but we hope to have some in November sometime, even though it is getting darker and egg production goes down in the winter months.

The movable chicken house is more permanently moored in the back yard so we can easily watch them from the kitchen window over the sink. We were letting them out during the day if we were home, but they were wandering into the neighbors' yards a little bit, and although no one said anything and they didn't wander far into other yards, we don't want to ruffle any feathers. Lately we just let them out around 4pm, that way they don't wander far before they come home at dusk and they go check out their favorite spots, starting with the rhododendron behind the garage.

Also -- and this shouldn't be news to anyone who has been around large birds, including Canada geese -- chickens have big poops. When they wander, they poop on the front sidewalk, the driveway, the yard, in the garage if someone's left the door open and wherever. Not fun to step in. And they scratch in the grass and dirt, usually not in the direction you'd like the mulch to fly, more likely throwing the dirt onto the grass or sidewalk.

Our yard is far from manicured, but we had to draw the line somewhere. We're planning to make a large fenced area for the chickens behind the barn, and as an experiment to see if they would fly over the 4 foot wire fence, John made a pen for them. One "flew the coop" their second day out, but then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up and down the outside of the fence trying to get back with the rest of her flock. And one afternoon last week I heard a funny scratching noise out the window and saw this:

Charlotte shooed her back into the pen. I think there is one adventurous one in the bunch. Overall though, the fence seems to be working.

At dusk they go into their coop and like to perch on the tippy-top perch at the peak. Our 13 year old neighbor was taking care of them when we were on vacation in August, and he was alarmed when he checked on them one evening and they were nowhere to be found. He brought his dad over to help look for the missing chickens, then was quite startled when he stuck his head inside the coop and realized they were above his head. I've experienced this, and it is quite disconcerting because their feet are above your head at the door, and they poke their heads below the perch level, peering down at you like some kind of vulture. You know you're invading their space.

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