Sitting Pretty

One of the things we are trying to do is get our chicken very used to having people handle them. Perhaps unsurprisingly the boldest one is the easiest to work with. sit.jpg

This one, hence to be known as the friend of heights, has figured out that the hand will go to a higher perch than is available inside the coop. A process the rest found quite fascinating. I was able to get another one to perch on my other hand for a few minutes and had to set this one down so I could feed some seeding weed to the new arrival. I’m assuming chickens are like men, you romance them by feeding them well.

I doubt I’ll ever be able to do this with some of the chicks, the timid one hides in the corner until the lid closes. Meanwhile, the most people friendly will continue to eat the best.


Walking With Eggshells

Oh there are so many moments that I wish I had caught on camera! Last night was the latest. We intend to feed are chickens eggshells. Not to encourage cannibalism, but to make sure they have enough calcium for solid eggshells. Yesterday was dose number one.

As always with firsts it is a bit of a learning experience for everyone. Not knowing how chickens prefer to eat eggshells I just threw in one.

Our chicks, often so shy about new things, went insane. The bold one charged the shells and picked up half. Not deeming this a fair distribution of food five of the other chicks promptly gave chase. Up, down, and around they went with the chick in possession flapping frantically as it tried to keep the shell. 

Meanwhile, the timid one had all but sat on the other bit of eggshell and was pecking away quite contentedly. Yet another example that following the crowd is often not the most effective choice.

Since I didn’t really want the chicks fighting over food I reached in about the time the excited twittering crossed over into frantic clamour and crushed the shells enough that everyone could have a piece. Although I did let timid keep her half as a reward for sensibility. 

A Bit Less Chick

They are looking more and more like adult chickens. They kinda remind me of teenagers. They are getting their adult feathers but they haven’t really filled in yet. The fun part is that their personalities are definitely showing more. Especially at meal time.

Front and left is the boldest of the chickens. This one will eat right out of my hand and fly out of the pen if I leave the lid open while restocking their water.

In the back, as usual, is the most timid one. She doesn’t like new things and takes her time examining them before deciding whether or not she approves. This is from the first time we gave them greens and as you can see she is hiding in the corner.

As to the greens, they love weeds! I cut a double handful of random plants from the yard and they had pecked them apart in twenty minutes. Since we want to grain feed as little as possible this is wonderful. We give them 3 or 4 servings of greens a day and they climb all over each other to get them. Which is a nice interlude of farmers slapstick.

With Help From Mary Russ

The beds have finally gone in! Much to Puddy’s curiosity. She quite enjoyed touring over the freshly dug out dirt. Work on the beds got much faster after our neighbors visited and saw me chipping away at this dirt pile with a hoe.

He offered to let me borrow something that sounded like a Mary Russ. Not having any idea who or what a Mary Russ was and knowing that our neighbor’s accent had probably confounded me yet again, I said sure.

Mary Russ turned out to be much like a flattened pickax. She was also ideal for digging out the compacted soil. So over the last few weeks I finally managed to get the 50 wheelbarrows of dirt needed to cover the beds.

The folks helped out with spreading the mulch and we are ready to plant.

Now Mary Russ was so helpful I decided to get one for the farm. Suspecting that Mary Russ might have another name I looked under garden tools on Amazon and found her. Mary Russ is a Mattock. A point of confusion I might not share with the neighbor. Around here the local dialect is mumble/twang so I, being a bit hard of hearing, hear the funniest things. I’m sorely tempted to name our Mattock Mary Russ just to share the confusion.

Flighty Things

At least for flightless birds ours are decidedly skittish. Since we want to be able to interact with the flock easily I’ve taken to handling them before I feed them. They are taking that pretty well. But they didn’t really like the introduction to my camera.

Although they seem to have gotten used to it at least enough that they will keep eating.

Moving Day

At least for the chicks. Don’t worry we put them in another container while moving their cage.

After a day it became clear that under the porch wasn’t going to work as it made it too hard to open. Hence…

Bobby made this pretty solid/heavy. Thank goodnss for wheels and a lifting partner (Dad.)

We got it up and the chicks settled in again nicely. Although they have started running from my phone so I had to use the picture of them in the box.

Needless to say the cats were absolutely no help in the process.

Unless you count being seat warmers.

Got Chicks?

We do! Out of the first batch of 30 eggs we got 8 chicks. Somehow our neighbor who has lived on a farm his entire life has never heard of candling an egg. Which is simply holding an egg up to a light to see if there is a chick in it.

So we set up the chick pen under the porch with a tarp to keep the rain and wind out. tarp.jpg

We gave them their food, bedding, water, and a heat lamp. But they didn’t really understand the lamp. They did understand that the tarp blocks their view. And this one is particularly curious.


When night started to roll in, Dad went out to try shooing them under the light. It didn’t work as expected. Each chick he moved would run back to the flock so he ended up doing something like a chicken shell game to shuffle them all over. Fortunately one of them was a bit brighter than the others and stayed where it was warmer. So the chick moved afterward didn’t know whether to run back to the big group or stay with this one. Before she could make up her mind, Dad had deposited another one beside her so she decided to stay put. This morning they looked quite cozy.


Bobby is setting more eggs to incubate so we hope to have a much bigger flock next month. Meanwhile these guys will grow up enough to help look after the littles a bit.

Farm Activity

Seems to come in two levels; not much or way too much. This is a way too much week. As I mentioned earlier, the garden is ready for dirt and we have a huge pile of it from previous project to use. The problem is that the dirt it about 300 ft away and it is very rocky. Now I don’t mind small rocks in the garden. In fact I like them as they will decay and add minerals. But rocks above about and inch and a half just get in the way of digging.

So the dirt gets sifted before moving.  Dad was the one that suggested the wire shelves and sawhorses for our DIY sifter. It is just a little muddy so the dirt often has to be pressed through the mesh. I’m saving the bigger rock as you never know when you need a bit of gravel. Given that each barrow covers about 3ft, I have about 45 of the 51 left to do this week.


On the plus side progress is highly visible. Not like dishes or laundry where you never seem to make any headway. Really hoping to get the beds all covered this week so we can start planting next week. Our neighbor kept saying mid May as the right time to start to avoid the worst of the frosts. So I want to try to keep to that deadline.