Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chickens Abound Part 2

Some time ago, I told you about acquiring some chickens. You can check out that post here:

To continue, I've been thrilled with the little critters so far. I started out with six, but that number was reduced during the early summer because a bobcat or coon clawed its way into the hen house through the screen door and snatched three. One just never came home one night. So I have two from the original ones I bought as chicks, and then I went out and bought four more, bringing my number back up to six.
I think one would call my chickens "free range" because I just let them out to roam the yard and woods. For the most part they stick pretty close to the house but as they've grown, they've wandered out a bit. The original two are much more friendly than the other four, although when the other four began laying eggs, a couple of them got a little more friendly.
Now by friendly, I mean that the original two will follow me around and come to me if I'm outside. All six of them will come if I call "Here chicky, chicky." In fact, it's a little unnerving to see them all racing towards me at an absolute break neck speed when I call. We've been thinking of creating a chicken racing track because they really seem to like to run. We could put little racing numbers on them and we've thought of such fun names as Thunder Thighs and Fowl Play.
The original ones will let my little dog play with them as well. She's a miniature Australian Shepard and she doesn't hurt them or anything but she will pin them on the ground with her chest. If it's possible for a chicken to have a long suffering expression, Ruby gets one. She cocks her beady eye at me and gives a low squawk.
I mentioned previously that I built their hen house. I used an A-frame shape that I found on the Internet that I thought looked interesting. The problem I've discovered is that the birds all fight for the highest roost and the design only allows four of them on the top perch. And with six chickens, I think it is a little on the small size for them too.
As they began laying eggs, they also did not seem to like laying in their hen house. I don't know what's up with that. I thought it might be because the laying boxes weren't up very high, just two feet off the floor. So, on my back patio, I have a five-foot freezer upon which I created a nice laying box. I lured the chickens up there with food, and sure enough, they started laying in the box. Yay! Until I opened my sliding glass door one cold morning and found my cat laying in the nice straw in the box!
The cat's presence did seem to slow down the chickens from laying in that box, but I have the original two and one one actually using it. I've seen them line up in the mornings to take turns laying in it. The other chickens must be laying out in the woods. I also don't have a rooster. I'm going to get one in the spring and perhaps the little chicks will decide they'd better lay their eggs in the house. We'll see.
If you have any chicken stories or any ideas for me to try with mine, let me know!

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