Remember our chicken coop I showed you a while back? We were just finishing it up (well, it still needs some more paint, so technically it’s not finished) and waiting to find some little chicks to bring home. And now, it’s filled with our five little ones! They are a little over a month old and hilarious with their own personalities and quirks.
Currently the coop is lined with bricks to temporarily keep the chicks in and predators out, but that will be replaced with a permanent solution soon enough.
Alright, family photo. Upper right corner is Scarlett. The biggest and bossiest of the crowd (for anyone who’s read Gone With the Wind, you can imagine why she earned herself the name). While chicks are very difficult to sex, some are what you call a sex-linked breed. This means that their coloring reveals their gender at birth. Scarlett is a red sex-linked pullet, a guaranteed lady. Following Scarlett (just to the left of her) is the runt, Piper. She’s by far the smallest, but also the most curious. Probably my favorite, she’s a Rhode Island Red (big brown eggs to come, assuming she doesn’t turn out to be a rooster). Hidden by the wire splicing this picture in half is Elsa, my grey Ameraucana. She was born with the temperament and awareness of an 80-year-old. Elsa is sweet and kind of confused most of the time. She, consequently, is the easiest to catch. The beautiful thing about Ameraucanas is that if she is a hen, she will lay green or blue eggs! Yay! At the bottom of the screen is my black sex-linked pullet, Paris. Paris is kind of off the radar, not ruffling anyone’s feathers (pun intended, oh you better believe I’m so proud of that one), not doing anything of note just yet. She’s kind of like a ninja, except she won’t assassinate anyone. She’ll just kind of do her chicken thing. But in secret. And last, if you’ll direct your attention to the ramp that leads up to the coop (sleeping quarters that smells like death due to chicken feces, and yes I do clean it), you will meet Cleopatra. Named because a) she has black around her eyes that resembles eyeliner and b) I ran out of cute names that I liked so Cleopatra was all I could come up with. Cleo is about to nose dive on the other chickens because she is pure evil. I’m kind of convinced that she’s a rooster, but we’ll see. She’s also an Ameraucana, though she could not be more different from Elsa. There is a constant power struggle between Scarlett and Cleopatra. Lots of nose diving.
From back to front: Piper, Scarlett, and Cleopatra. Elsa’s tail feathers are on the right. She doesn’t know a picture is being taken. She doesn’t know really anything that’s going on.
A closeup of the devil. Ok, it’s Cleopatra.
Elsa’s looking at the back of tiles. Bless her.
Scarlett, outsmarting Cleopatra by hiding under the ramp. Good job, Scarlett.
Piper is still following Scarlett around. I’ve been surprised by how much fun it has been to have backyard chickens. When they first arrived to our home, we kept them inside (literally in a recycling bin) and while they were all cute and adorable, their smell stretched across the house. As soon as they were old enough to evict to the coop, the experience became awesome. Regular cleaning of the coop does wonders for the smell outside, but containing it to your home is just not natural.
As far as the daily maintenance (so far) of having these guys, it’s regular but fairly light. Each night I make sure they have made it into the coop (Elsa…) for the evening and I close the door behind them. In the morning I let them out and ensure they have enough feed and water. We’ve had to clean one blocked vent, which was… hilarious and unpleasant for the little chick. Oh and they escaped once, which required Mr. P’s herding them back into the coop. We do want them to range the yard when they’re a touch bigger, but not quite yet. We did lose one (my favorite, Penguin), which was sad, but we knew the likelihood of that happening was high, so it wasn’t a total surprise. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to, ahem, dispose of our little lost chick, so she received a grave site in the compost pile… Is that wrong? I’m not sure if composting animals is allowed. It’s probably not. I’m maybe the world’s worst composter ever. Ugh.
To divert your attention away from the disturbing burial of Penguin, let me update you on our garden!
BOOM! Isn’t she lovely? When I planted the seeds, it looked like a pitiful place where grass went to die. But now it’s lush and lovely with flowering corn, cucumber, zucchini, and watermelon. The root crops never even came up (carrots and beets), which could be a result of the hot climate or more likely the clay soil. I did zero soil prep, which I have been told is the secret to really good gardening. Apparently I need to slather this area up with horse manure after I harvest everything and a few weeks before I plant any new seeds. While that does sound delightful, I can’t say I’m stoked about it.
Baby watermelon! It’s not even the size of a pingpong ball.
The cucumbers have taken off and are covered with little yellow flowers beneath the canopy of leaves.
And the corn is finally taller than me! Yay! I have been told that to harvest any corn at all you have to plant a lot of it (cross pollination). We will see if we yield anything from these guys. I’m crossing my fingers but not holding my breath.
If you will notice these hip-high plants lining the fence, you will see something I am so excited about. Sunflowers!!! So far so good. We’ll see how they do. I’m kind of stunned that they grew at all, since I planted them amid dense grass/weeds.
Thanks for checking out the updates! I have a great project by Mr. P to show you later this week and a totally botched one on my part. Get excited!