Actually, It’s not spring here yet, as we had at least 4 more inches of snow yesterday morning, with an overnight low of 0*F! Yes, it did warm up once the sun came out, but it was still pretty chilly. Today, which according to the calender is the “First Day of Spring”, we are due for another 1 inch today, with only a high of 33*F. Saturday they’re calling of snow and rain, with a high of 45*F - which is more like spring temperatures around here. But we can’t get too excited, as Sunday & Monday they’re forecasting it to be highs of around 28* and a low of 7*, which doesn’t seem like typical spring weather to me. Yes, 28* at night, but not a high of 28* during the day!
But even though it’s not spring here weather-wise, it’s spring in our hearts and all the baby chicks sure helps! Oh, they are so adorable, Mom & I just want to pick them up and snuggle with them. I love all the chipmunk ones, but the solid-colored ones are adorable too.
Yesterday morning, when I checked on them, the newbies had eaten all their fermented chick starter food. But before I refilled it, I wanted to see if I could simplify things and put the chicks all together. So, I put one of older chicks in with the younger chicks, and a few of the younger ones with the older chicks. There was no toe or leg-pulling, pecking or bullying! Yay! So, I cut the two zip ties on the one side, and pushed the hardware cloth up against the brooder wall.
Here they all are, happily enjoying their fermented chick starter.
As usual with small chicks, my hands in there caused them to all squawk and run to both ends of the brooder, as they’re afraid of my hands. Then, I cleaned out and refilled their regular chick waterer, as the young’ins haven’t learned yet how to use the nipple waterer. So, instead they fill the other waterer with grass pellets, which expand and make their water dirty, no matter if I clean it out 3x a day!
The nipple waterer is so much easier, so I’m hoping they learn quickly, so I can remove the other one.
Instead of keeping both chick feeders, I just filled up the one long feeder full of fermented chick starter. They all started eating, big and small side by side. It was adorable, and yet hard to believe that the older chicks are only 7 to 10 days older, as they are at least 3x the newly hatched chick’s size. They seem to be growing much faster this year, as I’m pretty sure some of them weren’t this large until they were 4 weeks old. But, they’re only going to be 2 weeks old on Saturday! About ¾ of the new chicks already have little wing tips, and some of the ones that hatched first have all their primary wing feathers in!
And I haven’t gotten any individual photos of them in the baskets like the first batch - that would take a long time with 39 chicks! So, I might take a few, as some are just way too cute. I need to decide which ones I “NEED to KEEP” before the buyers come Saturday. Or, I can just wait & see who’s leftover, but there’s a few that I’d really like to see how they grow up. Of course, I’d love to see how they ALL grow up, but unfortunately, I don’t have enough space here to do that. Or at least, enough “safe space” to do that. If just my hand reaching into their brooder makes them scatter, I can’t imagine what they’d do if big ‘ol “Goofy Gordon” (the neighbor’s dog) ran circles around them if (once they were older), I put them in a movable grow-out pen on the yard, not inside the chicken yard. I had some older “teen” chickens in that situation last fall when we first moved here. They eventually go” used to” him, but I wouldn’t want to be “trapped” inside a small enclosure with a big dog barking and running circles around my “home”.
So, that leaves me with a few options:
1) Fence off more of the yard, so I can put a few movable pens out there during the summer. But, that would make it more difficult for Joel to get to his shed (which wouldn’t make him happy). Not to mention, more T-posts, fencing, and building movable pens.
2) Find another trailer frame, so I can build a large broody hen & chick grow out “coop” - it would probably have to be inside the chicken yard, but at least it would be movable when that times comes again, in 2 years or less. But, that too would be a “big project” and big expense to get a trailer frame.
3) Build smaller “stack-able” or sectional units, but that would be mostly for broody hens or very young chicks. Once they’re a few weeks old, they could probably be with the “main flock”, but if they don’t have a broody hen to protect them, that may not be the best set-up.
After thinking more about this, I realized I do have several small places for broody hens & chicks, but they need to be adjusted. They won't solve all the needs for a grow-out area, though.
I have an old dog house on wheels, which Daisy was in with her chicks when we first moved. That needs a light and place for food & water. The "problem" is that it's way off the ground, so there's not an easy way for the hen and/or chicks to go in & out.
The second area is what I call the "meaties coop", because last year it was the meat chickens' home. When we moved, the ducks spend time in there, before moving in with the roosters. Hence, it needs a good cleaning before chicks can move in, which is a very difficult job. It has one tiny door for the coop part & one overhead door for the run part. Right now, it still has snow piled on top of it. I've thought of several ideas how to fix it, but don't want to "bore you" with all the details.
The third possible area is what I call the "spa" which I got for the purpose of putting wood ash & sand in for the chickens to dust bathe. I'll have to wait & see once it thaws out, if the chickens actually use it. If not, It could be another hen/chick area.
The forth possible area is underneath the nesting boxes that were part of the old 4x8 coop that we salvanged when moving. Right now, I'm just using it for storage, but once I get the green shed more organized, most of those things can move there. This would require more work, but I could make it "movable" by putting some of those small pens I've written about making underneath this nesting box section.
The fifth possible location for a grow-out area for chicks is contingent upon us getting the frame for the 2nd rabbit cage section built and installed.
If I use some of the metal roofing I have in abundance, I can make a section underneath the cages, with its roof diverting the inevitable rabbit poop. While it would require extra building and time, I could have a 4' x 9' area, which would be ground-level & perfect for grow-outs.
Well, enough "rambing for now", as I better get working, or none of this will happen!