Friday, July 30, 2010

We've flown the coop!

Several years ago, when I was a zoo keeper, I had to care for lots of birds. Giant Darwin Rheas, crazy Macaws, chattering black crows, Great Horned Owls, peafowl and Trumpeter Swan. Most of them tried to eat me at one point or another, leading me to develop a fear of birds.

So, when I began mulling over the idea of keeping chickens, it was with mixed feelings, to say the least.

Messy and flighty, I didn't like the idea of walking into a stationary place for chickens. And I didn't want to use valuable space in the barn for a messy coop. It seemed I was at an impasse.

Then my friend David Gill mentioned something called a chicken tractor. This is a simple, portable chicken coop. The advantages are huge for the ground and the chickens: the birds get fresh foliage and bugs to munch on and they leave behind extremely fertile ground. And eggs!

So, we started construction on the Lazy Husky Ranch Chicken Tractor, made entirely of scraps left on our new property.

Sophie worked with me building the tractor

And entertained herself by acting like a chicken!

We built a smaller brooder box out of a Rubbermaid bin and a heat lamp. Then, the girls and I headed to Meyers Hatchery with my good friend, Amanda.

I had pre-ordered six day-old chicks. But when we got there and saw the "orphaned chicks" - those ordered and never picked up - we ended up leaving the hatchery with 10 little females! We now have a wide assortment of brown and white egg layers: two Golden Buffs, two Speckled Sussexes, two Lakenvelders, two Ameraucanas, and two Polish Cresteds for novelty.

The kids are in baby chick Heaven here on the ranch.

Elise holds a sleeping Golden Buff chick who finds comfort in odd positions

Sophie holds her Polish Crested chick, Reggae. Polish Cresteds are typically very flighty and not reliable egg-layers, but they sure look funky when they're adults!

My two favorites: Ameraucanas Chipmunk (left) and Owl (right)

Sophie cuddles with Owl

So, we've entered into a new adventure with birds, and I'm kissing my fear of them goodbye. I never knew how much I could love these tiny little fluff balls!

Stay tuned for pictures of our chickens as they grow! Namaste!

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