New chickens! Vinnie isn’t happy.

We picked up the lavender Orpington pullets yesterday.  THEY’RE ADORABLE!  Of course, you knew they would be.  I mean, they’re baby chickens after all.  When we got home, we put their carrier into the pen that we’d prepared for them and they happily pecked around in the grass, had a big drink of water and ate an entire bowl of food.  I THINK one might be a rooster.  I’m not sure, but the comb is considerably bigger than the other’s.  I’ll just have to wait to see how it grows and if it crows.

Speaking of crowing…there was a little bit of unhappiness and anxiety from the Beaked Wonders…especially, this guy.

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All of the chickens were interested in the new arrivals.  As I was setting up the food and water for the babies, the others were all pressed up against the fence watching us with one eye.  There was a lot of  pacing around and clucking and a little bit of rooster dancing.  The girls in the run who are closer to laying seemed VERY interested in the new arrivals.   They watched quietly as the baby girls, explored their new pen.  Vinnie, on the other hand was OUT OF HIS MIND.  He paced, complained, rooster danced and generally made an idiot out of himself.  Cluck looked over at the other pen and just went on about his business.   Vinnie kept strutting around and complaining until I threw some scratch and then he seemed to calm down a bit until he noticed that I was walking to the other pen with the scratch container and then the complaining started again.  As I walked along the outside of the run, he followed along on the inside and the complaining and angst was RIDICULOUS.  He plastered himself against the fence at the end of the run and watched while I went over to the other pen and threw a few handfuls of scratch.  The complaining got LOUDER and I finally turned around and said sternly,

“VINNIE.  STOP IT.”

He stopped griping and just stared at the two new babies who were some distance away in their pen happily ripping up the grass and sucking down scratch.

I have a feeling that when the new babies are big enough to join the others in the run, I’ll be moving Vinnie to his very own bachelor pad.

I’m sure he’ll have something to say about that too.

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I one of those people who spends the whole week thinking about ALLLLLL the things I’m going to get done over the weekend.  While sitting in my deprivation chamber (office) all week, I come up with all kinds of grand ideas about cleaning out cabinets, organizing things and building elaborate ponds with fountains and koi in the backyard in a spot where we currently can’t get grass to grow.  I will promise myself a jillion times that THIS WEEKEND is going to be THE weekend to be productive.  All week I detail my grand schemes to my husband who usually just answers “okay”.  It’s not because he’s really all that agreeable.  It’s because he knows me.

Saturday mornings typically go like this. I’m the first one awake…or…well, maybe “awake” is too generous of a word.  How about, I’m the first one out of bed…that’s a bit more accurate. Yesterday,  I got up, scuffed out to the chicken coop in my pajamas and initiated the chicken stampede…which just means I let them out of their coop.  Remember that scene from “The Lion King” where Simba’s father gets trampled by the water buffalo stampede?  It’s pretty much like that.  How 12 chickens can make their feet hit the ground that many times that they sound like 1200 chickens is completely beyond me.  I just shook my head and scuffed back to the house while they scoured the run for snacks that might have appeared overnight.

I had planned to be REALLY productive this weekend.  Laundry, cooking, a little cleaning, some baking, chicken coop decorating, oh the list was long and impressive.  The weather was PERFECT and Tom had even called an equipment rental place to rent a large tiller to do the garden!!  I just figured I’d get that puppy planted too.  That sounds reasonable, right?  (NO)

When I got back to the house, Tom was still in bed, so I surfed around the internet, visited a favorite chicken site and swooned over cute chick pictures, drank some coffee and oh look!  The Today Show is on!  So I reasoned that since no one else was awake and there was coffee and Lester Holt, that I should just sit on the sofa.

Greg came stumbling in from his apartment behind the house and collapsed in a chair like it was the longest walk he’d ever taken…it’s about 40 feet or so.  At some point, after me making 53 trips to the bed and announcing what time it was, like a brunette version of Big Ben, Tom finally came out of the bedroom and sleep walked down the stairs to walk his mother’s dog (he’s the bane of my existence…the dog…not Tom).  Tom’s mother lives in another part of the house, on the lower level.   I was still drinking coffee, so I was still moderately happy.  As long as I have a cup of coffee in front of me, I’m pretty much stationary and content.

Tom finally finished walking all the dogs…I haven’t told you about the dogs yet….oh, my….that’s another story for another day altogether. He made himself a cup of coffee, sat down on the love seat and promptly fell asleep…or resumed sleeping…because I don’t think he ever woke up while he was walking the herd of dogs that we own that he calls “The Idiots”.

By this time, I was finished with  my coffee and had decided that it was time to do things.  Greg was draped over the overstuffed chair playing some sort of online game where you basically attack other people and steal their stuff…sort of like an animated version of living in Detroit.

Tom was snoring.  Which always makes me mad.  So I told him what time it was again.

“I wasn’t sleeping”

“You are SNORING.  You’re either sleeping or you’ve got something REALLY BIG caught in your nose”

“I’m going to get up in just a minute”

Okay…take that conversation and just repeat it 94 times.  Because that’s what always happens.  Tom used to tour with rock bands when he was younger.  Motley Crue, Aerosmith…you know…all those little quiet bands.  He learned to sleep through mayhem on tour buses or while leaning against a running air compressor in the middle of a crowded concert venue.  The guy can sleep through a box of C4 going off next to his head, I swear.  I finally got him semi conscious and drinking some coffee annnnnnnnd then he fell asleep several times holding his coffee.  I ranted and carried on…Greg kept playing his game…Tom kept snoring.  I kept getting more annoying.  It was pretty much a typical Saturday.

FINALLY, Tom got up off the sofa (read as: I griped until he got up off the sofa) at about 11:00.  I’d already decided that there was no way we could possibly get ANYTHING done because the day was half over.  Then Tom said those magic words that had started this whole chicken journey.

“We need to go to Rural King today.”

Suddenly, he’d redeemed himself.  If we were going to Rural King, that means we were getting more chicken and garden stuff because honestly, there isn’t much else there that I’d walk across the street for in the store.  Greg, on the other hand, got very excited because, remember, Rural King has free popcorn…and he apparently doesn’t mind that it’s made by a woman with a mustache.

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So we all piled into the truck and Rural King isn’t that far away so we were there pretty quickly.  I hadn’t even bothered to look at what I was wearing, until we were walking into the store and that’s when I noticed I had on my t-shirt that proclaims “CRAZY BUT FUN” across the front.

Fifty years old, people.  I am wearing a “CRAZY BUT FUN” t-shirt, in public, at 50 years old.

Greg and I always enjoy the parking lot at Rural King because there is a wide variety of things to be sarcastic about…which is our main gig.  One day, at the Rural King on the other side of town (there are two…who needs two? ), we were in the parking lot where a very nice church group had set up a grill and were selling the following:  Grilled Boneless Chicken, Grilled Boneless Pork Chops, and at the bottom of the sign, and I’m not making this up, Grilled Boneless Hotdogs.   I’m also not kidding when I say that this provided us with comedy material for the next several weeks.

Greg bypassed the popcorn area when we first arrived because there were a few too many people in line that were wearing camouflage and looked a bit surly.  I made my usual beeline to the CHICK NIRVANA waiting in the back of the store.  Tom was pulling a loud, rickety red flat cart behind him because we needed shavings for the coop.  I’m sure you could hear this cart in SPACE.

The chick area was kind of a drag.  You can tell that the people who work at the store are OVER IT.  At the beginning of chick season, everything was sparkly and clean and the chicks were tiny and healthy.  Now the stock tanks of chicks smelled badly of chick poop, they were terribly over crowed and the chicks were older and already sprouting their wing feathers.  Sort of sad.  I wished I could save them all and finally sadly walked away.  Poor things.

We got what we needed, including a bag of “Mother Clucker” chicken treats…pretty much because I think the name is hysterical. Next time I’m buying “CLUCK YEAH!”.  I also, thanks to my chicken decor radar, found an adorable metal welcome sign with a chicken on the top of it, that you stick in the ground.  SCORE.  It has a bell on it too…because I always look for opportunities to provide the neighborhood with noise, apparently.  Greg walked up happily eating a bag of popcorn and we paid and were on our way.

We ran a few other errands and now the day was REALLY trashed in my opinion and all I would be able to get done was possibly bake a batch of cookies.  Once I decide that I can’t get anything done…I’m done.  In other words, don’t look for any spectacular movement because I’ll probably be drinking a soda and writing blog post or staring vacantly at Pinterest for ideas about things that I should actually be doing.

I finally decided that I would check the chickens who were out in their run bemoaning the lack of edible weeds, which they mowed down completely in about two days and which refuse to grow back.  Greg showed up a few minutes later as I was trying to placate the chickens with handfuls of clover and chickweed.  Greg said, “We should free range today!”

Hm.  I wasn’t too sure about that idea.  We’ve got foxes that live in the woods and hawk screams are frequent in the sky above our yard.  Shoot, I won’t even take my three-pound chihuahua outside because I’m afraid she’ll get sucked into some sort of hawk vortex that will instantly form in the sky the moment she sets a paw off the back step.  Greg, started trying to get Vinnie, the Barred Rock, into the coop so that he could snatch him up and take him out into the big yard…the big unprotected yard…with neighboring foxes…and swooping dangerousness.  I reminded him that I’m OLD and that he better be able to catch whoever he decided to bring out.  Pretty soon he emerged from the coop with Vinnie under his arm, who was whistling and chortling because obviously, something very exciting was about to happen.

Tom was out in the “garden” (orange staked square of untilled grass) making final calculations and probably doing long division and figuring some sort of trajectory that involved square roots and quadratic equations.  Greg and I headed that way with Vinnie, where Greg set him unceremoniously down on the ground in a patch of clover.

Vinnie got very tall and I think his neck was about a foot long.  Tallest, skinniest necked chicken, you’ve ever seen.  He tried to take in everything at once, made a weak attempt at flying and crashed into the ground, and finally settled down to explore the huge open yard.  I think he was a little confused about where all the other chickens were, but interest in clover and other green snacks pretty soon caused him to care LESS where the other chickens were.  He explored the grass, insinuated himself into a big pile of branches that were lying at the edge of the woods (this when we started to talk like the crocodile hunter guy describing the natural habitat of the “WILD BUSH CHICKEN”), and then Vinnie seemed to get bored with it all and waddled back up to the area near the run where the rest of the chickens were eyeing him with mild panic.  He pecked at our walkway which is made of composite stone and must have looked like scattered seeds to him and then he looked at us like “well, that was good…now what”.

 

I scooped him up and feeling much relieved, deposited him back in the coop on a roost.  The rest of the chickens rushed into the coop to get the full story from him.  At this point, Greg scooped up Oprah Wingfrey, one of the Black Sex-Link pullets and headed back for the open yard.  As head chicken supervisor, I followed, wondering why he always seemed to pick the NICE chickens to put out as hawk snacks.

Greg set Oprah down.  She looked around and realized this was NOT the chicken run and started to HONK.  It was a cross between a raspy peep and a poorly formed cluck.  To calm her down a little, we sat down on the ground in the grass to show her all of the wonders she could find in the clover.  There was some worm eating (by her…not us), some clover nibbling, some pecking at Greg’s cell phone, more clover nibbling and some picture-taking.  It was a perfect afternoon to sit in the dappled sunlight and play with a chicken.  Honestly, how many times have you heard those words in a sentence?

 

We finally got up and started walking back to the coop and run area with Oprah following like a puppy and grabbing beakfulls of particularly tasty weeds along the way.  I scooped her up, introduced her to our outside cat, Wally…who looked at me like “WHAT is THAT?”…and put her back in the coop where she too was greeted by the entire flock.  We watched them for a bit and returned to the house.  It was time to start dinner.

So, basically, I got nothing done yesterday.  I have to say though…BEST. SATURDAY. EVER.

 

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Oatey.

Tonight was one of those nights that seemed to pass in an instant.  I had a mandolin lesson and Greg and Tom came with because they like to gaze lovingly at the Breedlove guitars in the acoustic room.  We have a pretend band that is called “Electric Bacon”.  I’m already looking for a dress for the Grammys.

Anyway, when things finally slowed down, it was chicken bedtime.  BEST time of the day.  The Peep Squad had been in the coop all afternoon because of severe storms moving through the area.  I had let them out this morning either in hopeless optimism or blatant denial that we were going to get more rain.  At noon, everything still looked okay weather wise so I didn’t rush home to put them away.  Also…I had on black pants.  Everyone knows you don’t go to the chicken coop with anything BLACK on.  Actually, I use black pants as an excuse for everything.

“Oh, open that door for you?  I can’t…I’m wearing black pants.”

“Do something productive today?  Sorry.  Black pants.”

I think it goes back to my mother telling me “DON’T GET ANYTHING ON THOSE BLACK PANTS”.  I’m sure that’s it.

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So, around two o’clock, I guess it started to rain.  I don’t have any idea really, because my office has no windows which also accounts for the alarming shade of white of my skin.  Greg was at home, so he ended up rounding up the damp crew and securing them back in the coop. They don’t like coming inside.  Have I mentioned that?  Of course, the Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers were their usual insolent, rotten selves and as Greg would round them up and put them in the coop, everyone else would run back out.  So he’d get them back in, and the BORBs would escape.  I’m glad I was trapped in my office working on my paleness.

Since they’d been cooped up all day, I thought I’d take them a treat tonight.  I’d taken them an offering of fodder earlier in the evening, and they were completely unimpressed.  Weren’t interested at all.  Finicky buggers.

Back to the treat.  I threw some stale Cheerios in a plastic container and added some raw oatmeal.  MMMMM…oatey deliciousness.  I headed out to the coop and as usual, Tom and Greg tagged along.  Tom took my usual chair and bale of straw and Greg and I went through the gate to the chicken area.

Everybody was standing with their beak pressed against the run door, peeping hopefully.  I don’t know how many chicken-eating-sasquatch stories I’m going to have to tell them before they understand that they can’t go outside in the DARK.

Greg and I each took a handful of Cheerios and oatmeal and crushed it up a bit and held out our hands.

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Holy Moly.  Remember that scene in Jurassic Park when they lower the cow using that big cow crane thing into the raptor pen?  Well, this was A LOT like that.  They LOVED it.  Vinny, the naughty barred rock, was eating oatmeal without breathing.  I swear.  The chicken never took a BREATH.  He was eating from Greg’s outstretched hand and when all the snack was gone, he looked up and he had a little oatmeal beard hanging from his beak.

At that point, we lost it.  We should sell tickets to this stuff…either that or we are quite simple-minded and easily amused…which is more likely.

What followed was a lot of beak wiping (which we always enjoy) and then more Cheerioatmeal eating (yes…I typed that as one word, no…it does NOT exist in the WordPress spellchecker) and then there was MORE beak wiping and some sincerely disappointed chicken looks when we finally decided we’d had enough of them pecking our hands with their pointy little beaks.  We packed up the rest of the snacks because everyone’s crop was getting a little too full.  The chicks seemed to take that cue to begin looking for places to settle down and we locked the coop and headed back to the house.

Pure joy.  Absolute and utter happiness. That’s what I feel when I’m with those silly feathered creatures.  I know how insane it must sound.  I’ve always loved animals, but this experience has taken that to a new height.  I love to see them excited about treats and happily preening and snuggling up together at night to rest.

I love their innocent curiosity.  I love the way they look at me with eyes that appear to be full of questions.  I wonder what they think…I’m sure it’s nothing like the way that we think.  It’s obvious though, they DO think.  Those tiny, goofy little heads, have something going on inside.

I was talking to a friend today who said “Their brains must be so tiny.  Like a pea”.

She’s right.  And those oatmeal beaked, pea brains bring me so much joy.

Change.

This is it.  I turn fifty this year.  I have no idea how it happened.  In my mind, I don’t feel fifty at all.  My body is another story, but I won’t go there because it’s not pretty….not pretty at all.

Anyway, I’ve always been a very driven person.  I wanted the big important high status job,  I wanted lots of letters after my name and I wanted status.  Period.  In my career, I’ve always left jobs to take a job that would advance me further.  I knew that there wasn’t anything that could stop me and I worked hard and wanted MORE, MORE, MORE.  To put it simply…I’ve always been an overachiever.  In a big over achieving way.

Lately though, as I approach this big milestone birthday, I’ve found myself changing.  Suddenly, I don’t care to achieve any more.  I’m quite happy with what I have.  In fact, sometimes, I think I’d be happier with a little less in my life.  Family suddenly seems terribly important to me, as does our home and the things we do in our “off” time which I guard rabidly. The world around me seems to be much more important too.  Not the people, generally, but I’m worried about the planet.  We’ve got a darn good gig here and I feel like we’re screwing it up big time.  Suddenly, the idea of chemically laced food, medications with strong, damaging side effects, pollution in the air and water, and the way we treat the animals of the planet all seem very, VERY wrong to me.

I’ve stopped caring what other people think.  I’ve also cut people out of my life who were making it more complicated and dramatic.  It sounds harsh, but I don’t want that anymore.  It used to be that a little drama and adrenaline drove my day.  Now, I walk away from it.  I no longer feel compelled to get involved in every argument I’m invited to.  My icy exterior that I’ve been told can be “intimidating” is  melting a bit, although I still speak my mind and feel entitled to do so.   I no longer will keep my mouth shut to preserve what others think of me. This is who I am.  At almost 50.

I’m suddenly interested in developing talents that I’ve always had, like art and writing.  Before these changes in me started to appear, I never did those things because I thought “What am I going to do with it when I’m done?”   I don’t care what I do with it now.  It makes me happy.  Maybe that’s the whole thing right there…I’ve figured out how to be happy without having an unnatural front to it and I just don’t care what people think because I’m not here to make them happy.  This is my life…not theirs.

So, WHY am I writing all this drivel when it has nothing to do with chickens?  Isn’t this a chicken blog?  Well, yes…and actually, my twelve little chicken dumplings (which is WAY different from chicken and dumplings…which by the way are delicious) have taught me some things.  They’re little teachers in chicken feathers…and they don’t give homework, which is good, but they do teach important life lessons that honestly, for the first time in my life, I’ve been open enough to accept.  None of it is rocket science…which chickens have been rumored to be able to do, but it’s never been witnessed.

Since I brought the chicks home, I’ve felt this strong urge to care for them.  Not because they can give me anything, but because they are helpless and have no choices.  My husband suggested it was empty nest syndrome, but I still have two children at home, granted one is 21 and the other is 11, and maybe he’s right, but I think there is something more to it.  It’s the simplicity of it.  The daily feeding and care and doing what’s naturally best for them.  It’s not giving them chemicals and things they don’t need, but furnishing natural things for them and watching them grow into beautiful creatures whose feathers are glossy and naturally beautiful.  It’s watching them grow from infancy or chickhood to maturity.  It’s teaching them to trust me and showing them that not everything in the world is meant to be feared and I will keep them safe.  It’s growing food for them and us (if I EVER get that garden in) that feels so basic and so real.  I think that’s what I’ve been missing for many years…I needed to feel something basic and REAL.  Not something contrived to impress other people or make myself feel more important.  I don’t need to feel more important.  I don’t need someone or degree to tell me I’m worthy of anything.  I AM important.  I can make a difference in the world, even though it’s just my little piece of it in the backyard.  Suddenly.  It’s okay to be just me and to let out all the things I’ve always wanted to do but was afraid of what people would say.  It simply doesn’t matter.  I don’t care if anyone thinks that keeping chickens in the backyard at the edge of a major Indiana city is stupid, or dirty.  It brings me simple joy.  There’s something to be said for that.

I’ve become interested in pulling things around me that are things I’ve always loved.  I immerse myself in artwork, writing and music.  I’ve found things from my childhood that speak to me.  I looked everywhere online for a plant that my grandmother and aunt grew.  It’s called Baby Tears and it has tiny little leaves and trails and spreads from the pot it grows in.  Having that plant, that my grandmother used to grow is very important for some reason.  Caring for it and watching it grow and spread, is a big deal.  It’s a simple thing and it ties me to my roots.

Last night, I washed my husband’s grandmother’s china that had been languishing in a box in the garage.  It’s an old pattern of pink roses.  I walked by that box in the garage probably 345.5 times and never thought about it, but one day, I stopped and picked up a fragile cup.  Why was I letting something so beautiful sit in a box?  After the china was washed and dried, I arranged it in the china hutch.  My husband was watching and when I stood back to look at the finished work, he said “My grandmother would be happy”…and although I did not ever meet his grandmother, that made me feel incredibly happy myself.  I hadn’t done it because someone was coming over and I wanted to impress them, which is commonly how I’d worked in the past, I just liked it.  It had meaning.  I think I’ve come to the point to where I want things to mean something.  I don’t want it to be complicated or stuffy.  I just want purity and simplicity and I don’t care what anyone thinks about that.

Every night, my husband and I go out to the chicken coop.  I say it’s to tuck the chicks in bed, but frankly, they don’t really care if I come out or not.  While I’m there, I usually bring them a treat, turn off their window fan if it’s cool outside or maybe change their water so that it’s clean and fresh with a new dose of apple cider vinegar in it.  Most of the time though, I sit in my chair with my feet propped against a bale of straw and Tom leans on the fencing in the coop and we just watch them.   They play, scratch in the shavings, peep incessantly, bicker over bits of treats, annoy each other and then finally they’ll begin to settle down on perches or in mounds of shavings on the floor.  They usually sleep in groups and the other night I noticed one of the Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers (BORBs) walk slowly over to where the other buff pullet and BORB were settled in the bedding.  He peeped at them and scratched around in the shavings and finally settled as close to them as he could and laid his neck and head over the back of his brother and closed his eyes.  They became an entwined pile of honey colored feathers.  Seeking warmth, comfort and companionship from each other in a simple, pure way.  That simple act was perfectly beautiful to me.

We usually hang out in the coop for a while. Time seems to slip away for me out there.  The night toads are singing in the trees and the contented peeping and scratching of the chickens is very soothing to me.  As the last one settles down, Tom will start shuffling around a bit and I’ll know it’s time to tear myself away from them.  I love to watch them fall to sleep, in what seems like puddles of fluffy feathers.  We lock the coop and head to the main house up the path between the pool and garage that is bordered by holly bushes.  It’s all so wonderful that I feel as though it’s not real sometimes.

Many years ago, while working for a major bookseller, I discovered a photo study of a woman named Tasha Tudor.  She was an acclaimed children’s illustrator and author who lived in New England in a home that was built by her son, Seth, using only hand tools in the 1970’s.  She was an elderly woman in the first book I found (The Private World of Tasha Tudor) and I felt strangely drawn to her.  She lived alone in this hand-built home with the things she loved.  A parrot, finches, doves, goats, chickens, her beloved corgi dogs and cats were her constant tasha chickencompanions.  She devoted her life to gardening and artwork and to living on her terms.  She always felt as though she had been born into the wrong century and lived her life in its entirety, as though she lived in the Victorian era.  There was a simplicity and purity to her lifestyle that appeals to me.  A devotion to art and writing that I admire and would like to develop.  People told her she couldn’t do things and she did them anyway, because it was the way SHE wanted to live.  How many of us have that opportunity and seize it?  I believe we all do…if we let go of what others think and stay true to ourselves and the calling of our own soul.

So, that’s where I am as I approach fifty.  I’m drawn to be more simple and devoted to the talents I’ve been given.  I’m fascinated with the idea of living in old ways that are proven by time and experience.  I’m ready to let go of things that hold me back, like critical former friends and living as if I was chasing something that I could never catch.  And honestly, I have to thank twelve chickens.  They calmed my mind so that I could hear the cry of my own soul.   A noise that I was too busy to hear before.

Tasha Tudor wrote many books and illustrated countless others.  The title that I think I love the most is Take Joy.  So inspired am I by this magical, eccentric woman and by the life I’ve found through the chickens, I believe I will.

 

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Bedtime.

Although chickens have existed in the world for probably thousands of years without human intervention (I’m not a chicken historian, give me a break on that guess), for some reason we, personally, feel that we need to tuck them in every night before it’s time for bed.   I don’t mean actually tuck them in with tiny blankets, but we always go out and check on them one last time and make sure that none of them have done anything silly, like hurt themselves or choke on a piece of pine shaving that they aren’t supposed to be eating.

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Apparently, we’re over protective chicken parents.

Last night, they were all in the coop due to the rain yesterday.  Honestly, we could have just left them alone (I’m sure they wish we would), but around 8:30 I announced that I was going to the coop to put the chicks to bed.  The rain had stopped for a bit and my husband came with for his usual moral support.  I had closed the big door to the coop, so they were all comfy and cozy inside and we had put the roosts in that day so we were anxious to see if they were using them because we were convinced they would love sleeping 14 inches above the ground on the wide side of a 2×4…I mean, who wouldn’t love that?

We crept up to the coop door, I undid the lock and slowly opened the door expecting to see snoozing chickens on the roosts.

NOPE.  Every one of them had their beak crammed up against the door to get outside to the run…they are obsessed with being outside.  No matter how many times I explain to them that the Boogie Chicken comes out at night to steal their beaks, they remain stalwart in their obsession.

Which makes me feel bad because they have a really nice setup and if I were a chicken, I would totally dig living there.

I tried not to take their rejection of their newly finished palace personally, but I gave them a brief, stern talking to about roosts and that they needed to at least TRY them because it’s what all the cool chickens do at night.  They pretty much just walked around and peeped at each other.  I also told them that unless they start clucking, no one is going to take them seriously as a chicken.  So get with the program.

We stood in the coop for a while and watched them and nobody even TRIED one of the roosting bars.  Vinnie, the naughty barred rock chick, walked back and forth in front of the roost for a short time, looking at them with one eye (like chickens do), and then made an attempt at flight annnnnnd….perched on top of the feeder.  FAIL.

About that time, my son Greg showed up and said something about a delivery from Domino’s pizza at the front door with 15 meal worm pizzas and that Vinnie had asked if we could get it this time and he’d pay the bill next time.   I told Greg that none of them would even TRY the roosts, so we weren’t paying for anything.

Greg decided he would fix this situation and went into the fenced area of the coop where the chicks were scratching for left over fodder and Cheerios that they’d had earlier as a treat.  I like to call the treat “Fodder-O’s”.  The chicks KNEW that something was up because whenever Greg shows up in the coop he picks them up and holds them and says “Hey…YOU are a nice chicken”.  It’s good for socializing them and getting them used to being held, it has made them friendlier and now they all know they are “nice” chickens…and you know we’re all about their emotional development.

So they all ran back to the door to the run, complaining the whole way.  Greg scooped one up, petted it for a while and complimented it on its feet, “Hey…these are NICE chicken feet”.  He set the chick on the 2×4 perch.  Let me just point out that none of these chickens are going to be Olympic Balance Beam gold medalists.  The chick couldn’t seem to figure out walking on the four-inch board and stepped right off and landed on the floor.  Apparently, we don’t learn much from our experience either, because he tried this several times, with several chicks and they all were completely oblivious to what they should do on a roost.

Greg, being the brilliant evil genius that he is, sprinkled feed on the roost and then picked up Vinnie and Oprah Wingfrey, our two most outgoing chicks, and set them on the roosting bar.  We held our breath.

Now that FOOD was involved, the roosting bar was INFINITELY  more interesting.  Oprah and Vinnie pecked at the feed and forgot they were doing something new by standing on the roosting bar.  Then one of them shoved the other one off the bar and jumped to the ground.  So much for that.  So he kept trying with other chicks and suddenly everyone was showing interest (especially because there was FOOD…even though it was the same food they could get out of the feeder…not the brightest crayons in the box) and looking at the roosting bar with one eye…you know, the way chickens do.

This little exercise went on for about 20 minutes or so, which was good because there was nothing on TV and this was pretty entertaining.  We have a long tree branch that we’d propped up on the roosting bar so that they could just shimmy their way up the nice fat branch and wouldn’t even have to TRY very hard to get up there.  One of the Golden Laced Orpingtons decided that she would try the branch and made it almost all the way to the roosting perch and then the branch rolled and she fell off.

Chickens don’t have a graceful bone in their body, it turns out.

So, Greg, using his best Boy Scout training, used some purple rope that we had in the coop and started lashing the top of the branch to the roosting bar while reciting the Boy Scout pledge…and this would have gone well, but I forgot to mention that the chicks are OBSESSED with the purple rope.  Sometimes we throw the end of it outside the run door when we’re trying to get them inside and they’ll chase it right into the coop.  I don’t get it, but whatever.

As Greg was wrapping the rope around the branch and roost, the end of it was on the floor, he gave it a tug to pull more rope around the branch and felt resistance on the other end.  We were so focused on his Boy Scout skills that we hadn’t even noticed that one of BORBs (Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers) had grabbed the other end with his beak and was not about to let go of the prized purple rope.

He was like a big feathery trout.

By this time, I was doubled over laughing in my chair in the work area of the coop and Tom was leaning on the sidewall watching with more than mild amusement.  Greg finally finished lashing the branch to the roost with the prized purple rope.  Now the chickens were REALLY interested.  The ROPE was up there.  He scooped up a few more chicks and placed them on the bar.  They cocked their heads and looked at him with one eye…the way chickens do…and pecked the rope a little, decided it was all dumb and either flew off, fell off, or walked down the now stable branch and resumed scratching for Fodder-O’s.

It was clear that we weren’t really getting anywhere with this particular activity.

We finally decided to give up.  We made sure that they couldn’t possibly make a noose out of the rope and tucked in all the ends and got ready to head back up to the main house.  I started my usual baby talk “Night guys!  I love you!  Sweet dreams!” while Greg  yelled “DON’T STAY UP TOO LATE!” and Tom shook his head because Greg and I have reached some new level of insanity that isn’t classified in any textbooks.  We locked the coop and started walking up the path to the main house, while Greg went to his apartment above the three car detached garage.

So what have we learned from this?

Everyone should buy some purple rope, chickens can be caught like fish,  and you can lead a chicken to a perch, but you can’t make him roost.  Also, I’ve learned that “Fodder-O’s” is not in the spell checker at WordPress.

I think we accomplished quite a lot.

 

Chickentime.

If you have chickens, you know how to do chicken math.  I’ve never been good at math.  In fact, I refuse to do math after 12:00 pm.  If you need something figured out, you’d better get to me between 8 and noon, or I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Chicken math, however, came quite easily to me and I feel as though I could be a natural chicken mathematician.

Let’s work through an example.

Chris wanted 4 hens.  She went to the Rural King and the minimum purchase is six chicks. Chris purchased six chicks.  How many chickens does she have?

ANSWER: NONE.  Chicks don’t count in chicken math.

How about another example, just to make things more clear.

Chris has six chicks.  She went to the Rural King for supplies. There are two trains heading in opposite directions that have no chickens on them, traveling at 50 miles an hour. How many chickens does Chris have?

ANSWER:  Even though Chris purchased six more chicks, she has NO chickens…because chicks don’t count.  And who cares about trains with no chickens on them?

Okay, okay…one more.

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Chris wants 12 chickens.  She has 12 chicks (which don’t count) and three of them are roosters (which also don’t count), how many chicks does she have to buy to have 12 chickens?

ANSWER:  It doesn’t matter, she’s just going to keep buying chickens.

Got it?  It’s really not that hard.  What you have doesn’t count, hatching eggs are not even included in equations and no matter how many you thought you’d have, you discover that you need more because you really don’t have any.  Simple.

As I’ve been raising the chicks (which don’t count), I’ve also discovered the phenomenon of “Chickentime”.  It’s completely different than keeping regular time. it’s a bit more difficult to explain than chicken math, but let me give you examples and I think you’ll pick it up pretty quickly.

Here we go…Chris has 12 young chickens.  She feeds the chickens every morning and lets them out of their coop.  How long does it take Chris to do the activities listed in chickentime.?

ANSWER:  I don’t know, I haven’t seen Chris since last Tuesday since she went out to feed the chickens.

Still unsure?

Another example:  Chris has 8 baskets of laundry to do.  She goes out to take the chickens a basket of weeds.  How long will it take Chris to do the laundry?

ANSWER:  NO CLUE.  Haven’t seen Chris since last Tuesday when she went out to take the chickens a basket of weeds and by the way…there are no clean towels.  Take a chamois from the garage if you want to dry off.

Getting it?  One more example.

Chris needs to clean the bathroom and bedroom.  How long will it take her in chickentime?

ANSWER:  Cleaning is not allowed in computing chickentime.  I’m going out to the coop.

So the next time your family criticizes the huge pile of laundry in the laundry room that growled at them when they went to look for socks, or wonders why they haven’t seen the top of the kitchen counter for three months, explain chickentime to them.

Because you simply don’t have time for these silly extra activities in chickentime…but since they don’t OBSERVE chickentime, they most certainly DO have time and show them to the laundry room where they can start on the growling, quivering heap on the floor, or they can start working on Mount Dishmore in the kitchen.

If you need me, I’ll be on chickentime today…out in the coop.

In.

So it’s been about four or five days since the Peep Squad took over the run.  Every night, we’ve had to chase them down in the coop or come up with a variety of noises that I’m SURE the neighbors can hear, to try to get them to come IN.   You’d think any self-respecting chicken would be packing up her beach bag and heading back to the coop at sunset.  Nope.  NADA.  ZIP.  ZILCH. NONE.

It’s frankly quite irritating and a little frustrating and soon you’re envisioning frying them all.

But I keep my cool.  Mostly.

So tonight I went out at dusk and my husband came with for moral support.   I picked a big basket of chickweed and headed for the coop singing “CHICKCHICKCHICK” at the very top of my lungs…I swear, the neighbors think I’m absolutely out of my mind and soon to be institutionalized.   The excited peeping started out in the run and there was a lot of running and hopping and tripping  over each others big scaly feet.

They KNOW that basket.  I KNOW they know that basket…and I use it to my advantage.

So I sailed on into the coop with my basket and they high tailed it for the ramp and door.  I threw big clumps of chickweed in several areas in the back of the coop and they all took a pile and started scratching and eating.  Perfect time to count fluffy butts.

Ten.  TEN.  I count again…TEN.  UGH.

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Tom looks back outside and the two Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers are standing at the other end of the run looking insolently at the coop.

I’m in the coop “CHICKCHICKCHICK”‘n it up and talking baby talk and making peeping sounds and throwing grain around like a lawn sprinkler.  I could see two sets of scaly pink feet at the base of the ramp.  Eep!  They were considering making their move.

They came creeping up, drawn by their insane addiction to chickweed, and just when the first one was about to step in…Oprah Wingfrey, one of the black sex link pullets, rushed the door from the other direction.  I grabbed at her…which, in turn, scared the two Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers (it has to be capitalized…they’re like their own special ENTITY.  Want one?  Both?  No?) away from the door to the other end of the pen.

So Tom resorted to a series of owl noises that he thought sounded scary…but the chickens disagreed.

They came creeping up AGAIN.  I tried not breath…threw a little more grain…they were both standing in doorway…ANNNNND….Oprah rushed the door again, this time with the naughty Barred Rock in tow.

I windmilled my arms around and kept the two pullets in and the two BORB (Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers) flipped out in grand style and ran to the other end of the run.

If this wasn’t a semi-family show, I’d insert some colorful swearing right about HERE.

So Tom took it up a notch outside and scared them from that end of the run, toward the coop.  They were traveling at about a million miles an hour at this point.   They’re like little buff colored…cannon balls.  Jerks.

This time I had the rest of the flock examining a nice new bunch of chickweed that I’d placed WAY on the other side of the coop.  It’s not just a hatrack (points to head).

I trickled grain onto the wood in front of the doorway and the crazy little knot heads slowly climbed the ramp and stepped into the coop.  YESSSSSSSSS!

I was leaping through the coop I slammed the run door and I heard the ramp go clattering into the run outside. YAY!!!!

You know I turn fifty this year.  I would also like to keep living in this neighborhood without people running when they see me.  Someone needs to explain this to these chickens.

 

Breed.

So, let’s just back up a bit.  Remember when I followed the chicken tracks to the back of the farm supply store and found my own personal chicken nirvana?  If you don’t, you missed an episode (pssst…go read it).  Well, I was a little sweaty and overwhelmed, as you recall.  Partially because I was still somewhat shocked and incredulous that my husband was letting me get chickens and partially because I was slipping into coma from all the cuteness.   When the jaded kid working in the chick area asked me which ones I wanted, I sort of panicked and I said “oh…uh..three black ones and uh…three of those chipmunky ones”.  Let’s just say I was not well versed in the finer points of chicken varieties.  Image

When we got them home and I wasn’t feeling woozy from purchasing six chicks, I finally looked them all over to try to figure out what I’d bought.  I think it was Tom who asked me what kind they were.  Huh.  What kind.  I had NO idea.  I had very little criteria when it came to selecting chickens.  They couldn’t be white.  That was it.  No white chickens.  I can’t figure out WHY that was the criteria, but I’ll bet at some point I had a rational reason.  Oh…and they needed to be girls…they only sold girls at the store, right?  I hadn’t paid ANY attention to the tiny print on the sign that said “Straight Run”.  When I realized the gravity of those two words in reference to my chicks, I suddenly knew that Karma was going to get me for something dumb I did or said and I was going to end up with 6 roosters.  I KNEW it.

So when I went back to the farm supply store the next time to pick out the next six chicks, I made SURE I checked the side of the bin to see what sex I was choosing.  Wonderful.  Picked six from a pullet bin.  Perfect.

Except that two of them are roosters.  FAIL, Farm Supply Store…FAIL!!!  Two little Buff Orpington chicks, that are so full of adrenaline or testosterone or what ever chemical makes male chicks crazy, that they rocket around the run like cannon balls only stopping to threaten another unsuspecting run-mate or each other or maybe a rock that happens to be in their path.  They’re insane.

So now it’s time to play “Let’s Count Chris’ Roosters”!   In that first batch that I paid NO attention to what I was buying, 1 for sure rooster, 1 possible rooster, from the second batch, 2 freaking roosters.  FOUR.  FOUR ROOSTERS (Insert laugh like The Count from Sesame Street HERE.)  UGH.

You know what else I paid no attention to?  The name of the breed on the side of the bin.  Didn’t even look at it.  I’m telling you that section of the store with the chicks just sucks the brain right out of my head.  I didn’t expect the store to sell CHICKENS, let alone have specific breeds of chickens.  I just thought they got a bunch of so-cute-you-can’t-resist-them generic chicks.

So I ended up with quite the chick salad.  One Barred Rock, three Golden Lace Wyandotte, two Black Sex Link, three Easter Eggers and three Buff Orpingtons…heck, I might as well keep going and try to collect all the breeds?

Wait…I learned something else…you can ORDER chickens and have them SENT to you!  And you don’t have to worry that the farm supply store kid dumped the wrong chickens in the wrong bin or mixed up the breed or sex information.  You tell them what chickens you want, they box ’em up and BAM.  Chickens at your door.  Gosh, America is fabulous!

Once I get these two Buff Orpington boys rehomed, I’m going to approach the subject of replacing them.  Don’t worry…there’ll be a blog post on that, I’m certain.  When I finally do get the green light (and I will…bwahaha), I will order my very own box of downy joy and tell them the sex and the breed I want and it’s going to be AWESOME.

Annnnnd….I just got a little too excited about that.

Run.

So by now, the chicks in the brooder box in the garage were completely over being in a brooder box in the garage.  Whenever I stopped by the brooder box to say hello or to give them food or change their water, inquisitive little beaks were poking through the hardware cloth cover we’d made.  My husband was home from the hospital and was feeling better than ever and we had a three day weekend looming ahead of us.  Of course I took the opportunity to do a little good natured nagging about the chicken coop and run.

My husband and son were easily persuaded to start the run.  I think they were ready for the nonstop peeping and pooping in the garage to go outside as well.  Early in the morning, my husband and I tromped out to the coop to assess the situation…which means we went out and stared at the ground for a while and decided we needed more coffee.  So back to the house for more coffee and some strategizing (secret code for “Watch the Today Show”).

Tom went back out a little before I did (I love Kathie Lee and Hoda), and when I showed up, he had already begun sticking bright orange t-posts into the ground.  Hold up….

“Those are orange.”

“So?”

“They don’t match the fence…it’s green.”

“I’ll get you some spray paint.”

I harrumphed around for a while because I wanted this to be CUTE…but I also wanted it to be DONE, so I clammed up and watched while he hammered posts into the ground.  We had decided to use a vinyl coated garden fencing (did I mention it’s green and the posts are ORANGE?  I’m not bitter) to contain the little rascals this first year.  The plan is that next year, we’ll put in wood posts and taller fencing.  I’m fine with that, they just needed to be out of the garage before they needed counseling from living in overcrowded conditions.  So we started stretching fencing and I just want to tell you that it is absolutely amazing what you can do with a zip-tie.  As I pulled the fencing taut, Tom secured it to the post with a three zip-ties.  We got all the way around the new run and ran out of fencing about ten feet short of where we needed to finish…and I’ll take the blame for that because I kept insisting that the run must be BIGGER.   Anyway, that meant another trip back to the farm supply store.  And you know what that means….CHICKTOPIA!!!!

My son, who’d been wrestling with some plastic bird netting to put over some cana plants he’d been growing, heard that we were going to the farm supply store and he was instantly in the truck…they have free popcorn.  When we arrived, he made a beeline for popcorn warmer, while Tom headed for the fencing section and I went back to look at the seeds…even though I have NO business looking at more seeds because I have a container full of unplanted seeds on the kitchen window seat.  As I was walking back to the seed section I happened to look down at the floor.

Painted yellow chicken tracks…the very same painted tracks that we’d followed the day we got the first batch of chicks.  I heeded their siren song and pretty soon I was standing in front of the stock tanks of peeping fluffiness and I couldn’t remember exactly how I got there.   As I peered into the tanks, I noticed there were an awful lot of turkeys.  They freak me out a little…on to the next tank.  I checked them all out and ended up hanging over the top of a tank just FULL of light Brahmas.  I stood there for a little while trying to think of clever ways that I could bring six more chicks home.  I finally noticed a guy standing next to me.

This guy didn’t look much like someone who wanted chicks.  In fact, he looked a little defeated.  He was talking on the phone and it was quickly apparent that he was talking to his wife.

“How many? (pause) REALLY?? (pause)  I don’t KNOW what kind to get. (pause)  Yes, they are ALL cute. (pause)  I can’t believe I’m doing this. Are you sure we need to do this right now?”

The conversation went on for a minute or so and he finally hung up and stuffed his phone in his pocket and looked dejectedly at the tank of chicks and muttered “I can’t BELIEVE I’m doing this”.

I said “Well, you’re going to have ONE happy wife”.

He looked at me skeptically and replied “She BETTER be happy.”

I wished him luck and went back to my musing about more chicks.  The babies in the stock tank hopped around, pecked furiously at their feed and peeped non-stop.  Just as I was slipping into a cuteness induced trance, my husband came rolling up with his cart full of fence and just gave me “that look”.

I decided to wait on more chicks…but ONLY because he’d just gotten out of the hospital.

We collected Greg who had been cruising around the store while eating popcorn and looking at virtually everything and headed back home with our roll of fencing that was incredibly too long, but it didn’t come in shorter lengths and frankly I didn’t care at this point because I wanted it to be DONE.  I was a woman on a mission.

We finished the run fairly quickly (thanks to our friends the zip-ties) and the chicks, who were tooling around in a pen inside the coop-to-be, were released for their first taste of fun in the run.  And of course, they just stood there and looked at the door like it was the gateway to hell itself.  Finally, the always sassy, usually in trouble barred rock chick made the first move.  He stuck his head through the door and looked around, deemed it safe and hopped out into the run.  What followed was chicken hysteria as they all rushed to go outside to play.  Once in the run, it seemed like there was a lot of frantic running, some failed attempts at flying, lots more peeping and general pandemonium because apparently, the pecking order outside had to be reestablished from the pecking order in the sardine can (brooder box).  Several of them, during their epic flying moments, flew right into the fence (I don’t think they could see it well) and then sort of looked around and walked away as though they were pretending that it just hadn’t happened.  Everyone started to settle down a bit and soon they were all scratching and foraging and checking out the system of branches that I’d installed in the run as perches.  There was a fair amount of falling off the perches and pushing each other off the perches.  What I was interested in was the reaction to the fabulous dust bath I’d constructed.

I’d made a lovely dust bath for the flock by using a pile of wood ashes mixed with diatomaceous earth.  I ringed the dust bath area with interesting logs from our old woodpile. It looked like chicken bath heaven.  At least to ME, anyway.   I KNEW they were going to just LOVE it.  Excedust bowlpt…they didn’t even seem to know what it was.  They walked through it, jumped in it, stood on the logs, jumped off the logs and pretty much ignored the whole thing.  One of the Buff Orpington chicks walked to the other side of the run, flopped over like he’d been shot and started dust bathing in…plain old dust.  I watched him for a bit while he looked like he was having a seizure (thank goodness I knew what he was doing) and with all the flipping, flopping and flapping, he ended up lying on his back, wings spread on the ground, beak pointing in the air.  He just laid there.  Like he’d been somehow dramatically killed.  All the other chicks ignored him and went about their chick business in the run which mostly consisted of flipping over small rocks to find apparently tasty ants.  The Buff chick was still lying motionless in his dust bowl.  I finally walked over and stood next to where he was lying because I was getting concerned.  Had he suffered some sort of sudden chicken death while I stood stupidly by and thought he was dust bathing?  He popped up, shook off his feathers and made a frantic dash for the other end of the run, seemingly energized by his time at his own personal spa which was not nearly as cool as the spa I had created.

About this time, my husband and son were pretty  much wanting to quit for the day, but I announced that we needed to wrap the entire run in bird netting as well as the top to keep out the hawks.  So we spent the next half hour swearing, yanking, zip-tying, swearing more, sweating, pulling and securing the net.  Pretty soon…TAHDAH!!!  We were done.

The whole time we were doing the netting, the chicks were happily bouncing off each other, the sides of the run, the ground and anything else they encountered.  They were positively giddy.  At the end of the netting stretching, we stood back and admired our work and watched the chicks playing.

Then it occurred to me.  We’d not put a man door in the run…which meant that when it was time to get them in at night, one of us (GREG) was going to have to squeeze through the chicken door in the coop and out into the run. Once there, he’d have to be crouching the whole time because the run is only four feet tall and covered by polyester bird netting.  In this crouch position, he was going to have to chase and catch and deposit each chick back into the coop. Uh oh.

I’m going to have to bake Greg his favorite cookies…and cupcakes…and pie…because I’ve got to sweet talk him into doing every night until either the chickens “get it” and go in at dusk on their own OR we figure out how to put a gate in that run and raise the netting so that humans don’t have to walk like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I’m going to be doing a lot of baking, I fear.

More.

So the twelve chicks…I’m sorry, what?  You thought I had six?  I told you about chicken math and Tom had to go back to the Rural King for something and they still had chicks, and pretty soon we were driving back to the house with another box of peeping fluff.  There isn’t a 12 Step program for this, I’ve already checked.  Anyway, the twelve chicks settled happily into their brooder box in the garage.  I checked on them roughly every 12 seconds for a while and then finally relaxed and only checked on them every 10 minutes or so.  I would go bounding down the stairs to the foyer, where the entry to the garage is, and I’d hear Tom yell from the kitchen, “THEY’RE FINE!”  To which I’d reply “I know!  Just checking!!”  Because, you never know what kind of trouble twelve chicks can get into when left to their own devices in a stock watering tub turned chicken brooder.  On one of my check the chick trips, I found post-it notes stuck all over the inside of the brooder on which chicken revolution messages had been scrawled by my 21-year-old son.  There were hand drawn chicks wearing machine guns and messages about overthrowing the humans.  The chicks were sitting around just looking innocently at each other and at me and I knew he’d put them up to the whole thing.

It also seems that chicks have a hobby of putting pine shavings in their food and water.  I started with it on the floor of the brooder box.  Nice clean feeder, Nice clean waterer.  I came back to six feet of shavings in each.  Okay…not six feet, but there were LOTS of shavings floating around.

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This went on for several days until someone online suggested putting the watering device on a block of wood.  Genius.  So I put the waterer on a block of wood and somehow it STILL managed to look like they were soaking the pine chips to whip up a batch of homemade paper.  So I just resigned myself to changing water several times a day and making sure the feeder was cleaned out so that no one got a sliver in their beak.

The chicks grew….and grew….and grew….and soon the brooder looked like a mosh pit at a grunge concert.  One of the chicks, a particularly sassy barred rock and questionable rooster, found a new hobby of waiting until all the others were settled in a chick pile at the other end of the coop and then ran as fast as his scaly legs would carry him and then would LEAP into the chick pile.  This was not well received by the other chicks and there was quite a bit of annoyed peeping and scurrying about while the barred rock chick sort of stood around and seemingly enjoyed what it had done.  I knew I had to get them out of that brooder and SOON before the barred rock chick drove the rest insane with treating them like a pile of autumn leaves.

So we went to look at coops.  Apparently, there are quite a few people out there interested in this hobby, because SAM’S CLUB had a chicken coop…much too small, but who knew?  We checked several places and all of them wanted too much money and the chickens would have been far too crowded and I’ve heard bad things happen when you squish chickens into small places.  So back to the drawing board…or rather the backyard, where I had the perfect coop under my nose the whole time.

Behind our detached garage, are two storage sheds…the kind you find at farm supply stores and that so many people have in their backyard for lawnmowers and things.  Both were filled with stuff that we were “going to get to” that we’d placed in the sheds when we moved onto the property (read as: junk we probably don’t need).  We decided that one would be a great coop and my son moved all of the stuff in that shed to the other shed…which now can’t be opened without setting off an avalanche warning prior to opening the doors.  We cleaned up the coop-to-be and figured out where the yard would be and it was all terribly exciting…well, I was excited.  My husband and son were a bit more skeptical because they were the ones who were going to have to build all the stuff I wanted on the inside.  I had GRAND ideas.  This was going to be not just a chicken coop, but a really decked out chicken coop with artwork and curtains and chicken ladders, and cool nest boxes!  I started shopping for a chandelier online because I figured that these were classy chickens and they needed a classy place to hang out.  When I asked my husband about hanging a chandelier in the chicken coop, his reply was “Hang a WHAT in the chicken coop?”  It was going to take some convincing apparently.

So we had the weekend all set aside for COOPMANIA.  My husband then landed in the hospital with heart issues which was truly frightening…not only because it was his heart, but because all I could imagine were those chicks in that brooder box getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I imagined that one day I’d go out there and all of their heads would be sticking out of the hardware cloth top on the brooder box and they’d have murder in their eyes because the little barred rock chick had pushed them over the edge.

Fortunately, my husband did well with his heart issues and I never had to deal with murderous chicks.  The barred rock settled down a little bit and stopped using the others as a trampoline and soon my husband was home from the hospital and all was in order…except apparently my priorities which became clear when I asked when we could work on the coop.

I couldn’t help it…the revolution posters, the crowded conditions, the rapid growth…it was all ripe for a Chickpocalypse.