Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free to Roam...Sometimes

Well, after keeping the girls under lock and key, I now let them roam the backyard from about 6pm until sundown. They dutifully go back to their coop and I shut them in sometime after swim team is over, around 9:00 p.m.

Betty is laying about every other day, which is nice. Zelda gives me nada. Lulu is seriously slacking as well. Their former hen mother said to give her a call if they aren't laying by two weeks, which is Friday. My God all the work to make them mine; I can't just swap them out. I have faith they will lay eggs, after all, that is their purpose and my home is as good a place as any to do it.  Still, kinda disappointing.

Betty runs to me at full speed when I come outside and I snuggle her regularly. She is an awesome hen and I'm glad that the Dominique was swapped out, because Betty Two rocks.  I can occasionally snag Lulu. She feigns the role of escape artist, but isn't in a huge hurry. She knows she is ok, even if I catch her and she doesn't squirm a bit once I have her in snuggle position.

Zelda is my wild girl. Never touched her, which means no clipped wings and no snuggles, and I bet she doesn't hang out long, if I ever catch her.

They fight over the big bugs and I was surprised to see Zelda win in a war over a tomato worm. They are happy, but I just wish they could eat mosquitoes!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tiny Eggs

After talking to the guys at Buck Moore, I think I got two Barren Rock hens eggs yesterday and today. They are tiny. No go on the two other hens, but tonight they put themselves to bed, which is a nice step in the right direction. 

Betty is a very Huang chicken. She eats non stop. She will jam her head through the fencing to get a blade of grass a foot away.  I put out a 20oz jar of food this afternoon and it was 3/4 gone in ten minutes. Working on getting some netting for the run. I bought some, but a friend offered a roll, so I'll gladly use that.

Anxious to let them roam, but I need help clipping their wings. That is not a one person job.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Morning! Day Two in Henville

So this morning is hot. Dang, I always forget how incredibly hot and sticky Austin can be and it is indeed this weekend. The girls were waiting at their coop door at 6:15 am.  I intended to sleep in, but woke at 5:00 am. Lord!

I got them fresh food, water and went on a snail hunt, which brings me great joy! Their nice sharp beaks have no trouble devouring these abundant, slimy suckers.

Off to the Blanco Lavender Festival today, so the girls are hanging alone. I have to admit it gets pretty hot for a few hours around noon on their side of the house, but they will be fine.

I forgot to mention that I am counting on some eggs today.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meet the New Betty

Meet the new Betty.  She is a Barred Rock and pretty frisky. I liked the calmer Dominique, but this hen will be a nice addition to our family.  The hen lady who did the exchange also brought us a dozen eggs and some good feed to say thanks.

Bon Voyage Betty

It appears that the woman I purchased these birds from gave me the wrong bird. Meaning that the Dominique (black and grey) is a show bird that she breeds and accidentally scooped up yesterday in her rush to meet me. She offered to bring me an additional hen, but I simply don't have room for four. I don't need that many eggs either and I don't want to buy that much feed. 

She is coming today to swap her out for a eight month old Barred Rock, which is supposed to lay some 50 eggs more per year. Kinda sad though, we had pretty much settled on Betty for her name.

Hens Penned

On the advice of lots of folks at the forum, I decided to build a mini-pen and cover it with a tarp to 1) shade and protect from rain and 2) keep them from flying away.

They spent the majority of the morning happily in their coop and it is plain to see they don't know what the heck is going on or why they are here. So, strategy is to keep them in their smaller pen space for awhile, a week maybe, and give them time to adjust and keep them safe. 

Then, we'll clip one of their wings and give them space to roam in their larger pen. But free ranging may be sometime down the road. I still may need to get some kind of fruit tree netting to keep them out of the neighborhood airspace, but we'll cross that road later.

Next, serious coop repairs...

Friday, June 11, 2010

These hens are WILD!

So, this evening was trying. Here is my plea for advice from members of

New hens (6 months); totally lost!

I just brought home three new hens. My other two hens died after a nice long life and I thought getting new hens would be easy (please stop laughing).

First of all, my other hens were adopted at about age two or three, so they were calm, tame and very spoiled girls. These new girls are WILD. I have one Ameraucana, one Dominique and one Buff Orpington, all from the same flock. They are about 6 months old and I thought that I could just drop them in to my pen and they'd settle in nicely.
Catching them tonight to put in the coop was a bloody nightmare. Mainly because of the mosquitoes attacking my husband and I while were tried to catch them, so question #1 is: Will they get to know that this is their coop and go in nicely...ever?

Also, they FLY. My other birds never flew anywhere more than 2 feet. I saw some other posts about using netting for fruit trees and clipping one of their wings, but can you train them to behave? Question 2: Do they calm down? Can you train a chicken? Any advice to get them on the road to chiilin' chickens?

Really ANY kind words are appreciated and any advice to get us through this transition to their new urban home would be helpful. I'm not ready to cry yet, but I wasn't at all prepared for these crazy teenagers!

Thanks warmly,


We have a new family and I'm scared to death

So, we were really lucky to welcome extremely well behaved hens to our home when we adopted sweet Myrtle and Hazel, but I brought home our new girls just hours ago and things are a bit different.

The Ameraucana is beautiful, but so wild looking. We are going to work on names this weekend. The Dominique seems really timid and I think Betty might end up being her name. My daughter asked for the names from the Flintstone's, thinking they would be old fashioned and Betty seemed to just fit the Dominique. She is quite beautiful.

Our Buff is skittish and so lovely. She completely freaked out when Max, the sweet retriever, stopped by the gate for a gander. He was oblivious to the girls, but I think they will take their time getting to know him.

I tried to build a new door for our coop yesterday, but the isosceles triangle measurements and angles for cuts got me re-questioning my spatial reasoning. I actually think I got it right, but am afraid to make the circular saw cuts without my husband's confirmation. I just require a second opinion about most things involving math, as hard lessons have taught me to seek them.  I remember a time I tried to cut some fabric to make a dress for my toddler without drawing a pattern, measuring or even ironing the fabric. What was I thinking? I totally just started cutting and ruined a beautiful piece of white linen.

Waiting for my hubby and daughter to get home. I am obsessed and petrified, but really looking forward to making the girls feel at home. Go egg layers!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Starting a new family

Friday I am picking up three new hens. An Ameraucana that lays blue eggs, a Dominique hen and a Buff Orpington. They are six to seven months old and laying regularly. I have some work to do on their coop; fixing the door, cutting the branch I want to use as a roost, add fluff to the nest. Also want to get some feed that is pellet vs. the crumble, which is a HUGE mess and attracts so many pigeons, I'm not sure the chickens ever get to eat. I hope they'll eat the pellet, along with the scratch I have on hand already.

I'm really excited. I've missed having hen fresh eggs and can't wait to use my yummy garden veggies to make some quiche and fritattas. Also looking forward to the different variety. Hope they get along and become one with our family unit. Nervous, but happy to pull the trigger and finally commit to getting birds.