Welcome, Pip

So, yesterday was a very exciting day for us, what with my broody Abby finally becoming a momma.   One of her two eggs has hatched.  The other… well, I’m waiting a couple more days, but I strongly believe nothing is going to happen with the other egg.

But while we’re waiting to see, the new little chick is finding his way into our hearts.  We’ve even given him a name, or a nickname rather.  Pip, short for Pipsqueak.

I give you Pip...
I give you Pip, the Cute and Fluffy.


Pip has ‘tow-head blond’ feathers with brown on his back, a yellow beak and feet.  He is very small, hence the name Pipsqueak.

Yesterday, we made it to about Noon and then Pip jumped out of the laying box and Abby jumped down with her, and basically picked out a spot under the floor to nest in, so DH moved the other egg under her and I decided that might not be safest.

So, I got a cardboard box and made them a special nest.

I started with a large box and put saw dust in one half, covered that with wood shavings, and and straw on top for the nest.
I started with a large box and put saw dust in one half, covered that with wood shavings, and and straw on top for the nest.
Then I put a log up against it for support, and placed a a small (chick sized) waterer and feeder on the other side.
Then I put a log up against it for support, and placed a a small (chick sized) waterer and feeder on the other side.
Abby seems to like it.  :-)
Abby seems to like it. 🙂

This morning, I brought Abby down a small cup of scrambled eggs because I’m not sure if she will even attempt to move from the nest until the fate of the other egg has been determined.

She shared some with Pip.

I think this is going to be the most exciting part of this adventure — watching Abby interact with Pip and teach him about the world.  She is a very loving mother and it’s cute watching them communicate.  Pip snuggles up to her and talks to her in little peeping chirps.  And he’s such a happy little baby.

A feed question

As I mentioned Saturday, my sexlinks are at 17 weeks old. My RiRs are just behind them at 13.75 (Wednesday, they will be 14 weeks).

I have 16 hens and 9 Roosters, for total of 25 birds. 4 are at the 17 week mark, and 3 of those are hens.

I’ve been been feeding my chickens DuMor feed. Starter with the chick starter, and now they are all eating finisher/grower. The chart on the back of the bag says that at 18 weeks, I can start feeding my hens the layer feed.

But I have questions, the biggest one being, can I feed the layer feed to EVERYONE?

My RiRs aren’t 18 weeks yet and won’t be for another 4 weeks.

The roosters don’t lay eggs.

I don’t have them separated and they all share feeders/waters (3 feeders, 2 waters), plus they all free ranger in the barnyard and pasture right now, on top of that.

I am wondering if I should start buying layer feed for the older girls and just place it out there, not knowing who will eat it, or simply stick with the finisher/grower and supplement with oyster shells?

Or is there a better way I don’t know?

7.5 Weeks and Counting

7 and a half weeks.  We love our run, chasing bugs, and 'cucumber bites.'
7 and a half weeks. We love our run, chasing bugs, and ‘cucumber bites.’

Well, I wasn’t sure if I was going to post this because I was late with it (again) but then I decided ‘why not.’

Here are my chicks at 7 1/2 weeks.

They’ve been enjoying their run for the last two weeks.  Playing in the grass, chasing bugs, and pecking around in the dirt.  They even like going out in the rain, which is good because it’s all we’ve had for three days now.  Today was the first sun we’ve seen in a while.

I’ve finally got the old tire for the dirt bath, but no dirt in it yet.  That will be this weekend’s project.

The other project, or should I say, DH’s project, is going to be fixing up the coop a little more before we attempt moving the Reds into it.  He needs to split it off, into two separate parts.

At the same time, I’d like to try something new with our bedding arrangements.   Currently, I’m using a combination of pine shavings and straw.  The pine on the floor and the straw in the layer boxes.  The chickens pull the straw down so it’s on the floor anyway.

However, it’s time consuming to clean the straw out of the beds when it’s dirty and given that there’s twenty of them, it’s hard to keep it clean.  I constantly ask myself how often I should be cleaning it out?  How much should I use?  Am I spending too much?

A friend of my father’s raises chickens and he used sawdust.  He puts it on the floor of his coop, about 3 or 4 inches deep, and also in the laying boxes.  Then, he uses a cat scoop to clean out the clumps where they poop, about every couple of days, according to him.   He told Dad that he changes the sawdust maybe once a year.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  What type of bedding do you use in your coops?


My ‘Littles’ are Not So Little Anymore

Rhode Island Red chicks, age 4 Weeks.
Rhode Island Red chicks, age 4 Weeks.

Rhode Island Red chicks, age 4 Weeks.

My ‘Littles’ (as I’ve been calling the Rhode Island Red chicks) are not so little anymore.

As you can see, they are losing their baby down.

They love to jump and fly and right now, it’s a challenge to feed them or clean out the brooder.  They jump out and sit on the edge of the box, watching me work.  A couple of them have jumped down and run around the barn.

It’s time to get them out of the box and into a bigger coop.

The trouble with that is we don’t have an empty coop, just the one that my Golds are in right now.  And they are a little over 2x the size of the chicks.

DH’s plan (since he can’t build a coop in so short a time) is to split our coop in two separate sections with chicken wire and put the Reds into their own half.  It’s not ideal, but the two flocks will be able to see each other and, hopefully, get used to each other.  We’ll keep them separate for a couple of weeks, or until the Reds show signs of getting bigger, then make an attempt at integrating them, sans chicken wire.

Bud (our special needs chick) is no longer ‘Bud.’  That is to say, I cannot tell which chick he is.  He  no longer holds his neck at that little tilt, no longer runs in circles, and he doesn’t respond when I talk to him (any more than the others do, I mean.)  He’s just… one of the guys now.  And I’m glad of that, because that’s exactly what he needed to be.

If you’re interested, I posted a photo dump yesterday, with some of the highlights of the last two weeks with my chickens.


A little remodeling

Yesterday, my mother and I went grocery shopping and while we were out, I picked up a couple of bird toys for the chicks.  We hung them, and as predicted, the first reaction was ‘omg!whatisthis!’ and a stampede to the other side of the brooder.

When I came back later in the afternoon with Little Dude, however, a couple of them had gotten brave enough to approach one of the toys and ring the bell.  Then another.  It’s fun to watch them being brave and exploring new ideas.

Later that night, I showed DH and he basically thought I was spoiling the chicks, but he also decided to ‘fix’ my perch a little bit.  So it got a bit of a rehab.

“New’ perch and toys, courtesy of DH and myself.
They acted like the perch was a barrier and lined up on one side of it to stare at the toy with the balls.

At breakfast this morning, they were lined up on one side of the re-designed perch, staring at the other side like it was a barrier they couldn’t cross.  Then one of them hopped up on the perch.  Then to the other side.  A couple others followed suit.  Some of the smaller ones can fit under the perch like a limbo pole.  A few more rang the bell.  It’s cute.  They peck the bell, it makes noise and they scurry like crazy to the other side.

But at least they’re trying it out.  Trying new things.  It’s good for them.

Getting Ready

My husband and I have always planned on coming back to our hometown when he retired from the Navy and buying my parents’ farm.  Talked about it, planned on it, and yes, when he finally retired, we came home to the farm.

Except that it really isn’t much of a farm anymore because my parents sold off the cows years ago, when strenuous farm labor became too hard for both of them all along.  They rented it out for a while, but it’s stood vacant for some time and used mostly for storage.

Since we’ve been back, my husband and I (mostly him) have put in a lot of hard work getting ready for chickens, as well as talk about raising some beef calves to sell.  We haven’t gotten to that part in the game yet, as there are fences to build before cattle can come in.  But the chicken coop came along pretty well as planned.

My father had raised pheasants one winter, releasing them into the wild in the fall.  The coop and starter box, feeders and heat lamps he used where still there.  DH cleaned them up, and tore the old pheasant house down, and then rebuilt it to accommodate chickens.





This is a progress so far.  When our chicks are ready to leave their box & heat lamp, DH will have a door cut into the wall and a ramp, so they can go outside and stretch their wings.

Right now, we’re in the process of debating ‘free range’ versus building them a penned in run.  I don’t want them to get hit in the road running past our farm, but I also don’t want them to get bored and mean because their run is too small. I also don’t feel like having a daily Easter Egg Hunt once the hens start laying.

What do you think, readers, if you are here reading with me?  Free ranger or a run?