Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Field Trip

While re-potting some seedlings, I thought I would bring the girls out for their first back yard experience. I had a wheelbarrow full of rich earth, full of worms. I put some garden fencing around and put Satsuki and Mei in first.
They were too excited about being out in the open to notice the worms and bugs. They started chirping a new song I haven't heard before, nervous and excited.

Satsuki caught on briefly but they both started to look for a way out of the wheelbarrow. I quickly scooped them up and put them back in the brooder. They must have communicated all of this to the other girls because Saffron immediately made a run for it. So, no cute pictures. But everyone had a worm treat.

Tomorrow, we start on the coop!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tail of Two Roosters

Based on recommendations from others, we installed a dowel rod for the girls to practice their roosting skills. We have been helping them balance for a few seconds at a time. Saffron seemed to be catching on. Then to our surprise...

Blackberry was the first to give it a go on her own. As you can see Saffron is competitive and wants to be in charge.

So it was not too surprising that she would quickly follow suit.

Our in-laws were visiting and were lucky enough to witness this monumentail moment with us! And then in true chick form

they took a little chickie nap.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shake Ya Tail Feather

Today we noticed our little chicks have tail feathers. We are so excited! Tail feathers are the equivalent of a baby's first tooth or babbling "dada" for the first time. Their wings are developing quickly. They are all practice flapping them and sometimes get a little air. We are also watching out for pasting or as my friend calls it, poopy butt. You have to watch for their little bottoms getting pasted over with poop. This can be fatal for little chicks.

 We have also selected the little dumplin's names.

Meet Blackberry. She is very curious, likes to try to fly and has HUGE feet.

Saffron is learning to balance on the practice roost, also tries to fly and has pretty wings.

Satsuki and Mei like to huddle together, have pretty singing voices and are little round plumps. Very cute.

We treated them to a worm found in the garden. They went crazy fighting over it. Next time I will give them four pieces instead of one. They are a joy to watch.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Precious Cargo

Bringing our girls home today reminded me of when we brought home Grayson from the hospital. The other cars drove too fast. Didn't those crazy drivers know that we had baby chicks on board!

This is baby #1 and she is a black star. This is Grayson's favorite and he will choose her name. In the running, Blackberry and Isabella.

This is baby #2, a Rhode Island Red. She is my favorite and I am leaning towards Joanie or Saffron inspired by two of my favorite strong-willed, red-headed, bossy tv characters. She is bigger than the other chicks and likes to boss the others around.

Chicks #3 and #4 are Araucanas. These are Shawn's favorites and he will name them. They are very laid back and fall asleep when you hold them. Their eggs will be blue and green.

They are inseparable, which is too cute. Temporarily called the Twins.

We even introduced the girls to Madison. Chicks are friends, not food!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

DIY Brooder

To house our little chicks, we made a brooder based on some ideas and recommendations from other folks. Using a rubbermaid container and plastic screening, we made a top that will provide good air flow.

We also installed a small dowel rod so the little chickies can practice roosting. Won't that be too cute?!

A work lamp will provide heat and a handy thermometer will make sure they do not get too warm.

We hope to pick up our babies tomorrow.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Where it all started

Over the last year we have been buying food from local farmers. We joined Whitton Farms CSA. We buy more organic foods, especially eggs and milk. We are doing our best to eat well, support local farmers and overall know where our food comes from.

After reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and "Eating Animals" and watching Food, Inc., we became more informed. What we learned was shocking.

-Average product travels 1500 miles to your grocery store
-Transporting food accounts for 30,800 tons of greenhouse emissions every year
-Cancers, autism and neurological disorders are associated with the use of pesticides

-Chickens no longer peck, cows no longer graze, pigs can't root around

99% of the animals raised in the US are from factory farms. These animals are kept in cages, pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and never see the light of day.

Given that the chicken industry is one of the biggest culprits, we purchase regional eggs and the occasional chicken breast from Whole Foods or West Wind Farms. Other than that, we have drastically reduced our chicken consumption. No more Chick-Fil-A for me. That was a hard decision given their new location in Midtown.

So backyard chickens it is!

Shawn has been talking about wanting chickens for years. Until recently I didn't think it was possible in the city. For Christmas, I gave Shawn a copy of "Keep Chickens!" by Barbara Kilarski. It's an excellent overview of chicken tending. All 3 of us have now read it.

When I started talking with friends about our interest in keeping chickens (for eggs, not meat), I was surprised to learn the number of chickens living in Midtown. And yes, it is legal. There is a group of folks working on an updated code for keeping chickens and urban farming in general. If and when that is approved, keeping chickens will be even easier.

We have our neighbors blessing and will keep them happy with eggs. Now we need to build them a nice little home. Next up, the coop!