Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chick Time

We like to spend quality time, "chick time", with the girls. Today we let them free range and hang out with us in the yard. They quickly made their way out of the coop and made a bee line for the weeds. Lucky for us!
Shawn and Saffron talked about chick stuff. However, Blackberry is sweet on Shawn and comes to him every time. Very sweet.
Saffron has new feathers coming in on her head. She is the biggest girl in the bunch.
Blackberry has pretty brownish-red feathers around her head. Her comb is coming in nicely.

Mei is the prettiest chick, in my humble opinion. She has a lovely blend of red, brown and black feathers with different designs and textures. Her comb is just now coming in and looks a little rough.
Satsuki is mostly black and looks more like Blackberry than Mei. Her head feathers are coming in slowly. She let me cuddle her for a bit today.

We handle the girls as much as possible so that they will remain friendly and they really like it. They are very social animals, just like us.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yard Birds

It's official, the Midtown Chicks are yard birds. They moved into the coop today. We have only checked on them 10 times in last two hours and have been out tonight twice with a flashlight. They are happy and roosting.
We wrestled with attaching the last of the chicken wire and put down some fresh hay. We need to get them large size food and water containers but other than that, they are all set.
The girls immediately started running around and flapping their wings, like they knew. It's official! No more blasted blue box.
Well, I need to go. Gotta go get my flashlight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dirty Birds

So the girls have discovered dust baths. According to our new eggcellent resource, Keeping Chickens by Ashley English, dust baths are essential. The baths clog the pores of parasites that prey on chickens, serving as a natural insecticide.
I managed to capture Saffron bathing. If you don't know what they are doing, it can look like they are having a fit or something.

Grayson spent some quality time with the girls this afternoon.
Like the birds, he is growing like a weed! And we are very glad that he is interested in chicken tending. Urban farmer in the making.

P.S. You can check out more from Ashley English here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Birds of a Feather

The Midtown Chicks had a nice afternoon together in the yard. While I planted potatoes, the girls explored, always staying close to the coop.
Saffron is really starting to plump up. Satsuki is slowly losing her baby fuzz. Mei is going to be a red head and her feathers are starting to come in on her head and neck. Blackberry is still lean and has strips of naked skin where the feathers haven't come in yet, she looks funny.
From left to right: Saffron, Satsuki, Mei and Blackberry.

Gray placed them on the perch for some pretty pics. They were quite content, even dosing off now and then. Chickens really are social animals.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Growing Like Weeds

I left town for two days to hang out with my Granny in Paris. Don't get too excited- Paris, TN. We shopped, saw the sites and ate really unhealthy food. But we had a blast and I am back, detoxing after my fried food/sweat tea overload.

The girls look like Shawn slipped them some Miracle Grow while I was gone. I barely recognized Saffron. It seems like only yesterday that she was just a little peep. Oh wait, it was just three weeks ago. Wow, chicks grow really fast!
Blackberry and Saffron are getting their combs. Blackberry was too busy scratching and pecking to pose for a pretty picture. But its easy to see, she is a big girl now.
As always, Satsuki and Mei stuck together to explore, chirp and peck. They are still my lil dumplins, but not for long.
They are all developing into beautiful young ladies and are ready to escape the big blue box that is their temporary home.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vintage Chicks

The spring edition of Edible Memphis just arrived. There is an excellent article on victory gardens, a grassroots gardening movement during WWII.

Ironically, Shawn and I recently ordered two prints from the Victory Gardens of Tomorrow. We love the vintage style and themes. 

I contacted the author of the Edible Memphis article, Stephy Momper. She blogs about all things gardening and plants. We chatted about her blog, the artwork and chickens. 

She was kind enough to send me this letter that she found in the Shelby County Library archives while during her research.

What a cool piece of history! Thanks Stephy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Christening the Coop

Today while I cleaned out the brooder, I let the girls stretch their legs and check out their new coop. We will put the chicken wire on this week, but until then its a great place to let the girls explore. They loved it!
While Saffron, Satsuki and Blackberry explored the second floor, Mei was very content scratching and pecking below. They are new to scratching and its pretty cute to watch.

They also liked checking out their fancy new perch and practiced their flying/flapping skills to get on the ground. They also left a few gifts behind to christen the new place!

Everyone's primary feathers are really starting to come in, along with their tail feathers. Most of their baby fuzz is gone. They change before our eyes everyday, its amazing.
Saffron's changes are the most noticeable and she is very proud of her new feathers. She was showing off for Shawn. Her colors are much darker now, just beautiful.

Top three questions we get asked about our new adventure:
1. Do you have to have a rooster to have eggs? No, not unless you want little chicks in those eggs. Roosters are only needed to fertilize the eggs. Each hen is different, but most lay one egg every one to two days.
2. Is it legal in Memphis to have chickens? Yes, Part I, Ch. 5, Art. I, Sec. 5-3 of the City Code states"No prohibition on keeping chickens in the city; chickens can't roam at large." The key is making sure that your neighbors support your egg-venture.
3. When will they start laying eggs? Most hens will start to lay at 5 to 6 months of age. We hope we will have eggs in July/August.                                                                                                            

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day in the Sun

While I finished painting their new digs, the chicks were treated to some time in the sun. The final step will be re-attaching the chicken wire.

Shawn and Grayson tended the flock, who enjoyed scratching and pecking, flapping their wings and exploring the back yard.

We have had the girls for a little over a week and its amazing how much they change day to day. Their feathers are really starting to come in and they are much taller. Saffron's ears are very visible. Blackberry's feet are huge. Satsuki and Mei are catching up in the tail feather department.

They will enjoy being outside full time in a few weeks. We have to wait until we have 80 degree weather consistently.

Until then, they are still our little chicks and still enjoy being near us.

And telling us little chickie secrets.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

$10 Coop

A very gracious family, the Cowans, gave us a coop they were no longer using. My sweet dad helped us haul it home from Millington in the back of his truck, which was way too short but he rigged it up and we made it to midtown! My dad is an eggcellent carpenter and an even better scavenger, fixer-upper.

This coop was the PERFECT father-daughter project. 


We stripped it down, tore it apart and built it back up stronger, straighter and sturdier. We reinforced, nailed, sawed, leveled, squared, cut, re-cut and plumbed.

The only pieces we actually spent money on were the 10 foot 2 by 4's for the bottom of the frame. So one hand-me-down coop, 2 days of hard work and $10 dollars later, we are very happy with the new and improved coop.

We added two doors on the back for egg gathering and coop cleaning. Using found shingles from the basement, we covered the roof.We enclosed the top shelf and installed 4 laying boxes. Reusing wood from the original structure, dad make slats for the bottom shelf where the girls can hang out and two ramps for them to enter from the ground and from the second floor to the top.



Tomorrow, Shawn and I will get it all painted and recover it with chicken wire. Pretty soon, the girls will be ready for their new home!

I can't forget to thank our fearless companion and assistant, Madison. Without her, well, without her things would have turned out exactly the same way. But she provided some comic relief.

Thank you dad for taking two days of vacation to make all of this possible, for your endless knowledge of carpentry, for your undying patience, for teaching me new skills and for having all the right tools. I am so glad you are my dad. Love you, Wiss.