August recap

Yeah, I’ve been a bad blogger lately. Mea culpa and all that usual blah-biddy-blah-blah.

This past month has been BUSY, and although I have my energy back for the most part, I sort of turn into a pumpkin by 10:30 PM these days. If I’m not in bed and asleep by then, I am pretty wiped out the next day. So, no big party nights for me.

The busy-ness that’s been keeping me away hasn’t all been about my job, though. I’ve been to the Michigan Fiber Festival with Adrienne and other members of the Windy City Knitting Guild. I also visited City Farm (a 1.5 acre working farm smack dab in the center of Chicago) during an Urban Farm Field day trip organized through Angelic Organics. And, we completed the new chicken palace.

The new chicken run with the Eglus inside.

The new chicken run with the Eglus inside.

Now, we didn’t actually build the thing. I hired a fencing company to do the building because otherwise it would never have been accomplished. Notice how there are two Eglus inside. The happy hens are in the Eglu to the left and the new chicks are in the Eglu to the right. The hens aren’t so happy with the chicks, though. Integrating these two groups has been a bit stressful for me, as the hens have turned into big thugs whenever I open the Eglu run to let the chicks out. I guess it will take a bit of time to make everyone comfortable together.

The chicks continue their amazing rate of growth. They are nearly the same size as the hens, although their sex characteristics (combs and wattles) are not yet developing. Those won’t start to fill out until they are nearly ready to lay, about 3-4 months from now. Although, I think at least one of the chicks won’t ever lay.

The four chicks.

The four chicks.

From left to right across the front row the “chicklets” are: Speedy, Chickie Lou, and Missy. In the back row is Martha. Martha and Chickie Lou are both Easter Eggers (mutt Ameraucana chickens). This breed has pea combs, so I don’t expect their combs to develop into big, red, crowns like the ones on the happy hens or on the white Delawares.

Chickie Lou and Martha both seem to be developing at about the same rate and are noticeably larger than Speedy and Missy. However, Chickie Lou (the brown one in the center) has taken to crowing lately. Yes, that’s right CROWING. There’s no mistaking the sound. Chickie Lou started making these suspicious crowing-like noises a couple weeks ago (at about 7 weeks old), and now the sounds have become definite crowing. I’m still waiting to see what happens here, though. Considering how closely the development of Martha and Chickie Lou match, it’s possible I have 2 roosters on my hands here. Or, I may just have a hen that makes rooster-like noises. (Yes, that does happen.)

Either way, I’m not going to make any rash decisions and will see how the flock develops. I’m not adverse to keeping a rooster, as long as it is not mean and not really, really noisy. I understand that not all roosters are extremely loud and obnoxious.

As for the chicken palace itself, I’m pleased with how it turned out. It’s a bit tighter in there than I’d like with both Eglus inside, but it does the job: the chickens and dogs are safely separated; it provides an additional barrier against the typical predators in this area; and, it allows the chickens a bit more room to stretch their wings while keeping them out of the garden.

The garden has been doing very well this year, and I’ve been challenged to keep up with it. The harvests of eggplants, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, summer squash, and chard have been amazing. I had to rip out the summer squash early due to squash vine borer, and the cucumbers seemed to get a bit bothered by cucumber beetles or the virus they spread. At least the hens REALLY liked the squash vine borer larvae. See, there’s a silver lining after all: no more squash, but lots of tasty eggs.

A “cheep” thrill

Meet the newest members of our little family.

The yellow chicks are a breed called Delawares, and the patterned ones are Ameraucanas. Delawares are on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy‘s critical list. They are supposed to be very good winter layers. Ameraucanas are also referred to as “Easter Eggers;” the eggs they lay have shells that are tinted blue or green.

I ordered these chicks from Meyer Hatchery in Ohio, which is one of the few hatcheries that has a small order program. Most hatcheries require a minimum order of about 25 chicks. That’s waaayyy too many for my little urban hennery, so I’m very glad that Meyer has this option available.

It is possible to order small numbers of pullets (“teenaged hens”) from most hatcheries, however the selection of breeds is you can get as pullets is very limited. My current 3 hens came to me as pullets, and while they are fine ladies, I wanted to try some different breeds this time. Hence my search for a hatchery that would allow me to order a small number of chicks.

The chicks are growing really fast. Every day they look a little bit larger and a little bit more feathered out. And they are starting to show their personalities, too. One of them required a bit more of my time because she started “pasting up.” This is something that can happen to young chicks and needs to be taken care of right away. Pasting up is basically a euphemism for “getting plugged up with poo.” The way to fix this is to carefully clear away the dried droppings from the vent area, and monitor them to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I never would have imagined that I would be wiping chicken butts at some point in my life.

Anyway, I’ve taken to calling the gal that needed this special attention “Miss Poopy-Butt.” I think I may shorten that to Miss PB, or just plain ‘ol Missy when she gets bigger.

Between these little gals, the garden, work, and general life stuff, I’ve been pretty busy lately. Good thing I’m starting to get some of my energy back!