Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Chicken Whisperers and the Renters

The Chicken Girls are warming up to us. The Red Girls are still the only ones to allow us to pick them up, but now if we sit on the steps, all of the girls come over and line up for a turn to jump on our back and shoulders. The Red Girls created this little game, but the SLWs are coming as far as climbing the steps to see what's going on. I can see why they say that chickens get along well with children—because they are a lot like little children themselves.

The good news is that we have someone to rent the house in NJ. The bad news is that they aren't the perfect little family that we thought they were. Instead of the happy young couple with young girl and puppy, they are that, plus mother and brother of the young mom. All of the complaints we had from buyers about our house said it was too small, and now we are getting 5 people and a big dog in our house with one shower.

All I can say is: not my problem. They love the house and want to take care of the lawn, something we need them to do.

So now we have to get ready to get all of our stuff out by June 30. If you don't see too many posts in June, you'll know why!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wheels are turning and Willie's in the window

We had an Open House on May 15 at the NJ house. Only 2 people showed up, and only 1 showed any interest—they might want to rent. They seem to be the perfect family—mom, dad, little girl and adorable puppy—but we still haven't heard any results from the credit check.

Either way, the wheels are turning, and we are going to FINALLY move all of our furniture and stuff up here to the new house. The realtor seems to think that the house will show just as well without furniture, so even if the renters don't work out, we are going through with the move. We've been here in NY almost a year now, getting by with our stunt furniture. It will be a whole new house all over again when we can finally make it OURS.

I am waiting to hear back from the mover about when he can schedule us in June. I have some concerns about being able to pack all the boxes up before that date, but I do work better when I have a clear deadline. The closets are all pretty much cleared out, and most of the kitchen cabinets are cleared, but the attic closet and basement have become the hiding places for all of the "clutter" that I tried to hide when "staging" the house.

It will feel SOOOO good to finally get this over with. Even if we aren't selling our house, we won't be giving it away for nothing, and we will be getting some income to cover the bills. This next month should be very interesting!

That's Willie in the window waiting for the sofa to replace the Adirondack chair that has been a crucial part of our living room furniture for all this time.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken girls doing well

Just as I am thinking of moving them into a new coop, the girls are settling into the Chicken Shack as their new home. They seem happy enough, and every day they find new places in there to hang out.

Today when I came in, the Silver Laced girls were on top of the wooden box, watching out the window. I captured 3 of the 4 in the photo before they ran off. The Red Girls almost always greet me at the door, so I never know exactly where they are hanging out when I am not there.

I do know that they are still all sleeping together in the little plastic garden wagon. The amount of manure in there every morning makes it clear where they are spending the night. And even though I would like them to spend more quality time (pooping time!) outside, they seem to prefer the Chicken Shack, even when it isn't raining.

I am thinking of moving the girls closer to the house, and making the Chicken Shack into the Goat Shack (for the soon-to-be incoming goat kids). I think they would be safer there, and I would get to watch them from the house. If we build a new coop under the overhang on the garage, the garage itself would act as insulation from the wind. For now, the Chicken Shack is perfect, but unless we spend some time (and money) fixing the back door, and maybe putting in a chicken-size "pop door", they are in danger of predators finding their way in. When it gets cold, neither of the doors close properly, and the worst one is on the northwest side, which is the windiest and coldest.

It will be a long walk out there for eggs when it gets cold and snowy. Plus, it would probably cost less to build a custom chicken coop onto the garage, than to buy a standard goat shed. Just trying to plan ahead.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grey and green and pink and white

The large photo here shows the same apple trees behind the Lester (above) but from the opposite side. At least that year there was some sunshine in May. We've had grey cloudy skies here for at least the last week. The greens are very green, but the apple trees seem to be saving their blossoms for the sun. The trees are full of pink and white flowers, but they just don't seem to want to open.

When I went out to take these photos, the tree swallows who have a nest in the birdhouse were dive-bombing me, protecting their babies.

And, speaking of babies, Happy Birthday! to my OR Sister in Portland. I am guessing we all spent some time getting bathed in that pink sink, with the Phisohex soap. Little Sister is still living in the house, but the pink sink, and counters, and curtains (and Phisohex) are long gone.

Our chicken girls are doing well so far. They seem to be happy in their new Chicken Shack, and they are getting just a bit braver and checking out the outside in between the raindrops. I bought them some wood shavings for bedding and litter control, and a different kind of feed today.

I found out from Jim that they are only 11 or 12 weeks old. The Red Girls are maybe a week or 2 younger than the SLWs. The original bag of feed that I bought is meant for 18 to 20WO chicks, and it has too much calcium for the youngsters. They don't need it until they lay eggs, as it helps to strengthen the shells.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, May 16, 2011

Segregated hens: the ruffians and the red girls

The silver laced wyandottes (black and white funky chickens) have turned out to be the ruffians, beating up on the smaller red girls. I will have to run out today to buy a second feeder to make sure the red girls get enough to eat.

It is supposed to be cool and rainy all week, and even with the door to the Chicken Shack fully open, the girls are all hanging out inside. They were penned at Jim's place, so I guess that is what they are used to. I think with some sunshine and coaxing from me, they might decide they like it outside.

They were also in separate pens at Jim's. I don't know if that is the reason they segregate themselves here, or if it's because the red girls are smaller, and therefore lower in the pecking order. Whatever the reason, the SLWs are always together, and the red girls are doing their best to avoid them. Red girls are also very friendly and relatively easy to pick up—SLWs are near impossible to capture. This may also change in time.

I hope to eventually remove the fencing outside, but that will have to wait until we introduce Lester and Sophie to the new inhabitants of Lester's Flat. Even though both were raised with a cat in the house, it took a good month before we could give the Kitten Davy freedom without having to worry about him being eaten. If there's a dry spot in the afternoon, I might take L&S out on their leashes and introduce them. It's got to happen sooner or later, and better when they are on a leash.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The chickens have landed!

On a wet and chilly Sunday morning, we went to pick up our 5 chickens from Jim in Maryland, NY. Only Jim had so many chickens, he didn't know what to do, so we took 7 instead. We got 4 silver laced wyandottes, 2 golden comets, and 1 mixed red (the one with the white rear end). They made the trip home in a dog crate, and so far seem pleased with their new surroundings.

We still have some work to do in fixing up the Chicken Shack, and tightening up their fenced yard, but for the most part I think they will adjust. Once they seem comfortable, we hope to take away the fence and let them roam. They are far enough from the road that I think they will stay with us, and close enough to the house that I hope the predators will steer clear.

My new favorite reading material: Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens (which has a photo of my wyandottes on the cover), and Grit's Guide to Backyard Chickens. Those and some free online chicken newsletters should help us figure it all out.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Silver Laced Wyandottes (AKA chickens) coming soon

The Husband has cleared out the yellow shed and prepared it for the arrival of some chickens. Our favorite shed is now going to be a chicken shack (yeah, I know it's called a coop, but this looks like a chicken shack) with a fenced area behind so they can wander a bit until they get used to where they live. There are still some details to work out, like getting water and electricity to the shed, but I think we can make do.

We also need to create some shade for them. You can see in the photo above how sunny it is out there, and the little gingko tree behind the woodpile did not survive the deer dining on its bark 2 years ago.

Predators are going to be our biggest problem. There are all sorts of critters who would love a nice chicken dinner, Lester the Critter Killer being the most immediate threat. We have also seen eagles, hawks, skunks, raccoons and coyotes, and just last week Dave (on a chance visit to The Dump) discovered 4 baby foxes under the trailer. Neither of us has seen a mink or bear, but we've heard enough stories of them being here that they could be a problem as well. And there are far too many stray (meaning hungry) cats in the area, not to mention the snakes and rodents who can steal our eggs.

Jim the Worker (as opposed to Jim the Builder) is going to sell us (or maybe give us) some older chicks, all hens. He has just the kind I want—Silver Laced Wyandottes. You can see in this borrowed photo that they are very pretty chickens, which would be enough for me, but they are also good layers and supposedly winter well in the frozen North Country. We are going to get 3 of them, and 2 "mixed reds". If our "starter flock" survives our care through the heat of summer, they will be well seasoned and bold enough to make it through the snowy winter. I hope.

Enhanced by Zemanta