This week was uneventful chicken-wise, which is the ultimate chicken goal!
According to our weather station, temperatures topped 81°F 3 days in a row. It made the chickens lazy and bolted all the arugula in the garden, sigh, before dipping back to the low 50s.
I put a shallow dish of water near the dustbathing area in case the chicks didn’t realize they need to hydrate. They pant when it’s over 75°F and are more accustomed to freezing temperatures than sunshine. They like to bob for the bugs that get stuck in it.
Most still hop into our laps if we sit in in the chicken yard, with the exception of Cogburn and Popsicle (recently renamed Frida BaKawlo because of the little mustache on her beak). Frida Popsicle (the name change is gradual) is a more private bird. She’ll come up to visit but rarely wants to sit on a lap. Cogburn seems to have a sense of duty that precludes him falling asleep on my lap at the moment, which I respect.
He’s been working on his big-bird vocals, mainly the clucking he started at 10 weeks. Here he is as they settle into the coop after sunset. Not sure if he’s calling everybody up, trying to get the pullets to move so he can take a good roosting spot, or just saying good night.
In the middle of the week, it was time to mow the chicken yard, so I rounded the chicks into the crate and took them across the field to free range while Chris manicured their space.
It was their first time running free outside the fence, ever. I was confident they wouldn’t spread out too far. Not as confident about a stray hound dog or bobcat popping up. But they had a blast.
They still fit in the crate together, but carrying all 7 at once is becoming a heavy-athletics event, so when only 4 ran back to the crate for oats, I decided to carry them back in 2 groups. Cogburn, Donna, and Bebe were still on the grass as I picked up the crate but immediately came running to follow us.
With one hitch: as we reached the end of the shade from the trees on the side of the field, Bebe wouldn’t budge. Cogburn and Donna were at my heels, but we were quickly leaving BeBe behind. She’s the smallest and sweetest, and she shouldn’t be left alone. She was just standing there, stretching her neck toward the sun, watching us leave.
We were 30-40′ away by the time I realized BeBe really wasn’t coming. As I started to turn around, Cogburn and Donna noticed BeBe, too, and sprinted back to her. This was extraordinary to me. It also solved the problem of leaving BeBe alone, so I continued to the yard to release the first 4 back into the fence and trotted back to the trio.
I was able to scoop up BeBe, and Cogburn and Donna followed. Of course, while I walked BeBe through the gate, the other 2 ran straight to the fence closest to where the rest of the flock was foraging. Chickens aren’t great at spatial reasoning. They may never have found their way in. With some patience, I was able to pick each up and place them back in the fence. It’s the first time I’ve picked Cogburn up in a while. He’s substantial.
It wasn’t the smoothest return to the run, but it was educational. Next time, the key will be to lure all the Langshans into the crate. Brave Brahmas will follow anywhere by foot.
Our brooder setup has been disinfected and dried in the sun. At the beginning of week 13, we’ll head to the co-op first thing to try to snag 4 Easter Egger chicks. Hatcheries are having trouble keeping up with demand for chickens this year, so hopefully the co-op does receive the shipment they ordered, and hopefully we’re first in line to pick 4 healthy, different looking baby chicks.