Yeah…about those chicken diapers.

Well, I have a little hope of getting the chickens to wear adorable washable diapers. If they will, they could come into the house from time to time, especially when it’s stormy outside. But that little hope is shrinking.

It took some work, looking for the appropriate chicken diaper. 1) the backyard has a bit of a tiki feel, so I’d love a Polynesian pattern. 2) needs to be big enough. I’m still not knowledgeable enough to know if my chickens are medium or big, though I’m guessing from the size of their eggs that they are on the heftier side. But when I ordered the diapers, I was looking at a smaller chicken.

I managed to get it on her. Just barely.

But, clearly, not the approved solution: https://youtu.be/6dxeYg8buTk

So, no chickens in the house. Their poopage is too intense. Maybe I’ll try a bigger diaper, but, just like putting my cats on leashes, I’m fairly sure this isn’t gonna work out.

 

 

Big City Chickens, Big City Problems.

The chickens have been settled into their new run. They should be safe from hawks and maybe even coyotes (maybe/maybe not…but there has been one spotted near the neighborhood recently), but those aren’t City problems. Those are surprising incursions of rural world invading Chicago. Kinda like chickens, I suppose.

Ah, but real city issues. The chickens are getting along well with the sparrows, robins, and the squirrels. Apparently stray cats visit the yard frequently, and that hasn’t caused a problem. Haven’t seen raccoons yet, but it’s just a matter of time. Surprised bunnies haven’t been exploring the area–they are legion in Chicago.

And real city problems:

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Look closely…just above the cob…oh, those beady little eyes. We had been curious as to where the two corncobs had gone that had been put out for the chickens. One ended up on a fence then in the alley behind the house. Only explanation had to be a squirrel. But where did the other go.

Sadly, Jeff had noticed a certain increased amount of scurrying in the backyard. If you live off an alley in Chicago, there will be the occasional mouse or rat. Or maybe more than ‘the occasional’.

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Having read the book “Rats“, I knew that they scurried along walls. And that’s right where we put the run…along a wall. Rodents figured it out pretty quickly. (I also learned from “Rats” that Chicago is one of the few cities with enough bunnies to make them kind of creepy. En masse, I have learned that bunnies, raccoons, deer, and ladybugs can all be pretty scary.)

Then came all of the ethical stuff…Why do I care if there are rats there? Is there a way to move them vs eliminate them (yeah…dead style)? Why are rats ickier than squirrels or rabbits? And I actually haven’t answered all of these questions for myself yet. I know that rats don’t carry as many diseases as we’re afraid of. I might be a little worried that they’ll bite the chickens or take the eggs. Why am I less bothered by the cute little tiny mousies than the big-ol’ fat rats with snake-like tails?

Decisions to be made. (Okay…I’ll admit it…have tried to trap a bit, but they just lick the peanut butter and scarfed down the roast beef bait.)

 

But, but, but…I can’t leave the chickens!

Our plan was just to be gone for a few days. Jeff heading out West and me heading back East. The max time we’d be away from the chickens would be from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday evening, just over 72 hours, and only 2 days without water/food refilling. But we prepped. We prepped big time. Watching a slew of YouTube videos about prepping your coop for being away, buying a feeder and multiple ways to supply water. Sure, most of those folks were leaving for 1-2 weeks, but we needed to be ready!

The first iteration of an enclosed run that would keep the chickens safe from predators (not that we’re even sure there are chicken-killers around here) involved concatenating several dog crates.

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It worked kinda well, except for two things: 1) it was hard to access the eggs and 2) during a rain storm, the chickens managed to get themselves into one outdoor section of the run and one of the trays we were using on top of the run fell between their space and getting back to the coop. Awkward, difficult to move. And pretty ugly.

So, rethinking time. Back to watching bazillions of YouTube videos. Time to break down the dog crates and start fresh. We spent a silly amount of time searching on different kinds of wire mesh, hardware cloth, chicken wire. A-Frame? Quonset hut? Fancy Eglu with run? Well, rather than showing you all the steps, here are a couple of pics of construction.

They get some space to roam, extra shade space, it’s actually moveable, and it keeps them safe from the only predator I’ve actually seen in the neighborhood–a hawk.

We put in little water stations all around the fencing, bought a 5-gallon bird-food holder. And we left. They could get out the coop door into the run, but not the doors into the yard.

Returning on Saturday, they seemed okay. They were definitely happy to get let back out into the broader lawn area, but they had left us 3 eggs in the 3 days we were gone. Comet, the less ‘affectionate’ of the two, let me pet and hold her.

Little did we know, we had just created a lovely habitat for another creature, but that’s another story for another day.

Oh, no…the stories aren’t over…

Hiya. I haven’t updated in a few days, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to come. Coming up…

–How to prep the chickens for a people-less week

–Big city chickens, big city chicken problems

–Jezum crow…these are some big eggs

–Chicken-leaving guilt

–Wait! There’s more than one egg in here!

–Meditation, Mindfulness and Chickens.

–The Chickens and the Robins should be friends. And the Sparrows. And the Juncos. But not the Hawks.

So, be blabbing at you soon 🙂

Bedragled

What can the chickens tolerate and what might kill them? Apparently they thrive in the tropics and hearty through in the frozen north. It took me a while to be comfortable enough to let them stay outside when it was cold, but they seemed nonplussed. Trying to dry them off was only semi-successful. And only with Beaker. Comet would have none of it.

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And, really, that was the only opportunity for chicken drying.

With chickens looking like this, there is serious guilt building.

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And it was a cold, unpleasant rain. I read that if you could feel their skin under the feathers, you ‘d find them to be surprisingly dry, but I still wasn’t convinced. Didn’t have a good way to bring them inside, but the garage is still there. The original home of Buffy. The place Jeff put her in when even he wasn’t tough enough to let her stay out in the snowy snow.

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Two chickens, two cars, one camper trailer in one 1.5 car garage.

Inevitable

What happens when you’ve recently acquired chickens and your birthday is on the horizon? You have made yourself an easy gift buy. What do you give the woman who has everything, including new chickens? Chicken stuff! So, happy birthday to me, and the start of many a chicken gift in the future.fullsizeoutput_3b30Hz%7WFLtSbaC5hw2oTK8BQ