Oh…have I been neglectful? Yeah. But here’s a super-long post to make up for it.

Okay, so, as I predicted in the beginning, I figured I’d be really gung-ho at updating for a while then get really bad at updating. This has, unsurprisingly, come true. I tried to start an instagram thingy, but I didn’t succeed. So, now I’ll try to update with several things that have happened over the past month…oh, jeez…the last two months:

IMG_9370.jpgOoh…a little pond with a little island for us to destroy and/or poop on!

Since hubby built that, the chickens have successfully dumped more dirt in the little pond than would ever be expected. But, we’ve also grown some giant goldfish. Hope to get pics.

Not chicken related, but, damn, that’s a cute doggie (Shout out to my parents’ Westie Bridget):IMG_9394.jpg

 

Pics of alternate chicken diapers that were also unsuccessful:5F0A30E3-693A-4C69-87F5-61DF49F9A979.jpg

 

Learning that the chickens prefer roosting to coop (surprisingly, this is a night picture, but our garage security light was that bright):IMG_9401.jpg

 

What the…what the…what the hell is that?? Some kind of gross shell-less alien egg bits! Ewwwwwwww. So, there it is.IMG_9411.jpgOh, and, apparently it’s Mardi Gras! (per the napkin)

 

Oh, yeah…brought Comet inside for the first time. She seemed like she needed a bath. IMG_9413.jpg

She was not as cool with the cats as Buffy was. Ah…Buffy…I miss you. I hope your caretakers are doing right by you.IMG_9420.jpg

 

 

Awww…look…Jeff has made a chicken planter!IMG_9467.jpg

 

Chicken vs Shrimp:IMG_9485.jpgChicken wins. Of course.

 

What the heck, why do you get the shrimp?IMG_9486.jpg

 

Night Laser Chickens!IMG_9490.jpg

 

Earlier promised pics of pond goldfish that started out half-pinky sized and are now koi-ish:IMG_9511.jpg

 

MMMM…dirt bath!IMG_9526.jpg

 

Double dirt bath!IMG_9535.jpg

 

AND, In Conclusion: The Awesome Tiki Chickens!!!!IMG_9550.jpg

Semi break in the action

So many things have been going on from a yard and chicken perspective, that I certainly owe a post.

First…the semi break…not a full break, but interesting sorta broken chicken egg. Comet went through a phase of weird eggs.

The first one is a soft shell. She squirted it out but there wasn’t enough calcium in the shell to keep it intact, so we had weird rubbery shell and yolk and white pooped out into the yard. The second two pics are one egg that came out scratched and crackly. The pic just shows the unsmooth edge of where I figure it was a little soft coming out of the cloaca..seems like there must be some twisting/corkscrewing as it comes out. The last one was just so long and skinny compared with the rest of the eggs.

For the first month or so, I was in awe of how uniform all of the eggs came out. Now I’m in awe of their diversity.

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 🙂