Saturday, April 3, 2021

Covid Chicken Crazy

Custom 'Chicken Ritz' by Peter Karsten
My 3 older hens have been moved back to the garden with their portable Chicken Emporium. They will spend time on each raised garden bed, digging and foraging for all the delicious bugs emerging in the Spring soil before I plant the vegetable garden.

I have really enjoyed the hens being near the house this winter. They are now more comfortable with me and come running when I go outside, so adorable!! I have discovered dry, Black Soldier Fly Larvae that are high calcium and desirable treats for backyard chickens. Two of the older hens now eat these special treats from my hand!

I had a larger, custom hen house built by Peter Karsten, he named it the 'Chicken Ritz'. This gives the hens much more floor space than the tiny portable house used in the garden. 

New  paint job!
It is a permanent structure in the yard, near the house for the summer and winter when the hens are not working in the garden. More floor space gives me the opportunity to get a few more hens that lay different colored eggs... I'm a bit obsessed with color and the Ameraucana blue eggs in the fridge make me soooo happy!! I want to add 3 more hens, one of each; an Olive Egger (olive green egg shell), a Black Copper Maran (dark chocolate brown egg shell) and a Barred Rock (pale pink egg shell). The color of the egg shell does not impact what the egg looks or tastes like inside ... an egg is an egg, but it sure is fun seeing an Easter basket of naturally colored eggs every day in the fridge!

Olive Egger chicks at 1 week
In February I got 4 Olive Egger chicks at 3 days old, in hopes that there will be one hen. The problem with straight run (unsexed) chicks is that more than half will be roosters. At 4 weeks it looks like I have 3 hens and one rooster! Of course they all have names... in the 1 week photo; back left is 'Sylvester', back right is 'Two Step', front center is 'Dr. Bonnie' and far right is 'Peeps'. It will be difficult to select the one that I  keep and hopefully re-home the other three.

'Peeps' at 4 weeks
By 4 weeks they were happy, messy chicks! 

They love a hanging broccoli crown (tether ball style), or a few leaves of romaine lettuce or garden kale in their cage. As a team they aggressively devour it in no time. They have a small sand box for dust bathing and I give up trying to keep their area clean. I remove the mess and put in clean bedding, sand and feed, soon as those little chicken feet reach all that clean, they are scratching it everywhere ... not to mention the poop that goes along with all the food consumption!!

Escapees!! Peeps, Two Step and Sylvester at 5 weeks
They are quickly losing their fluff and feathers are now growing on top of their heads leaving just a little halo ring of fluff. I have had to put a cover on their cage because they have been flying for about two weeks now and I found Sylvester out of the cage, on the cold floor.

At 5 weeks they are aggressive with food and treats and fly on top of the cage at every opportunity. I turned by back to fill the feeder, only to find 3 of them sitting on top of the enclosure! It seems their tails have grown overnight and Sylvester has feathers completely covering his outer legs and now has feathers growing out of his center toes. His little red comb looks like a tiny jagged saw blade. So I am quite sure there are 3 girls and 1 boy in my Olive Egger brood.

In a few more weeks ... or once they are fully feathered and no longer using the infrared brooder light, they will get moved into the Chicken Ritz and kept inside for a while to acclimatize to new surroundings. 

This is the other side of the Ritz, with a double nest box and lid to collect eggs from outside of the house. And yes, that is a 'chicken window' in the door! I was surprised to find Peter had added this adorable feature. The house is raised 20" off the ground on 8" square cedar posts. This allows the birds to be outside but still sheltered from our 'Wet Coast' weather. It also gives them a place to dust bath. We are working on the chicken yard when the weather is dry. With rain today I finally had a minute to sit at the computer to send news of the chicks just in time for Easter!

Until next time ... Happy Easter, Bon App├ętit  ...stay healthy, be safe, wear a mask and take good care!

Photos by Sally Rae
Chicken Ritz design and construction by Peter Karsten 
Chicken Ritz paint job by Sally Rae

4 comments:

  1. That chicken house is so cute!

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    1. Thanks, cute for sure!! I doubt the chicks care what it looks like... but I do!!

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  2. Lucky chickens. I bet they can't wait to get into their new "Ritz."

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  3. Ha, ha... I can't wait to get them out of my bathroom and into the new Ritz!! They will love the extra space and new heights to fly!

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