Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Case of Spring Fever

Apparently I am not the only one affected by spring fever. My oldest, married daughter who lives in Boise, Idaho has started her garden seeds in her house even though the last frost date for Idaho isn't until May. The seedlings have already grown to the point of having to be transplanted. I think she is going to have a jungle in her house before she gets a chance to plant them. She also e-mailed a picture to me this morning of snow in her front yard. I advised her that if she were to get chicks she would want to do so as soon as possible in order to get eggs before the darkness of winter set in again and cut into egg production. Apparently for her that translated into gardening as well. So wanting to join in the fun she has had her husband build her a portable chicken coup, much smaller than mine and just the right size for three chickens. This is a perfect size for anyone wanting to keep a few chickens in a small back yard. City chickens are becoming very popular. I read an article not too long ago about someone in San Francisco that had a small flock. Check your zoning laws and you may be surprised. Lots of cities allow a few hens (not roosters usually) in towns such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Boise Idaho. This coup is not quite finished. It will have a trap door in the floor with a ramp that the birds can walk down. The underside of the coup will be enclosed with chicken wire, have a detachable run and has handles on the coup like a stretcher so they can move it around the yard for the purpose of grazing the birds and fertilizing the yard or garden. The inside has a perch as of the posting of this blog and she tells me that her three chicks (older than mine by two weeks) like to sit there and look out the window. Can you say CHICKEN CONDO anyone?

Speaking of my chicks, I seem to have inherited 2 more since my last post. A friend of a friend of my youngest teen ended up with two chicks from the feed store (you know the routine. "oh mom they're so cute") and then didn't know what to do with them. I now have two Dominiques which is fine since they are a rare breed and I don't have any of them. They seem to have integrated nicely with the older, larger chicks. They are even joining in the chicken games. Yes I said games. Chicks are like any other baby. They get bored. They play and they make up games. The favorite one seems to be "Lets fly across the box and smack into the wall" game. Another is fly across the box, knock over a few fellow nursery mates, and land in front of the one that is a suspected rooster. Then both jump up and down in front of each other in a faux cock fight. They both walk away to find another game. How about king of the perch? Chicken version of king of the mountain. Eventually, overcome with exhaustion and the warmth of the brooder lamp they take a little power nap falling asleep on their faces into the chips in the bottom of the box. More siblings pile on making a fuzzy pile or spreading tiny winglets out to catch the rays from the lamp looking almost dead but happy. Here is one pix of  my "teen age" chicks. Who said chickens were stupid. These are all faces of intelligent chickens.

As much fun as it is being a surrogate chicken mom, I am looking forward to these chicks, once grown, raising their own families. Most chickens have that instinct bred out of them but I know from experience that the bantams are ferocious mothers and will raise anything they can get their butts on. It is a whole different experience and one worth doing.

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