Archive for May, 2009

Chicken Run Fury

Sorry for the pause in blogdom.  Kristen and Becky pointed out my absence and I promised to get this out there.  The last week has been busy with Mom and Dad visiting, play dates four days a week, Memorial weekend parties and potlucks, and trying to put together the chicken run.  

Speaking of the chicken run, it kicked my butt yesterday.  On Sunday, while Adam was at work (he was on call this weekend) and Clara was sleeping, I sunk two posts near the coop and wired all of the sides of the run with kennel wire.  Then I left it when Clara woke up and thought about how I was going to make a gate into it.  I thought that I would just be able to go back on Monday and put the gate up with Adam’s help.  

On Monday morning, with Clara at playschool (can I say I love our playschool days?), Adam helped me to make a gate out of wood, staple wire to it, and hinge it to the coop.  Then we tried to close the gate.  The post it was supposed to attach to was crooked.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just raise the coop in the back about three inches and that will fix it.  No luck.

The next logical thing to try was to take out the post and re-sink it into the ground straight.  So, I unwired all the wire on it, pulled it out, and we re-sledge hammered it down straight.  It was definitly straight when we sunk it.  So, we put the wire back on, trimmed it up, and closed the gate… or didn’t, as the gate still didn’t close.  Damn it!   

At this point I unwired the wire again, while singing a song to myself mostly made up of the F-word to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”  It made me feel better.  A little bit.  Adam of course got paged into work at this point and I was on my own.  I yet again pulled the post out and re-sunk it into the ground straight.  Then I pulled the wire over.  It no longer fit.  I couldn’t stretch it any further because that would cause the post to move, which would cause the gate not to close.  Which was what I was trying to fix.  Arggghhhh!

As tears streamed down my face in frustration, and the “Jingle Bells” song turned into a long stream of just plain cursing, I cut a new section of kennel wire to repair the problem.  I wired it to the section that was too short, attached that to the post and (THANK GOD!) the gate closed!! 

To celebrate, I went and grabbed the girls (Curry, Maize, and Buffalo) and threw them in in run.  They liked it, and pecked around happily for the rest of the afternoon.  This is until Adam mowed the lawn by them, and Maize and Buffalo spooked and flew out the top where I hadn’t quite finished wiring it down.  Oops.  Its still a work in progress, but I think, make that hope, that the hardest part is over.

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Topping our tree

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The biggest excitement of our week?  The men that are up in the tree in our back yard.  It’s pretty thrilling.  They are topping our huge pine tree.  Or re-topping it.  It was topped about 20 years ago and now has grown about 50 feet from there, and there is rot going down the trunk where it was originally topped.  So, since there are definite branches that are going toward our house and our neighbor’s house, we are getting it re-topped.  Its actually been pretty amazing and a huge amount of work for the five men who are spending their day in our backyard and in the tree.  Really impressive work… this is like a day long episode of “Dirty Jobs” live.  Not only is there a guy 100 feet in the air, above our house, but he has a chain saw hanging from his belt, spikes on his shoes so he doesn’t need to worry about where the branches are, and he can chain smoke while he takes limbs and whole three foot wide branches down and lowers them with a pulley system that he built in the tree.  On the ground, the other guys help lower the branches, chip them into their huge truck (which is already almost full), and chop up rounds of firewood.  Check on Craigslist soon if you’re interested in cheap wood by the cord.  Hopefully the tree won’t look horrible from the front yard where you will be able to see that it was topped.  I’m sure it will look fine from the backyard when you’re sitting under it.  And with any luck, we might end up with a little bit more sunlight.
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Pictures of the Day

For those of you who try to look, I know that I am over a week behind. I apparently took a break for Mother’s Day, but I’m working on starting again. Hey… I stayed caught up for over a year. That’s pretty good, right?

In chick related news…

Things are going just swimmingly… or maybe flyingly…with the chicks.  They are growing like weeds, literally twice the size they were when we got them.  Here are pictures of them as of today.

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Clara is still in love with them and tells them, “Morning!” every morning.  She loves to take them outside to play during her snack time.  They love it too.  Their favorite thing ever is running around pecking in the grass. 

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On Saturday morning I woke up earlier than the rest of the family and went downstairs to read and surf the net.  I was disturbed by a loud squak from the chicks and immediately went to investigate.  This is what I found:

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Buffalo’s wings seem to be quite functional.  Too much, in fact.  She is constantly flapping and trying to get somewhere.  They now have a wire cover over their tupperware brooder box.  Wouldn’t want to lose the feisty one!

Lastly, today we finally finished the hen house.  I’m glad that at least part of this project is over.  We still haven’t moved it to its final location (as we may be topping a tree that it will sit under) and I still have to plan and execute the building of the run, but at least the biggest part is over.  

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It seems to be waterproof (at least there’s none leaking in) and all the doors are functional.  It is larger than I was imagining, actually, and I really like the clear roofing for letting light in despite what  a pain in my rear it was to cut and install.  I would still use it again, especially since it means that the chickens will get light as soon as the sun comes up without me having to go out at the butt-crack of dawn.  Also, can I just say that I have the best husband ever, helping me to make this.  He was very patient with the fact that I had no idea what I was doing and I think ended up being impressed by my quick learning skills at least as far as nailing things together goes.  

Chick Art

Clara and I had our group of friends over for Freeschool today.  I did a little lesson on chicks.  First we sang our hello song, then we sang “Old MacDonald,”  then we read This Little Chick by John Lawrence with the felt board as a helper.  After that, the chicks came out and oh the excitement!  There was flapping and petting and dancing around.  Everyone, the chicks included, was thrilled.  Once the chicks went back in their box, we made our own chicks out of play clay.  They were some what abstract.  The kids each got a lump of clay, some pipe cleaners, googlie eyes, a foam triangle (orange), and as many feathers as they wanted.  Clara took her clay, pushed a bunch of feathers on top and then cried because the feathers stuck to her fingers, as she had clay all over them.  Then she took all of the feathers off her clay and decided to make pizza instead.  That was closely followed by licking/pretending to eat the clay.
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Some of the other kids had better experiences with making a chick.  Here are a couple of examples.
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They turned out pretty cute and nonrepresentational, don’t you think?

More chick pics

Here are more picture of the chicks.  They have real personalities now…  Buffalo is the naughty one, who loves to test out her wings, jumping and flapping.  Curry is the sweetest and never minds when I pick her up.  She loves cuddles and kisses.  Maize is the littlest and the most shy.  She is just adorable.
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Buffalo, with Curry in the background

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Curry and Maize

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Buffalo and Curry

Here are what the girls will look like as adults, probably within the next five months.  

Curry is a Buff Orpington and will look like this:
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Buffalo is an Astrolorp and will look like this:
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Maize is a Barred Rock Plymouth and will look like this:
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