The little chicks have been staying outside for 2 weeks now. Their feathers have really come in nicely and the Florida weather is mild enough that we don’t have to worry about them getting too cold at night.
Now that we’re raising the younger girls to add to our flock, I’ve discovered the first negative aspect to having a portable chicken ark as opposed to a stationary hen house and run. There isn’t room to block off a separate pen for the little girls in the upper coop. Once they’re integrated, they’ll fit just fine but (for their safety) we can’t put them together with the big girls until they’re at least 16 weeks old. So, we’ve got a little set up that’s not really very attractive but it keeps them safe, warm and dry. And I keep telling myself that it’s temporary so we won’t look trashy for much longer.
Enter the dog kennel:
Here you can see the big girls coming over to see exactly what is going on.
As I took this picture, I realized that I have a lot of things to take care of these days: 3 chickens, 3 chicks, 2 boys, 1 dog . . . and let’s face it – 1 husband in a funny hat.
For the first few days, we just put them in this during the day and put them back in the box overnight. When they moved outside for good, we added some essentials. Here you can see the blue tarp and a “roosting” bar. The tarp sides are pulled up during the day and we lower them at night.
Here you can see that Dottie’s white head feathers are really starting to come in. I can’t wait for her body feathers to begin showing the beautiful lacy design.
I was telling Fly Guy that we were going to need to find a way to attach hardware cloth to the kennel so it would keep a raccoon from reaching through the wires and causing havoc at night. But he had a much better idea. We had this small dog kennel from when we went to pick up Matilda and Henrietta from the farm last fall. He suggested that we just put it into the chick cage as their bedroom suite. So far it’s been working great. I worry that some small digging beast might come up through the bottom but so far, we haven’t seen any signs of something trying to get in. We take this smaller cage out every morning to clean it and give the little girls more room to scratch. They adore this smaller space and will actually begin “calling” for us to put it in if we don’t get to it before dusk.
Yes, we are totally using a Tonka truck to weigh down our tarp. I’m sure bricks would be more subtle but the Tonka truck was right there and it’s working so well . . . Can I distract you away from the trashiness of the whole set-up with some cute fluffy Orpington rears?
I’ve been letting the chicks out in the morning to roam a bit while I leave the older girls in their run. They’re not pleased one bit about this change but as long as their feeder is stocked, they don’t complain too loudly. Olive has taken to pacing the perimeter of the run like a tiger in a zoo, though.
Once set free, the three big girls charge for the chick cage. I thought it was because they were fascinated by the small, peeping things but then realized that they’re trying to get to any spilled chick feed first. Greedy things.
Here’s a picture of Mark having gotten ahold of Frank. (She was considered our feisty old bird who no one wanted to handle unless necessary but slowly my son has tamed her. She still doesn’t appreciate being picked up but she puts up with it . . . for a short time.)
And here’s Mitch – not wanting to be left out of the photo shoot fun.