Monday, May 16, 2005

The Night Time Dilemma

Q: How many people does it take to put 6 chicks in their coop at night?
A: 3--one to flush them out, one to herd them, and one to grab them and put them in the coop.

It's not a laughing matter! While the chicks have figured out they can go up and down the ramp of their coop, they have not figured out specifically what to do when darkness falls. Tonight they sat out in the dusk cheeping their loud "Help me! Help me!" cheep. I think we need to invest in a butterfly net or something similar.

Barring that, this is my big piece of advice to pass on to others who may someday have a backyard flock: in the beginning days when you have your chicks, hold them, hold them, hold them, teach them to eat from your hand within the first weeks. Take the time early on because you'll end up with hens that are considerably tamer.

The only difference between this younger group and the hens we have that are all 1 year old, is that I wasn't working full time when we got our first group--so I would bring our daughter home (most days) right after her half day of kindergarten, and she did all the devoted work of taming those chooks. When we would enter their run, they would run to us and jump up on our shoulder if we knelt down, they loved being held, and knew to expect food and snackables from us.

This time around I am working full time and so my daughter had considerably less time available to work her magic with the chickies, and we are seeing a telltale difference. These chicks don't know yet that we are actually the source of all things warm and wonderful, like food, access to the heat lamp, cuddling...

For your reading enjoyment, I've included this link to an article from our local paper about chickens in the urban environment. Please feel free to scout around at the site afterward too, some great chicken cam links!

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