Saturday, June 30, 2012

Undercover Chickens: Bundles of Fuzzy Goodness

We live in a suburban neighborhood that has a covenant against backyard poultry.  However, we also have one of the largest and most private backyards in our neighborhood.  Our yard backs up to a strip of wooded city property with a pond.  I felt certain that having a few quiet hens in a portable coop was not going to disturb any neighbors, so I decided to make my backyard chicken dream a reality.  On May 17, we picked up the six baby chicks we ordered from a local garden center.  They were all the fuzzy cuteness I imagined they would be.

Their first home was a newspaper-lined plastic tub in our unfinished basement.  When they weren't eating, they gathered in a tight huddle under the heat lamp (or in our case, a shop lamp with a 100-watt bulb clipped over their tub).  Over the first couple weeks, they started to acquire names.  First, Anna named the bigger Barred Rock "Cutie" because, well, she was cute and she was Anna's favorite.  

Then Ehren named one of the Rhode Island Reds "Pilot" because she was always trying to fly.  I named the smaller Rhode Island Red "Little Red."  Cousin Elsie visited and named the two Orpington Buffs "Khaki" and "KaCoach" (which we shortened to "Coach"), and the remaining Barred Rock "Madge."  Our six little bundles of fuzzy goodness were a big hit at show and tell in both Kindergarten and 2nd grade.   But after about three weeks, their growing feathers moved them right into the ugly duckling stage.

Those feathers were also a warning that Dan needed to hurry and finish building their outdoor coop.  I'm not going to lie.  Building the coop to my specifications was a lot of work for Dan.  He often reminds me that my dream of turning him into a farmer is never going to happen, but nevertheless, he finished the coop, and it was beautiful.

In mid-June, the girls moved outside.  On their first night in the outdoor coop, a big thunderstorm rumbled in.  We worried that they might not be able to climb the ramp up to their snug dry roost.  We kept looking out the window during flashes of lightning to see if they were still outside.  It was a rough initiation into outdoor living, but those resourceful girls made it to their roost.

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