Attica!

Day Four Prison Break

Day Four Feathers Sprout

This just in: Breaking News! Prison break at the washtub! Film at 11!

Ang heard a commotion this afternoon from Chicken Washtub Central and went to investigate.  She had moved the washtub on top of the toilet in the laundry room so she could have better access to the dryer, and so the chicks wouldn’t have to keep track of whites and colors.  They just don’t have the brain power to sort clothing accurately yet.  It isn’t fair to ask it of them.

As she opened the door, she saw one of the Rhode Island Reds FREE ON THE FLOOR!  It was a two – foot fall from the lip of the tub to the floor of the room, but she (exact identity has not been confirmed; the other inmates are still being questioned) apparently did not suffer any injury.  A blessing in itself.

As a consequence, Ang rigged up a woven mat as an additional deterrent to any further escape attempts.  This added about 6 inches to the height of the washtub, and sucked any hopes of freedom from the little chick-brains imprisoned inside.  See photos above.

The temperature topped 80 degrees (in American) here today, thus rendering the heat lamp not only superfluous but too much for our girls.  My project list this weekend just changed.  I moved “build a cool looking chicken house and coop” to the top of the list, right after coffee, a 10K Easter run, and coffee on Saturday morning.  They won’t last more than another week or two in Washtub City.  Plan A is to put them out in the cool looking coop during the day, and move them back in to warmth for the evenings until either they are fully feathered or it stays warm.

We are so excited to see actual feathers continuing to ‘sprout’ (probably called something else, but they look like they are sprouting) on all of their wings, and one of the Barred Rocks actually has TAIL feathers starting to sprout.  Again, we aren’t sure if it is Juevo (Cassidy corrected this spelling for me this morning) or the other as-yet-unnamed Barred Rock.  Go ahead, study the pictures and see if you can tell a difference between two days ago and today.  Startling – no two ways about it.

PLEASE – if you have great coop/pen ideas, attach them for me in a comment or find me on Facebook and hook me up.  I am amazing at building slightly wrong-looking stuff; I’ll take any help I can get.  Measure once, cut twice is my motto.

Have a great day!

Patience, Young Paduan

Tub of Chicks Day Three

I found out that it takes more than “immediately” to get the little chicks to trust me. (that’s probably good advice for most of you middle schooler’s out there, too – no charge)  My idea is to tame them and get them used to being right near me and actually noticing if I show up in their pen later on in their little chicken lives.

So, I got a small handful of food and put my hand into the washtub.  They just plain didn’t trust me right away.  But when I put my hand really low, like almost right on the sawdust, and left it there (still attached to my arm), they wandered over to check it out.  If you never had chickens, you may not recognize their “I’m gonna look but I don’t trust this situation” look.  They cock their head at about a 12 degree angle – that lets one eye get the full effect.  They did this to my hand, and, eventually, their hunger and curiosity won out.

Pretty soon they were standing right on my hand, stabbing gently at the flecks of feed in the grooves between my fingers.  It was a nice feeling; like attention from nature that feels benign.  As “immediately” stretched into almost five minutes, me and my little chick buddies formed a bond.  We trusted each other; they knew I was ok.  I extracted my hand after a while, and they cheeped goodbye to my hand and turned back to the food in the automatic feeder.  It was a nice moment.

This afternoon when I came home after work to check on them, they’d forgotten all about me.  The “trust account” was empty.  But I made another deposit of ‘finger food’, and will do the same tomorrow.  I’ll bet they’ll eat, then, too.

A red one is named Steve (by Ethan), a black one is named Huevo (by Cassidy), and another red one is named Albus Percival Wulfric Brian (by Jacob).  Ang and I are waiting for personality to show before we commit to a naming ceremony.

We can’t resist

So here we are, living in plain old sort-of-big-city Kansas on practically an entire acre, “wishing we were somehow here again…” oh, wait, that’s a song.  Yeah, so we caught up with some of our amazing Peace Corps friends (we knew them LAST CENTURY!!!), and that made us think about the good old days.

We had chickens, when we lived in the tropical rainforest of Papua New Guinea, and when we lived in the bedroom community of Santa Maria, CA.  We’ve gone long enough buying eggs from the grocery store, the health food store, or the farmer’s market.  It was time.  It was time to reclaim our heritage as farmers.  It was time to restore our ‘rep’ as returned Peace Corps volunteers.

Also, we kept driving past Tractor Supply Corporation (who did not receive any remuneration from this product placement mention), and it is “Chick Days” all the way through Easter.  In my defense, I survived SEVERAL trips to TSC (my favorite store) without buying any chicks or ducklings.  But enough is enough – once Angie is on board, the tide is comin’ in! And there is no two ways about it.

We now share our laundry room with 3 baby Rhode Island Reds and 2 baby Barred Rocks.  We bought a tin washtub, put pine (never cedar; the fumes will kill them)  shavings in the bottom, 3 inches deep (should have been over newspaper, but I didn’t read the directions that carefully), along with a feeder, a waterer, and a heat lamp (TSC recommends a red bulb – not white) (I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with the white bulbs being half the price of the red bulbs).

As soon as I master the art of photo addition to this blog, you too can see them! Yes, we will share and chronicle the lives of our 5 little pullets.  We’ve named three of them, or at least the kids have.

Stay tuned for names and faces!