Monday, February 28, 2011

chicks, 11 weeks old

Chicks on their roost inside the coop:


Chloe, roosting and checking me out:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

a coop-addition

Yes, we spoil our chickens.   The husband has agreed that it would, indeed, be a good thing to get two more chicks this summer.   But we would need a bigger coop.


So, back to work the husband goes.  Check out the new wing. Pun intended.



The girls were very happy to scratch around in some new territory.


The next day, there was a big indentation on the top of the chicken wire. Looks like the neighborhood cat tried to get in on some action? The coop and cage is predator-proof, so the chicks are safe. The last time I saw the n.c. lurking around the cage, the chicks were clueless, happily sitting on their perch and seemingly unaware. Dumb chickens.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

honking chickens

Here is the husband, holding Mirabelle.


We used to pick up the chicks when they were tiny and easy to catch. Now they are bigger and more independent. When the husband picked up Chloe, she let out a loud honking noise. Hadn't heard that noise before. Once we catch them and hold onto them, they quiet down and look at us, wondering what we are up to. They are happy once we feed them treats.

Friday, February 25, 2011

chicks, in action.

A day in the life. Scratching, pecking and chirping ensues.



video

Thursday, February 24, 2011

birdie boots

I can't wear just any shoes when I'm outside, tending to my flock.

I must wear my birdie boots.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

chicks in the wild




The girls wore themselves out today, scratching away in the dirt.  Here they are taking a break.  Mirabelle tucked her head under her neck and took a little chickennap, and soon Chloe closed her eyes as well.  The first time I've seen them sleep!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mirabelle and the strawberry




I found some tiny green strawberries from our sad little strawberry patch. I let the girls have a bite, and Mirabelle went apeshit over it. She pecked away it it until only the stem was left. It was like chicken-crack for her.

Chloe didn't seem interested, or maybe she is too submissive to eat it while Mirabelle got to it first? Their dynamics have definitely shifted. When they were chicks, Chloe was more dominant, more curious, and always the first one to run over to us. Mirabelle was shy, and would often try to hide between Chloe's legs. Chloe used to be a tiny bit bigger. Now that they are older, they are about the same size but Mirabelle is the one in charge. She is the more curious, dominant one, while Chloe sits back.

I miss them where they were chicks. I've started dropping some major hints to the husband that I want to get two more this summer. We'll see. Adding chickens to an existing flock is possible, but could cause some chickendrama.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

chicks, 10 weeks old


Here are the girls, confused as they encounter an obstacle. How do they get back in their coop? Was this door here yesterday?

No, it wasn't. Usually the girls can go in and out as they please, but with the week of torrential downpour we got, I had to clean out the coop and air it out to dry. So it's closed until renovations are complete (by dark, don't worry).

Chickens are finicky birds. Well, at least ours are. They were not happy, or were maybe just confused, with the rain. They chose to stay mainly inside the coop, but would stand at the doorway looking out. Occasionally they would venture out, have a drink, and roost for a bit. Our coop is not completely rainproof (note to husband!). Although they stay dry inside the coop, the nest area where they will lay their eggs got pretty drenched. Interestingly, they do not use the nest area to sleep in. Once they start to lay, they will look for a quiet, dark and enclosed space, and use the nest area only for laying their eggs.

There was a neighborhood cat in the yard when I went outside, he ran away when I opened the door, but it looked like he had been lurking by the coop. The chicks looked unperturbed, or just clueless.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Do chickens sneeze?

Yes, they do.  Mirabelle does especially.  It's really cute, but I quickly did some research on the 'net to make sure it's normal.  It is.

Mirabelle is happy and energetic and doesn't look sick, so she's probably just clearing out her nasal cavities.   Chickens can get sick though.  We spoil our girls, they have a big red heat lamp inside their coop to keep them warm and cozy.   I have to keep reminding myself that my yard is full of much smaller birds that live in the big wild west, with no problems.

We've had some rainy, windy weather this week.  The girls have been cautiously stepping out of their coop to their outside run area that has a covered roof but open-wire siding.  They freeze up when the wind blows and ruffles their feathers, puff up their chests, look around, and will then run back inside the coop if the wind keeps up.  Smart birds, they are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

snow in San Francisco

No, not at the moment, thankfully.  Only five recorded times of snowfall in the past.  Great photos here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

lithops


This is my cute little lithops plant, from South Africa. Also known as "living stones", the spongy leaves do look like stones. This little guy started out as two leaves, but with a lot of plant food it erupted into two more babies. The older leaves at the base will die off eventually--- you can see it starting to fold away a bit on the right. If I'm patient, it will flower at some point.

You can read more about lithops here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

chicks, 9 weeks

The girls are getting big, and getting smart.  As of the last two nights, they actually know when to go inside their coop at night to sleep, and when to go outside in the morning to eat.  This is huge news, as we had to place them inside every night, and then nudge them outside every  morning, patiently wondering when their little birdie brains would learn to do this on their own.  Proud parents we are!




It's difficult to get decent photos of them because they run around so much.  As soon as they see the camera they run over and try to peck at it.  Digging and scratching is their favorite pastime, and to their credit, they've dug some surprisingly deep holes.  Searching for worms and bugs I guess?  I gave Mirabelle a caterpillar that was on my cauliflower plant, and she gobbled it up.

Yesterday we lucked out with the weather, warm and sunny.  I sat outside with a book, while the girls played nearby.  Ah, the life.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

a story about our chicken friends in NY

A lovely chicken tale from the NYTimes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

garden, February 2011

The recent slew of gopher attacks on the garden has left me traumatized. I was thinking that not much was left out there, but there are a few plants that have managed to survive.

These are brussels sprout plants. The brussels sprouts are tiny, the size of a pea, growing underneath all the leaves. Fingers crossed that they get to keep growing.,


Cauliflower.

Kale.


Lavender.


Itty bitty lemon tree with itty bitty lemons.

Lettuce.


Mint, growing wild in the shade. Last year caterpillars took over the mint.

Italian parsley, for my tomato sauce.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chloe's comb


It's growing in a bit more, getting bigger.  Here she is at 8 weeks old.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

chicks, 8 weeks old

Ok, I'm finally caught up on my posting. These pix were taken today, so the chicks are 8 weeks old, and here they are in real time. They are looking less like chicks and more like chickens every day.


Doing the chicken dance.


Mirabelle inside coop, Chloe outside coop. Mass confusion ensues.


Nesting in the leaves.

Mirabelle scratching and pecking. Yesterday she found a slug and ate it.


So the plan of locking them in their coop for 3 days so they will know the coop is home and will go inside at night did not work. So like a good mama I come home after work every day as it's getting dark (even forgoing the gym at times) and shoo them inside. If anyone knows of any brainfood for chickens that will make them smarter, please let me know.

I let the girls outside today to roam the yard on their own again. They still freak out every time a bird flies overhead and makes a bird noise. Can different breeds of birds understand one another I wonder? I just found this article saying that some birds can. I don't know if chickens are high enough on the evolutionary scale though.

Mirabelle was difficult to catch today. She kept running away from me. And I kept chasing after her. So we looped around the yard a couple of times until I had her cornered, while the husband looked on.

Friday, February 4, 2011

orchid in bloom


Beautiful, and smells deliciously like grapes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

gopher attack


I don't have too much to say about this. This is a cauliflower plant (with a tiny cauliflower the size of a golf ball, adorable) that had it's roots eaten by a gopher, and is halfway sucked in through the hole that the gopher made.

Our garden is not at it's best right now. Not much sun, too many sneak gopher attacks.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

chicks, 7 weeks old

Here are the girls, enjoying their coop.




They are getting a little less timid about the great outdoors. Usually we have to place them on the grassy fenced in area, since they won't go out on their own. They'll eat, drink, and then run back inside their coop. Today they spent a good five minutes hanging outside before they ran back in. Like I said before, they are not the brightest... :) Even when the wind blows, they freeze up and ruffle their feathers. When I googled "chickens afraid of going outside", before I could even type in "outside", google was coming up with all sorts of other phrases that chickens were afraid of---snow, roosters, rain. Funny chicks.

We let them run around the whole yard today, we just have to keep an eye on them. They can't fly much, but they can fly a bit, so we don't want them jumping any fences. We also have some neighborhood cats that pass through often. Haven't seem them lately, but just in case.

The chicks seemed a little more comfortable running around, scratching the ground for food, and staying close together.  Their favorite thing to do is roost on their roosting pole that's inside their coop.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

chicks, 6 weeks old

Today was a big day for Chloe and Mirabelle. The weather was warm enough to let them run around the yard for the first time.





And they are old enough to be moved outside to their coop.



We thought they would go nuts once they got outside, running around and trying to fly away. So we clipped their wings, (it doesn't hurt them, it's like cutting hair or nails) and put them on the grass. They pretty much froze up and freaked out, and kept running to us for protection. When we had them in different parts of the yard, they chirped to find one another, and then ran to one another. It was like watching a chicken love story.

My chicken research told me that it is standard practice to lock chickens in their coop for 3-4 days when you first move them outside. This way, they will know the coop is home and will always return on their own once it starts to get dark. We thought this sounded kinda cruel so we didn't. The coop has a door with a ramp that leads them down to the grassy fenced in area. Their first day on their own, I got home from work and it was already dark. Mirabelle was walking around in the dark in the grass, and Chloe was huddled in the corner netting. They looked cold and lost, and I felt so bad. What a bad chicken mother I was. So....we ended up locking them in their coop for 3 days after this. The coop is quite nice, and they had lots of food and water, and sure enough, they now know their coop is home.

And we are constantly amazed at how not-very-smart our lovable chickens are.