Monday, April 30, 2012

fresh eggs: week 2

By now these girls are just becoming a regular part of our daily routine around here. They go through a little bit of their own newborn stage, needing constant care for a few days to quickly falling into an easy go with the flow of the rest of the family by just a couple weeks old. These gals have brought plenty of laughter to our family as we watch them run around curious and sleepy all at once most times. The boys have done well keeping up with their needs and Jaxon has written out his "business" plan to stay on tract for selling some good ole' grass fed fresh eggs eventually. Check out below for a follow-up from the first week of the girls arriving!

 These chicks really know how to party, but when they are done, they are done! They will literally run crazy and then fall flat on their face and just fall asleep. I crack up every time I witness it. See above photo :)

 The cute little fluff is quickly disappearing as little pin feathers start to grow. How exciting! I didn't think it would be so fast, but it's been so neat to come out each morning and see how much more they resemble chickens and less a ball of fluff. Of course, as any new gal growing new hair, there are some "ugly" moments... bald spots, prickly dangly feathers pointing out but not yet sprouted, and funky looking shafts that turn into feathers. Hey, it takes time to be beautiful!

 One of the most important things with young chicks is a clean brooder. I so badly want all these gals to live so I clean it out about every 3-4 days. I have become a huge fan of the pine shavings, as they smell good and keep things tidier then anything else. I layer a good inch of newspaper and then follow up with pine shavings (I read that anything other then pine can cause respiratory problems, so if you are using this blog as your own guide, do not use anything cedar and do not confuse pine shavings with pine chips!). I layer so much with newspaper, so if there is an accidental spill of water I can quick pick up the wet layers and easily recover with dry fresh pine shavings. A wet or damp brooder can make for some real sick chicks, real fast. The boys are good about filling the feeder twice a day and getting fresh water twice a day. These girls can put it down!

 Our neighbor made me laugh when she sent these chicken shaped cookies home with my kids the other day. What a perfect treat! I loved them!

 Week 2 meant introducing the girls to a roost. All chickens roost, out of instinct for survival. In the wild they will perch high in trees. In the barn they will find a rafter or light poles. In your back-yard coop, they need a place to roost. This is where they will sleep and go when needing to relax or if they feel like they are in danger. Perching for chickens is like a baby's first steps. It gives them a chance to practice their balance, learn to roost, and gives them something to play on. The start of this week, Jaxon and I sawed a few sticks we found to give them a beginner perching spot.  They pecked at it for a bit and went on their way. I know in time they will find their way to the top! (except our silkie banties...they sometimes prefer to sleep in a pile on each other like a bunch of kittens, We'll see what ours do!)

 A close up of their pin feathers falling into place. Their wings are so wide and so pretty. The reds have startled me a few times and almost flown right out of my hands. I guess they are growing faster then I realized! Letting little hands hold them lately has been more of a one on one experience with an adult to be sure these gals aren't flying the nest!

 Austin is still all about anything chicken. Love this kid. Here he is being a good trooper again as we clean the brooder box.

 Week 2 also meant it was about time to introduce grit. Not the kind of grit you eat in the south, but little pebbly grit for chickens that help them digest their food. Chickens do not have teeth or stomachs. Their food goes straight to their crop, the little pouch at the base of their necks.If you've ever seen a bulge on a chicken's neck, you've probably caught them in a moment right after they've eaten. Eventually that food passes into their gizzard where it is digested. They need a grinding agent, called grit. Since these chicks can't find their own pebbles on the ground just yet, we purchased a bag of grit for them at our local feed store. A cheap $4 bag of this will get you a longs way. The first few times I just sprinkled some of this onto their fresh bedding so they could learn to search for their pebbles. Some say you can just place in a dish for them, but I preferred the more natural search and find method :) Sometimes grit is called "scratch", when the birds can find their own by scratching around on the ground and grass.

 Week 2 has had plenty of necessary petting times too. These gals are getting a little more skittish as they grow, so holding and petting them for taming reasons is crucial at this stage so they won't run and hide every time we go to see them in the yard someday!

Little Joanie is still hanging on, but she is much smaller then her brooder pals. Here's the flock mid-way through week two! They already look so different! Stay tuned for week 3 as we bring up the heat lamp a bit to 85 degrees and take the girls outside for their first yard visits! The weather man says 80 this week and these girls are anxious to greet the great outdoors!

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