Friday, May 22, 2009

Out and about

A few days ago the chicks and poults (baby chickens and turkeys) made a brave move to the out of doors. We have been keeping them in cardboard boxes in our dining room, which has gotten very dusty thanks to the dust baths the chickens like to have daily. Barry had finished the chicken 'tractor' and pen for them, so out the went and never looked back.

Here they are trying to decide if this new world is a good one or a bad one. They stood on the entry ramp for most of the day. One little chick came out right away and stayed out. Now it's a job to get them to go in at night. We recently added our cochin chicks into this group and they are getting along fine. Yesterday we were almost wiped out by two hawks who have come to live in our field. They got three of our little cochin chicks before we could stop them. Barry wants to get a gun, I wanted to cover the pen and keep the little chickens in for a few weeks. We covered the pen and are letting the dogs run the field for a few days.

It is very sad to lose an animal that you've watched hatch from the egg and grow up in your barn. We've got another cochin mama hen sitting on eleven eggs. That wasn't the plan as we are tired of the broody things. They just sit on eggs and don't lay them. We try to keep them moving, but this girl had hidden all these eggs in a corner in the feed room and has been sitting on them. I only found them because the roosters were harassing her, and when I punted the lot of them across the field she went running into the barn. I followed her and there she was with her little clutch of eggs. So if anyone is interested in keeping bantam chickens, we'll have a few for sale in the summer. They are lovely little birds, very friendly and compact for urban gardens. If you'd like a testimonial or two I can refer you to our friend, Chicken Coop Mary, who has three of ours from last spring and she's been having a grand old time in East Atlanta with them.

Here is the inside of the new chicken tractor. Very spacious compared to their former box. While this seems small for 27 grown chickens, they will only nest at night and they love being close when they sleep. They will have the run of the field during the day (after they are bigger).

Turkey Day Out

I felt bad for the turkeys now that the chicks had their indoor/outdoor condo, so I got an old rabbit pen the former owners had left behind and I trotted the turkeys out to the yard.

Barry is building a fabulous new turkey apartment for them (bigger than the chickens', they might get jealous), but it isn't finished yet. Once it is I'll have the dish-tv set up and make sure their hot tub is working okay before they inhabit it. Until then they are living on the front screened porch in a pen. They keep growing bigger, so I think we need to move them again soon.
At first they were a little wary of this new place, "outside", but after about 30 minutes they were chirping and singing like crazy. Yes, turkeys sing. I don't know what else to call it, but it sounds like high-pitched whistling but the seem to be talking to each other, and us.

The turkeys are still winning in the "I've got character" contest against the chickens. Don't get me wrong, I really like chickens, that's why I kept them in the city and now have over 50 around the place. But the turkeys are is the best way to describe it. They come to the side of the pen when we go out to see them, they chirp and tweet when we talk to them, and a couple of them even 'ask' to be picked up. I'm not joking. Barry has is special turkey (Houdini 1) who always wants to be picked up and carried. I keep reminding Barry that they will be Thanksgiving dinners for people, but I wonder how we are going to say goodbye to all the cheeky birds.

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