Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An update from the hen house...

Our hens are 20 weeks old today.  It does feel strange to count their age in weeks -- like one would do for a baby... Rest assured we have not lost our marbles and gotten all strange about our chickens.  In the near future we will stop keeping careful track of their age.  But, up until now it's been important for a few reasons:

  • In the early weeks - up to 9, I think - we had to be sure they stayed warm enough...
  • Up to a certain age, they needed special feed...
  • And, finally, the reason the hens are here to begin with - they begin laying around 20-22 weeks!

Though we find the chickens entertaining and have even given them names (maybe not a good idea?) we fully realize and remember that the chickens are not pets.  They are egg producers.
This is "Pat".
Pat is the mystery chick that the hatchery sent us as a bonus.  We named  her Pat because, in the beginning, there was no way (for us) to tell if she was male or female.  We're glad Pat isn't a rooster.  We've also had to figure out Pat's breed; the thinking this week is that she's an Ameraucana, which means she'll lay colored (blue/green) eggs!

So, a few days ago, Mark and our "chicken girl" - aka, oldest daughter - spent some time in the coop getting it ready for the hens to start laying: snazzy nest boxes and more room to roost.
Coop Interior.
Nest boxes (where they lay eggs) on the right wall, Roosting bars (where they sleep)on the left - only one is visible in the photo, but there is another bar above that one, and food & water hanging from the ceiling in the middle.

We've learned a lot about chickens in the last 20+ weeks... things like roosting, molting, nesting, pecking order, etc.
We have 6 different breeds in our little flock.  All the breeds are represented in this "group photo".  

Like so many "hobbies", chicken-keeping is actually very interesting once you get involved. We are still very new at this, but it's been enjoyable thus far (and we haven't even gotten the first egg) so we can imagine chickens being a part of the family routine from here on out.  The thought of keeping hens for eggs had NEVER occurred to us before we moved here and met people who consider it "normal".  Just another benefit, we think, of making a life change that put us out of our zone of familiarity - in many ways.

The chickens are used to her - she brings them food and water.

Stay tuned for news of the first egg(s)!

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