...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


time to take the chicks outside... and an easy way to build chicken perches!

Chicken Update: 

We moved "The Littles" outside! 
It seemed like it was about the right time for them to head outside...
They're more feather than fluff, 
and it was getting awfully boring in the indoor brooder.
(Not to mention that our house was getting really dusty!)

Here they are trying to take dirt baths by the strawberry patch:
Silly littles, that's mulch!  Not quite right for a dirt bath.
It's always initially so scary to put 
totally vulnerable creatures out in the elements.
We fret and we fret.
What if it rains?  Will they know to go in?
What if our fence isn't as secure as we thought?
What if, what if, what if?

We're so glad we transitioned them...
It was time.
It's a whole new world of interest for them.
And it's amazing how strong their instincts are,
even with no chicken mother to teach them how to be a chicken.
They are scratching, pecking, finding worms and snails and bugs,
they're flapping their wings and getting stronger every minute!
Emmaline, who hadn't been doing so well, perked right up 
with the fresh air and sunshine
(and vitamin water and homeopathic remedies!)
and now she is trying to be the boss of everyone again!

We had to get tinkering to make things work for them out there.
Our main chicken coop is out of the question for now.
The big girls (3 years old), and the medium girls (3 months old) 
would not take kindly to them.  
That whole pecking order business is brutal.

The Littles need a chance to develop more,
and we don't want to worry about their safety 
or their ability to freely access food (i.e. no bullying).

When they're big enough, probably around Thanksgiving,
we'll be trying to do the grand introduction.
(So, stay tuned this fall for that fiasco!!!)

But where oh where to put The Littles
if they can't go in the big coop?

We have a second coop we got 
as a back-up for various needs that could arise:
- outdoor brooder
- infirmary for a sick hen
- old lady coop for hens who belong to AARC
(American Association of Retired Chickens) 
AND we also thought it could be 
a half-way house for hand-raised chicks,
so they have a safe haven (fenced off, but within eyesight)
of the other chickens
so they can all get kind of used to each other.

We got that coop on Craigslist and it has some issues.
Gaps where it just isn't safe.
No cross-breeze ventilation.
Steps that are way too steep.
 So, THAT coop is still sitting around
waiting for our handy friend Boz to come and make it right.

 Oy vay.

In the meantime, we needed a coop that would work,
and we needed it pronto.
So, yes, you counted correctly.  
Now we have THREE coops.
One big and two little.

And the easiest place to put this new little coop 
was in a completely separate area in our fenced garden,
close to the house so we can do quick visual checks to see what they're up to,
and anyway it needs to be close to another electrical outlet,
because we needed to be able to run an extension cord 
so they can still have their "mother" heater 
to go under at night on some of these cooler nights
(yep, 50 degree nights in August, more global weirding...)

Here's "mother"
all plugged in and ready to keep them warm if we have a chilly night
or simply for a sense of safety and security, if they're not quite ready to roost at night yet.

 And here's one of our fenced vegetable gardens
where we decided to put the Littles and their little coop for now:

Luckily our local Agway had a coop for $200.
Only coop kit in town.
It's made out of cheap wood.  
And it was made in China.
But hey, it's really cute, like a little dollhouse!
And it does the job.  

It's surprisingly well thought out in design, 
minus their stupid square perches inside.
Who wants to perch on a square stick?!

Would you want to swing a square bat?

Oh yeah, and the ridiculous square perches 
are only 1" off the floor.  
What's the point in perching if you can't be up high?
I guess if you were a chicken with a fear of heights...?!

So, we had to make some adjustments, 
but nothing even I couldn't handle...
 even with my refusal 
to use any power tools that I deem "scary"
or limb and digit-threatening.

That leaves me with a cordless drill, a jig saw, and an old fashioned hand saw.

 In our 3 years of being chicken mammas, 
we've learned a thing or two about making cheap, fast, easy perches.

All you need are some old tomato stakes (or wooden dowels, or tree branches) . 
Some nails or screws
a mallet
a drill
and maybe some zip ties

It's super easy.
You just cut your tomato stakes to the height you want your perch 
(plus extra for the part that goes in the ground)
and hammer them in with the mallet.
Then drill some pilot holes through your dowels or tree branches and 
secure them with screws or nails.
If it's a little wobbly, you can also tighten it up with a zip tie.
We use zip ties for almost every project,
because they help fills the gaps for our complete lack of skills.
I decided to make a high and a low one here.
It would be ideal to have high and low be on separate stakes,
similar to our chicken jungle gym in the big chicken yard...
but we have a very small space to work with in the attached run,
so this will have to do for now.

The Littles give it their seal of approval:


 Goldie the gold-laced wyandotte and
Betty White, the white plymouth rock

 Wellie the Wellsummer and
Emmaline the Easter Egger.

 Wellie and Emmaline 
trying to see who can do a better dismount!

 I also took some tree branches
and made little perches in the corners of the fence for them.

When they're not in the coop, they're so busy foraging 
that I'm not even sure they've noticed these corner perches yet.

Maybe with time they'll use them, if not
no biggie!

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