Because we’re punk like that.
Concerning living with livestock:
While on evacuation order, our first-ever order of day-old chicks arrived. Because Hubby stayed home while I took Doll and Poni to a hotel, we didn’t have to find a caretaker for them. I picked up the cheeping box and drove it out to Hubby. Luckily, we live right off the highway (which wasn’t closed) so we were able to do a roadside hand-off without overly breaking the law (it is illegal to reenter an evacuation area).
Of course I had planned on taking care of the chicks myself when they arrived so Hubby had to do some quick researching. And I did my part too. I texted him from the comfort of our hotel room and told him
If you see a chick with poo stuck to its butt, you have to wash it.
Then I said good night. Ha ha!
And Hubby did wonderfully! None of the chicks died, although one apparently was not doing very well for a few days thanks to a poopy butt (we dubbed him “bathtub chick” because for its own good Hubby quarantined it in the bathtub until the swelling went down). By my rough count, we will have more hens than roosters. Yay!
It was such an easy decision to get chickens. What else do you do when you’ve lived in town all your life and suddenly find yourself living in the boonies with two (two!!!) chicken coops in your back yard!? You get chickens!!! And a bit before the chicks are due to arrive you start wondering what on earth you’re going to do with them . . .
Chicks are easy to kill, so I’ve heard. They’re quite picky about temperature. Because we got our chicks so late in the year (early September) we couldn’t put them in the coop (because there is no heat source out there). So when the chicks arrived Hubby brought Doll’s kiddie pool into the living room and put a couple space heaters nearby. That held the babies for around a week after which time they were able to flap their way out (but unfortunately not back in).
We have a dog and two cats. Week-old chicks wandering around the living room didn’t seem smart. Of course, it’s not particlarly smart to have live poultry in your living room period but we simply had nowhere else they could go and be kept warm enough.
So Hubby built a chick pen which was wonderfully spacious and tall.
Do you know how fast chicks grow? Very. They grow very fast. It was not long after that they were flapping their way to the top of the chick pen and perching there. At first we would go and put them back in every time one did it but that became a fool’s errand very quickly.
The chick pen sat in our front window (where the no-longer-adorable-little-dears could get lots of natural light) and after we gave up on putting them back in the pen every time they flapped to the top they started exploring the window. And pecking at the houseplants and eating the dirt. Which is a BIG no-no to Hubby. We moved the two plants that sat in the window and everything was peachy for another day or two. Then they started pecking at the plant that hangs in the window.
Apparently they ate the flower blooms it was just about to open and that was the last straw for Hubby. So this picture is the very last time the chickens had run of the window. After that we covered the top.
We also added six sticks going across the inside of the pen for the chicks to roost on. And we hung the waterer (which is acutally a hummingbird feeder with the flower-top removed) so they couldn’t kick food and worse into it.
But today those birds are 5.5 weeks old and we were having a hard time keeping up with the daily mess. Hubby had made two chicken runs in the yard and I tried to take the birds out to a run every day. This would give me an opportunity to clean really well and easily change their chick pen. But the chick runs are open and offer very little by way of cover. So if it, say, rained (which it did) or snowed (which it also did) then the chicks could not go out. Which meant that I didn’t get to do a thorough clean on either the house or the pen.
After being inside for two days straight, yesterday we finally had a nice enough day for them to go to a run. I took their pen outside and cleaned it out. Then I went back inside and deflated. I didn’t have enough masking paper or cardboard to renew the layers where the pen sits on the floor.
I think I just stared at the area for a good five minutes before Hubby suggested we should just put them outside. He was as sick of them being inside as I was. I really wanted to do just that. But being as it’s mid-October that would most likely lead to a pen full of dead chicks. But now that the idea of them never coming in my house again was in my head, I couldn’t drop it. We started brainstorming how on earth we could leave them outside without killing them.
Finally we decided to do a quick fix on the coop and move them in.
Remember how I said we have two coops? One is large-ish, maybe 8’x13′. It has a big chicken-wired window, lots of roost space, and 14 nesting boxes. It has an attached yard which is smaller than I want but is expandable. The little coop is more like 5’x7′ and has two shelves (perhaps they used to hold nesting boxes?) and a roosting area. It has a tiny all-dirt yard with a tarp as the ceiling. We have 26 chickens. Obviously we planned on using the big coop.
In order to make the big coop habitable for our chicks we would have to patch a large hole in the floor (thank you, Mr. Packrat) and cover the windows (because it was quite breezy). The yard isn’t yet usable and we don’t have the materials on hand to fix that yet.
Unfortunately we had nothing we could use to cover the windows. So we decided we would have to use the little coop. The litle one also needed some patch work, thanks to a plethora of small animals but it doesn’t have any window at all. Which isn’t good but we decided that between the two options of our chickens freezing to death or going the night without fresh air, we chose the stale air. Not ideal, but better than bringing them back into the living room or killing them in a freezing drafty coop.
We spent the afternoon getting the little coop ready. It took quite some time to clean out the layers of old caked-in chicken poop. And the insulation that had been pulled down from the ceiling. And the two eggs which are God-knows-how-old. One perk about the little coop is it already had power running to it. Kind of. Hubby had to do some tweaking to get it working but he got the light working and it’s hooked up to our front porch light. He also patched all the little animal holes and blocked the door to the yard (because we didn’t have enough time to get the yard ready, but we did that today).
When evening came, instead of bringing the feather-babies back inside Doll and I brought them to their home.
They were not impressed.
But we checked on them a couple times after dark and found it’s a comfortable temperature. They won’t freeze. As long as they don’t suffocate due to lack of window, then it’s a good temporary home and once we get the needed supplies, we can fix up the big coop properly (rather than a rushed job out of desperation to get them out of our living room).
I am so incredibly relieved to get them out of my living room! What a mess! But I also miss them. Just a tiny bit. They were amusing to watch and they made some interesting sounds.
Have you ever kept an animal where you shouldn’t? I would love to hear your story!