Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Little Chickenhouse

The little chickenhouse was a gift from my husband to me, several years ago. An "overflow" space, we envisioned it as a home to the chickens bred here. Actually, it has served to isolate new chickens, and get them used to their new home, and for hens who have gone broody to raise their young in safe place, snake free and cozy. This year it was the first home for the four little red hens, the three Old English Gamebirds, and the three silkie sisters bought in the spring. Once they had all graduated to the Big Henhouse, the little henhouse was the place two of the silkie sisters decided to share brooding duties on a pile of eggs. They duly hatched five of their ten, and raised those five in the safety of the little house on stilts. From within, the babies heard the sounds of the other chickens, the ducks and the geese and they went to and fro underneath, eating from the big fortex and carrying out their chicken dramas. Just as I decided to let the five babies and their mamas out into the world, the mamas went back on the nest and eventually hatched seven more babies. It was clear (from the shape of the chicks) that One, Two, Three and Four had fathered some of the babies, but it was also clear that Curley the Featherless Wonder (the frizzle Cochin) had fathered part of Batch Two, as three chicks have excessively curled (frizzled) feathers. Now, after months of feeding in three different locations, I have plunged forward and let the little chicks out into the world. After netting three of them for several nights, I realized it was time to let nature take it's course, and lo and behold, they figured out how to run back up the ramp and into the little house at night! Now I'm thinking of re-homing the whole bunch, before the girls go broody again.

The little chickenhouse, besides providing shade for the birds during the hot summer months, was not constructed with a lot of forethought and we would make modifications to it if we were to build another like it. The rear doors serve to clean it out and place feeders and waterers, but the gleanings swept out onto the ground have made a soupy nasty stinking mess behind it, and today we are weed-eating and cutting down vegetation so that the sun can get to it and dry it out. It's NOT a fun place for chores!

One rooster of the first hatch is, of course, a beauty, but as we have Studly, Butch, One, Two Three and Four, and Baby Rambo, along with Curley, it's time to stop. Rooster and all must be given over to some new owner who hopefully will be as delighted with silkie/cochin crosses as I am.

End of summer means changes in the way we are doing chores around here. After lugging the water hose all summer, I have decided that the new pond needs to be a priority next year. A new pond means that the plastic swimming pools and big trough will not need to be kept up for the ducks and geese, who do not like to swim in the red algae hole that our pond has become. Luckily, husband has bought into this, and we have begun to search for a responsible person who can dig us a pond at a reasonable cost. I'll be glad to see the end of the plastic swimming pools. They are hard to keep clean and a pain to fill daily.

Tuesday will bring the delivery of the new pony companion for Beau, the Old Gentleman. We have argued with ourselves for weeks, as Beau's appearance has waxed and waned. We know he is lonely, and this pony mare may only be a companion for a few short months, but we hate to see him lonely. We won't be here to see his joy in his new companion, our friends will drop him off while we are in Abilene for the day at the Eisenhower Museum and Lebold Mansion, on a summer "staycation" daytrip. Next morning doing chores should bring his delight in his new "girl", who is currently called Lilly, but may have a name change since we have one of those bright flowers in our family already.

Speaking of Lilly, we have a chicken missing all the feathers on her derriere at the moment, and bird dog who is sitting very close to the fence constantly, nose to the wire. Hmmmm.

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