Fresh grass and greens are an important part of a hens diet. Greens are what give the eggs the important Omega3. Since our girls don’t get to free range much we supplement their commercial feed with fresh greens. The girls love love to nibble on lettuce, spinach, kale and swiss chard. We put several leaves in a small suet cage and hang it from the hen house. Not only are the greens good for them but batting around the suet cage like a tether ball gives them something to do.
I called Pistils Nursery today and added our name on the chick wish list for 3 Speckled Sussex. Pistils said we could expect chicks mid to late February. Perfect. That is plenty of time to get the brooder ready.
I distributed our notice of intent to keep more than 3 hens to our neighbors on Saturday. We were a little apprehensive about letting the neighbors know. We were afraid someone would get upset about our venture and prevent us from keeping any hens, I have heard that can happen, but the exact opposite was true. I wasn’t home five minutes before a neighbor called with congratulations and best wishes on the adventure. We also got a positive email from neighbors who had been sneaking peeks at the girls and are interested in an official visit. I am glad that the girls will be a tool to get to know our community better rather than a wedge. (knock on wood)
It is becoming very clear that Ranchero is a rooster. Perhaps we should rename them Jack, Chrissy and Janet. That would make us Mr. and Mrs. Roper.
I don’t know how I feel about that.
The peepers don’t see to care for the leftover pork. Perhaps they know it’s from one of their barnyard brethren.
After three full days out in the run the ladies have mastered exiting the hen house via the chicken ladder. Getting back in is another matter. I came home from work, in the dark, to find three distressed peepers huddled in a corner of the run. They hadn’t figured out how to get back in to the hen house before it was too dark to see. Chickens are night blind and navigating up the ladder in the dark is a little tough. The new plan is to turn have the brooder lamp turn on at dusk so they have a beacon to follow in to the house.
The ladies spent the first week home with a brooder light on all night to help keep them toasty. The brooder lamp was keeping the hen house at about 60F which is nice and cozy if you have a down coat on. The weather has been mild but it won’t last for long so we stopped using the brooder lamp a few nights ago. The ladies are almost fully feathered and if they are too warm they won’t grow a full winter coat. So we need to get them hardened off and ready for winter.
Saturday was the annual Practice Thanksgiving pot-luck and the ladies had lots of visitors and probably a few too many treats. Oh well.
Sunday we were able to finish their run and the hen door so the ladies can go outside. The first time we let them out they weren’t sure how to use the chicken ladder. One would start out, get a few rungs down then scramble back for the door. Running over her roommates in the process. It took them a few tries to finally reach the ground. Once they were outside there was lots of wing flapping and chest bumping. They didn’t figure out how to get back in so we had to catch them and put them inside. Perhaps they just need practice.
We got the girls a handful of crickets as a treat. At first the girls were so frightened of the crickets they were backed in to a corner. I kind of felt sorry for the girls but they figured it out soon enough. It was good fun watching them chase the crickets and each other around the hen house.