More Babies!

The pending arrival of my baby chicks has been a great topic of conversation at my workplace and has inspired several of my co-workers to go on-line and Google search pictures of chickens in order to give me “sound advice” about what sort of chickens I should be getting.  Unfortunately, somebody found pictures of Silkies.

Silkies are an ancient Chinese breed of chicken.  The first European account of Silkies was Marco Polo’s account of “furry chickens” during his 13th century travels to Asia.  Silkies do, in fact, look very furry.  Imagine the “French poodle” version of poultry. This furriness is because their feathers lack barbicels, the tiny hooklets that keep the strands of a feather aligned.  Other bizarre characteristics include back skin, meat, and bones, and blue earlobes.  Oh, and they have extra toes.  Silkies are not necessarily great egg layers, but they have a calm demeanor and a friendly disposition.  From my perspective, people get Silkies for pets, not to be production birds.  There are pictures on the net of Silkies dressed up in top hats or tutus.  So there you go.

Several of my co-workers have now convinced me that it is absolutely incumbent upon me as a keeper of chickens to have a few Silkies.  When I finally caved to their pressure I told them I would get some Silkie chickens, but to make it clear to the world who was responsible for these fluffy little birds becoming members of my flock, I would name the Silkies after those very co-workers. 

I’ve been a little hard pressed to find anybody in the area who can provide me with Silkies at this short notice, but have finally gotten on the list at Houle’s Farm Garden and Pet in Forest Lake for three Silkie babies.  The bad news is that these three babies will be part of a batch of straight-line chicks they are getting in.  In other words they will not be sexed.  Chances are that at least one of these babies will turn out to be a rooster.  The word is that Silkies are nearly impossible to sex anyway, so getting straight-line Silkie babies sounds like par for the course.  Anyway, I’m glad I’ve managed to find some Silkies to add a little variety to my pending flock, and we’ll cross the rooster bridge if and when we come to it!

More Coop Progress

I revved up the old sawzall and cut a large gaping hole in the back wall of the pole barn just as though I knew what I was doing. This will be the people door to get from the chicken coop into the outdoor run. (Note chicken-sized pop door to the right.)

Also, I’m making progress on getting the coop walls up.  I still need to do the floor, nest boxes, roost, wet bar, large screen TV, la-z-boy recliners, etc. Since my chickens will be showing up in less than 2 weeks, I’m glad I’ve got the wood shed for them to hang out in until I get this all finished.

Building a Chick Nursery

Well, I'm making progress on building the chicken coop in the pole barn but it is rapidly becoming obvious that it won't be done by the time the babies show up in June.  On to plan B:  I'm converting my wood shed to a brooder house for the babies and they can actually live there for most of the summer which will take the pressure off for getting the coop finished.

Easy steps for turning the woodshed into a brooder house (1)  Remove firewood left over from the winter. (2)  Sweep out dirt and sawdust.  (3)  Hang a couple of heat lamps.  (4)  Add kiddie pool (Now I know why I saved the old kiddie pool all these years!) (5) Cover bottom of kiddie pool with paper towels (The experts recommend paper towels for bedding rather than pine shavings or straw for tiny babies.  As the paper towels become soiled you can continue to put down more layers and when they've outgrown the towels, you can just roll them all up and throw them away in one fell swoop!) (6) Chick water fonts and feeders.

The heat lamps are on adjustable chains and can be moved up and down depending on the ambient temperature and the age of the chicks.  As the chicks get older I can get rid of the kiddie pool, put pine shavings on the floor and they can have complete run of the 10 x 10 building.

 I built these sliding screen doors out of hardware cloth and 1 x 4's so I can have the doors open for ventilation once the weather warms up.

I built a rather haphazard chicken run out of some leftover fencing for the chicks to go outside when they're old enough.  They will outgrow this enclosure, but hopefully by that time I'll have the real coop and chicken run ready to go!