The chickens are growing by leaps and bounds (and by bounds, I mean, they are getting ready to bound out of their brooder cage). Their fluffy, baby-chick down is almost entirely gone, replaced by awkward-looking new feathers. They are goofy adolescents.
They are voracious eaters (and subsequently, prolific poopers – my husband calls them “little fertilizer factories”).
Chickens can, with very few exceptions, eat nearly everything (What Can I Feed My Chickens?). But, just because they CAN eat nearly everything, doesn’t mean they WILL eat everything.
When we first got the baby chicks, we fed them chick starter + dried mealworms. (Prior Post: Chicken Update.)They went nuts for the mealworms (honestly, they looked sort of good – my husband mentioned on more than one occasion he was tempted to try one. Maybe he did, I haven’t checked back to find out). But over time, I’ve started giving them other treats and the mealworms are not nearly the delicacy they once were.
To date, the chicks have tried: peas, corn, carrots, kale, parsley, and spinach. They loved the parsley and kale, peas were meh, they barely touched the spinach. I’m not sure I understand the logic here, but I suppose they’re trusting their guts and that’s fine with me. I keep meaning to expand their diets, but I’ve sort of just been throwing at them whatever is lying around and headed for the compost anyway. Today, that included some cheese quesadilla that my son didn’t finish. I chopped it up (I honestly don’t know if that part is necessary, but the mom in me in so used to cutting everything up into bite-sized pieces I kind of can’t turn it off) and put it in their brooder cage.
They. Went. Nuts. Cheese quesadilla is a huge freaking hit. The swiss chard I added was largely ignored, but I don’t blame them. I wasn’t a huge fan, either.
So, since the chickens are getting so big, and are starting to fly a bit, it’s time to get them into a chicken coop. Well, soon anyway – we have to wait for nighttime temps to stay consistently above 40 (they are currently dropping into the 30’s overnight). Also, we need to build a coop. We have the run already, so no need to put up fencing, but the chicken coop is still just an idea at this point.
Yesterday my husband collected some old windows and a door from a local off Craigslist (cheaper than buying them new). Today he’s at Lowe’s picking up the lumber, then tomorrow we will be off to the races on chicken coop construction.
It’s so exciting! Being chicken farmers is something we’ve wanted to do for a long, long time (heck, even in Portland it seemed like everyone has chickens – now that we are out on our 21-acre homestead, it almost seems like a requirement).
I love fresh eggs, and I think it’s going to be so fun to share in the egg-gathering chore with the kids (I remember visiting a distant relative’s farm growing up and gathering eggs: it’s literally like an Easter Egg Hunt, except that you get to make breakfast afterwards, and my kids LOVE cracking eggs to scramble).
Stay tuned! More chicken updates to come!