Monday, April 27, 2009

Project chicken continues

So, if you have been following our ongoing saga of getting set up to have chickens for fresh eggs, you know that we have progressed through a couple of stages already.

Stage 1 - gather information, read books, talk to friends, find out legalities, etc.

Stage 2 - obtain a coop and a location for it. Done

Now we have moved on to stages 3, 4 and 5.

Stage 3 - decide what breeds we want and if we want to buy adults or raise chicks. We decided to raise chicks so that we could get the specific breeds that we want. We ordered our baby chicks from a local store and we will pick them up THIS WEDNESDAY (and I mean it this time...) We're getting two chicks each of three different breeds; Barred Rock, Americauna and Rhode Island Red. We're also hoping that we can get a hen to raise our chicks so that we won't have to do quite as much work.

Stage 4 - borrow a broody hen from a friend. Enter the hen in question!

One of my coworkers loaned us this hen who has been broody (sitting on eggs hoping for chicks to hatch) for about a month. I have named her Henrietta Penelope Cluckbottom (Henny Penny for short).
She came to us sitting on two real eggs and one glass egg in a pet carrier. Do you notice anything wrong with this picture? one, two, three real eggs and one glass egg. Yep! Henny Penny laid a new egg. This means that she's not broody any more. She's snapped out of it.

I didn't realize that when I opened up the door to the coop to have a little chat with her on Saturday. And when she decided to step outside, I wasn't too worried. My coworker told me that a broody hen will go outside for a while, but go back to her eggs pretty quickly.

We started to worry about 30 minutes later when Henny Penny showed no interest in returning to her nest. She decided to roam around our garden instead. She quite enjoyed a little dust bath amongst the garlic plants. We shooed her away from the small lettuce, radishes and pea plants in another planting bed, however.

After about an hour of exploring the area, Henny decided that her favorite spot was underneath the coop. So we decided that it was time to move onto
Stage 5 - complete the enclosed chicken run. We hoped to make it all the way around the coop with the chicken wire to catch her inside. Here we are 1/2 way around.

At 3/4 around, Denis thought we might be able to corner her into the enclosed portion and shoo her back inside the coop. He blocked the way out while I did the shooing (after taking a picture).

No good. Henny was determined to stay outside. After more than 30 days sitting on those darn eggs, she wanted to enjoy the sunshine! So we kept going. We managed to get all the way around with the chicken wire which she stayed under the coop.

Aha! We've got you Henny Penny Cluckbottom! Now you will stay inside your enclosure like a good chicken...

We had to leave Henny in her enclosure because we had a game night to attend. We left my mom in charge of checking on Henny and shutting her coop door once she finally decided to go inside for the night. We didn't find out until the next day that Mom found Mrs. Cluckbottom OUTSIDE her enclosure. That's right, she'd flown the coop! But she happily marched into the coop once the door was opened up for her. On Sunday, a tarp was added to cover the top of the chicken run. A permanent roof will be added on Saturday.

Okay, the good news is that Henny is sitting on her eggs during the night. I find her there when I close up the coop for the night and I find her there in the morning when I open it up. My coworker thinks that is a good sign as hens generally ignore their eggs entirely if they are not broody. We're hoping that Henny will still take the chicks. Just two more days, Henny. Hang in there!


joeks said...

:D Love Henny Penny's real name!

Wonderful documentation of your great chicken project!

Alison said...

That is a chicken with personality!

Martha said...

What a fun story. With all the area we have here, we should have been setting up enclosures and adding animals to our farm. I wonder if there is still hope.

Rachel said...

How funny! She really has a mind of her own. After sitting on eggs for so long wouldn't you want to go play too? :) I LOVE the name you chose for her!

Kim S said...

Love the name! What a fun project! We have an exchange student moving in for the last 5 weeks of the school year. One of her many dreams is to go to a farm and collect eggs. Wish you lived closer! I am going to be finding a local "Henny Penny" soon.