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Inside the coop

I am so happy to report that the ladies are greatly enjoying their full-time outside lives. They still seem to love us a lot even though they are big girls with their own lives. Bribery, treats, and special attention will get you everywhere with chickens. I like to peek into the egg door and see what they are doing. Usually they are being cute or funny, or both.

The inside of the coop is pretty nice. The roof is clear as to not interrupt their stargazing.

They’re good at putting themselves to bed when the sun goes down. They are learning to use their perch. They love the bugs and dirt. I enjoy not having chickens in my house. If we ever raise baby chicks again, I would prefer to do it in the garage. Or at your house. We’re friends, right? You’d let me keep a flock of chickens in your house, wouldn’t you? Now, that’s settled.

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Chickens, 7 weeks!

There are so many things I want to blog about these days, but the most labor-intensive project gets precedence today. We have been working on our garden coop for months. In fact, we spent most of the 4th of July weekend working on our chicken coop — what is more American than that, I ask you? I would say that our coop is now about 97% complete. It thrills me to type that.

We still need to:
* finish filling in the predator-proof trenches.
* add hardware to the human-sized door.
* tile and re-install the coop floor.
* add perches and nesting boxes.
* sew up a little part of the hardware cloth to keep predators out.

It’s nearly good enough for chicken habitation. Later this summer I want to add gutters and a rain catchment system, but that’s not essential now. Our years of research, weeks of hard work, the labor of our dear friends who helped to build this, and a smidge of good luck seem to have paid off – we are delighted by our coop. With great relief, many broken fingernails, a sunburn, 5,000 mosquito bites, and a thin layer of caulk on my hands, I am so pleased to present our 97%-complete coop.

The chickens are too big for the light box anymore, so we made them pose with Levi this week. I have to admit, this is pretty much my favorite photo ever. Of All Time. I have never loved a photo like this. No one was pooped on in the making of this photo. (see it bigger here.)

Ramona & Pepper love to perch on human arms. They make us feel like professional falconers. They are so sweet.

On to the individual shots!!

Cry-Baby Walker, pretending to be a pirate’s parrot.

Hatchet-Face is growing some feathery Farrah Fawcett wings on the sides of her head.

Ramona did not want to pose today. Also, her white feathers are coming in like crazy.

Pepper Walker is checking out the egg-access door.

Lenora was far too busy flying around to pose. This was her “best shot.”

The chickens were enthralled by the coop and they can’t wait to move outside full-time. The dogs anxiously tried to herd/eat the chickens, but the coop was secure enough to keep the hounds at bay. I have high hopes that the flock can move outside within a week!

Click here for past chicken portraits.

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SIX WEEKS!

We have managed to live with chickens in our house for six weeks now. I wasn’t always so confident about the chick raising, but we have done it! We have kept them safe from weather, predators, our dogs and cats, disease, over-handling, neglect and everything else that could have ended their little avian lives. They have grown feathers and started flapping their wings.

Being a chicken mom is so rewarding. Let’s not talk about dust or poop. I prefer to focus on the precious moments. I wake up to a chorus of anxious peeping at chicken breakfast time. I am greeted by excited peeping when I get home from work. I hear a round of sweet, sleepy, contented peeps as they cuddle up for bed. I hope we can finish the coop & move them outside within the next week. I’m not sure how much longer we will continue the weekly photos. The ladies are difficult to manage in the photography studio. They hate to be separated from their flock. They are too big for the light box that Krista built to photograph them. That cat keeps destroying the light box by napping in it. There are a lot of factors.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the six-week-old portraits of the chickens in my living room.

Cry Baby Walker has grown into a seriously huge chicklet. I need to get her on a scale. She is Chickenzilla.

Lenora Frigid. I love this bird. She is like the dove of peace, in chicken form. She is terrifyingly good at flying. I need to learn to clip chicken wings.

Ramona Rickettes who is obviously a speckled sussex and not a welsummer. I really wanted a welsummer, but c’est la vie. Ramona is the chillest, sweetest chicken ever, so I am forgiving her for being the wrong breed, even though I am sad to miss out on chocolatey welsummer eggs. Next time around, we are getting chocolate egg layers.

Pepper Walker!! Pepper is a really sweet, chillax’d chicken, much like Ramona. Ramona & Pepper act like BFF’s. You can always find them together, quietly plotting to steal all of the raisins/quinoa/melon/worms/peas from their frantic sisters.

Last, but never least: little Hatchet-face, who is growing feathers and gaining weight but never quite catching up with her sisters. She is looking a little scraggly this week, but our fingers are still crossed for her. I just want a happy, healthy adult hen who lays turquoise eggs. Get to it, Hatchet-face.

Outtakes from this week include close-up shots that show off the wattles and combs we are growing.




Click here for past chicken portraits! Hopefully soon we will have gorgeous shots of our finished coop to share! In the meantime, buck-buck-buck-ba-gock!

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the chickens & their props

It’s hard to tell exactly how big the chickens are in a photo with nothing for comparison, so I decided to have them each pose with props they have posed with before. They mostly cooperated.


Pepper and the swan pepper shaker, 10 days old.


At five weeks, the swan is not so interesting, although she did try to peck at it a couple times.


Cry-Baby, Babe and Paul Bunyan, 2 weeks old.


The gang at 5 weeks. Cry-Baby is our roundest little lady.


A handful of Lenora at 2 weeks old.


She’s not so easy to fit in one hand at 5 weeks.


Hatchet-Face and the apple, at 8 days old.


Still growing, 5 weeks old.


A fluffy little Ramona on our state at 10 days old.


Squatting on top of Washington, 5 weeks old.

Now if I could just finish up the coop so they can move outside! We have been weaning them off the heat lamp and they don’t seem to even need it at night anymore with this decent weather we’ve been having. We offer them new treats all the time, and being chickens they are always skeptical at first. In the last couple days they have tried watermelon and they got to finish off a strawberry a bird had taken a bite out of in the garden. The fun never stops on this little farm.

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four weeks of chicken-y goodness

I’m currently on what I have dubbed “chorecation.” I’m off work for two weeks, and I hope to use that time to get caught up on some things that desperately need to happen. Like, our house needs a good scrub down, the garage needs a miracle, and most importantly, the chicken coop needs to be painted and generally finished up so these ladies can move outside. They are getting huge, and their poop is getting smelly.

Without further ado, someone would like to show-off the feathers she spent the whole week growing:

All that fretting last week, and she starting sprouting feather pins all over the place the very next day. Also, her green legs got a little darker and more vibrantly green. HOLY DINOSAUR FEET.

Oh, and miss Hatchet-Face now weighs over 5 ounces. When we were first worried about her, she was barely over an ounce and lost weight for a bit. We are no longer taking extra measures to keep her growing, so hurray!

I don’t know if the ladies are less used to their portrait sessions now that they are only weekly, or if they are just more curious and aware of their surroundings, but it is getting much more difficult to get them to stay-put. Pepper is usually the most cooperative, but this week most of her shots looked like this:

I did get at least one where she stood in place.

To my surprise Cry-Baby was the only who just stood there and let me snap away while she made funny chicken faces.

This is especially bizarre because girl has really earned her name. She is very vocal when you go to pick her up. She also is like a little alarm going off when she has a treat she is trying to keep away from the others. Not so smart, Cry-Baby. Not so smart.

Lenora is the most curious.

She is the first to fly out of the brooder if the lid is off, and has started to try to take off to explore if you don’t keep her corralled.

This also means of course she kept taking off from the light box.

And last but not least, our colorful little Ramona Rickettes:


(demonstrating a funny new chicken squat pose?)

Jess says her feathers look like bloomers:

One month later, we are still loving this chicken thing so much it is hard not to pick out the chickens for “next time.” Unless there is some disaster, we don’t plan to add to our flock for at least two years. But gosh, aren’t these Lavender Orpingtons gorgeous?

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shake a tail feather

The babies are now three weeks old, and have just begun to cross over into the awkward teenager phase. Maybe I’m biased, but I think they still have a lot of cute left. And these feathers are quite stunning. Pepper is getting her little bits of white and Lenora is turning completely white instead of baby chick yellow. So much change!

Let’s compare 3 days old to 3 weeks old, shall we?

Pepper Walker:

Lenora Frigid:

Cry-Baby Walker:

Ramona Rickettes:

and Hatchet-Face:

Oh, little Hatchet-Face. She is still half the size of the others. On the one hand, this is good because she is continuing to grow. As the others feather out, though, we can see how behind she is once more. After isolating and force feeding her for a bit, we put her back with the others and started just offering her a couple extra high-calorie snacks a day. She had started to eagerly eat worms and egg yolk everyday. She can be a little scrapper and even sometimes wins the tug o’ war over worms or uses her size and speed to her advantage to sneak under and yank something from another beak.

Yesterday we started to worry again, because she won’t eat treats by herself anymore. She only seems interested in it if her sisters are going crazy for it, and of course that means she doesn’t get much. That would be fine if it seemed like she were eating a lot on her own, but everytime we feel for food in her gullet there doesn’t seem to be much. So we continue to watch and wait, and hope she starts to sprout some new feathers. Come on Hatchy!

Another minor chick discovery. I’m now convinced that Ramona, “our Welsummer,” is not actually a Welsummer. Ramona and our friend’s little chick were the two that we had the hardest time telling apart when they arrived in the mail. The coloring was slightly different, but the markings were the same except Ramona had more distinct eyeliner. We did some googling and settled on the eyeliner meaning she was the Welsummer and she came home with us.

As she has grown I had started to suspect she was the Speckled Sussex our friends had ordered. A visit to see them this week made me pretty certain I was right, as they look a lot different now. Nobody cares enough about their breeds to do a switcheroo. I, for one, am very attached to our little Ramona. And I just have to promise the wife we can get another chicken some day that will lay chocolate colored eggs.

My absolute favorite thing about week three?

Their adorable little tail feathers. They now stick them up in the air when they are running around fighting over a snack. Chicken TV never gets old.

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two weeks old

Two weeks ago our chicks were newly hatched, shoved in a box and mailed across the country to Olympia. And here they are, two weeks later. Most of them have doubled in size.


Lenora Frigid demonstrates what a handful they have become.


Ramona Rickettes celebrates by pooping in the light box. They are all very skilled at this trick.


For Hatchet-Face’s trick she demonstrates a couple chick poses: the head tuck…


and the classic baby chick butt


Pepper Walker is such a pretty bird


She stayed still enough for a nice head shot for her portfolio


And Cry-Baby Walker would like to show off the latest trick they’ve all been perfecting

Then we took them on their first trip to the backyard.

We weren’t sure what they would do, so we made sure the three of us were there as chick wranglers. Of course they mostly hung out in a tight-knit little baby chick gang. Unless one of them found an awesome snack, and then they went berserk and chased each other all over the place and played tug o’ war over a worm. Who knew worms could stretch that far? Surprisingly, little Hatchet-Face was the most determined at searching out snacks outside. She devoured a beetle right before our eyes. An aerial shot of the ladies shows her size compared to her sisters:

We’ve been tracking their weight since we started to worry about Hatchy, and the handy Google doc chart shows a hopeful upward trend in her growth:

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