For last week's chicken chronicles, go here.
It's been an exciting week in our downstairs bathroom. Ida, the Ameraucana, (on left) is exploring her passion for aviation. The wings are the first to feather out, so they can fly about like little sparrows when they're this size. Well, Ida can, at least. She wants nothing more than to get out of her box and explore the world. Lady Bird, the Buff Orpington, is already behaving like the barnyard-dwelling, egg-brooding hen she will someday become. She's not all that interested in flying or in exploring the world. When we bring her out of her box, she settles on our laps as if she's already sitting on her eggs. It's amazing how fixed their personalities are.
I realized this week that we forgot to buy them chick grit, the tiny bits of rock that they can start to nibble on as a prelude the full-sized grit they'll need in their crops someday. So I'm off to the feed store soon to pick that up. Also, at some point pretty soon we'll add a flat board to their box so they can get in the habit of roosting, which is how they typically sleep. Doing this now gets them used to the idea and gets their feet used to it, too.
If we didn't already have a coop, we'd be deep into the construction-and-testing phase now. Most feed stores sell ready-made coops that look something like this; while it may seem like a few hundred bucks is too much to spend on a chicken coop, unless you're very handy with tools you'll probably find that this is the way to go. Just remember that they need to be absolutely critter-proof from underneath as well–just sitting them on the ground isn't going to do it. Our coop is inside a shed we already had in the backyard, with a fenced run attached. We used hardware cloth (dug down into the ground and protecting the roof from the inside) as well as a concrete/wood floor and lots of critter-proof hardware to keep skunks, possums, and raccoons out.
Here's a hint: Once your coop is built, put some cat food inside and lock it up. If anything gets in to eat the food, it can also eat the chickens.
Here's another hint: Make the door on your coop open out, not in. Inside gets full of bedding, making the door hard to open. These are the sorts of things we would just know if we were the sort of people who build things regularly.
Now that we're at week three, the heat lamp gets raised again so that the temperature is 85 degrees.