To read last week's installment, go here.
Above: Ida ponders one of life's great mysteries.
It is colder here than it ever should be in California. In fact, hail is hitting the roof as I type this. In theory, the chicks move outside in another week or two. But I'm not sure about that–they really shiver when they're outside for even a short time. Each week we continue to raise their heat lamp, so that now it's 70 degrees in their downstairs bathroom home–but it's 50 outside, or worse. Hmmm.
My adult hens are laying eggs–you see here some light blue and green eggs very similar to what Miss Ida can expect to deliver to us later this year. Good thing she has no clue what's about to happen!
A couple people have asked about the smell. I can assure you that my chicken coop does not smell, at all, period, not even a tiny bit, until you literally walk right into it. Then you get a whiff of what I would call a barnyard smell, which is not really a bad thing. We keep lots of fresh pine shavings on the floor, and the pine smell works against the manure smell pretty well. Sometimes you will start to get an unpleasant ammonia scent if their bedding is soggy–the cure for that is to rake a bunch of it out, toss it on your compost pile, and top off with more fresh pine shavings.
Really and truly, there is no smell. Certainly not one that the neighbors would pick up on.
Of course, my girls free-range during the day, so half their manure gets deposited around the garden, not in their coop. That helps. But I have to say–the longer I've had chickens, the more firmly I believe that if you're going to keep chickens as pets, you have to figure out a way to let them roam around. You wouldn't keep a dog or a cat locked in a tiny room for their entire life, so you shouldn't do it for a bird either. They don't need a huge space–I have a small, regular city backyard–but they need enough room so that they can have a life.
Anyway, things are going great. I'm in denial about the fact that they are only a couple weeks from moving outside. And to be honest, I'm not quite sure how it's going to work. They should probably spend a lot of time in the coop and run at first so they get used to it and know where to go to eat and sleep. But my adult hens aren't usually locked up all day. Also, the adults get a calcium-rich food that's right for egg-laying, but the young pullets are supposed to have a lower-calcium food at first. I honestly don't know how I'm going to work that, short of some complicated construction project that just isn't going to happen. Hmmmm…