Sunday morning, while Poncho the Rooster and his five friends waited patiently in their cages, Brandon and I added a few last, but critical, pieces to chicken coop. Ta-da! It's chicken ready, at last!
The ladies were more than ready to be let out of the animal carrier. Mom and I plucked them from their roost in the middle of the night, and they were late getting breakfast by the time I got the last piece of wire in place.
Poncho spent the night alone in his cage since he knows how to escape if the cage door opens, so I couldn't add a companion for him. I put the cage in the coop before the last piece of wire was attached, so I didn't have turn it on it's side to fit through the door. I wasn't sure this was a good idea when I started to use the pneumatic staple gun, but after the first startling noise, he took it in stride. Chickens are amazingly resilient.
I learned a few things about measuring and cutting a roll of wire while I was working on this project. If you have ever tried to man handle a stiff roll of wire, then you know that the wire will not come unrolled unless heavy weights are placed on it, or if there's a second pair of hands to hold it open. This makes it very hard to measure the wire by myself. But, I perfected what I call the "electric slide" technique. Buy laying the measuring tape on the ground with the tape extended, I could place the edge of the roll at one end of the tape, and then slide my feet between the two rolled ends, unrolling it until I was at the end of the tape. Sort of line dancing style. It works! Then it's just practicing yoga positions while bending over and cutting each wire with the snippers.
I hung a feeder and put in some water, and then just opened the doors to the cages and watched them feast. Poncho was a diligent guard, and stood atop the animal carrier keeping an eye out while the rest ate breakfast.
When Puck walked under the coop, Poncho was quick to sound the alarm, and jumped down to defend. I could tell that a transparent floor was something they weren't used to.
On one of my frequent visits to the coop, I noticed lots of cooing noises from the next box, so I peaked inside to see what was up, and Poncho was in there with two ladies. Pardon my intrusion!
The young chicken was the first to find the roosts above, and practiced some stretching exercises of his own.
The chickens will stay in the new coop for a couple of days, so they learn where to sleep before they are let loose on the farm during the day light hours. I want to make sure they know to sleep where they are safe before I let them out. I saw a raccoon yesterday morning, not far from the house, and we regularly see a fox on the road near home. The coyotes make beautiful music for us nearly every night in the summer. And someone I know who lives nearby said weasels killed some of her chickens. If you remember, these are some of the chickens I raised in my dinning room last spring. I really hope I can keep them from being someone else's dinner!
The four hens understood the purpose of the nest box immediately.
I found two eggs buried in the wood chips on the first day!