Sunshine! Big Steps for Little Chickens

Clover up babies up USE

Clover and the chickie babies brave the snow on their feet today for the first time.

Today the sun came out on the homestead; the winds died down, the temperatures rose from the teens into the 30’s and our chickens came out of the coop for the first time in more than a week. O happy day!

Our area of SW Michigan had, like many other parts of the US, have been hit by the Polar Vortex of cold, snow and high winds. The poor chickens had been stuck inside of the coop for days on end. Momma Clover will not bring those babies out when it is windy and momma knows best!

Clover 4 babies all sun USE THIS ONE

Chicken scratch farm!

I wasn’t sure if the 8 week-old-chicken babies would actually come out into the snow but I opened the coop up and swept the snow off the gangplank and give them the option. Low and behold, out they came, slipping and sliding down the gangplank and a while later we found them pecking at the green grass, scratching about and trying to dust in the still frozen dirt under their coop.

When we designed the coop and run we purposefully put the structure on a 2″ X 4″s stilt-like-base to create a place that we hopes would become rain free hangout if caught out in the rain. But we didn’t know if it would really work…

Chickens and tarp USE

The tarp is snug under the bales of straw holding it down while creating a draft free “play pen.”

When it began to snow we tied up a tarp on the west-facing side in the hope that not only would the tarp break the wind it would give the chickens a small snow-free space to peck and scratch.

I am proud to report back that this strategy worked!

Let me explain in more detail. When we built the straw bales wind block wall  we purposefully attached the tarp on the inside of the straw wall to leave them an area that had the potential of staying snow free (at least until the real winter snow arrives.)

Area under the coop grassy USE

This is the snow free area under the coop where Clover decided to dust today. It worked!

Today I found them working that grassy area, happy as well…. chickens! This gave them a mostly snow-free, wind-free sunny area to hang out and peck to their hearts content. It feels wonderful and satisfying to know that our theory succeeded!

To help them stay warm enough for their outdoor playtime, I gave them a handful of thistle seeds and a half of a handful of dried meal worms. Meals worms are quickly turning into their favorite treat for sure. In fact, Momma has already figured that the plastic bag represent meal worms and she come right over to me and pecks at the bag.

I sat very quiet and put the mealworms on my knee and they came right up to me and pecked them off my knee for the first time. More success!

While they ate and scratched I took the opportunity to open up the coop to air it thoroughly out, sifted through the litter to remove frozen poop and add more cedar shavings to build another layer warmth.

The airing out of the coop also helped with our ongoing humidity issue which dropped from the 80 percentile to the 50 percentile. And more success!

It was an absolute blast to not only know that my plan worked but that the chickens are getting more and more use to me. They pecked for food all around my body, not at all concerned that I am 100 times bigger than them. They are getting more and more tame and definitely gentled. I think they have finally come to accept me as “The Food Machine.”

I am imaging that my farmer and chicken keeper grandmother is up in heaven looking down on me and laughing. Today made me very happy!

Small House Homestead Chicken Keeper, Donna

 

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