Day five at Mygrant’s House O’ Chickens and the babies are doing swimmingly – er, more like “flyingly.” Last night just before bedtime, we had our first attempts at flight. Today, it is everybody’s new favorite game. Oh, sure, they’ll still engage in a match of Kill the Thermometer, Who Can Peck Highest on the Wall?, or Dig a Huge Hole in the Bedding While Flinging it All Into the Waterer So Lisa Has to Clean it AGAIN… but right now, Flying takes the cake.
A good game of Flying starts when someone stands at one end of the brooder, gets up on tippie-toe with wings stretched in the air, and then DASHES across to the other side at top speed while furiously flapping those ever-growing wing feathers. Once this has happened, everyone else decides that it’s a great idea and follows suit, and suddenly we have peeping, flapping, running chaos – with chicks’ coming from all directions. Some even get an inch or two of air along the way. Then, as suddenly as it started, it stops. I’m not sure how the winner is determined. A variation on the game is waiting until everybody else is eating and then sneaking up from behind and jumping, wings a-flutter, onto someone’s head or back, and hopefully landing squarely into the food they were just eating. Success at this version is determined by how many other chicks you can startle in one try. Other variations include “flying” to and from the feeder and waterer as fast as possible, and “flying” directly into the middle of a sleeping pile of your broodermates. The goal of this last version is quite similar to that of the Feeder Jump. I tried my darndest to get a picture of some flying or at least some wing stretching but to no avail. So, today’s pictures are of nothing in particular. Just cute.
Anyway, this all means that it is only a matter of time before this turns into real flying. Then we will have escapees if we don’t put a lid on the brooder. In light of this issue, I have raised the brooder light a bit today and will raise it more tomorrow until it is clear of the top edge of the box so that I can lay chicken wire across the top as a lid. However, I am not looking forward to this because they are still terrified when I move too quickly, pick up the feeder or waterer, or move the brooder light. If I have to move a big sheet of chicken wire every time I need to get into the box, it will be highly stressful for them. I am still working on befriending them, but it will take some time and will be much easier when they aren’t in the box anymore and so I don’t have to reach down from above their heads anytime I need to get near them. Also, I believe the taming process will speed up when I can start giving them some good treats that are different from their regular crumbles. I was going to start this week, but I read in a couple of places that while it’s OK, it can cause more loose droppings at this young age and I may be doomed to clean bottoms for even longer. That sealed the deal – no treats for another week. Cleaning bottoms has gotten harder and harder because the babies are much more alert and MUCH faster nowadays and so are surprisingly hard to catch, considering they are stuck inside a cardboard box. Plus, I don’t like doing it because it scares them a LOT and I feel like it causes me setbacks in the taming process. I want to be done with it ASAP.
All that said, it is my big hope to get them out into the actual coop sooner than later. As long as they have consistent heat, they can be out there at any age. When they are very young like this, they would be closed inside totally and not be able to go out into the run. Apparently with too much space and no mommy to show them what to do, babies can get disoriented and not find their way back into the warm, safe coop and die of exposure. Anyway, the plan is to move them out there as soon as sometime next week. Kurt has promised to have it ready for them by then, so here’s hoping. The inside is pretty much done, so I think we’ll be good. Anyway, I’m excited about getting them out there for another reason – I’ll be able to go in and sit on the floor with them. If I have food, they will theoretically be curious and eventually hop all over me to check me out. Then the taming deal will be sealed, I think.
Today I had an inquiry from one of my loyal blog followers as to whether I’d named the chicks yet or not. The answer is no! None of them have names yet for two reasons. The first is that I want to be fairly sure of genders before I go naming them. I have read many a chicken blog where owners have female names for their roosters because they were told the chicks were females and they grew up to be males (a common scam, plus sometimes there are legitimate mistakes as well) and they got so used to calling them by female names that it was too tough to switch. I don’t want that to happen and I don’t want to give them all gender-neutral names either just so they can be named early. The second reason is less concrete – I would like to give them names that fit their personalities, so while we are waiting for the men to separate themselves from the girls, we can get to know them a little better. I will certainly keep you posted on personalities.
All that said, I am open to suggestions. I have been building a list of names that I think are generally good for chickens, but I haven’t made any decisions at all. Please let me know if you have any thoughts about names in general, or even for specific chicks. I have promised the loyal follower who asked the initial naming question that he can name at least one chick, so hurry and sign up if you’d like to do the same! Also, please let me know if you’d like more pictures of anything in particular.