Chick Update

Chick Update.

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Chick Update

When Emily came home from school on Tuesday, we went out to the barn to collect the remaining chicks. It had started to rain, and chickens HATE to get wet, so they were hanging out inside and pretty easy to catch. We found three of them, and then we found what was left of Mom. I now have six little fluff balls under a heat lamp in my studio.

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Another Greenhouse

Another Greenhouse

I have started another greenhouse. I think this is my fifth or sixth one. Some have been more successful than others, but I have learned something from every project. Most of them have been made out of found or recycled materials, too.

My first greenhouse was made out of something called Starplate connectors. You can use them with boards to make a dome-style shelter. This worked pretty well for a while, although the long, slim green houses seem to have more usable space. We bought them from the Stromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds Unlimited and they still sell them.

The next version of a greenhouse was a frame made from aspen saplings and straw bales covered with plastic. This was also pretty successful and I used it for three years before we took off the plastic and let it compost itself. The patch of blackberries that grew up where that greenhouse was produces berries that are an inch long or bigger.

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Then I began to experiment with hoop houses with varying amounts of success. None of them seemed to stand up to snow load very well. I thought I had it licked a couple of years ago when I used cattle panels with plastic over them, but two feet of wet snow one night flattened it to the ground.

Cattle panel hoop house

Cattle panel hoop house

After that I began making small hoop houses to protect plantings of greens, carrots and beets for the winter. These worked very well for that purpose, but I didn’t have anywhere to store my plants when it was too cold to put them in the garden yet. I hope I have finally solved the problem.

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Today I began to put together a hoop house using PVC pipe that began life as color guard flag poles from the high school marching band. I have to wait until my next pay day to buy the connectors I will need, but I think this one will be strong enough, or at least I hope it will! It will have interior bracing along the hoops on both sides, so that should do the trick.

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Surprise!

Yep, it’s one of those days. A surprise day. When people invite me to things, I always say, “I’ll be there if I can.”  People who haven’t known me long look at me kind of funny and I know they are thinking, “What? You think you’ll get a better offer?” It’s not that. My life is subject to change without warning. Actually, all of our lives are, but for anyone who lives with critters, life is especially spontaneous.

Thankfully my friend rescheduled the doctor’s appointment for which I am taking her into town, because when I went out to the barn to feed the chickens this morning, I found five, fluffy, little chicks running around peeping. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any sign of a mom. I scooped two up right away and put them in a plastic bin that was sitting nearby. I found another one trying to get out through a crack in the wall and put it in with its siblings. There were two more, but they found cracks they could fit through, so I wasn’t able to catch them.

The three chicks I've been able to capture so far.

The three chicks I’ve been able to capture so far.

I asked Mini, my former husband and current neighbor, to help me catch the other two. He seemed reluctant and said that he had seen the chicks a few days ago and had been putting food and water down for them. At that point their mom was around, but I haven’t seen her today, and that is not a good sign in a mother hen. He said I should leave them alone and let nature take its course.

I am all for leaving wild animals where you find them, and have always discouraged my children from keeping things in cages or jars, but that doesn’t work for week-old chickens. The three I caught are in the bin in my studio with a heat lamp, food and water. I will try to get the other two tonight. If someone had told me about them earlier, I could have put Momma in a pen with her babies where they would all be safe. There is “letting nature take its course,” and then there is laziness.