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Chicks on Grass!!

Well, it had to happen because..that was all part of the plan, which was that we would be pasture-raising the chickens. And now, as you can tell (go back to When we first got the chicks to get an idea of how much they have grown in 8 weeks), they are NOT chicks anymore and they are out in their “outdoor coop”. They are moving toward that state of ‘Pullet-hood” where the hens will start laying eggs by the end of the summer. This coop is NOT like the moveable broiler pens a la Joel Salatin at Polyface Farms. I have to admit that the DH is his own guy, wanted something he could put nesting boxes in, put perches in to get the birds off the ground and what the heck, he wanted to do his own design anyway. This is really sort of a prototype.

Which didn’t look so hot when the thing fell over and he came down to the house to ask me about how to figure out how long the bottom had to be, given that he was working with a trapezoid rather than just a right triangle (we will draw a veil over this episode, since it is a somewhat embarrassing issue that the DH had to ask Aunt Toby, who was voted “Least Likely to Succeed in Math” three years running in high school. Geometry, however, is something Aunt Toby ‘gets’, so this was not a terribly difficult thing once I had drawn the whole thing out – sewing helps tremendously with geometry and vice versa).

Now, we just put the chickens out this morning and a very interesting thing happened. Recalling, if you will, that the DH and I got the chicks from a hatchery where, the little buggers were hatched, dried off, popped into a special cardboard box and courtesy of the US Postal Service, arrived at the Central Post Office of our local Big City. We brought them home and popped them into a larger wooden pen in the basement where they were entertained with food, water and wood shavings. Then several weeks later, they were transferred in another cardboard box to their next, larger pen up in what we euphemistically refer to as ‘the barn’, where they had wood shavings and shredded paper for their bedding. Their clawed little tootsies never hit the ground ONCE for the past eight weeks.

Yet, this morning, when we put them out, they set out IMMEDIATELY to doing their chicken-y business, scratching at the grass and dirt, eating bugs, and generally turning the grassy area underneath their new outdoor coop into a mess of dust baths, scratched up plants and thoroughly explored environment. It’s not as if they had older, more sophisticated hens and roosters there holding ‘How to Be A Chicken 101” classes. One moment, they were chickens inside a barn, living an indoor life; the next, they were outside doing the same things that chickens in the wild have been doing for thousands of years and what domestic chickens did even on commercial enterprises until some point in the 20th Century. Hard-wired doesn’t begin to even describe this.

Except for the issue of so-called ‘efficiency’, it makes you wonder why anyone ever bothered to build giant chicken batteries and stuck them into cages, doesn’t it?

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One Comment

  1. kmkat says:

    The mental picture of older chickens and roosters teaching “How to Be a Chicken 101” had me guffawing.

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