My Flock, Henhouse, and My Stalker (lol)!

I've been trying to get pictures of my flock to show- so I can join in on the Hen House Hop But they won't stand still together or they won't separate and beside that- I can hardly tell them apart so I'm not sure if I'm getting a photo of the same one I took the time before I got the next one... well, it can drive you crazy trying. 
So here are a FEW that came out well... not sure exactly who is who yet, but there are 7 hens and Roo...
(notice that 3" long 'spur' on his leg!)

  (Doesn't she look like Henny Penny running because the sky is falling?!)

(Her neck is all stretched out- it's her 1st day in the yard and my dog is just on the other side of the fence)

(My one white speckled hen, same breed as the others: "Blue Cochin". They came as chicks from McMurray's Hatchery - 25 originally, out of that 9 were roosters, and 2 hens died from a Doxie dog attack later, before I got them.)

(GAG! Notice the feather coming out, bottom first? THEY ARE MOLTING!)

(all 8 together bedding down in the yard, because it's their 1st day
 and they don't know any better) 
So I have to shoo them in.
Every day, for a month...
(this is only 7 showing here, because there is ALWAYS a straggler)
You know, I always have to count them to make sure that they all get in.
 It's my nightmare that I leave one out alone all night!

So here's the coop set up, (but you can explore my blog if you want to find out the background/history and all that):

(The shed has 'skids' built on the bottom to drag it around by truck- so we moved it to where southern sun would shine into the 3'x3' window in the back.)

(view from my office window - after 1st snow this October)

(A side view of their yard with overhanging wire with sheet strips to keep predatory birds away- since we have both prolific eagles and hawks)

(pallet made into a gate, but 4x4 posts are set into cement using metal spikes that go 2 feet deep!! So no matter what- we'll be keeping a gate at THIS location -forever!) 
Note to self: never send a man by himself to Home Depot to get supplies.

(a pic of the 'latch' set up, using what I had on hand -and a lucky hole in the gate!)

(the 'roost' I built - but haha on me-  they don't know how to use one! That's ok with me- they all sleep together in a sort of mosh pit of's better that way when the only heat source is a halogen lamp.)
(as seen from the back window at night, all piled together behind the door - if it were open)

(the ORIGINAL nest box setup... 6 plastic crates, stacked, on a shelf with a ramp...and eyesore too-heavy-to-move 5-gallon paint buckets the lst owners left here.)
The hens were afraid of the ramp- and they didn't walk down and they didn't fly gracefully down to the floor, but FLOPPED on their chests when they jumped off! 
So... they laid a couple of eggs in the corner, under the shelf, and I moved  the rows of boxes there (hoping they would 'accidentally' lay in a nest).

 (you can barely see the nests along the bottom here, but they tramp the straw down quickly! They suddenly quit laying then, so I figured somehow I had scared them or they'd had too many changes over too many days as I tried to figure things out. But no, they were just going into MOLT!
So, aside from the straw and the golf and ping-pong balls (nest lures), there are some nice soft feathers lining the nests now): 
 I took time during their evening calm period to get them used to them - and had lots of laughs- since the hens would invariably set calm in the nest a few moments before getting back out and sitting on the ledge, and then getting out and looking back an examining all of the nests as if they'd never seen them before.) And since I put a ping-pong ball in the center of each nest- I KNOW they've been in there since the balls are moved around. 
Or missing. And the straw in the nests is all compacted now.

(it wasn't just ONE hen in the nest checking it out- the whole FLOCK had to come and see, lol)

(and here's a hen that's been in a nest, now GAWKING at it  LOOKING BACK to make sure she saw it right- because you know, she never did notice those before...) 
I didn't see that egg until I uploaded the pictures- by the time I went out to get it- they'd eaten it!

But, I beat them to it a few times...
The beautiful 3-1/2 eggs that I got before Molt began -LOVE the color! :
(The white egg is store-bought! The mocha egg is like 2 eggs, fused - you can even see a kind of 'fuse' line around it, making it 1-1/2 eggs in size with 2 yolks (she normally lays 2-yolk eggs I heard), and it's cracked on top, because she laid in that corner before I got the nests moved down).

All I can say is, I can't wait until they are able to lay again!  Well, I can also say I wish I'd gotten chickens years ago! I'm hoping to get some hatchlings come spring... even though they'll lay enough eggs for just us... but of course Roo hasn't shown himself to be all that cocky, if you know what I mean; I don't even know if they'd be fertile. Maybe being in Molt is causing some different behaviors in them all. We'll just have to see.

If you have chickens and want to show them off, or you still dream of having chickens and want to see what others are doing- check out the sidebar link to the Hen House Hop! (Oh I do hope you will)

Now I believe most chickens will chase down a lizard, spider, or mouse (YUM, right?!) so you don't really need to bother keeping them out- but the deer... not so much.

Today I went out and tossed some old stale crackers to the flock after I let them out into THEIR yard.
Then I turn around and I see this:
Yeah, only about 7 feet away! Yikes! 
She apparently heard the sound of the cracker package as I was crushing the crackers on the way to the coop. 
How long had she been waiting for me- and how close was she to hear that package- and how did she know it was food?!?

I think I have a stalker!

So we stared at each other a minute. Then she moved a step or two closer so she was maybe 6 feet away. I reached my hand out toward her and could tell she was as nervous as I was...she was a bit shaky. 
So I hurriedly threw a few crackers as far as I could THATAWAY....if you know what I mean!
And made a quick exit, stage left. 
AFTER I captured a few shots of her young bucks...

You can only wonder what they're learning here...

Now, "Miss Piggy" in particular, makes herself at home here all year round. There are deer trails literally every 15 feet or so on our property (which helps us navigate thru the trees and brush). Some parts of the year lots of does will travel together-a herd survives better in winter if they stick together I guess. We'll see the same group all thru winter. In summertime they break up into smaller groups, and you can see where they've been laying in the taller grasses.
(They walk all around and make the bad dogs bark, then act like they don't like it).

They often lay near the house too, perhaps where they might find something laying around like old peaches or apple cores, or old pancakes tossed out onto the compost heap (pre-chickens). 
Try to ignore my mess, getting things put away for winter!

But today... after I made my escape back into the house... (because you never want to see what a deer might do if your back is turned and she thinks you have cookies)... is this:

My chickens, all happy to see what those crushed crackers might taste like!
And then... they were suddenly all hiding in the bushes, because...

...someone else thought they should have them instead!
And not a minute later.......

I have to admit I've never seen a doe act 'innocent' before.
Somehow, I wish it was funnier...

*If you're interested in seeing all those tiny details of the chicken-getting journey it took all summer to accomplish... feel free to explore, or click on any of the late summer months thru "October" (when I actually got them), in the blog post archives.

I hope to share in your dreams come true, too!


Deborah Jean at Dandelion House said...

Hi Illoura!
Wow! Great post you put together of your coop and flock...I love the addition of your egg laying mysteries too... Chickens are so funny aren't they? I adore the roost you made for them too..We might try a heat lamp in our coop this year too.
thank you for joining in the hen house hop!

Alycia @ Hunting Creek Homestead said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I was trying to figure out a way to answer your questions so you'd see it. One interesting thing about the vacume packed wheat, grains or beans is that they will keep, even in the heat. When we bought ours we were told that instead of lasting 10 years it might be 5. We had ours in our garage before we moved for 3 years and there was no problem, but we *use* and rotate our food storage. It never just sits. Love the idea of pecan trees! I planted 2 and they died, but I am ready to try again. I love pecans and they do grow well here. Lovely blog and great pictures!!! Take care!

Jocelyn said...

Your chickens are so pretty! I really enjoyed looking at them.

The pic of your hen house in the snow is so peaceful. What a nice view to have!

Sharon said...

Thank you for coming to my blog and leading me to yours!

I would think you get a lot more snow than we do for sure! My daughter is dying to know what kind of chickens you have, they are beautiful. Your deer situation is one I would love to have. We have German Shepherds and that seems to deter any wildlife for now. Otherwise our neighbors have their share of turkey, deer and black bear. The bears I can do without.

I look forward to checking back to keep up with what you are doing!

Illoura said...

Thank you Sharon for romanticizing the deer issues... lol. They eat my flowers right off the porch, and hop the fence for the chicken scratch... forget putting a garden in. But it's true, they are pretty and add a lot to our quality of life here.
The breed of chickens are called "Blue Cochins", the standard size (there are also bantams available). Please advise your daughter to read up on them before deciding based on how they look, like all breeds of anything, they come with their own set of pros and cons. I may work up a blog post about those.
Hope to see you again soon!

Jocelyn said...

I still really like your chickens!

Actually I came by to tell you about the cats. No, I don't worry about them with the chickens. The three indoor cats are fairly terrified of the chickens, so they won't try anything. The two outdoor cats, who are fresh and are the type to try something, don't, because they were raised with the last batch of chicks. And I think that with them being kittens around the chicks, they just sort of accepted one another and I have never had a problem.

I will also say that I keep geese for this same reason; there are stray cats around, and just in case they want to try something, the geese will deter them. I don't have predator problems with the geese on watch. And they are ALWAYS on watch. :)