November 6, 2016

New life and life lost - a rough week

With the news that Jungle Jims would like to carry our eggs in their Fairfield store, we quickly decided to increase the size of our flock.  We were not able to get the Easter Egger chicks which we prefer this time of year, but Mt. Healthy Hatchery was offering Golden Comet chicks.  We have not raised this breed before, but they are said to be good layers of nice brown eggs so we ordered fifty.  We will get fifty Easter Eggers in February too, which will even out the mix of colors in our eggs. 

They hatched last Wednesday and Josh went to pick them up just hours later.  We set up the brooder in the workshop for them, like we did last time.  We expect that they will last in there for several weeks then we will move them out into one of the lean-tos on the big coop.  This is what we did last time and it seemed to work really well when we eventually integrated them since they had heard and smelled each other for a while by the time they actually intermixed.

That first day they are truly little fuzz balls; it's so cute!  How fast they grow though.  By Friday they had already begun to sprout little pin feathers on their wings.   

We are excited for these new additions, especially in light of the difficult week we have had here.  Our predator issue increased majorly when we lost a whole bunch of birds in one day.  I came home from work midday and Josh had let the birds out to free range an hour or so earlier.  We were talking by one of the back windows when I looked up to see some chickens pecking at another.  I went outside to investigate and discovered that the bird they were pecking at had been attacked right off our deck.  It was half eaten.  Next I saw a second bird in the front yard killed but not eaten.  Then I went back to the coop to discover piles of feathers all over the place.  From the looks of it at least four more birds were carried off, dropping feathers along the way.  We concluded that several coyotes must have come through an wreaked havoc on our flock.  

Initially we were both in shock, but when we calmed down we decided that even though we want the birds to be able to roam our whole property that's unfortunately no longer in their best interest.  We are going to create a chicken yard around the coop, enclosed with at least a five-foot fence where they can range when we aren't able to supervise.  If we are able to be out with them then we will let them roam a wider berth in the evenings. 

Then of course came the disagreement on how much space to enclose.  I thought the bigger the better but my husband, being practical, thought - more fence to trim around, more fence to keep up, etc.  So we compromised on a fairly sizeable but still reasonable plot.  I sure do hope this will keep our girls safe.  It breaks my heart to keep losing them to these predators, finding piles of their little bodies strewn about. 

Anyone want to come help drive t-posts for the fence??  I have 35 more to put in...

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