Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicks Rule

Since losing two of my beautiful hens to coyotes, I have been trying to think of how to best keep them safe.  I have always allowed them to free range.  I believe that is the healthiest, best way to have chickens, and as well as the best way to provide the healthiest eggs.  They are fed a balanced diet, and supplement with proteins and grasses from the grove.  But after the second coyote attack, I have been keeping them locked inside their coop at all times, unless I am out there with them.  Being that it is winter, I am not in the yard as much.  The coop is plenty big enough for them, but they are used to having much more space.  So it has been my mission to find a way to ensure their safety while they are in the confines of their run, after being let out of the coop.  So first, I trimmed their flight feathers, to prevent them from being able to fly out of the coop, into the wide open space, should a coyote come in.   I wish I had the money to have a big beautiful enclosure made for them, but I don't.  So I am using materials I have here at the house.  I'll be the first to tell you, it isn't a pretty house.  It isn't the chicken coop of my dreams.  I put off having chickens for years because I thought you had to have some kind of perfect coop.  You don't.  Not even close.   I did have a small coop built, and it serves the purpose I need.  But now I need to add on to it, and secure them from prey.  So I put the playhouse on the roof, with the intention of cutting out a hole in the coop to allow for the hens to roost higher into the second story of the house.  And the run I have created with  a mish mash of materials, is working out well, but I have to make sure the coyotes can't jump onto the coop, and then down into the run.  Today while I was out there working on it, it reminded me of when I was a kid, and my brothers had forts. My hen house was turning into a fort.
So I added my own little "fort" signs.  Instead of No girls....NO Roos....Roosters, that is.  And Chicks Rule!
And on the back side, a little message for the coyotes.
Don't worry.  I would never shoot anything.  I don't even own a gun.
The good thing is, my hen house/chicken fort can't be seen from the house, and can barely be seen from the  yard.  I took this picture below from the middle of the backyard, looking into the grove area where the coop is.  Can you see it?
Once you get into the grove and right in front of it, this is what you see.
The coop sits beneath the canopy of two huge avocado trees.  The limbs drape low and provide excellent shade, and shelter for the chickens.  You can see them on the other side of the run, and Dusty back there on the lookout for stray tennis balls!  That blue school chair is where I sit and talk to them, often times bringing it inside the run while they scratch about all around me.
Walking all the way around the coop and enclosure, this is at the far right.
It looks a little like the shanty houses I have seen in Tijuana.  Rooms tacked on to the side, out of whatever materials are available.  But luckily, this is quite hidden in the grove.
Here is the next view, just walking a few steps towards the back.
A few steps further.
And then the other side.
I keep three sides of the coop covered with a tarp to keep the wind and cold off of them.
Sitting inside the run, I was giving the girls some blueberries.
Tillie took a bite of my thumb thinking it was food.  It didn't hurt though.
I think they are all so beautiful!  Each with their own markings, and their own personalities.
Ham with his big feathered feet!  She is Noah's chicken.
Chickas with her whiskers.  She is Hannah's chicken.  She is the one who lays the giant blue/green eggs.
Sammy, with her sweet and gentle nature.  She is Claire's chicken.  Also a blue/green egg layer.
Tillie is very bossy, and if there is a leader of the pack, it is her. 
Tillie is the least tame.  And she is the bully when it comes to everyone else.  She bosses the girls all around. 
Miss Blue, the one my friend Elaine gave me, is the sweetest one of all.  She is so gentle and calm.
 Some of you asked about the trees in the grove from my previous post.  We have about 6 avocado trees.  Three of them are Hass.  The most desirable of the varieties, in my opinion.  The skin is dark and bumpy, and the flesh inside is ft and creamy.  We also have two other varieties.  One is Fuerte, and one is Bacon.  These are a lighter and thinner skinned fruit.  They have a lighter color flesh.  These are okay, and we use them, but in the past few years, our Hass trees have produced so many avocados, that we haven't really even used the rest.  Most of the trees are navel orange.  But we have a couple grapefruit, lemon, then the avocados.  We used to have some summer fruit trees.    We had two peach, apricot, plum, and nectarine.  We had to remove them when we put the sport court in about 10 years ago.  I fought tooth and nail, and I still miss those trees.   But my next door neighbor has summer fruit, and she always shares with us.
We have had several days of beautiful weather, but it is much colder tonight.  We are expecting some cold rain, and more snow in the mountains.   I have an Academy Awards party to go to on Sunday.  My girlfriend Pam always hosts it. We all bring a dish to share, and have a lot of fun.   I haven't seen all of the the movies nominated.  I loved Lincoln.  And also Les Mis.  Those were my personal favorites.  What were  yours?
XO  Kris


priscilla said...

I want chickens ! I doubt we could have them in our neighborhood .. Those oranges look amazing ! How long until you can plant your garden ?

Connie said...

Your trees are "foreign" to a midwestern gal ... they couldn't grow here due to our cold winters. I'm always intrigued by so CA, it's like a different world from my norm. John lived there once and his family did for years and years so he tells me about it. Someday will have to come knock on your door and ask to see the chickens and the orange trees ... and YOU. ;)

Karen Bates said...

I just loved this post, so fun to see each one of 'your' chickens up front and personal! Thanks. They look to be very happy...that's what counts. I never thought to feed them blueberries...I bet they love them.

I love that you have an orchard, and what a variety. Can't grow those up here in Eastern Washington....darn.

Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life said...

Aw you are so creative and I know you care about their happiness a lot. Blue looks so pretty. She has great markings. Glad you are feeling better.

Bethany said...

HA--your comment about the chicks living in a shanty town cracked me up :)
I love your clubhouse signs, too :)

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Hi Kris,
Your chickens are so pretty and plumb. I always thought it would be fun to have them, fresh eggs would be wonderful..
Those darn coyotes they seem to get into everything. I love the chickens coop, what a great idea using a play house, I bet its easier to wash down.
Wow, your avocado and orange trees are amazing..we have one very sad orange tree that wants grow up to look like your orange tree.
Have a sweet day, Elizabeth

deb said...

Im so sorry ..this was hard to read..I hope they stay safe!!!!

by Teresa said...

Kris, you are going through what we did when coyotes wiped out our whole flock in one night. It was awful. Dayle moved our coop and built a large run that is enclosed top and bottom - not even one opening. It's so nice to sleep soundly not having to worry about them. I need an Ameracauna, we got sold 2 of them supposedly - one died for unknown reasons and the other is laying BROWN eggs! I'm so jealous of your avocados! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Mereknits said...

Your girls are so beautiful. I love the graffiti, you are so funny. I would love to have fruit trees, but they draw too many fruit rats, and we don't wan those.
Hugs to you sweet Kris,

Linda said...

I think its great that you used what you have for the chick's house. Our neighbors give us avocados, lemon,limes and guavas...we give them tangerines, peaches and apples...isn't it nice how that works out with neighbors!! Have a great day!!

45th Parallel Quilter said...

I have always wanted to raise chickens and have a friend who has 63 of them (she sells the eggs at our quilt guild, farmer's market, etc.). My husband thinks they would be too much work and I might also get some pushback from our neighbors as we live in a "community" type neighborhood right now. Anyway ... I looked at your pictures and grew concerned when I saw the trees with the lower branches, wondering if a coyote could use one of those to get inside the coop ... just a concern ;-( Haas avocados are my favorites and when I lived in the San Diego area LIGHT YEARS ago we had some of those trees in the yard ... used them in everything. Love 'em to this day! Linda

Susanne said...

I agree, your hens are all beautiful. I can understand why you would be upset that the wild critters out there are feasting on them. Honey, you do what you must to protect your gals. They are earning their keep by providing you with nice fresh eggs.
(((HUGS))) Susanne :)

Linda said...

i still can't believe that you have chickens and an avacado tree....what a lucky so and so you are!!!!

Hope it doesn't get too cold for you...we are still enjoying temps in the low 80's....fabulous!!!

Linda :o)

Debbie said...

I soo admire your energy and creativity when it comes to most anything, but especially here with your girls! haha I think it all looks great. And if I couldn't see it from the house, I'd be totally good to go. I do LOVE avocados and would love to have a tree, but I would probably have too many then, lol. We just need to be neighbors so I could share some of yours. : ) I LOVED Lincoln and Les Mis, and don't even know what else is nominated! Enjoy your day...

NanaNor's said...

Hi Kris, Your party sounds fun-I have only seen Lincoln and loved it!
O.k. so I have to ask if Coyotes can climb trees like wolves can-cause I wondered if they could get into the run from the tree branches? It must have been awful to lose two chicks-so sorry.
Hope your new coop is totally safe for the hens.
Hugs today.

Patty said...

I think I am going to have to print off the picture of the 3 chickens and frame it in my kitchen! I love it!!