learning curve

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Ok, chicken people. I need some help.

We are total novices at this poultry game. Everything we know we’ve learned from books, blogs, or through J’s amazing Google fu. And really, for possessing no practical knowledge, things are going pretty well. We had no pasty behinds. We didn’t lose any chickies while they lived in our bathtub. I mistook Dottie’s umbilical cord for poop once when she was tiny, and made her bleed a little (and felt awful), but she survived with no ill effects. They eat like hogs, and learned to roost all on their own. So far, so good.

Our feathered friends are seven weeks old tomorrow, and look like actual chickens now. Gone is the gangly half feather/half fluff look they were rocking, and instead they’re starting to take on that chicken shape. They’ve been out in the coop for two and a half weeks now. It only took a day or so for them to find their roosts and snuggle in together under the heat lamp, which we’re using because they’re still young and it’s still cold at night. We blocked the nesting boxes so that they wouldn’t become accustomed to sleeping (and pooping) where they will eventually lay, and hadn’t let them out into the run until yesterday. And here comes my question.

My assumption, based on my reading, was that at dusk, they would return to their established home and prep for bedtime. It’s only been two nights, but they have not shown that initiative.

Several of the girls let me scoop them and put them inside. Easy peasy. Two have hidden under the coop where I cannot reach them and refused to come out until I bribed them with crumble, and then ambushed them. It took thirty minutes last night; forty-five tonight. This cannot continue, basically because by 8pm, I’ve used up the last of my patience on my human children and honestly, I just want to go to bed.

Am I rushing them? Trying to put them to bed too early? Did we let them into the run too soon? I’d love your thoughts.

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Beyond that, our teeny homestead is coming together as nicely as I could hope for, being that it’s in the backyard of a rental. It’s shabby, but in the best way, and is quite comfortable. The grass is finally coming in, the veggies are growing, and we even set up an old woodstove as a firepit today. My friend Jocelyn shared a recipe for shrimp foil packets today as well, and I think our little redneck stove will be perfect for cooking them, maybe on J’s next day off. I’ll let you know how they turn out.

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4 thoughts on “learning curve

    1. We are also newbies with the chickens, but I give mine their evening feed inside the coop to get them to go in. Although I think not everyone feeds twice a day? They will catch on with repetition I suppose. Or can you block off under the coop at bedtime so they are more willing to go in? Sorry I’m not more help 🙂 either way, I totally sympathize about the fatigue at the end of the day. Hopefully it gets easier! Jill

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  1. Chickens are creatures of habit and though they want to be safe at night, they don’t know how yet. When our girls were young, we bribed them with special (greens, oats, meat, worms, berries, leftovers, etc) food to get back in coop. It takes a week or two for them to get the complete hang of it. Eventually the pecking order will settle, and #1 will be first in, with everyone else following her. Then it will happen so easily they will just recognize the cue and start the routine. They will feel less stressed when they know the routine.

    Also, they hate being chased. We call it the “don’t tell me what to do” attitude. You can pick some up if the are docile and then give them food; the others will probably get curious and want to follow.

    Good luck!!

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