The birds are singing, the chickens have slowly started laying, my seeds have been started, I got this year’s chicks….. sure signs of spring, right? Well then why is Minnesota getting A FOOT of snow. TWELVE INCHES of snow. For you metric folk, that is 30 CM in less than 24 hours. I thought for sure the foot of snow last week would have been the end, but Mother Nature has a different agenda. She is a moody one this year.
Have you ever heard of someone who NEVER calls people/animals by their real names? That’s me. It took me all too long to realize that I will literally call you anything then call you by what your common name is. Example: Phoebe – we named her Phoebe but I call her Phoebs, Phoeber, Phoeberoni, girlfrann, the list goes on. My children I call nugget, stinky, stinky muffin, peanut butter, love muffin, by their middle names only, or just some rendition of their names that is NOT their given names. WHY do I do this? I have no idea. To be honest I did not even realize I do this until I had kids and people were confused as to what my children’s actual names were. HAHA. To me, it is a term of endearment but I am not much for the ‘honey’ or ‘dear’ words. Phoebe, Footless Phoebe, or whatever else rolls off my tongue HAS to be part of the family now because I call her anything besides Phoebe. Welcome home, kid.
She has been standing up so well! She is not walking in any direction besides a very ungraceful flutter-fall backwards. She attempts to stand up and eat her food, but when she loses her balance, her wings and her beak are giving their best efforts to catch her fall. This dramatic turn of events breaks her balance even further and she steps backwards in her best effort to catch herself with poise. None of what is happening would fall under any definition of the word ‘poise’. She stumbles backward and backward until she finds a wall, or a toy, or something that will catch her, then she lays down and takes a nap. All that falling was tiring. The 4 year old or I will notice her not on her blanket and scoop her up and gently place her in front of her food & water on her cozy blanket. Despite all of this ungracious falling, she truly is SLOWLY gaining stability.
If you follow The Sheep Shed on Facebook, you probably saw the fact that we got some little fluffballs. Or maybe my post about chicken math tipped you off. Either way, I am here to confirm our flock has grown by four little chicken nuggets. I am hoping to add some more color to my egg baskets this year. Before I lead into the breeds of chicks I got, I have to explain their names.
Since he was born, our oldest son has been around chickens. He sees the fast process of baby chicks turning to hens that lay eggs. He is even starting to remember what chicken lays each egg. When we pick up chicks he asks questions about their adult feather colors and what color egg they will lay. So, what is better to further involve him than to let him name the feathered friends? If you are not aware of my current chicken names, I suggest you check it out. He has some pretty unique ones.
All that being said,
INTRODUCING THE SHEEP SHED’S 4 NEW CHICKS [Slide Over for Names]:
So how did my son do?! I find the names extremely comical, but I am biased.
These little fluffers were hatched February 28, 2019. I *hope* to get them in the coop full-time by Memorial Day. They will be just over 12 weeks. I will ‘harden them off’ for two weeks prior – letting them free-range during the day. This helps them get used to being outside, acclimating to weather and *gasp* wind! Typically I free-range the babies in visual-range of the big chickens, this allows an easier transition to the coop. So far, one week in and all the chicks are healthy as can be, no pasty butt or illnesses! YASS! Now we need to pray NO MORE ROOSTERS! I love my roos, but 4 might be enough. Although, I wouldn’t be mad if one of the Marans were a roo. That could make for some pretty chicks. Hmm..
New Roo, Who Dis?
I had a friend reach out to me looking to re-home a rooster. They are moving and the new house does not allow for roosters. I was promised he is nice and good with their children (he is 1.5 years old, so training would be pretty hard if he wasn’t). Here he is, the beaut himself. I currently house 3 roosters, all extremely relaxed. They dropped this fellow off on Tuesday and we placed him in with the boy sheep. He was NOT having the sheep (I mean, they ARE big, and intimidating), so he flew the fence and ran towards my chickens free-ranging. I let him figure out his place.
Let’s back-up. Chickens have a pecking order. There is a definite dominant/subordinant hierarchy in every chicken coop. There is usually one top-dog, head hauncho rooster followed by any other roosters, followed by any hens. Once pecking order is established early on, it is typically not messed with. When you enter a new hen to the group, she is assigned a rooster in charge and finds her place among the hens. I have done this a million times.
I have never introduced a full-fledged rooster into a pack of birds before. Silly Alyssa, you didn’t do any research? Why, no. No, I didn’t.
New Roo found his first match – Head Hauncho, Danny. Dumb New Roo walked into the coop and let off his COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO. Idiot. Danny must have missed this handsome rooster’s tail feathers and hackles. Danny trudged into the coop and showed New Roo who was boss. I let them fight a few minutes until Darth Vader stepped in.
Thinking he would defend Danny was a huge misconception on my part. He fought Danny too. ‘If we are finding a new pecking order, now is my chance at the top!’ kind of mindset.
I broke up the fight when I needed to go inside. I picked up New Roo, clipped one wing to prevent flying and placed him with the sheep again. He was more accepting. They may be big, but they were not scary.
I locked up my coop and went inside.
The next day I let my chicken coop free-range and checked on New Roo. Everything was fine.
I went about my farm chores and went inside. An hour-or-so later I went to see how things were going. Danny and dumb Darth Vader were fighting, bad. Mind you, New Roo is with the sheep. WHY ARE YOU GUYS FIGHTING?! Apparently Darth Vader wasn’t letting go of this potentially new pecking order. Ugh. Roosters are literally like an over-testosteroned male.
I picked them both up and patted their beaks and told them to play nice. They did. I am the boss.
As I do with most of our new chickens, I asked our 4 year old to name our new rooster. Seeing as a new baby chick was named Copper, he named the rooster Todd (both from Fox & The Hound). Meet Todd, our Barnyard Mutt Rooster.
Currently, Todd is with the male sheep – Friedrich & Shaun. Sometimes he walks around the snow, and the sheep will eat or sleep in the shed. Sometimes Todd’s feet will get cold and he will go into the shed and Friedrich & Shaun will lay outside the shed. It really is comical to watch – I can see their shed through my kitchen window and I chuckle every time I pass a glance. They eat together, and they tolerate each other. That is best-case scenario, in my opinion. They will learn to love one another.
You can tell, by the photo above, that Todd is still on-edge a little. His hackle (neck) feathers are standing up, which roosters do when on defense. Such a tough guy.
Another accomplishment this week – I started some of our seeds. Well, actually, I organized all of my seeds into a spreadsheet so I know when to plant. Last year I started everything at the same time and I got SO overgrown in my house that half of them died. I am planning more this year – hopefully this will lead to a better planned garden.
My 4 year old is extremely interested in my endeavors this year. This interest is fleeting as his attention span is not very long, but I am trying to harvest that intrigue as best I can! I each of the boys a small terra cotta pot and they planted their own seeds – basil and daisies. Each day the 4 year old sprays the plants with water and waits for them to sprout. I love his interest in gardening, especially food. He chose basil because he knows he can eat it. He only wanted to plant something he could eat. YASS. Proud momma.
Although I do love me some flowers… like a lot.
I started this blog to share my endeavors and lifestyle with others. I do not live as homestead-y as some, but I try to create a balance of a modern homestead life. I have received overwhelming support and love from everyone and for that I am FOREVER grateful. All of your love, accompanied with my best efforts has progressed my business faster than anticipated. I am excited to share with you guys as I continue to explore wherever this shall take me. Thank you for sharing my posts that inspire you, entertain you, educate you, or whatever other reasons you enjoy reading.
A reader reached out to me regarding the chicken nappies – one of her hens had gotten frostbite on her feet as well, and was indoors. She loved the idea of chicken nappies and asked if I would make her some, so I did! I am not ready to open up a full-fledged store yet, after-all my main job is still my family. If you ever see anything I do that you like, reach out! Above are the two nappies I sent off to Wisconsin for a poor frostbitten chicken. I am happy to help!
This week was much better than last week, and I had a sick 2 year old. I guess some of it is all mindset. I feel we got so much done this week. New chicks, new rooster, seed planning, and my first sale!
If you ever have any questions, or ideas for future blogs, comment below or shoot me an email!
From the farm,