Big girl bed.

Today’s the day. Today’s the day 2.0 gets a big girl bed. Well, a placeholder, anyway, until The Man can find time to build their real big girl bed.

We’ve fallen into an easy, predictable rhythm here; the new normal has finally arrived. In the morning, Billie in tow, I let 1.0 out of the closed run, the pop door having opened automatically at 6:30am. They rush out to pasture for the day.

I take Billie to pee, then let her off leash. (She is going through a thing where she’ll only do her business if we take her on leash. Off leash, she’ll just play and forget all about her bladder.) I then set up the perimeter of the MacGyver Terrace. We’ve had nights in the 50s lately, so the outer coop door has stayed open all night, and 2.0 gets very excited as I set up the fencing, calling to me from inside the gazebo to let them out.

I walk around through the front door of the barn, and enter the coop from the inside. I quickly scoop poop, then let the clambering 2.0 out of the gazebo. They know the drill by now; they scoot out the open pop door, through the open run, and begin their own day of pasture in Junk Jungle.

2.1 has been peeping all this time. They’re excited because they get to go outside, too, but they dread the actual transportation part. We’ve had a breakthrough lately; if I open the crate door slowly and wait a bit before moving, Ava will calm down enough that I can slowly put my hand under her without any resultant hysteria.

I carry the three out with varying degrees of struggle, and plop them into the found crate for the day. They begin to forage immediately.

I pull the two broodies out for their morning walk, and put down scratch for 1.0. Voilà! Everyone is happy, safe, fed, and taken care of. The cats watch me work, Billie now comes to me when I call for her, and responds appropriately to the command “house!”. Life is predictable. Life is good.

At around 6pm, 1.0 begins to congregate around the coop and run, slowly readying themselves for the night. I roll back the fencing for The MacGyver Terrace, and 2.0 gets an hour or so to forage with the big girls, which has been going very well. Only Haley and Maisie, low girls in the pecking order, seem inclined to punish 2.0 for being yet lower.

2.1 is placed into their crate for the night, and immediately set to blissful dustbathing in the sand floor. Abby grumbles that they are back, right next to her nest.

And, then…something amazing happens.

At the appointed hour, 1.0 and 2.0 re-enter the open run, together, and begin filing into the coop to settle in for the night. I’ve noticed that 2.0 will huddle in a far corner of the run, allowing 1.0 to ascend first. This is respectful, and, more important, judicious.

Once 1.0 has made their way in, had their fill of feed and water, and settled onto their roosts. 2.0 will cautiously creep into the coop and find a place to sleep. Some nights they file right into the gazebo and make their momma ridiculously happy; other nights…not so much. I’ve found them settled in on the edge of the poop pit, on top of the gazebo (in defiance of the carefully-strung netting), and on the roosts. With 1.0. Staring at them.

I wish I could capture that moment where 1.0, standing on their roost, circles and stares at the 2.0 encroacher with a look of “What the HELL do you think you’re doing?”, and the 2.0 encroacher, comfortably snuggled in for the night, eyes closed, is all…”What? I’m not moving. Deal.”

2.0, you see, is ready for a big girl bed. It’s time for the gazebo to go bye-bye. Today’s the day.

This wasn’t going to be easy. Netting down. Heating appliances all stored away for the season, the only electrical appliance left…the all-important fan. Battling dust, flies and the feathers of six moulting chicks, I disassembled the current setup. The gazebo came out and was hosed down thoroughly. The 2.1 crate moved to the corner with new sand, and the little ladder from the run was set next to the crate.

2.0 has been roosting on this little ladder in the run; it’s the perfect training roost. The tray that is intended for the bottom of the dog crate is now on the top, protecting 2.1 from the, umm, by-product of the inevitable upstairs neighbours. Yes, I could have set up yet more netting, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of it. That stuff is a pain in the butt. Enough, already.

Please note Abby crouching in her nest to the left, unhappy that I have exposed her broody nest by moving things around. And, at far left, I placed a branch under the nipple waterer, hopeful that 2.0 will figure them out. They already have the PVC feeder down pat. (I’ve switched the flock to organic grower crumbles, by the way, so 1.0 and 2.0 are now on the same feed.)

2.1 got new digs, too. After the gazebo was cleaned and its bottom removed (oh my), it became 2.1’s new outdoor home. The found crate will be hosed down and stored in the barn until it’s time for the poults in the spring (she said). The gazebo offers 2.1 more forage space, and it’s much more portable.

Here they are on alert (Oliver was right next to me):

And more relaxed:

Tonight should be fun. I’ll be watching to see if 2.0 takes to the baby roost naturally, and how 2.1, now 4.5 weeks old, will react to life without heat. We’re to have nights in the 60s for the next few days, so…no heat for you!

And tomorrow morning, I’ll be watching to see if 1.0 and 2.0 have managed to get through the night without loss of life.

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3 thoughts on “Big girl bed.

  1. How old is 2.0?

    I am anxious to get mine out in the coop. They forage all day with the older group, but are 6 weeks & 5 weeks old. I am babying them at night. They all get in the brooder themselves at bedtime, at which point i turn on the heatlamp. It does go to 5 degrees at night still.

    On another note. Our hen Dott made front page of the news paper for a jumbo egg she laid. :) They did a really long article about the farm as well :D

    • Go, Dott! That’s amazing! What did it weigh? What were the dimensions? I’d like to know just how big a chicken egg has to be to be newsworthy.

      2.0 is 8.5 weeks old, WAY too early to be free ranging, which they basically are now (details to follow). And also WAY to early to blend with an adult flock, if I were to follow the rules. But everyone is doing great so far. 2.0 gives 1.0 a respectful distance, and, other than the very occasional squawk, it’s pretty harmonious. So far.

      • Not sure what it weighed, but it was 4 inches long and 6.5 inches around. I don’t have a scale to measure the weight for it.

        I’ve seen close to this from my RSL, but they are bred to be production masters. SLW are not – so it was surprising to me.

        My 5 week old chicks are free ranging. I don’t have fencing. We haven’t had a single predator problem. If we did, my rooster seems to signal to run for cover.

        Everything I read said to introduce at 8 weeks old. I’ve always done younger, but my hens take change really well.

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