Just over two months ago, I became the “mother” to six cute, fuzzy, baby chicks, and thus began the adventures of “My Girls” and me! The first few days and nights of our adventure together were spent within the confines of a plastic storage container located in my husband’s pool room.
A lot of eating, sleeping, and “pooping” went on inside of that box! A 75 watt bulb was attached to the box, and it burned twenty-four hours a day keeping my new babies warm. I even played country music for my babies because I didn’t want them to be lonely whenever I was busy!
My babies began to grow quickly, and before I knew it, they were sprouting wing feathers, and trying to fly! It was time for larger living quarters! Ed fastened three cardboard boxes together and made the babies a new “chicken condo”. Their chicken condo wasn’t very wide, but it was long and they seemed to enjoy running back and forth. They continued to sleep under a light bulb, which was now hanging above the middle of the connected boxes. By now, the chicks had learned my voice, and would scurry about every time I called “Hey girls!”–which I did several times a day. By now, “my girls” were no longer quite as fuzzy and cute, but were becoming more feathery…
After three weeks of having “my girls” living indoors, and trying to keep them inside of their “chicken condo” (I’d actually had to place netting over the top to prevent them from escaping), the time finally came to move them outdoors to their brand new “chicken palace” that my husband built for them! I tell you, that first night was a long one for this “chicken mama”! I walked back and forth checking to make sure “my girls” were warm and cozy in their new home.
After moving outside, “my girls” continued to sleep under a light bulb in the hen-house because the nighttime temperatures were still cool, and the chicks still didn’t have all of their feathers. I also put a small section of their former cardboard condo inside of their chicken pen. During the day, I’d move the light into this box so “the girls” could warm themselves when they became chilly. Giving up this box became quite “an issue” with my girls…sort of like giving up a security blanket!
Once “my girls” had gotten all of their feathers, I quickly discovered that they were also afraid of the dark! Each time I unplugged their light inside of the hen-house, they would chirp loudly in distress! It broke my heart, and I’d always end up plugging the light back in. Gradually I kept reducing the size of the light bulb at night until I had “my girls” sleeping under only a 4 watt night-light. It was a happy day, about three weeks ago, when “my girls” finally learned how to sleep in the dark! (Note: It isn’t healthy for hens to be exposed to light 24/7 for long periods of time)
Another happy day was when all of “my girls” finally learned how to climb the ladder of the hen-house, and go to bed on their own! This happened about the same time they learned to sleep in the dark. I can’t tell you how aggravated I used to get trying to catch those six chickens at night to put them to bed! There was always one rebel chicken every night who refused to cooperate! I nicknamed her “Renny Henny” because that girl is such a renegade!
After a couple of weeks of chasing chickens at night, I mentioned to Ed that I didn’t think the chickens liked sleeping in their hen-house because they felt trapped. The hen-house had windows, but they were located up high. We decided to add a “picture window” to their hen-house, so they could see outside. That picture window did the trick! Within a day or two of adding a large plexiglass window, the chickens were voluntarily going to bed on their own, but Renny Henny is still the last to go to bed each night! At night, I love seeing the hens all lined up on their perch happily looking through their new picture window!
“My girls” still come running whenever I call “Hey girls!” In fact, they come running, even if I don’t say anything, because they associate me with good things to eat! I feed them treats several times a day, and I also keep a chair inside of their coop for my frequent visits. I love to just sit and watch them. “My girls” enjoy sitting in the chair, too, whether I’m in sitting with them or not!
I’m in the process of painting the chicken coop, and “the girls” currently have several decorative touches located throughout their coop–in addition to the chair and picture window! They have a “welcome” sign over their door, and two wind chimes hanging from the top of the coop!!! As the temperatures here continue to rise, they might even get their own fan before the summer’s end!
Thanks to our bountiful garden, “my girls” always have plenty of fresh vegetables to eat–and some weeds and grass, too! Whenever anyone comments about how fast “my girls” are growing, I always say, “It’s because all they do is eat!” Fresh cabbage leaves seem to be one of their favorite treats–oh, and grasshoppers, too!
All of “my girls” look exactly like little red hens these days. They remind me of the story, “The Little Red Hen” as I watch them busily scratching! “My girls” are growing rapidly, but it will still be several more weeks before they will be old enough to lay any eggs.
They’ve already learned how to “sing” and sometimes I hear the beginning of a “cluck” every now and then. “My girls” are probably the equivalent to human teenagers right now! I can hardly wait to see what kind of adventures the next phase of their lives will bring! I wonder who will be the first to lay an egg?! Who knew that raising chickens would be such an adventure–and so much fun, too?!