Jethro & Ellie Mae (the ducks), with Ermengard and Broom Hilda
These little ones spent yesterday, the first day of Spring, outside while we sawed and hammered away all day. We hit some 80 degree temps and it was awesome! This was their very first time pecking on the actual earth in their future home. We’ve had temporary fencing up all Winter with metal posts, but now we’ve got some cemented wooden posts with horizontal framing for more security. Now they’re more safe from burrowing and climbing predators like foxes and raccoons, and they have a larger run to boot!
Petunia, Jasmine, Marigold, and Amelie
This has to be one of my favorite pictures ever because Amelie looks like one of the hens. Yesterday was our their first day spent free ranging all over the yard. Boy, did they have a blast! They’re a joy to watch because they all stay pretty close together, run together (the running is hilarious), and you can feel their excitement. They enjoyed fresh grass, bugs and spent a while under our bird feeder cleaning up all the spilled seed. They also stepped inside our fresh garden beds and stirred up the soil for us… and of course, they left some fertilizer, too! They caused walkers on the trail to stop and take a second look at them. People can’t help but smile when they see hens running about.
We had to keep an eye on the hawks and eagles overhead. We have a large Bald Eagle population here and they’ve been known to grab chickens for lunch. We saw one circling overhead, but when we let our large dog outside it retreated. Free ranging in the open is something we plan to let the hens do a lot, but only when we’re spending a full day outdoors.
basic framing for the fence
This was taken midway through the process, and the wire is too high. It was trimmed down at the top railing. We used basic landscape timbers for posts because we wanted more of a rounded log feeling. It actually has a kind of ‘petting zoo’ feeling to it now, and you can see by Sky that it practically is. The run was extended about 7 feet, so we’ll have plenty of room for 9 hens and 4 ducks. See that pole with the blue clothes pin bag hanging on it? That’s being cut off at the top and used as a pole for a bird house. We’re moving the laundry line further down. All this labor is one of the prices we’re paying for putting the chicken run right up against the house last Fall! It feels great now that they’ll never peck at the house again or poo in the a/c. Another bonus to this new run is that they’re more visible from the sun room than ever. With it extended, we always see them clearly from the dining table. Like I always say, it’s better than TV!
Sky and the ducklings
Sky LOVES holding the ducklings. We’ve decided it’s his job to get them used to human handling, and they’re getting a lot of it. Jethro, the duckling on the right who we thing is male, is a very calm and trusting fellow. They grow about three times faster than chickens, so we’ll be moving them in with the larger hen babies soon.
Phoebe & Mortimer (Indian Runners)
Aren’t they sweet, and haven’t they grown a lot? They’re about four and a half months old now, and their feathers are changing a lot. Soon they’ll be easily distinguished from one another. Phoebe will be mostly light tan (she’s on the left) and Mortimer will have multiple colors. You can’t tell in this picture, but his head has started turning a brilliant metallic emerald green. It’s gorgeous! His wings are changing a lot, too. He’ll be light tan with some blues and whites on his wings, and a line of green that starts on his neck and covers his head. I love male Mallards and he’s going to be so handsome. Oh, and Phoebe should start laying some delicious eggs in about six weeks!
Here’s a last picture of Mortimer taking a stroll to the water. Of course, Phoebe was walking right behind him since they go everywhere together. You can see just a hint of the green on his head if you look closely.
It was a very productive day, and we got the fence completed which feels like a miracle. I’ll post more pics as the chicken run project evolves. When the fence was done, Prasad walked up to me and said “Wow, I’m proud of you guys! You both deserve a big treat this evening. Something special just for you guys.” We ended up getting carry-out for the family from one of our favorite restaurants, La Parilla. Then I think we slept so hard last night we were practically comatose. We both awoke refreshed, talking about our next projects- a new gate and whiskey barrel potato planters.