Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Well, we did it.  We put together a pen for the little girls inside the chicken run, so the bigs and littles can see each other, but not hurt each other.

They've been going out for extended field trips daily since then.  I take them out when the temperature gets to be about 50°F in the morning, and bring them in some time after supper.  On the first day, at one point I saw the three bigs lined up on one side of the fence, and the three littles lined up on the other, just staring at each other for about 10 minutes.

The big girls have been quite vocal about the whole affair.  They flap their wings in their I'm-bigger-and-stronger-than-you way.  They try to peck the littles through the fence.  Chickens do not take readily to change. The littles have learned quickly to stay away. 

It's looking like the overnight temperatures over the weekend will be around 50°F, so I'm hoping to leave the girls out, in the hen house, overnight.  I'll decide later in the week, based on the bigs' behavior, whether to keep them behind a barrier or not.

I think the littles like being outside.  I've seen all three of them sunbathing, and they seem calmer when they're inside.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Menu plan for the week of April 23

What a difference a week makes.  Last week at this time, we had about 12 inches of new snow on the ground.  Today (Sunday), it's 62°F and sunny (and I bet I could still find spots with 12 inches of snow, but there's a lot more bare ground than snow now).  I spent some time sitting in the sun with no coat, and I actually felt hot enough to seek out some shade.  As much as I love snow, spring makes me so happy.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

  • Rice burgler, applesauce
  • Nachos with guacamole (of course)
  • Chicken tenders, cuties, carrots (it'll be quite an orange meal)
  • Tacos (using leftover shredded beef), taco toppings
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, green beans
  • Steak, mashed potatoes, grilled veggie
  • Sunday night stew, mashed potatoes
  • Shepherd's pie (make extra to freeze), rolls, applesauce

  • Egg roll in a bowl (I didn't get around to making this last week)
  • Yogurt (the chickens love it!)
  • Muffins, maybe banana?  I still have a few bananas in the freezer that were leftover from last summer's Boy Scout camp.

Friday, April 20, 2018

When can my chicks go out in the big girl coop?

Y'all.  We need to get serious about moving our little dinosaurs into the big girl coop.  Our babies are 6 weeks (and a couple days) old, and they are huge.  Well, just Hazel is huge.  The others are more reasonably sized.  I was looking back at pictures of our first set of chicks, and I'd estimate that Hazel is about the size they were at 9-10 weeks.  She can touch the screen on top of the brooder without jumping.  She definitely needs more room.

The littles' first trip to the big girl coop
The big girls moved into the coop when they were just shy of 6 weeks old.  Of course, for them, it was June.  And we didn't have the winter that lingered forever.  I still worried about them.  I know I keep telling you that chickens don't need supplemental heat because they're built for the cold, and that's true, but the key concept is that chickens don't need supplemental heat because they become acclimated to the cold.  If the temperature suddenly dropped 30-40 degrees, they might be in trouble.

Our chicks are acclimated to 62-68°F, because they live in our house.  Putting them outside right now, when our lows are still going below freezing, without heat, could be dangerous.  I suspect they would actually be fine, but I don't think I would sleep.

In addition, chickens are territorial, and pecking order is a real thing.  They look all cute and fluffy from a distance, but they are ruthless.  If we put the littles in with the bigs right now, the littles could get pecked to death by the bigs defending their territory and resources.  Most of the information I've seen suggests introducing littles to bigs in a way where they can see, but not touch, each other.  That way, the bigs become familiar with the littles, and by the time they're put in together, the bigs think the littles have always been there.  The other option, of course, is to introduce the two groups when they are all closer in size.  That is not an option for us, because there is no way we can keep these chicks inside until they're 14-16 weeks.

Toasty Crunch (in the background) was quite vocal in her displeasure
A third consideration is food.  The big girls are eating a 16% protein layer feed, while the little girls are eating an 18% protein starter/grower feed.  The little girls shouldn't eat the layer feed because the extra calcium could damage their kidneys.  They also still need the higher protein because they're still growing.  The big girls could probably eat the starter/grower feed, but they need the calcium from the layer feed.

One solution would be to make layer feed available in a location where the littles can't reach it, and grower feed where the littles can reach it, but in my experience, if there is food, chickens will eat it, regardless of how difficult it is.  Another solution would be to serve an all flock feed.  It's formulated for poultry that is 7-8 weeks old or older, and has the higher protein of starter/grower feeds and lower calcium than layer feeds.  A third solution would be to serve chick grower feed to everyone with oyster shells for calcium on the side.

When the top is off, the girls like to hang out on top of the brooder
Right.  So we need to consider temperature/acclimatization, protection/exposure, and food.

The plan is to build a pen inside the hen house or run, so that the big hens and little chicks can see, but not touch, each other (we have a dog kennel on permanent loan from my parents to use for this).  We are taking the chicks outside daily to help them acclimate (and oh boy, is that a production), and will most likely put the mother hen heating pad in the pen turned to its lowest setting for at least a night or two--longer if we feel like it's needed.  The chicks will have water and chick feed in the pen, and when the littles move to the pen full time, I'll start transitioning the big girls to chick feed.  After about a week, we will attempt integration, possibly by putting a door in the little girls' pen that's sized so that the big girls can't get through.  That way, the littles can get out, and they can also get back in and be safe if they're being chased or picked on.

When we're outside, they like to perch on me.  They avoid me and perching when we're in the house.
So the bottom line: when can chicks go out in the big girl coop?  It depends.  You need to consider temperature, protection from bigger chickens, and food.  For us, we're hoping soon.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Menu plan for the week of April 16

Hey y'all.  It snowed again.  Yeah.

Here's what's on the menu this week:



Friday, April 13, 2018

Ice Cream Cake: A "Recipe"

Bubby wanted an ice cream cake for his birthday, so I made one. 
Bubby's 10th birthday, a long time ago
And then MC liked it so much, he wanted one, too.  So I made another one for his birthday. 
MC's 15th birthday, more recently
And then someone asked for the recipe, and I realized I hadn't shared it after Bubby's birthday.  (Side note: it amuses me when someone asks for a recipe like this.  I mean, it's pretty easy to figure out on your own).  So I'm sharing it now.  The "recipe" is very similar to this "recipe" for ice cream sundae cake, but the boys like chocolate more, and fruit with ice cream less, than hubby.

Ice Cream Cake

  • You can use any type of pan or container you like--I used a 9" springform pan for ease of serving (it's easier to cut and serve something if the pan doesn't have sides).  Add more or less of each layer to fit the size of your pan.
  • After adding each layer, put the cake back in the freezer for 30 minutes, then proceed with the next layer.
  • First layer: Mix cookie crumbs with melted butter and press into the bottom of the pan.  For my 9" round pan, I used ~3 c. oreo cookie crumbs and 1/2 c. melted butter.  You could also use graham crackers, nilla wafers, nutter butters--pretty much any cookie crumb will work.
  • Second layer:  About 10 minutes before the 30 minute freezer rest time is up, take ice cream out of the freezer to soften.  Spread the slightly softened ice cream on top of the cookie crumb crust, filling the pan to about 1/3 - 2/5 full.  Use a moistened offset spatula to smooth the top.  I used about 2 cups of moose tracks ice cream.
  • Third layer: Pour sauce on top of the ice cream layer, and sprinkle more cookie crumbs on top of the sauce.  You can use caramel sauce, hot fudge, peanut butter, strawberry jam, nutella, creme de mint--anything that will go with the flavors you're using.  You can use the same or a different kind of cookie crumbs this time, or use something else crunchy, like toffee chips or finely chopped nuts.  Feel free to heat the sauce up to make it easier to spread, and use as much or as little as you like.  I used caramel sauce and more oreo crumbs.
  • Fourth layer: About 10 minutes before the 30 minute freezer rest time is up, take ice cream out of the freezer to soften.  Spread the slightly softened ice cream over the sauce and cookie crumbs, filling the pan to about 2/3 - 4/5 full.  Use a moistened offset spatula to smooth the top.  I used about 2 cups of cookies and cream ice cream.
  • Fifth layer: Heat 1/2 c. heavy (whipping) cream to almost boiling (I heated mine in the microwave, but you could do it on the stove).  Pour over 8 oz chopped chocolate, and stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth (keep stirring--it takes a while,and remember to adjust amounts to the size pan you're using).  I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you could use white, milk, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate or chocolate chips.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes--we don't want to melt the ice cream.  When the ganache is cool but still pourable, pour on top of the ice cream layer, and tap the pan on a flat surface a few times to smooth the top.
  • Decoration: Add any decorations you desire.  I added halved oreo cookies, and some more cookie crumbs on top, before freezing.  If you want to pipe decorations, I would wait until after 30 minutes in the freezer, so you're piping on a solid surface.
  • Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until solid, before serving.  To serve, remove the side of the springform pan, cut and serve.  You may need to run a table knife or offset spatula around the edge of the pan to help it release.  I did not have to let the cake sit out at all before serving (I did let Bubby's cake sit out for about 15 minutes before serving, and you can see from the picture that the ice cream was melting down the sides).
That's it!  What flavors would you use?  Let me know if you try it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Eleven / One Month Chicken Update

Well folks, I have been a chicken tender for 11 months now.  The big girls are doing well.  The biggest news is, of course, that Esther finally laid an egg, at 10 and a half months of age.  It's not a world record, but she was definitely above average on point of lay.  In case you missed it, Esther lays green.

Rocky, Toasty, Esther
 Remember how I mused that perhaps Esther would have more confidence when she started laying?  Well, she does.  Esther's still at the bottom of the pecking order, but the others are less vicious in their pecking, and aren't excluding her as much anymore.

I am still buying eggs at the grocery store, but much less frequently.  Esther is laying consistently 2 days on, then one day off.  Rocky is laying around 6 eggs a week, and Toasty Crunch is currently on a 19 day (and counting) egg-laying streak.  She's a beast.  So we're getting about 17-18 eggs a week, which is enough for our family, if none of us goes on an egg-eating streak.

We did a little bit of redecorating in the chicken run.

 We added the xylophone that my friend Bert sent for the girls.  They haven't really gotten the hang of playing it yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

 We also mounted the grit and oyster shell dispensers.  The girls are loving the oyster shells.

Finally, we mounted this sign.  It makes me happy to see it mounted over the chicken pop door.

The run has been sponge-like this spring.  Or, it was sponge-like before the temperature decided to stay below freezing and it snowed again.  I have confidence that it will be sponge-like again.  We definitely need to figure out a way to divert melting snow around the run, instead of through it, for next year.  Of course, next year we won't get this much snow, and it won't be nearly as cold, so we won't have to worry about it.

The little girls are also doing well.  They're one month old, and getting so big, especially Hazel.  One of the reasons I got this group so early in the season (March) compared to the first group (May), was because of Esther being so late to lay.  I think she was ready much earlier, but because the amount of daylight had decreased by the time she was ready, she ended up waiting for more daylight.  I wanted this group of chicks to be laying well before lack of light would be an issue.

The problem with getting the chicks so early is that this has been a long winter, and it's been colder longer than expected.  I'm not sure when it will warm up enough for the chicks to go outside full time.  But they can't stay inside indefinitely because they keep growing.  Hazel can almost reach the screen on top of the brooder just by stretching out her neck.  By the time our first set of chicks were a month old, they had been outside at least a dozen times, and they moved into the coop full time when they were six weeks old.  That's not going to happen with this group, but I am hoping to have them outside by the end of May--they'll be 10 or 11 weeks old by then.

I did manage to get the little girls outside a week ago, but since then it's been cold or snowy or both.  We're in for some warmer weather this week, but with quite a bit of precipitation.  Hopefully there will be some warmer, sunny hours for chick field trips.  I hear we're supposed to get another 5-8 inches of snow on the weekend.

 Indigo and Hazel decided to use Bubby as a roost.  He tried to get them to go on that stick he's holding, but they were having none of it.

Indigo, Hazel, Koko
They were not sure what to make of the outside

 I did some redecorating in the brooder as well.  I took out the heating pad, and enlarged and moved the dust bath, which the girls then proceeded to be afraid of until very recently.  I also added a roost, which the girls have steadfastly ignored.  I took out the regular waterer, leaving only the nipple waterer in place, and I attached the waterer to the side of the brooder to keep it from tipping.  I also raised the food to help prevent wood shavings from getting in the food.

They still hang out in this corner most of the time.  It's funny how much they spread out when they lie down--Hazel is almost circular when she's lying down. 

Here are some updated pics--these were taken one month apart.  As you can see, all three have some comb development and they're mostly fully feathered.  Hazel is the farthest along, of course, but Koko isn't too far behind.




Monday, April 9, 2018

Menu plan for the week of April 9

MC turns 1.5 decades old this week.  He keeps saying, "I'll be 15 then," when we talk about dates in the future.  When is AKD's capstone presentation?  MC will be 15 then.  When is the Boundary Waters trip?  MC will be 15 then.  It's kind of fun.  Next week, he starts driver's training.  A year from now, we might have two teenage drivers in the household.  I tell ya, it is amazing having kiddos who can drive themselves.  Of course, it's only useful if the kiddos have a vehicle to drive themselves in...

Anyway, the kids keep getting older.  Every day.  Which means we have to keep feeding them.  Here's what's on the menu this week:

  • Chicken pot pie, salad, applesauce
  • Chicken tenders, carrots
  • Out to eat
  • Mac-n-cheese, mandarin oranges
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, carrots
  • Grilled steak, mashed potatoes, grilled veggies
  • Sunday night stew (on Monday!), mashed potatoes


Monday, April 2, 2018

Menu plan for the week of April 2

Guess what happened, y'all!  Well, first, it snowed, and then it got cold.  Happy Easter Fools day to us!

Here's what's on the menu this week:



Friday, March 30, 2018

18 for 2018 Update (March)

Here's the monthly 18 for 2018 update:
  • With materials scrounged from my friends A and R, and Hubby's scrap wood pile, and with the help of AKD, I made the oyster shell and grit dispensers (1). 

  • If you've been paying attention to my weekly menu posts, you know that I canned jalapenos (3) a couple of weeks ago.  We were out of pickled jalapenos, so I decided to restock by canning.  They were definitely not jalapenos that I had grown, but that doesn't mean I can't can home-grown jalapenos in the future.

  • Everyone in the household (except Hubby) took the love languages quiz (4) during spring break.
  • I've continued purging paper (8), and have completed the top drawer of our four drawer filing cabinet.  That means I'm right on track, yes?  Four drawers in 12 months means one drawer every three months.  I've also been working on my household binder/legacy box (9).  It's mostly mental work, but it's work.
What's next?  In April, I will start on the valances for the master bedroom (15).  That material has lived in my closet for long enough!  I will also continue to work on the paper in the file cabinet (8), and send friend mail (6) twice more (if you would like to receive friend mail from me, use the contact link above to send me your address).  I will probably continue to agonize over which community education class I should take (14), and I may or may not go on another date with one of my boys (5).

18 for 2018
  1. ** Make oyster shell and grit dispensers for the chickens
  2. ** Plant a garden--with tomatoes and jalapenos
  3. Can jalapenos--they don't necessarily have to be the ones I grow
  4. Have everyone in the household take the love languages quiz--we could do this on Valentine's Day, but since it's also Ash Wednesday this year, I don't think that's gonna happen...
  5. Go on a date with each of my boys (AKD, MC, Bubby)
  6. ** Send friend mail 8 6 4 times (if you'd like to receive friend mail from me, use the contact link above to give me your address)
  7. Obtain and begin using a to-do notebook--this has already been so useful!  I have a running to-do list now, instead of having to start fresh every day.  It's a lot more difficult to misplace than a random piece of paper.
  8. ** Purge file cabinet and create paper organization system--Ugh!  We have so.much.paper.  Half of me wants to get rid of it all.  The other half is afraid I'll shred something we'll need later.
  9. ** Create a household binder/legacy box--I think my boys would be lost if something happened to me.
  10. Delete saved electronic mystery shop screen shots and receipts--yep, I've got every screen shot and almost every receipt from every mystery shop I've done in the past four years.  It's a lot.
  11. ** Buy desk task light--I've already tried once this year, but I didn't like it, so I need to try again.
  12. Buy phone charging cords for each of our vehicles--I told Hubby I was going to do this, and he was like, but we have charging cords in all the vehicles, don't we?  Well, yes, we do...for his phone, but not for AKD's and mine.
  13. Make a chicken sign--It's going to have the silhouette of a chicken, and say something along the lines of, "Danger: Dinosaur Area."
  14. Take a class through community education or a local craft store--I used to do this fairly often, but somewhere along the line, I stopped.
  15. ** Finish valances for master bedroom.  I've only had the material for...3 years? 4?  A long time.
  16. Crochet messy bun hat or Arm knit scarf
  17. ** Get the boys' picture taken--the place I used to take them to closed, so I need to find a new photographer.
  18. Send Christmas cards in 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Three week chick update

Hi, friends.  Our chicks keep growing; here's an update:

Hazel, Koko, Indigo
With the screen on top of the brooder, the girls haven't been attempting escape quite as often.  They do still look up and plan their attempts when the screen is off, though.  The chicks spend most of their time in the dust bath.  We're not sure if it's because they like the dust bath, or they like the mirror that's hanging over the dust bath, or if they just like that corner.

Because I hadn't really seen any of them going under the heating pad, except at night, I turned off the heat in the brooder entirely.  According to the chick experts, during their third week, chicks need brooder temps between 80 and 85°F.  Ha!

Speaking of not seeing them going under the heating pad, it is such a struggle to get these babies to sleep at night.  I turn off the light, and they start cheeping bloody murder.  So I put them under the heating pad, to sleep, and they come right back out.  Yup, it's like herding chicks (exactly like herding chicks), and I'm not too successful at it.  I have to shove each of them under the heating pad 5 or more times before they finally settle down and decide to sleep.  What we need is sunset.  In our bathroom.  I wonder if taking the heating pad out entirely would help, or if that would just freak them out more.  I think as soon as I can get last year's chick roost out of the ice that it's frozen into, I will take out the heating pad and replace it with the roost.  Or maybe I should give up on that one for now and make a new one.  Hmm.

I introduced a nipple waterer this week.  I'm pretty sure they know how it works, and that they're strong enough, but the regular waterer is still available to them, so they're not using the nipple waterer.

We had planned to take the chicks outside yesterday because it was supposed to be a sunny 50°F day.  And it was sunny, and it did get up to 50°.  But by the time Bubby got home from school, it was raining and the temperature had dropped, so no field trip.  Unfortunately, it's not looking like it'll go above 40° in the foreseeable future, so it might be a while before these chicks get to explore outside.  Maybe we'll get a day that's sunny with no wind, and I'll feel ok taking them out.  We'll see.  So anyway, instead of the lovely pictures of 3 week old chicks scratching in the grass, you get another indoor photo shoot.  Enjoy.

Hazel, Indigo



Koko, Hazel, Indigo (showing her feathers)

Look at Hazel's feathers!

Koko, looking like a grumpy old man.

Curious Hazel

Monday, March 26, 2018

Menu plan for the week of March 26

Y'all, it's April next week.  Can you believe it?  Time just keeps marching by, whether we're ready or not.

Have you seen this meme floating around? 

I feel like we're in third winter and mud season, together.  On the bright side, this is perfect sapping weather.  If that happens to be important to you.  Regardless of season, we will continue to eat.  Here's what's on the menu this week:

  • Grilled chicken, tossed salad, steamed veggies
  • Sausage pinwheels, oven fries, carrots, mandarin oranges
  • Chicken tenders, some kind of vegetable, some kind of fruit
  • Fend for yourself
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, chips, carrots
  • Ham, roasted Brussels sprouts, baked potatoes
  • Beef & potato casserole (aka the stuff with the soy sauce), green beans


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two week chick update

Our new chicks have been home now for two weeks.  Oh, how time flies.  And chicks do, too.  Both Hazel and Indigo have made it to perches on top of the feeder and waterer, and Indigo attempted (and failed) to make it out of the brooder.  Koko likes to fly straight up, in the corner.  I'm not sure what's she's expecting to happen.

Indigo.  Seconds later, she made a break for the top of the brooder.  She *almost* made it.
This week we put the screen on top of the brooder to prevent escapees, which I think is earlier than last year.  But I was just reading last year's two week chick update, and apparently those chicks were flying and escaping at two weeks, too.  I also added a "hat" to the waterer, to keep the chicks from using it as a stepping stone.

These chicks are so messy!  I changed that water about 10 minutes before the picture was taken, and there were already pine shavings in it.  Because of this, I'll be working on setting up a nipple waterer for the chicks this week.

I did not put a hat on the feeder (soon), but I did have a brilliant idea regarding the feeder.  Last years' chicks were constantly knocking their feeder over when they got to be around 5 weeks old, so I decided to bungee cord the feeder into a corner of the brooder this time.

Except I wasn't sure where Hubby hides the bungee cords, so I used an elastic hair band.  There are paperclips holding it in place on the outside of the brooder.

I did a little redecorating in the brooder.  I hung the mirror, which up until then had been propped up in a corner.  The chicks are obsessed with this mirror.  I think they think it's a window and there are more chicks on the other side.

Koko, Indigo, Hazel
This is the corner Koko likes to fly up in.
 I saw Indigo taking a dust bath in the pine shavings the other day, so I added a dust bath, and of course I had to put it by the mirror.  I tell ya, it was an adventure getting that dirt.  The ground is frozen, even though our daytime temps have been above freezing lately (except Tuesday.  Tuesday was a cold(er) day).  There is some non-frozen ground, but it's muddy.  I thought I could just take some dirt from the chicken run, but it's pretty wet, too.  I ended up taking this dirt from the big girls' dust bath, which, to my knowledge, they haven't used all winter.  Of course, when I started taking dirt out, they immediately decided they wanted to take a bath in it.

Hazel dust bathing, and Koko "helping"

The dust bath serves triple purposes.  The first, of course, is to bathe in.  The second is to provide grit to help them grind up food.  And the third is to expose them to Coccidiosis, so they can begin to build immunity.

Koko is the smallest of the chicks, and she is a busy bird.  She digs and races around with her wings flapping and then digs some more.  She digs and flaps and runs with gusto.  She also likes to stand up tall and flap her wings.  And fly up in corners.  This is in direct contrast Austro, who was always very calm, and was one of the bigger chicks.

Indigo seems to be doing everything first.  First to fly up to the top of the waterer.  First to attempt an escape.  First to take a bath.  She's also very vocal, always peeping away.

Hazel is still the biggest--she's twice as big as Koko.  It seems crazy to me that they're the same age.  It also seems crazy that Koko is supposed to be bigger than Hazel when they reach maturity.  She's pretty sweet and even tempered.  Except when she's stepping on Koko in the dust bath.  She seems to be the friendliest, which isn't saying much, since these chicks scatter at pretty much anything.  I've noticed some comb development on both Hazel and Indigo.

Koko, perching on Bubby's hand, with Indigo in the background

In other news, I collected three eggs on Monday.  Esther lays green.

Rocky, Toasty, Esther.  Finally.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Menu plan for the week of March 19

It's spring this week, friends!  Of course, we still have up to 6 inches of snow on the ground in spots, but hey.  The calendar says it's spring, so we can just ignore the fact that it looks like it's not.

My favorite breakfast lately has been a one-egg omelet with bacon, cheddar cheese and guacamole.  So yummy.  Mmmm.  However, there has been an unfortunate lack of guacamole around here lately.  I'm hoping to fix that early this week, because guacamole = happiness. 

Here's what's on the menu this week:



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Chick update 1 week-ish

You guys!  I am so late with the 1 week chick update.  I considered just waiting until Thursday, and making it a 2 week update, and I'm sure you all would have been fine with that, but.  Well.  They're so cute.  And growing so fast.  So here it is.

The girls are doing great with the mama hen heating pad.  They love it under there--maybe a little too much.  These chicks are more skittish than our previous batch of chicks.  As soon as they hear or see someone in the room with them, they startle and run under the heating pad, so I've been sneaking up on them, trying to get a glimpse of them out in the open.

The temp under the heating pad has been between 90 and 95°F, which is right on track with what all the chicken people say the chicks need.  Just today, I turned the heat setting down one notch, and AKD told me I should raise it up a bit (so the chicks wouldn't get clothes-lined as they were fleeing to safety), so I did that, too.  I'm keeping a close eye on them and the temperature today, and will decide later on if the temp needs to go back up over night.

Koko is the smallest and shyest of the chicks.  She's the first to panic, and spends the most time under the heating pad.  As you can see, her tail feathers and wing feathers are coming in.  I love the pure white wing tips.

Isn't Indigo pretty?  Like all of the chicks, her wing and tail feathers are coming in, and hers are just striking in grayscale.  Indigo seems to be the ring leader at this point.  Both Koko and Indigo have doubled in size since coming home.  It's really remarkable how much they've grown in such a short time, which goes a long way to explaining why these chicks looked so much smaller when we brought them home, than we remember our first set of chicks being.  Just like human babies, we forget how little they were.

 If Koko and Indigo have doubled in size, Hazel has quadrupled.  She is, by far, the biggest of the three.  When we first brought them home, Hazel seemed a bit unstable.  She would do her little ballet move (where she stretches out a leg and the wing on the same side, behind her), and almost toppled over.  Chicks (and chickens) kind of squat when they poop, and one time she almost fell over backward while relieving herself.  She has figured out her equilibrium and is doing just fine these days.  Speaking of poop, a couple of days ago, I noticed that Hazel was "pasted up," which means she had dried poop blocking her vent.  Bubby and I cleaned her up, and she is none the worse for wear.

I added a mirror to the brooder, and all of the girls like looking at themselves in it.  They hang out by the mirror quite a bit.  I think.  I mean, I'm not really sure because they usually run when I go look at them.  The girls also appear to already be plotting their escape.  They're looking up toward the top of the brooder and testing their wings, and digging in various spots, trying to find a weak spot.

The chicks are extremely talented at getting pine shavings in their water, even after I elevated it a bit more, so I'll be setting up the nipple waterer as soon as I can manage it (first we need to empty a container of the right sort, since I recycled the one we used last year).  I gave the chicks fermented food for the first time today, and while it doesn't appear to be their favorite thing ever, I did see all three of them eating it.

This week, I will attempt to set up a dust bath in the brooder.  I say "attempt" because I'm not sure where I'm going to find dry, non-snow-covered dirt around here.  Wish me luck.

And, I will close with this.  So sweet.

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