Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This year's chicks are growing up!

Night before last, my friend Tina joined me in our annual "move the chicks" night - at which time we take the chicks from the place they have called home for the past two months to the Moop in the chicken run with the big hens and roosters.

We are getting better at it.  The first year was pretty hysterical - I raised the chicks in the greenhouse (it was a cooler year), and we backed the Moop up to the greenhouse.  I crawled into the large box where the chicks had been living for a few months (has to be after dark, when the chickens become docile) and handed them one by one to Tina.  She moved them to the truck, where we had put up screening and sheets to block them from running back out.  It was not a pretty sight, but we got the job done!

We then drove the Moop out to a pasture where we thought the chickens would be happy.  Unfortunately, the hawks were even happier.  Many chicks became dinner, and we had to move the Moop behind the house and put up some fencing around it.

So the last two years we didn't move the Moop to the chicks, because now it sits inside a chicken run.  Besides, the battery is dead.  So it is easier to just bring the chicks to the Moop.  Tina and I have it down pat now.  Two totes into the pen inside the hay mow, where the chicks have lived since they arrived here in May, each loaded with five sleepy chicks.  Then off to the Moop, where I go inside with one tote, Tina shutting the door behind me.  I remove the lid from the tote and carefully lift the chicks out one by one and set them on the roost.  Then Tina lifts the lid, I back out and pick up the other tote.  Then back to the barn for more chicks.  We moved 28 of them that way, and all went well.

Until last night, that is!  Campines are great flyers.  Some of them had been roosting in the rafters in the barn.  So they were not going to let a six foot fence keep them in, and they were outside, running around in the woods, flying up into trees and in general enjoying their new home.  I was worried that they would try to go back to the hay mow, but they didn't.  They hung around the Moop and the chicken run all day, only venturing as far as the woods just west of the run.

But then it was time for bed!  All of the others were inside the Moop, clucking about their day and settling down for the night.  NONE of the chicks were inside.  A few were hanging around the door, and I managed to convince them to go inside.  I went into the woods and chased another half dozen or so inside the run and eventually into the Moop.  I could hear them rustling in the woods, finally spotted them on a couple of branches overhanging the fence.  I grabbed them one by one and took them to the Moop.  I called it a day and just hoped that most if not all of them were inside.

This morning, 10 Campine chicks were running around inside the run having breakfast when I went out to open the door to the Moop.  Missed 10 of them!!  Oh, dear!

I can only hope they catch on, because the predators will catch on, too, that there are meaty chicks sitting in the trees at night.  Fingers crossed . . .

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