Our chickens have felt a little neglected since the new introduction to our family, so we are finally indulging their desire to be internet film stars. Hopefully it won't go to their heads. You can now see them live right here. Perhaps we could boost traffic to our site now by advertising, "Live Hot Nude Chicks!"
We haven't had any problems with raccoons since we got our chickens a year and a half ago. But a couple nights ago, a raccoon went after them in the coop.
We had actually gotten pretty lax, and forgot to latch the door to the nest boxes. I heard the dog in the yard behind us barking pretty loudly, and then some really loud squawking. Luckily, we were around and in earshot. I turned on our backyard light and ran out on the deck, scaring it enough that it retreated to our side fence, where I saw it. (Ann was nursing Madeleine through all of this.)
I went back inside to grab a flashlight, and it had moved to the tree just next to the coop. I stared it down for a while, and then decided to spray it with water from a hose (I got it pretty good).
I later found a pawful of feathers just outside the coop (see the photo). Looks like they came from one of our chicken's necks...yikes! Otherwise, the chickens seem to be just fine. Needless to say, we'll be more vigilant now about keeping the coop locked every night...
We stocked up on chicken feed a couple weeks ago, thinking that we wouldn't want to worry about it soon after the birth. It turns out that we have to go all the way to San Leandro (Mike's Feed and Pets) to buy it. You'd think it would be easier to find chicken feed in the Bay Area. Sheesh.
We usually buy a fifty pound bag for about $10 (this time we bought two). The chickens go through it in two to three months, depending a little on the season. We also feed them chicken scratch (cracked corn and wheat, which they love as a snack), grass clippings, the odd spider we find, and kitchen scraps (if you're nearby and have leftovers that are getting old, drop them by). They also forage in the yard, eating worms, grubs, fruit that has fallen from our trees, camelia petals, and whatever else they can find.
But the largest part of their diet is the feed, which has a good mix of nutrients and protein to support their egg laying. We also have been giving them oyster shells, which gives them calcium for strong shells.
Our four new chicks, Annie, Omelette, Wiggly, and Joy, arrived in February 2005 when they were one day old. With the help of a design from Organic Gardening magazine, we built a simple coop in our backyard where they can range free during the day and sleep in the coop at night. They lay their eggs in the nest boxes built inside the coop. They eat quite a few different foods, including anything that is green and grows (so we no longer have much vegetation in the backyard) and practically any kind of insect or carbohydrates left over from our meals (i.e. rice, bread, crackers, etc). Rarely does a meal go by when Paul doesn't muse out loud "I wonder if the chickens would like this."