The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Escaped chicks

Dark Cornish chick exploringMonday morning, I opened the door to the building where we're keeping our chicks and something skittered away to hide in the corner.  Was it a mouse drawn to the open bag of chick feed?  Nope, it was a chick who had hopped all the way out of the brood box and then flown or fallen to the floor.

Even though I put a lid on the end of the brooder where our homemade chicken waterer's mount provided chicks with a handy stopping stool, our little cockerels were clearly ready for a bigger home.   I caught one perched on the top of the box, then on Tuesday had to chase down two chicks who had flown out and were busily exploring the seed starting area on the floor.

Dark Cornish chicks on pastureAs a result, I was thrilled when Mark pushed through the heat on Tuesday to finish up the chicken coop and expand our chicks' home by a factor of ten.  It took the cockerels about a minute to get their bearings, but then they started to peck and scratch like mad.  I'm not sure what, if anything, they were actually finding to eat --- I suspect the chicks were just practicing their foraging, testing out sticks and stones and leaves to see which ones tasted like food.

Two weeks is very early to move chicks outside, but the weather has been unseasonably warm and I've given them a heat lamp to take the chill off the spring nights.  Next week, we'll let them out of the coop and into the as-yet-unbuilt pasture, the true start to our forest pasture experiment.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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