The Chicken Dance

Posted by on May 14, 2010 in Chickens, Farm Blog | 27 comments

This week we’ve been shuffling chickens around the farm, doing the chicken dance.  The chicks are now 7 weeks old, and ready to move outside!

Just 7 weeks ago, they were this small!

Before we could move the chicks, we first had to relocate the older hens.  The past couple of weeks we’ve been working on a portable chicken ark to be installed in the gardens.

Our new portable poultry ark has been installed in the gardens

The ark is light enough for two people to move the pen around the gardens and orchard, but designed to be secure enough as a permanent structure.  Last week we had the core construction finished, and this week we added some of the refinements.  Raccoon proof spring latches on the doors, a comfy nest box, a roost pole for the girls to sleep at night, and we fitted the ramp with a pulley and rope so we can close the ramp from outside.  This means the girls can be closed in upstairs at night to make them more secure.

The upstairs accommodations feature a nest box

and a lovely spot to roost

Not exactly 'Fine Woodworking', but good enough for chickens

Oh, the rooster decoration was my feeble attempt at being crafty with a scrap piece of plywood.  Don’t laugh…the jigsaw and I aren’t on the best of terms most days.

The ramp can be closed up at night, to secure the hens in the roost

The hens really seem to enjoy their new home, and yesterday they had a chance to wander around the main gardens.  Of course, one hen immediately jumped squarely in the middle of the bed with the tomatoes…but at least she has good taste.

The hinged door on the run gives the hens easy access to the gardens

Our plan is to allow the hens to just roam most days, as the gardens are fenced, so this coop will mostly be used at night.

With the hens moved out of the old coop, it was time to tear it apart for a thorough cleaning, which was an all-day affair.  The roosting racks were pulled out, walls, floors and ceilings scrubbed.  The sandpit under the coop, and the dirt in the run, was removed, and replaced with fresh free-draining sand.

A sparkling clean coop, and fresh new sand, awaits the chicks

As our mystery chick from the hatchery is a feather-footed variety, it’s especially important to assure that the soil drains well.

This morning, once the fog burned off, we put all of the chicks in the coop, and closed the door.  We left them alone for an hour or so why they explored and got used to their new surroundings.

Once everyone was settled in, it was time to open the door to the run.

It took a while for everyone to venture out of the coop. The Delawares and Buff Orpingtons were the first out.

The Delawares and Buff Orpingtons were first to peek out

The remaining Partridge Plymouth Rocks, Black Australorps and Golden Laced Wyandottes were a little more wary.

"Oh, I don't know...maybe I'll go...if you go first"

Eventually though everyone made it outside, and soon after, as you’ll hear in the video, a Stellar’s Jay decided to be a wise-guy, and mimic a hawk screeching.  That certainly got the chicks attention!

Did you see the shots toward the end of ‘Frodo’s’ feet?  In the past couple of weeks the feathers on this chick’s feet have grown significantly!

Still scraggy looking, but look at those feet!

At only 7 weeks old, these chicks still have a lot of growing to do, and until then, they are quite well flighted, so for now they’ll spend most of their outside time either in the run, or in a portable chicken tractor.  Over the next couple of weeks we’ll add the extension to the run.  With more pullets this time, we’re going to double the run space so they have more room to run around.

Seven weeks old, but still a lot of growing to do

We’ll continue to update on the chicks over the next few weeks.  Hopefully by then the rest of mystery chick ‘Frodo’s’ feathers will materialize, and we should start to see more pattern on the Wyandottes and Plymouth Rocks too.


  1. a hive of activity of should that be a coup!?
    .-= Ena Ronayne´s last blog ..Happy Heart Weekend 2010 – May 13th – 15th =-.

  2. I am madly in love with your chicken tractor, I mean ark!
    .-= Dog Island Farm´s last blog ..Friday’s Gardening Tips – Irrigation Supplies: The Basics =-.

  3. This post is SO cool! I was entranced watching the video – especially watching the timid chicks venturing out. Great photos too — the ‘chicken ark’ is a marvel. I’ll be checking back in to see how things are going! -Shyrlene
    .-= Shyrlene´s last blog .."What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?" =-.

  4. Ah, well, I’ve looked forward to Fowl Friday all week (and told half of my co-workers about it). Who knew watching chicken grow up would be so enjoyable? Besides, this is all the fun and none of the responsibility…
    .-= Town Mouse´s last blog ..GBBD — Abundance (Town Mouse) =-.

  5. You know, I never thought that I would be so interested in chickens….but I am. I can’t wait to hear more about your chickens.

  6. Boy-o-boy, when I die I hope to reincarnate as one of the Curbstone Valley chickens…

    • I admit, they are a little spoiled, but they do work hard 😛

  7. Yay – it’s fowl Friday! That Ark is a very impressive retirement village for those hens 🙂 We just had a lovely time watching the video of the new girls settling in and still adore Frodo!
    .-= Heidi (GippyGardener)´s last blog ..Feeling Seedy =-.

  8. A delightful post! What lucky chickens!! You are an inspiration to any person hoping to raise their own. I love your ark and your craft work is just great. I cannot imagine working a skill saw at all! I love you videos… the music is great and since I would love to raise chickens it gives me the feeling of what it might be like. I am so impressed with how you care for yours!
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..Wisteria Hysteria! =-.

  9. I love the ark and the woodwork! Your chickens have a great home. Almost makes me want to have some chickens…don’t think the neighbors would go for that though. Enjoyed your post!
    .-= Amy/GoAway, I’m Gardening!´s last blog ..Amy’s Favorite Container =-.

    • Well, just a few hens are actually remarkably quiet, unless something startles them. I have friends that have a half dozen on a fairly small city lot, and they don’t seem to be a bother to anyone. I bet if you had chickens, and gave your neighbors some fabulous fresh eggs, they’d think differently 😀

  10. That jay did sound just like a hawk! And I wouldn’t apologize for the jigsaw work, it looked good to me. Great report on the chicks!
    .-= villager´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Seeing Red =-.

  11. I’ve been waiting for your posting on the latest on the chicks. dang thats a pretty fine ark you have working and i think your jigsaw chicken is awesome. Those are some loved chickens. THanks as always for sharing, I know from your posts that its hard work but worth it, especially if you love them like you do! Enjoy your weekend, M
    .-= Urban Dirt Girl´s last blog ..Garden Fashion….help required =-.

  12. That ark is pretty impressive. Especially the ramp/security door. And someone recently told me that Stellar jays imitated other birds, but that was incredible. It sounds exactly like a red-tailed hawk cry. Now I’ll have to think twice when I hear it to know which bird it is.
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..May Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – Moving on edition =-.

    • We have a nesting pair of red-tailed hawks here, and I’ve been faked out by the Jays a few times. I can usually tell the difference, but some Jays are certainly more convincing than others. I didn’t know for years that Stellar’s Jays were vocal mimics.

  13. Your rooster is charming!
    .-= Elephant’s Eye´s last blog ..The Owl House at Nieu Bethesda =-.

    • Thanks, and I still have all my fingers too! 😛

  14. You sure do give the chickens the royal treatment around there. Both the coop and the ark look so nice. The chicks and chickens all seem to like their new homes.
    I think your rooster looks great!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..May 2010 Garden Bloggers Bloom Day =-.

  15. It must have been quite emotional watching the chicks venture out through the hatch for the first time Clare. It also must be lovely working in the garden and hearing them chirping away ever so content in their beautiful new surroundings.

    Someone in your household is very very handy with wood. I have noticed that everything you have made at the farm is to such a high standard so 3 cheers for the wood craftsperson at Curbstone Valley.

    • I love having the hens out in the garden while we’re working. They had a blast yesterday rummaging around while we were making tomato cages all afternoon.

      I tend to be the ‘bright idea’ design department, and Mr. Curbstone Valley, who is the engineer after all, is more in the implementation department. Although we do both work on our wood-working projects. Constructing these coops is as much work to do it with cheap shoddy materials, as it is with quality ones. I only want to build these things once, so we try to construct them to last, and they need to be strong to keep out some of our more dexterous predators like raccoons!

  16. That was a stellar imitation of a hawk’s cry! If I were a chicken, I’d freeze, too. 😉

    Clare, that ark is so lovely. I am so impressed by the detail on it and how pretty it is. Y’all should be really proud of your work. And don’t be so modest about your rooster cut-out! I’m in awe of your jigsaw skills.

    The pictures of the chicks first venture out of the coop are charming. 🙂
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..zen sky =-.

  17. Your little chicks sure have grown! I am impressed with the workmanship of the portable coop, and I think your little plywood rooster head is cute!
    .-= debsgarden´s last blog ..Shades of Green and Golden Light =-.

  18. You may not be friends with a jigsaw (really I couldn’t tell the rooster was very roosterish), but you are a super carpenter. Very nice post. gail
    .-= gail´s last blog ..May Blooms For You =-.

  19. Love watching your chicks grow. The ark is lovely, and what a lot of hard work cleaning the coop! I remember well my grandmother’s coop, and for folks who don’t know, poo and feathers make for an interesting, er, art form.
    .-= graceonline´s last blog ..War on garbage: Pitching paper towels =-.

  20. Lovely! Your hens will be so happy in such a beautiful arc! The chicks will be too with all that extra room. Congrats on getting them out of the house! They grow up so fast!
    .-= Lauren Drury´s last blog ..The Garden.. Day 1. =-.

  21. Wow – I’m SO glad I found your site! Your Delawares and mine look identical and about the same age, too. I love seeing your detailed posts about your coops – they’re quite helpful to me. I’m never quite sure if I’m ‘doing things right’ so seeing what YOU do is just great! The sand is a great idea – we’re using pine shavings in their run right now which are just ‘okay’. I let my girls out during supervised visits during the day, so they take their dust baths in my garden beds (not the best thing for my tender little plants, though!). Thanks – I look forward to checking back on your chicks’ status!!

  22. Love the new chicken ark! You’ve inspired me to add some videos of my chicks to my blog. They grow up so fast 🙂
    .-= Jackie´s last blog ..The new coop installed =-.