Chicken Watch 2012, or How We Survived the Worst Weather in the History of Ever

A high of 108 degrees? I laugh in the face of your predicted high of 108 degrees! Ha! Ha ha!

That’s not exactly accurate. What I actually did when that prediction came over the radio yesterday as I was perusing Value World, the thrift store down the street from our house, was call Chris immediately to start busting out the fans, extension cords, pools, etc., for the chickens. After our loss of three of our four first chicks last week, I am not playing anymore, heat. You hear me?

The new chicks are also still quite small, and adding the stress of having a new home, complete with giant resident Easter Egger Beaker, well, like I said… I’m not playing.

So what did we do? In no particular order, here are our heat mitigation tips from CHICKEN WATCH 2012.

1. Bust out the extension cords and make your own swamp cooler. It felt downright lovely (relatively speaking) inside the run yesterday.

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

2. Wet towels to cut out the sun on the run roof. Hose down the coop roof itself once the sun starts hitting it.

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

3. Set up any other shade devices you might have (good for human comfort during such chicken watches, as well).

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

4. Ice down and refill watering stations often. You might as well just accept the fact that you WILL go through a 22-pound bag of ice in a single day.

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

5. Set out multiple shallow ice water baths, and replenish regularly. See? I told you you’d go through that entire bag of ice.

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

6. Take pictures of yourself to pass the time and document your misery for future generations.

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

7. Regularly replenish supplies of chicken treats, such as frozen blueberries mixed into yogurt. We bought 5 pounds of blueberries at the store the other day for $10 – Beaker’s fave!

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

8. Wet tea towels and place them on your head. Re-wet as needed. Now is not the time for vanity. Also, beer yourself.

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

Maybe I just hate myself, but I figured as long as I was out there suffering along with them, I’d be able to do something right away if any of the chicks started looking rough. Plus, there is no way I’m letting these girls die, like, EVER. In the end, the chickens hung in there smashingly, and we were the ones who ended up looking a little rough:

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012.

Yes, that is a tea towel on Chris’ head. And yes, my shirt is almost completely soaked through with sweat.

However, even in the midst of Chicken Watch 2012, we still like to break all the chicken rules. Last week, we added three new girls of all different ages to our remaining flock of one after the mass death of our first girls during the last major heat wave. The newbies have been doing remarkably well together, knock on wood. After a few scrabbles and Beaker managing to get a good hold of one or two of them, the little ones have learned to stay out of her way, and Beaker is less interested in throwing her considerable weight around.

Fast forward to yesterday. It was hotter than hell, but we had to drop off a cage that the Chicken Lady of Avon (TM) had lent us when we got the new girls. Then Chris learned she had gotten a new batch of pullets in – what appeared to be an Easter Egger/lavender Orpington mix. So, while I sweated it out in the backyard with the rest of the girls, Chris went and grabbed us this sweet little lap chicken.

20120707. Chicken Watch 2012 (aka over 100 degrees).

She is incredibly friendly and gorgeous but very meek with the other girls. Sleeping arrangements were interesting last night. We now have a section of the coop wired off for the three littlest girls, which is working well. We tried to put the new Easter Egger in with Beaker in the main part of the coop last night, but we quickly realized that was not going to work. The new girl slept on the roost in the attached run. We hope in the next several days to week that she can move into the coop with Beaker. Fingers are way crossed that we will have a peaceable kingdom shortly.

20120703. Coop exclusion zone to keep the new girls safe at night (they have a roost, too).

The section where the wee ones are currently sleeping (they have a roost in there, too).

Introducing the flock:

20120706. The Australorp keeps a close watch on Little Red.

The Australorp has taken to mothering Little Red (who we hope against hope is actually a girl).

20120703. The Leghorn - perhaps about 8 weeks old.

Flighty Whitey, aka Boo (because she’s scared of everything).

20120706. Beaker is a literary girl

Story time with Beaker.

20120703. The wee Rhode Island Red.

Little Red her first day at the house.

20120703. The Australorp - guessing she's about 8 weeks old.

Another sweetie – the nameless, mothering Australorp.

4 thoughts on “Chicken Watch 2012, or How We Survived the Worst Weather in the History of Ever

  1. I love you all so much. Boo is absolutely my favourite. She is gorgeous! When I finally convince Jer that we must join in the chicken-ing world, I want one of those. You guys are awesome for taking such good care of those babehs.

    • Thank you, darling girl. I love that you love Boo! She is, like, the standard egg factory chicken – a high producer for sure, and our only white egg layer. She has so much attitude. So far, I can catch her when it comes to bedtime, but only just barely.

  2. Thanks for being entertaining and informative. I live in GA and will be getting 8 or so australorps in the spring ’13. Kinda knew the heat would be a problem and I see you’ve found a way to beat it.

    • Any way we can help, let us know! We had an idea that the birds really don’t like heat, but we didn’t quite understand how horribly it would impact them. Here in Indiana where it also gets cold in the winter, we were more concerned about that! Anything you can think of, just try it – your girls might love it. We tried out a kiddie pool (and low Rubbermaid container filled with water and ice) that the chickens refused to hop into on their own, but they loved standing in these low, glass casserole dishes I have, filled with water and ice. 🙂 We did go through a couple of 22-lb. bags of ice this summer, it was just so stinking hot and dry.

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