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.
2. Wet towels to cut out the sun on the run roof. Hose down the coop roof itself once the sun starts hitting it.
3. Set up any other shade devices you might have (good for human comfort during such chicken watches, as well).
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.
5. Set out multiple shallow ice water baths, and replenish regularly. See? I told you you’d go through that entire bag of ice.
6. Take pictures of yourself to pass the time and document your misery for future generations.
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!
8. Wet tea towels and place them on your head. Re-wet as needed. Now is not the time for vanity. Also, beer yourself.
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:
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.
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.
The section where the wee ones are currently sleeping (they have a roost in there, too).
Introducing the flock:
The Australorp has taken to mothering Little Red (who we hope against hope is actually a girl).
Flighty Whitey, aka Boo (because she’s scared of everything).
Story time with Beaker.
Little Red her first day at the house.
Another sweetie – the nameless, mothering Australorp.