The chicken house is still under construction--there are plans to add siding, for example, and the s.o. still wants to build a storage cabinet inside, above the roost--but for all intents and purposes, it is done. It is like Fort Knox. If any animal large enough to harm a chicken can get into that house, I will be duly impressed. Even the floor is lined underneath with hardware cloth.
So having gotten to this point, yesterday we decided it was time to repatriate the chickens. They are getting too large and (it pains me to say it, because I adore them) too smelly to live in our attic any longer.*
The only problem was how to move 27 chickens, ranging in size from dove to parrot, from our attic to a building in the back yard. Our initial thought was to somehow get them all into a dog kennel and carry it down the stairs. But what turned out to be much easier was to grab two birds at a time, put them in a small box, and carry them that way. It meant 14 trips up and down the attic stairs, which my calves are definitely complaining about today, but it was as un-traumatic for both birds and people as possible.
The first bird to arrive was none too happy about it, but as more and more of his flockmates showed up, he and the others quickly took a liking to their new home. Sure, they're currently too small to make much use of the nesting boxes and the roost, but they'll get there quickly. In the meantime, they adore the nooks and crannies under the boxes, and they are doing lots of Chicken Things, e.g., scratching, sunbathing, and playing keep-away with pieces of purple sprouting broccoli.
It was chilly last night, so we ran an extension cord out to the chicken house and turned on a brooder lamp. They were grateful for it. Other than that, there has been no "learning curve"; they are acting as they always have, only with more gusto.
The best part for me is that I don't have to lift up chicken wire and step into a big box to visit them. I can just walk in the door--after checking to make sure no one has any ideas about escaping, of course!
I will be leaving for St. Louis this evening to attend Twangfest 10. I'll be gone until next Monday, and my internet access may be touch and go, so I'm not promising much until then. But when I return, I promise you will be able to watch as we complete the outdoor chicken run and give the chicks their first taste of the wide world.
* For these very reasons, I am dying to repatriate the ducklings, too, but they are still too young. I had been duly informed by Liz and Maggie that ducks were incredibly messy animals, but I had no idea they grew so quickly. Yikes! What a sloppy ick we have going on up there! The turkeys, meanwhile, are welcome to stay a while, being their somber, contemplative turkey selves.