The time has come . . . for the Cornish to be OUTSIDE

The Cornish cross chickens are no longer cute.  Remember how we started out with them about a month ago and they were soft and velvety and so adorable . . . They spent their first couple of weeks in a big box in the basement, and I wrote about that right here.  Quickly enough the box wasn’t big enough. I added two “spare rooms.”  Wasn’t big enough again.

"Time for supper yet . . . Mama?"

“Time for supper yet . . . Mama?”

These chickens grow so fast that within two weeks they had outgrown their box (even with the two added spare rooms) and we moved them into a stock tank in the garage. I wrote about that, too, and you can read about it here.

Cornish cuties updateTwo weeks ago, these chicks looked so small in that big stock tank.  But they outgrew it  quickly, too, and little Mack and I moved them out to their fresh-air gazebo yesterday.  It was quite an undertaking.  You’ll notice that I am not publishing a “before” picture, as the stock tank was . . . very full of large chicks and their byproducts, shall we just leave it at that?

Wait a second---does this train serve breakfast?

“Wait a second—does this rudimentary train serve breakfast?” “I don’t know, but I do like the skylight.”

Our operation was thus: Little Mack stood ready with a wagon, which had a sturdy box inside.

(By the way, you could never move traditional chickens this way.  They’d be out of the box and fluttering around the yard before you could say “Sit. Stay put.” But these fellas are already so heavy, they’re not very ambitious.)

Cornish A:  “What say you and I fly outta here, baby, and escape?”

Cornish B:  “Fly outta the box?  For heaven’s sake, why?”

Cornish C:  “Burp.”

Cornish A:  “Um, to get away? Hello??”

Cornish B: “Stop that crazy talk, it’s almost time for lunch.”

I’d pick up the chickens one by one and load them into the box, and then little Mack would pull the wagon across the yard to the open-air gazebo that we had prepared with food and water and anti-dreaded-varmint fortifications.  I’d trudge along behind him, carrying feed and water buckets and so on.  Then I would lift the chickens into their new digs, one by one.

The dogs just thought we were participating in some sort of fun, mad-cap parade, or perhaps merely taking the big chickens out for a walk in the sunshine.  They’d never had so much fun, following us to and fro, Bea now and again snapping at the chickens, Ollie doing his nudge-nudge-pet-me-now thing.  Bea was just daring them to try to escape. They, of course, had no interest in escape.  No interest in much of anything, really, bless them.

"Do you need help pulling the wagon, honey?"  "No--NO!  I can do it!"

“Do you need help pulling the wagon, honey?” “No–NO! I can do it!”

Our Australian Shepherd Bea was excited and was convinced that we needed her help to keep the chicks inside the box.

Our Australian Shepherd Bea was excited and was convinced that we needed her help to keep the chicks inside the box.

Where the little man and the chickens go, the dogs follow.

Where the little man and the chickens go, faithful Ollie goes, tail a-wagging.

. . . and Bea . . .

. . . and Bea . . .

or maybe not?

 . . . or maybe not . . .

 

ta-daa! Home, sweet home.

ta-daa! Home, sweet home.

Bryan and Timothy made this dandy open-air gazebo for my Cornish chickens many years ago, out of PVC and chicken wire.  It has served us well.  I’d dearly love to add on to our tiny chicken coop, but until that day this temporary yard has worked well for the few weeks when the Cornish are growing so fast.

(The following must not be repeated:  I’m astounded that no Dreaded Varmint has figured a way into this thing.  I must say that the first few nights I have the chickens out in it, I don’t sleep well.  But so far, so good. Please don’t repeat this out loud, however, lest the D.V. hear and take a hint.)

We’ve put many anti-varmint measures in place, including a bated live-trap very close by.  Chickens often get trapped inside, but at least then we know that we’ve got it triggered correctly. It’s a little tricky.

time for Cornish to go out

I feel so good about having the Cornish chicks outside, for numerous reasons:

  1. They are no longer stinking up my basement or garage
  2. They now are more comfortable, with the fresh air and the breeziness and the sunshine
  3. They can forage a bit on weeds and grass and bugs and whatnot
Tra-laaa! Everybody's happy now.

Tra-laaa! Everybody’s happy now.

After a week or two, we’ll pull up the posts that are securing this structure to the ground, and move it to a new, fresh spot.  The chicks get a bit of fresh foraging this way, and they get a new view from time to time. New views from time to time do wonders for the spirits, do they not?

Our move of the chicks was a success, and the “byproducts” (for you squeamish ones) I loaded out to my compost pile and my newly-planted melon hills, in a very large wheelbarrow.

IMG_2256This is Little Red.  She is happy that she is a named hen, and therefore a permanent member of the family flock.

29 thoughts on “The time has come . . . for the Cornish to be OUTSIDE

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Caro,
      In three days we’ve caught two critters . . . but that’s a post for another day! (UBC coming up, after all!)

  1. Francene Stanley

    A breath of fresh air for all concerned. Your son looks so sweet pulling the chicken cart. It’s a good thing chickens don’t worry unduly about the future. Just imagine if humans were inside and a chicken was pulling. Haha.

  2. Arla DeField - SayingNoWithoutFeelingGuilty.com

    I am getting such a kick out of following your chicks. I must admit when you called them Cornish on the first post, my mind went to Cornish Game Hens, which are about 1/2 the size of your current chicks, so I am assuming that I jumped to the wrong breed conclusion. Oh well, please keep the story coming, as I totally agree with the above comments. “Funny!” and “Adorable”

    This way I get to pretend I am involved with chickens with out having to deal with the smell or “byproducts”!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      As a matter of fact, Arla, those “Cornish Game Hens” are simply the same Cornish chickens, but they are butchered when they are just a few weeks old. Sort of like chicken veal. Thanks for your sweet comment!

  3. Pingback: It's a mystery you CAN solve: which hens are laying eggs & which aren't? - vomitingchicken.com

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Terri, I probably go my own way on this, contrary to what you’ll read other places. Melons take months to mature and ripen, so I do add chicken “by-products” to the hills, working them into the soil (not just lying them on top!) to fertilize. I would never do this with a crop like radishes (which can mature in as little as 3 weeks!) or lettuce (also very quick) because of food safety, natch’! Heck–if I have to wait 6 months to put it on my garden, I might just forget where I put it! (honestly) This method has always worked very well for me.

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