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.
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.
Two 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?
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.
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.
I feel so good about having the Cornish chicks outside, for numerous reasons:
- They are no longer stinking up my basement or garage
- They now are more comfortable, with the fresh air and the breeziness and the sunshine
- They can forage a bit on weeds and grass and bugs and whatnot
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.
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