Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Integrating Two Flocks

If you've been following the news at Red Bucket Farm, you know that we have three established hens, pictured above. These three girls have been on the farm since May 2010 when they arrived as day-old chicks. Now they produce 18 eggs per week. The big girls live in the coop out back.

In late March we added six new chicks to the farm. The baby chicks lived in a brooder box inside the home office from late March until mid-May, when the weather warmed enough that we moved the brooder box to the garage. At that time we also divided the chicken yard with wire fence. During the daytime, all the girls have been in the chicken yard on opposite sides of the fence. In this way, they could get to know each other without endangering the little ones.

Every evening for the last six weeks, we've been schlepping the little chickens from the yard to the garage, where we knew they would be safe from predators. It was too early to lock them into the coop with the big girls, and too dangerous for them to remain outside in their day shelter which is not secure. Every morning we take them back down to the chicken yard. At first, I would scoop them all up and carry them in the large red bucket. As they grew, I would take two or three of them at a time in the bucket. Lately, we've been carrying each bird individually down to the yard in the morning, and back up the hill each evening.
This weekend we decided that the babies were too big for their brooder box at night, so we built a temporary structure in the garage, seen above. This has been a real three ring circus. The girls love this new routine. They perch on the edge of the plastic chicken netting, and the weight of the bird creates an odd hammock. No, this was not our intention. We built a wooden perch, but they don't like it. They perfer to balance on the netting, or on the bicycle cargo rack, or on the edge of a garbage can. We transfer them to the garage just before dusk and we can hear them squawking and partying in the garage for 30-45 minutes until it finally gets dark. At about 11pm, we tiptoe in there and gently lift them back into the pen. Why? I don't know.

We hope that tonight is their first night in the chicken coop with the big girls. Stay tuned for this riveting drama.

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