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They're off to Kindergarten...

On an unrelated note...I'm watching Barney with Owen right now, and they're doing a segment on brushing teeth.  "When I'm brushing my teeth and having so much fun, I never let the water run."  Thought that was so appropriate for the April Enviromom tip on water conservation.  Go, Barney!

Now, for the real reason I'm here - chicken update!  Well, they have continued to grow at a ridiculous rate.  The pecking order is being established, with Ruttager (who is the smallest) firmly on top, Rhoda in the middle and poor Diddy at the bottom.  To remind you, Ruttager's the black one (Barred Plymouth Rock), Rhoda's red (as in, Rhode Island Red) and Diddy is brown and fuzzy (Amerucana).  Here's my darling husband, Bill, acting as an impromptu perch during brooder cleaning time last night (please ignore the messy desk in the background, there):

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Thanks to suggestions from the commenters last week, we've upgraded our chick bedding from newspaper to pine shavings (we picked up a couple giant bags at Petco, and the chicks are loving making a huge mess of it!).  I'd read in one of my books that shavings can be dangerous to brand new chicks because they'll try to eat it and can get "pasted up", but as soon as they're a little bigger it seems that you should move them off the paper so they don't develop splayed legs.  In extreme cases, this can lead to the other chickens pecking the affected chicken to death!  Chickens are basically barbarians at heart, it seems.  They're just fine when everything in their little lives is in perfect balance and harmony, but they don't do well with adversity!

Anyway, I feel much better now that the chickies are having fun on their soft pine bedding.  They don't seem to be eating it, although I have to change their water every couple hours now because they kick so much bedding into it that it becomes totally undrinkable.  We've also moved them down to the basement so that they're no longer stinking up my office.  It's nice to have my space back, but I do miss them.  Kind of like sending the kiddos off to their first day of school.

We had another marathon coop-building session on Saturday.  We started on the henhouse portion of the coops.  It's basically a plywood box divided in half by another piece of plywood with a little door in the bottom.  One half will be the roost where the girls will sleep at night, and the other half will be the nest box where they will lay their eggs.  The nest box has a little hinged door where we will collect the eggs, and the back of the henhouse will be hinged for easy access for cleaning.  The thing I'm most excited about making is the little chicken ladder (the plank with the little boards across it that the chickens walk up to get into the henhouse).  I think they are just the cutest things!  Again, I forgot my camera so hopefully my word pictures will do.  Once we get the coop to our house, I'll have lots of pics for you.  We need to get the coop finished soon, since the chickens will be ready to move outside in mid-May.  They are so big already, I can't imagine how they're going to fit into their brooder once they're five weeks old!

Here are a few more close-ups of the ladies.  The little plastic box on Bill's lap is what we used to keep them in while cleaning out their brooder.  Obviously, that doesn't work so well any more!

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As soon as we put them in the box, they're immediately trying to perch on the rim or escape all together!

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Owen likes to help them get away.  The chickies are also looking kind of funny and awkward these days.  Their feet are gigantic - bigger than their heads - and their feathers are all coming in, leaving them looking a little bit mangy.  Here's a close-up of Rhoda, showing off her beautiful new wing feathers (her neck feathers are just starting to come in, so she looks a little scruffy in that area):

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Next week - early elementary!

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