Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Pullets, Portable Coop, and One Scary Predator
The pullets are growing quickly and developing some beautiful feathers. They are 3 months old now and so far they are staying healthy (knock on wood). Their portable coop has been a secure home for them so far. We have raccoons and possum in the area and so far they haven't been able to get in.
There is one predator that constantly hangs around the coop -- shown in the photo above. He is the little stray kitty that I have been harboring. At first the chickens pecked at him when he would stick his paw inside the coop. Now he just likes to sit on top of the coop instead.
To be quite honest, I think the kitten is just looking for a play-mate. He has been orphaned and his siblings disappeared shortly after his mama vanished (you can see a photo of his mama here). He sits on the same back step that his mama sat on to beg for food. Because his siblings are gone, he pounces on tufts of grass and bats at flowers instead. I've given him a few toys and I play with him when I can, but he is still lonely.
This evening, when I was feeding the chickens, the kitten was on top of the coop again. I pet him for a while (something he just discovered last week -- being petted by that big scary human feels nice) and he even started purring for me. I noticed one of his toes on his hind foot looked wet, as if it had been bleeding or something. I vowed to keep an eye on it to make sure it didn't get worse, then husked the corn for dinner and left him alone outside. While cooking the corn, I discovered the cause of the wet toe. The baby had fallen asleep on the back step and was "kneeding" the air and sucking on his toe. It was the most adorable thing I have seen in a very long time (since Sassy used to suck her tail when she was very little)! I'm glad his toe is okay, but I feel bad for the little guy because he obviously misses his mama. I crumbled and gave him a little bit of milk to comfort him. Yeah, I'm a push-over.
Anyway, we need to figure out what to do with the chickens this winter. The coop is too small for them to be closed in and it gets wet inside too easily. We would like to get a shed, but they seem pricey. We are, of course, concerned about security for the chickens so it needs to be a sturdy home too. If anyone has a brilliant solution, feel free to share your ideas.