Friday, January 11, 2013

Our pets: Birds! Birds!! (and more birds)

We aren't the typical dog or cat household. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs and cats and grew up with them as pets. But my husband grew up where having dogs in the house isn't done and is also slightly allergic to cats. So we have gone another direction in keeping pets.

Birds. So many birds...

I'll start off inside. Meet Bill and Sam, our canaries.

It's hard to get pictures of these guys because they move so darn fast! Sam and Bill live in our living room/dining room so they can see us and sing to us. And sing over us, trying to drown us out when we are on the phone or watching TV.

The backyard is the domain of our little flock of chickens. We live in suburbia, but we are technically within the city limits of a more rural town that allows backyard chickens. (We are also in the suburban area of Seattle, where backyard chickens, goats, and bees are the popular "green" thing to do.) And honestly, our chickens create the same amount of noise and waste as backyard dogs would, so I don't know why all towns don't allow chickens.

Meet Lola, Lulu, Coco, and newcomer Dot:

Lola and Lulu are Rhode Island Reds and are sisters from the same hatching. They are the most friendly of the flock: they will both eat from our hands and Lola will let me carry her around. Coco is a Cuckoo Marans, and is the top hen of the flock (a little aggressive and not very friendly with us). Dot is a Silver Laced Wyandotte. We just got her around three weeks ago and the other three are still acting like middle-school mean girls towards her, but she is slowly fitting in.

(And yes, you can laugh at the names I gave my chickens. That was the point... chickens are a little bit absurd anyway, so they need names to match.)

Unfortunately, that blurry iPhone picture is the only good picture we have of Dot at the moment. Her second day here, she jumped the fence and nearly got eaten by the neighbors' dog. Luckily she wasn't injured, but all her tail feathers were torn out. We are waiting until her feathers grow back (a few more weeks) to take some more pictures, because she just looks sad right now.

We built our chicken coop out of our neighbor's old play fort on stilts. They wanted to get rid of it and it seemed like a perfect base to start off our coop, so they just lowered it across the fence to us and we hacked the stilts off and did some other modifications to create a coop/nesting area with a secure outdoor run.

We just expanded the outdoor run area to give them another 16 square feet, along with some perches. We didn't get around to painting the new section, so the coop isn't quite as pretty as it was before, but it's much more functional now.

I would like to put some paving stones outside the door to the coop since we step there a lot and it gets super muddy (Ignore the snow... Today was our once yearly snowfall for this year). These spoiled chickens also have indoor and outdoor heat lights on timers, as well as an automatic coop door on a timer. (That's what happens when my engineer husband owns chickens... He's currently trying to invent an automatic treat dispenser so that they don't have to go without corn when we are gone for the day.) We also usually let them roam around our backyard during the winter and spring, but that has been changed to supervised roaming only since Dot nearly got herself eaten.

Here's a few more pictures:

Knock, knock...

Even though they are kind of unconventional pets, I love having chickens. Each of them has a different personality and they are fun to watch in the backyard. Not to mention, they make us breakfast every day.

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