Title: The Chicken Coop
Description: Can hold 4 chickens.
Lyse - October 21, 2010 06:52 PM (GMT)
This small chicken coop is a tidy little wooden building, cleaned out daily. The incubator sits in one of the back corners, and the feed bin in the other. Between them is a nesting shelf, and all four of its little cubbies are occupied.
Maggie: A thin reddish-brown hen. Very bold, with a tendency to peck.
Affection: :red :red :red :red (Next raise Spring 4.)
Eggs: Grade A (20G)
Peggy: A small white hen. Timid, and a very fast runner.
Affection: :red :red :red :red (Next raise Spring 4.)
Eggs: Grade A (20G)
Trudy: A refined beige hen. Stubborn, and always focused on food.
Affection: :red :red :red (Next raise Spring 11.)
Eggs: Grade B (10G)
Jennie: A plump blue-and-black hen. Quiet, and very thoughtful and deliberate.
Affection: :red :red (Next raise Spring 7.)
Eggs: Grade B (10G)
Lyse - October 21, 2010 07:44 PM (GMT)
Fall 5, Year 08
Annette stepped up into the new chicken coop, pausing to take a deep breath in appreciation of the new-wood smell, faintly overlaid by the scent of the straw that she'd spread on the floor and tucked into the nesting boxes. Bending down to kneel on the floor, she set down the large cardboard box in her arms. Small scratching noises came from it, followed by a loud squawk. Annette laughed and opened the top of the box, then gently tipped it sideways until the two chickens inside came scrabbling out. While they got their bearings, she quickly dumped the feed she'd purchased into the bin in the corner.
She'd named them already, on her way home from the livestock shop. The red one was Maggie, the white one Peggy. Not very imaginative names, maybe, but that was a proud Wood family tradition anyway. Annette remembered the story that her grandmother had told her, years ago, about the dog that her grandfather had owned when the couple met. The poor mutt had been named exactly that, Mutt. After they'd married, their next dogs had been Fido and Rex, which after Mutt must have been a world of improvement. At least she hadn't called these hens Red and White, or something like that.
Maggie was circling her, watching her with one beady eye, head tilted a little to the side. Annette reached out towards her, then pulled her hand back with a hiss when Maggie pecked viciously at it. Peggy had trotted over to the far end of the coop as soon as she'd gotten out of the box, and she huddled there now, staring at Annette from amidst puffed-up feathers. Annette stayed where she was, sitting on the floor. She didn't want to frighten them every time she came in to collect eggs, so she wanted them to get used to her presence.
They wouldn't start producing eggs until they felt comfortable here, she knew. It would probably take a week, maybe two, for them to get settled in. In the meantime, she wanted them to get less nervous and hostile towards her. Shifting to a cross-legged position, she sat for a while, watching them move around and interact. Maggie strutted about like the queen of the coop, pausing to examine and peck at everything, her eyes glistening with a sly intelligence. Peggy seemed happy to cede leadership to the other hen; she seemed to like small spaces where she could put her back against the wall and peer out at the world, quickly picking up on the quality of the nesting boxes for such a purpose, and when she moved from place to place it was in a lightning-fast scuttle.
After about half an hour, Annette rose and brushed straw off her legs, bending to collect the cardboard box. Making sure that the hens were secure--Peggy hiding in a nesting box, Maggie hesitating just long enough in the middle of the floor--she slipped out the door and closed it behind her. Tomorrow she'd visit them again, but it was time to let them relax for a while.
Lyse - November 13, 2010 05:07 AM (GMT)
Fall 16, Year 08
Annette had been visiting the chicken coop daily since the hens arrived, feeding them and then sitting for a while to visit. Maggie, the red hen, had slowly stopped pecking so viciously at Annette whenever she got too close, and just yesterday had accepted a stroke down her back without her usual angry reaction. Peggy, the white hen, had remained shy for quite a while, but in the past few days had been letting Annette get closer and closer, and venturing nearer and nearer on her own. Neither were yet ready to be petted or cuddled, but they at least acknowledged Annette as acceptably familiar.
It seemed that finally they were ready to make this acknowledgement in physical form, too. Annette had barely bothered to check their nesting boxes after the first rush of excitement had worn off. They would start to produce in their own time. Today she came in to feed them, as was normal, laughing at how Maggie darted forward to snatch the feed nearly out of her hand. Sometimes the hen even managed to catch grains of corn out of the air. Peggy was waiting in a nesting box for the other hen to finish eating; Annette knew, from previous observation, that she would wait until Maggie and Annette had both left the field clear before she hopped down to enjoy her own meal. As she crooned at Peggy from a comfortable distance, though, Annette saw a glint of white in the next nesting box over.
Biting back a happy whoop that would have disturbed both birds, Annette eagerly dove for the egg, carefully lifting it out of the cubby and holding it as if it was made of fragile cut crystal. After a moment of simple preening, she carried it over to the incubator in the corner and tucked it in, turning the simple machine on. The egg could rest there, heated by the machine and turned every day when she came in, until it was ready to hatch into a chick. Grinning with delight, Annette returned to the nesting boxes and beamed at Peggy.
"That must have been Maggie's," she said aloud, her voice a coaxing croon. "I wonder if you laid an egg, Peggy? Let me find out." She reached towards Peggy, slowly; after a moment's panicked fluttering, the white hen hopped out of the box and made for a corner. She was willing to let Annette close, but the shy chicken wasn't about to let Annette actually touch her just yet. That was fine with Annette, who gleefully seized upon a second prize. This one would go to sale, though a touch of misplaced sensitivity made her hesitate to say so in front of the chickens. "Thank you, sweethearts," she told them instead, still in the crooning, gentle tone. "I appreciate it."
Nearly cackling with pride, Annette left the chickens to their feed, carrying the precious egg off home. The chickens were starting to earn their keep, she'd already harvested her first crops--right now, everything was going just right.
((Feed used since last post: 24.))
Lyse - November 24, 2010 02:23 AM (GMT)
Fall 23, Year 8
Collecting eggs, as well as feeding and spending time with the chickens, had become a regular part of Annette's life on the farm during the last week. Today, though, she entered the chicken coop with more excitement than was usual for her. If what she had been told was correct, today would be the day that Maggie's egg hatched. To the disappointment of the chickens, who were getting used to their daily feeding routine, she went right past them when she walked in, and towards the opposite corner from the feed bin. Opening up the incubator, she looked inside, holding her breath.
Inside, a fluffy, still-damp yellow shape was folded over in the incubator. For a moment Annette thought it must have died in there, but then she realized that it was just bent over, biting stubbornly at the remaining shards of its egg. Was that normal for chicks? Or was it just hungry? Either way, it didn't seem like a bad thing. Reaching in, she gently scooped up the chick, which gave her a startled peep and peered up at her with its beady black eyes, hesitant but not afraid. Yeah, this was definitely Maggie's chick.
"What should I call you?" Annette wondered around, gently stroking the chick's fluffy head with one finger. It peeped at her again, more confidently this time. "Hmm. Maggie, Peggy... Meggy's practically the same as Maggie. I don't know if there's any more names quite like that. But how about Trudy?" The chick peeped again, and since it was impossible to tell if the sound meant anything other than an expression of hunger, Annette decided to take it as agreement. "Trudy it is."
Setting Trudy down on the floor to greet the two adult chickens, Annette stepped carefully around them as she headed for the feed bin. When she was done scattering feed across the floor, she checked in with the chickens. Maggie was intent upon her food, and so was Trudy, but Peggy was far more interested in the little chick, standing anxiously over her and spending more time watching her than taking the chance to eat. Annette chuckled at the sight. "I guess we know who the mom is here, huh?"
As usual, she used this opportunity to get into the nesting boxes for the adult hens' eggs. Just like on the first day, she put one in the incubator, tossing the remaining shards of Trudy's egg on the floor, where the chick promptly pounced on them and began nibbling again. With a shrug, Annette closed the incubator, patted its lid, and made her way out of the chicken coop with the remaining egg in her hand.
((Feed used since last post: 14.))
Lyse - December 6, 2010 03:21 PM (GMT)
The chickens were complaining loudly by the time Annette arrived in the coop that afternoon, burdened down with heavy sacks of feed. "I know, I know," she said, chuckling at their cries, as she let herself in and dropped the sacks with a thunk. Peggy darted away from the sound, while Maggie and Trudy eyed the bags, the first with suspicion, the second with hope. Trudy had finished fledging, Annette saw; her yellow baby down was now completely gone, and she was covered with soft beige feathers. Brown like her mother, but of a completely different shade.
"Hang on, girls," Annette told the chickens, opening up the feed bin and scattering their food over the floor. There was almost nothing left in the bottom when she was done, but that was why she had bought the sacks. Hauling the first one over, she slit it open with her pocketknife and poured the feed into the bin. She'd cut it kind of close, she thought, remembering her thoughts earlier that day about the possibility of storms. She'd have to be careful not to do that again.
One by one, she poured all the feed from the sacks into the bin. Then she closed the lid, securing it carefully--she wouldn't put it past Trudy to figure out how to get in, now that she was grown--and bundled the sacks together under her arm to save for later use. Moving over to the nesting boxes, she looked for eggs. Trudy might be grown, now, but she obviously wasn't to lay, because there were only the usual two.
Annette had almost forgotten! Setting the eggs aside with the sacks, she rushed over to the incubator. Her timing was a bit late, she saw; the chick inside had already finished hatching, and her down was no longer damp with egg slime but fluffed out from the incubator's warmth. She looked up curiously as Annette opened the incubator, and gave a quiet cheep as Annette scooped her out. Despite her quiet stillness, she didn't seem afraid as she was picked up and set down on the floor. She looked around, and for a moment Annette was afraid that she wasn't sure what to do, but then she saw the other chickens and started towards them. Watching them, she tilted her head when she saw Trudy pecking at the feed, then bent down and gave a tenative peck herself. Apparently pleased with what she found, she set at the feed with a will.
This time Annette had picked her name out ahead of time. "You're going to be Jennie, all right?" she told the chick, who didn't even look up from her eating. Satisfied that the new chicken was settling in, Annette collected her sacks and eggs again. She watched the chickens eat for a moment more, smiling at them, and then slipped out the door, closing it securely behind her against the cold.
((Feed used since last post: 21. Feed added in this post: 120.))
Lyse - January 22, 2011 10:16 PM (GMT)
Strolling into the chicken coop, Annette smiled at the clucking hens. Trudy was dogging her footsteps on her way to the feed bin, while Jennie napped under Peggy's wing in one of the nesting boxes. Maggie joined Trudy in her excitement as Annette began scattering feed for the chickens, and their noise woke Jennie and roused Peggy. Once that pair were out of their box, Annette strolled along the line of boxes, looking for eggs. There were the usual two--and a third, in the box furthest to the right. "Decided to give me something for my troubles, Trudy?" Annette asked, taking the third egg, and then grinned and shook her head. "For the food, probably." Her prizes in hand, she headed back out of the coop.
((Feed used since last post: 16.))
Lyse - January 30, 2011 09:30 PM (GMT)
It was, Annette decided as she ducked into the coop, a very nice thing to have a full house. All four of the nesting boxes were occupied by full-grown hens. All four turned to look at her as she entered, and Trudy hopped out of her nesting box, looking optimistically at Annette as she headed over to the feed bin. It was getting low, Annette noticed; she'd have to refill it later. Scattering the feed, she let the hens dive at it while she raided their nesting boxes for eggs. Maggie and Peggy were producing bigger eggs now, and both Trudy and Jennie were laying, so she was making some profit off of each of her birds. They all had room to improve, too, if Annette's memories of her uncle's old chickens were anywhere close to right. Pleased with the haul, Annette gave the hens one last look, making sure that they all seemed to be eating well and moving right, and then headed out of the coop. The sun was bright, and warmer today than it had been all Winter, melting the snow; Spring was on its way.
((Feed used since last post: 88.))