The ugly duckling stage of chickenhood

The chicks are teenagers now, or at least middle schoolers.  They have the same attitude too.
The chicks are teenagers now, or at least middle schoolers. They have the same attitude too.

Several of you asked about the chickens.   Well, as you can see, they’re growing, but not crowing (yet . . . I think there are a couple of roosters in there).  Those sweet baby chicks from a mere three weeks ago have morphed into ugly ducklings half clad in feathers on their wings and bodies, while gentle fluff remains on top of their heads.  Poor babies.  They remind me of human children in that stage before adulthood when arms and legs are too long, and acne abounds.

One of the reds.  We couldn't catch Miss Alex.
One of the reds. We couldn't catch Miss Alex.

They are fast moving and flying all about their cage, but they are ugly little clucks.  Before long, they will be covered with feathers.  At this stage, I still don’t know all the breeds, because I bought an assortment of brown egg layers.  Alex, the yellow chick held in a previous post by Bear, is now a stripey black and white.  We tried to catch her, but she was too fast.  We also probably have some Black Stars and Red Stars because they are sex-link chickens and easy for the hatchery to identify as females.

In the past, we raised many breeds, but so far, I can’t identify any in this group.  Once they completely feather out, I should know.  Til then, your guess is as good as mine.

Pen my husband built as seen from the long end.
Pen my husband built as seen from the long end.

Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening, who also raises chickens, mentioned my hawk and how he would also enjoy a chicken dinner to go with his squirrel.  She asked how we protect our chickens from hawks and other predators.  As you can see, Bill built a beautiful cage for these babies.  It is eight feet long by four feet wide and two feet high.  He used standard eight foot, two by fours.  He then covered the cage on all four sides and the top in four foot wide sections of chicken wire.  All of these supplies are standard sizes.  It is sturdy and stout with a hinged door for easy human access while foiling predators.  While the chicks are at their most vulnerable stage, the cage is in the garage.  With the nice weather, I open the garage door to let in natural light.

The barn with two chicken runs and coops
The barn with two chicken runs and coops

Their permanent home is within our barn, originally built to house horses.  It has six stalls, and two are used for chickens.  There are two runs, so that we can actually have two flocks at once, or provide the chickens with more running room.  The roof of the runs is covered in chicken wire.  Once they are adults, we’ll let them meander throughout the property in front of the house.  At full size, they are too much for a hawk to grab, and snakes can’t eat them.  However, snakes are always on the lookout for their eggs.

You see, everyone and everything likes chicken.


  1. commonweeder says:

    I love chicken posts. They do get pretty unattractive for a while, but as you say, it doesn’t last long. We raise egg layers and meat birds. One of the issues is our area of the western Massachusetts hilltowns is the lack of infrastructure for farmers raising meat animals, and for those of us with backyard flocks. Apparently even those who are devoted to their steaks and roasts don’t like being reminded that behind every steak there was a cow. It is something that should be remembered.
    .-= commonweeder´s last blog ..City Flowers – November =-.

  2. eliz says:

    I still think they’re cute, even now. Great job on their headquarters! I hope they foil the hawks and other predators. Except you, of course.

  3. Shari says:

    I enjoyed the chick update. The look of the blog is really nice too! I keep just staring at the green quote rollie thing, reading fun gardening quotes. I could be here all night!
    .-= Shari´s last blog ..View from the Shore =-.

  4. Mary Delle says:

    I’ve never seen teenage chickens. They are gangly and funny-looking. But I can see the chicken part in those already strong beaks and eyes. You’ve got them set up nicely on your property.
    .-= Mary Delle´s last blog ..November Light =-.

  5. Jenny B says:

    They are cute even in their awkward teen stage (BTW, I have a human one of those at my house, wanna trade? LOL!). I just love the sound of hens clucking chasing bugs. There isn’t a more soothing sound. Thanks for the update.
    .-= Jenny B´s last blog ..The Three Faces of Jacob’s Coat and Some Very Confused Bees =-.

  6. Katie H says:

    I heard this called the “dinosaur” or “pterodactyl” phase today and it cracked me up! I love that you have a barn on your property.

    Katie, now I realize I was spelling pterodactyl incorrectly. Might explain why I ended up at a porn site. No, you don’t want to know. Yes, they look like little ugly dinos. I love them anyway.~~Dee

  7. Willi says:

    Thanks for the chicken updates! They are getting so big so fast! I think your girls are cute, even in their awkward stage. This post makes me a little jealous that we got our hens when they were 12 weeks old. I missed their growth from fluffy babies to teenagers. I guess there is always next time.
    .-= Willi´s last blog ..Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Tart =-.

    Hi Willi, you can always add a few more babies to your flock, can’t you in the spring? How many chickens do the Portland authorities allow anyway? Thanks for coming by and seeing my little dinos.~~Dee

  8. Kelly says:

    Hi, I just found your website through another blogger( Anyway, I enjoyed your chickie post. I have two dozen Rhode Island Red eggs in the incubator with one more week to go. The reds are great layers! Come visit my blog when you get the chance.
    So nice to read another Okies ramblings.
    Have a great day!

    Hi Kelly, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be over to your blog as soon as possible. I love Empty Nest Gardens & Quilts, one of my favorite blogs. You’re right Rhodies are great brown egg layers, but their roosters are fierce. I’ve been spurred many a time.~~Dee

  9. Don’t eat them. I’m growing attached. It’ll be harder for you to wring necks when they do become recognizable. They are living better than some people I know so looks like you know what you’re doing. But if I come to dinner, don’t tell me we’re having Sadie soup or something cause I don’t want to know exactly who is in there.

    I like the PW widget on your sidebar—Big smoochy kisses for adding it and making a donation. I’m going shopping tomorrow for some of the goodies.
    .-= Anna/Flowergardengirl´s last blog ..Snow Princess™ Lobularia hybrid Sweet Alyssum, Must Have =-.

    Anna, don’t worry, they’re layers. We won’t eat them. When they quit laying, we’ll let them lives their happy hen lives in retirement. Good chicken, raised ethically, is cheap at the store. 🙂 I like the name Sadie BTW.~~Dee

  10. Thanks for the update! It’s like getting a letter from you, such a nice progress report. All too quickly, they grow up, don’t they?
    .-= Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog ..Basketball Season Has Begun And Our Thoughts Turn To Gardening =-.

    Thanks Carol. Yes, they do.~~Dee

  11. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I know you’re enjoying watching them grow and change. At least the gangly stage doesn’t last as long with chickens as it does with children!

    Cindy, so true!.~~Dee

  12. Janell West says:

    Dee — Even your photo of your barn could be Christmas card stock. And I like the photo showing that even teenage chicks like to congregate around a (light) fountain.

    Ignorant of their potential, I find them cute just as they are. I like the image of Hens strutting around your property. Or is it only Roosters that strut?

    .-= Janell West´s last blog ..Fasting on Crumbs =-.

    Thanks Janell. Hens would tell you that they definitely strut around the property, clucking and stirring up dust. However, the roosters think no one struts like them.~~Dee

  13. Gail says:

    They are kind of adorable in their ugliness…I was listening to an interview on NPR. The editor of one of the popular chicken magazines was talking about what she has to do when her chickens get too old to lay eggs…I had to turn the radio down and go to my happy place:-) But, seriously, I never thought about that before! gail
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..Moments In A Garden =-.

    Gail, honey, don’t worry. We don’t eat our chicks. If we were living in depression era America like my Grandma Nita, we would eat the old layers, but do you realize how long you have to cook an old hen? Ick.~~Dee

  14. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your ugly clucklings are facinating to me. They are growing fast. Is your barn heated so you will have some eggs this winter? Or how does that work?? Do they adjust to your severe winter weather?? Do you name them all??? You need a baby naming book if you intend to do that. I can see you and Bear sitting there picking out names. tee hee…

    Hi Lisa, the chicks won’t start laying until the spring, but on really cold days, we heat the barn with electric heaters. We use electric because the others might start a fire. No, we don’t name them all, just ones we especially like. LOL.~~Dee

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