Chickens: RIR

RIR stands for Rhode Island Reds.

In February, I had lunch with my old Stake President and joked with him that after lunch, I was going to go pick up some chicks.  Even after I explained that I was going to literally go pick up baby chickens, no laugh… Maybe a bit of a forced smile…

And indeed that is what I did.  I went to a feed store and picked up 4 Rhode Island Reds.  It was between them and the Black Austrolorp after doing some research on chicken breeds.  On MyPetChicken.com, I basically searched for docile chickens with highest egg laying rate.  4 female chickens is the legal limit in the City of Federal Way, so I maxed out.

When I first got the chickens, they must have been just a few days old.  They were so tiny and fragile.  In contrast, Andrew was not.  He was a lumbering giant in the world of baby chicks.  I was almost sure that the chicks were not robust enough that all 4 would survive Andrew’s handling.  Surprisingly, they’ve all made it!  (So far…)

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Until April, we’ve kept them in a plastic bin with some cedar shavings for bedding.  They had a 1-gallon water dispenser and a food trough which we kept full of chicken feed (corn).   We also had to keep a heat lamp on them.  Apparently, baby chicks are pretty sensitive to cold.   This arrangement worked pretty well.  I had to refresh everything about twice/week.  They lived in the laundry room until they were about 3 weeks old.  At that point, they were no longer the cute little chicks.  Caleb described them as “teenage” chickens.  Most of their feathers had come in, and none of their chick fuzz remained.  They were probably about 3-4 times their initial size.  Chickens grow FAST! 

At about 3 weeks, the wife started complaining about the “chicken smell” and they were evicted to the garage.  The weather was still cold, but the heat lamp was sufficient for them.   We had to upgrade their bin to something a bit bigger.  Around week 4, they were starting to flap their wings and it was clear they could just jump out of the bin.  We fashioned a chicken wire lid for the top of the bin, and that worked well. 

I spent several weekends in April building a chicken coop.  Last weekend, it was finally complete, and the chickens now live outdoors. 

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My biggest fear has been that we’d lose them to predators.  The morning after the first night outdoors, I went out back to check on the chickens.  To my horror, there was one chicken by the sliding glass door… OH NO!  How did she get here?  I quickly picked her up and went to the chicken coop.  The chicken wire looked like it was torn open!  I checked inside the coop, and there was one other chicken… I thought my fears had been realized.  I checked for signs of struggle (e.g. blood), but curiously there was nothing. 

I had to leave for a church meeting, so I told my mom and headed out.  On my way to the meeting, my mom called and let me know that Caleb found the other chickens in the neighbor’s yard.  Whew… Mental note:  Reinforce chicken wire.  Since then, no other incidents.

So far, they’ve been pretty fun.  We made a large chicken run (made of chicken wire and PVC pipes) that we let them run around in.  The kids love finding bugs and worms for them to eat.  They’ve also been good kitchen scrap eaters.  They’re favorite so far seems like pizza crusts… Lucky for them, since our kids seem to have an allergy to the outer 1 inch of any pizza…

Also, our family eats a lot of chicken.. and we seem to have a lot of chicken leftovers… but I just can’t bring myself to give it to them… Something just feels inherently wrong with that… Feeding chickens chicken…

Maybe they’d love it… “Hey Henrietta, you HAVE to try some of this food that came in the big red bucket… I don’t know what it is… but it’s delicious!” 

For now, no cannibalism at the Hyun home…

I’ve read that they’re supposed to start laying eggs in 6 months… so hopefully in July, we’ll have some good news on egg production.    Hopefully we can keep them alive until then..

I also received some advice that the secret to high egg-production is tithing… Hopefully, we can find egg-sized tithing envelopes…

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Congratulations, Joel Urey: Eagle Scout

The best assignment in our church (BY FAR!) in my opinion is being a part of the scouting program.  I never did scouts as a kid, but was given an assignment as an assistant scoutmaster in the 11-year-old scout program for about 5 years.  And being part of scouts with ll-year-old boys is pretty special.  This is most boys’ first year in scouts.  Everything is new.  Some kids have never lit a match, used an axe, or set up their own tent.  Every year with a new batch of boys, you get to experience everything again for the first time.  You get to see the failure, frustration, then the victory… It’s an age before girls start clouding the picture.  And outdoor stuff is still cool, because you finally get to do all the dangerous stuff that you’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t…

Yesterday, I got to attend Joel Urey’s Eagle Scout court of honor.  Joel Urey was one of my boys in 2008, my last year in scouts before I was given a different assignment in the church. 

My most vivid memory of Joel was when we went up to Cascade Park on a campout.  As we were exiting the park, we decide we’d each take one last ride on the zip line.  As one of the them was going down, the whole group of boys started chasing him down to claim the next turn.  Unfortunately, when the boy jumped off the zip line seat, the wooden seat slingshotted up and hit Joel square in the eye.  By the time, I reached the scene, Joel was writhing on the ground with his hands covering his eye.  Not good.  It took some time to regain composure, but once he did, we started testing his vision.  Nothing too scientific.  More of “Can you see?”  To my horror, his answer was “I see black out of one eye.”  You could see some color around the eye where the seat smacked him.  Ouch.  We got everyone in the van, and my mind was racing.  We have to get this boy to the emergency room!  In my mind,  I was thinking that we’ll have to go to Evergreen Hospital Emergency Room in Bothell.    As we kept driving, I continue to quiz him on the status of his vision.  He matter-of-factly answered my questions.  The other boys were also tending to him as if they were all surgeons.  Nothing brings a group of boys together like an injury.  As we continued to drive, Joel reported that he felt his vision was returning, although somewhat spotty.  After some more quizzing, I asked if he thought we should go to the emergency room, or to his home.  He thought that he’d be ok going home.   I’m assuming his vision turned out ok… or he spent the last 4 years faking that it’s fine.  I just remember thinking – wow… tough boy…

Joel is now a young man.  He towers over me.  His voice is octaves lower than what I remember.  And as he spoke, my mind kept trying to make the connection between the little boy I knew and this young man before me.

I thought it was so rewarding to see each of the kids learn a new skill, earn a new merit badge, and move up in rank.  But years later, to see one of them complete their journey in scouts with the highest rank attainable was a rare treat.  Only 4% of scouts make it to Eagle, and it takes some grit and perseverance to get there.  I am so proud of you, Joel!  Now, you are on the other side and will hopefully have the joy and opportunity to serve the next generation of scouts.  Good luck on all your future endeavors.  You’re starting off from a great place. 

I had a few pictures that I thought were worth sharing – maybe some of them made it into the slide show.  This was at a campout where we were learning how to build fires, and the first team to burn through the top string won.

Here’s the preparation:

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Here’s the roaring fire.  Note the stake holding up the string is on fire. 

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Award ceremony

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Joel’s dad giving a lesson on how “NOT” to make kindling.  He gave a lot of great “How not to” lessons.  Smile

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Some after hours practice.

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