Having chickens was one of the things I was most anticipating in our move out of town. We moved out here in the fall of 2009, and I hoped that, you know, a month in we'd have chickens, beautifully kept grounds, apples off the trees and a house all freshly painted inside. Umm, let's just say that living out here on our 7 acres has been a bit more of a learning curve than I anticipated. I think it might make some people out here laugh, since we live on so little land comparatively, but it took us about a year just to figure out how to mow in a timely manner. The house still isn't painted and is still surrounded by voracious meadow weeds, but hey, at least I've got my chickens!
We were planning on getting chickens in the spring of last year. I wanted to get them locally and the local hatchery wasn't planning on having any till April. The kids and I were really excited when we found someone at the end of February with lots of chicks available on his farm near us. I'd been reading lots of chicken info so was all set with plans in my head for a cardboard box brooder. I can't find the link that had the great directions for a cardboard box brooder, but comment me if you want more info and I'll describe it. We headed to the appliance store for a dishwasher box, and then to the feed store for feed, a warm light and a few other supplies. The next day was the first of March, and we were excited to be getting our chicks. It looked like this outside, and it was fun to think springy, chicky thoughts. See the mud though? Nothing like mud/snow season!
The farmer had the chicks inside in a electric hatching box, with day old chicks in boxes. Jack and Lu were really excited to look in the hatching box and see some coming out of their shells. Then they each got to pick six chicks. This first round of chicks were mutts, their parents being Wyandottes, French Marans and Austrolorps among a few others I can't remember. We liked that our chicks were all different colors. We got them home and they seemed to like their roomy digs.
From the time they were tiny you could tell that they had really different personalities. One of the first we named was Curious, and she is still just as curious now a year and a half later, and the smartest of our chickens, too. Notice that I gave no indication about where these chickens were going to live once they didn't fit in this box anymore. It wasn't built yet, and I was super intimidated by the idea of how exactly it was going to be built.
5 weeks flew by, and I couldn't contain the now preteens in a box anymore. Plus, this box was in the basement, and odors were starting to drift. (Hmmm... that's a nice way to describe the stinky smell coming up my back basement stairs). We have a few outbuildings and I knew which one I planned to build the coop in. After a frantic night reading chicken coop plans online, Jack and I struck out to Home Depot. There, fate intervened and I met my Home Depot man, John. (not in my husband, as in actual Home Depot employee). I described my vague idea of what I wanted to do and he translated it into an actual plan, with all needed materials and tools. Seriously, I felt like a tv crew was going to jump out at some point and ask my permission to make a commercial out of this. The customer service was that good, and John is now my go to man for projects.
Jack and I built, and built and built. That kid is pretty damn awesome. Then I stapled, and stapled and stapled while cussing as chicken wire destroyed my arms. It took us two days and a van load of wood chips, but we were mighty pleased with ourselves when we were down. I like to think the chickens were, too!
Ahhh... a new coop with new bedding is a lovely place to sit on the ground and hang out.
I'm afraid it's not quite as pleasant nowadays.