When I started out on my chicken journey, I have to admit I had some fancy dreams. When I envisioned their coop, I dreamt of something clean, and pretty. You know, something like this...
Instead, we made something that was completely free, and made up of recycled materials...
This is a hoop house. It provides protection and the ability of chickens to "free range". I would have loved to have had a stationary coop. A cute one like the one above, and I would have loved to let the chickens meander where they please. However, everything likes the taste of chicken. From hawks, to dogs, to raccoons and even possums. I could have had a stationary coop and had a run for them to go into, but within a certain amount of time they would have eaten and scratched up every single blade of grass. Then the chickens would have no grass. I can tell you for a fact chickens are happiest when they can scratch through grass!! I want them to have that, and with a hoop house they get that, and protection. The tarp has been great for shading the chickens during this hot, hot summer, and provides a break for any wind or rain we do get (not much!). Once cooler weather sets in we will have to compromise some unfortunately. We'll be converting a wood shed into a coop for the winter. We plan to hook the hoop house up to the back so they will have access to outside, but they will also be able to go into the coop to stay warm. They may even be spoiled enough they'll get heat lamps, so they can stay toasty all winter!
This is the front of the hoop house. You can see the rooster there, waiting to make sure I'm no trouble. We used a door lined with chicken wire and hard wire cloth. In case you are wondering, chicken wire keeps chickens in great, but a predator (such as a coon) can easily rip it apart to get to your chickens. It's why we put the chicken wire on the top of the door and not on the bottom.
Here is the inside. I will say it up front in case you are not familiar with chickens, they are messy. They poop whenever, wherever. The top of their nesting box, and any stationary piece has poop on it. You can clean it, and they'll just poop again! If you can see there is only shavings in one nesting box, that's because although there are two, they all lay in just one of the two boxes!
You guys were lucky! When I went out to take these pictures there was a surprise in the nest box!
Two, pretty, perfect eggs! Who wants an omelet?!
Raising chickens has been a very fun adventure so far. My chickens have gone from cute, adorable fluff balls, to crazy velociraptor look a likes. Nowadays they actual look, and sound like real grown up chickens. Today marks their 13th week with us. I thought, in honor of their 13th week, I'd share 13 things about chickens today.
1. They are messy. When they are babies they love to scratch through their shavings, which gets them all over the place. As they get older, like most animals, have no idea that things need to stay tidy. They scatter food around, and produce copious amounts of magic dust (where if comes from is a mystery!). As adults, they shed feathers EVERYWHERE, love to play in dirt, and have no problem pooping pretty much everywhere they go. Even on or in food and water dishes.
2. They are not domestic animals. Unlike dogs, chickens do not try to please you. They are just themselves. This means that they are scared of you sometimes, and may act irrationally if you are wearing bright fingernail polish.
3. They grow fast. They are only adorable fluff balls for a few weeks, and you can almost see the growth difference daily. They've become big chickens so quickly!
4. They love treats. When you walk up to our chickens coop they run to you, excited to get their treats! A lot of people said they love, love, love mealworms, but instead mine went gaga over blueberries. Nowadays they don't seem to have favorites, and love anything tossed in.
5. They are not economical. You have to build a coop, buy them, shavings, food and water dishes, grit, treats, and not to mention food! They eat a lot for their body size, and you will never get to the point you don't have to buy them food. Getting eggs from chickens isn't cheaper than buying from the store. However, you are raising your own food, know your chickens health, and know they are truly happy.
6. They don't have to live in a mansion. Our chickens live in a hoop house. Part of it is covered with a tarp, and they have two large sticks as perches. We move their house as often as they need it. It is not fancy, and it doesn't look amazing. We were more concerned about them getting in fresh grass, and having protections from the predators than them living the large life.
7. They are entertaining. You wouldn't think chickens would be, but they really are. They run around, chase each other, try to steal each other's treats, they cluck and jabber, and are pretty darn cute.
8. There are lots of different types of chickens. There are chickens that lay brown eggs, and white eggs. There are chickens that lay green, blue, and light pink eggs. There are large, heavy breed chickens, and bantam chickens which weigh just a few pounds. There are cold hardy, heat hardy, and even heirloom chickens.
9. They don't constantly lay eggs. Chickens don't constantly lay eggs. They may lay eggs for five days straight, but will then take a break.
10. They can fly. Well, a little. Starting when they are young they like to fly up to perch, and I could see a chicken getting up in a small tree fairly easily. However, they will not be flying more than a few feet up or away.
11. They don't need roosters. It's true you do not need a rooster to have eggs. Hens have eggs regardless. Roosters are a bit braver though and help protect the hens.
12. They are a great first time farm animal. Chickens are hardy, and fairly easy to care for. They require feed, water, and shelter, but are pretty low key otherwise. They have made for a great first time livestock animal for me.
13. You can have chickens. Well, maybe. A lot of cities allow residents to have a certain amount of chickens, provided they are within certain guidelines. Having chickens in your backyard is pretty common these days!
Well, there you go, 13 things about chickens! If anyone is interested in learning more about chickens, I'd love to help you if I can. So feel free to ask in questions!
Remember just a few weeks ago I posted my announcement about getting chickens? Remember these cute pictures I shared...
Such adorable, sweet, fluffy, balls of cute, right? Well, three weeks into a chicks life, you go through a scary transformation. They are getting their feathers, they are getting big and awkward. So, I present to you these lovely pictures of my three week old chickosaurses.
Talk about your assortments! As you can see, my cutie patooties are slowly morphing into dinosaurs of some type. They are gaga over treats of any type...in fact...here's a video of them chowing down on blueberries. Pardon the tv in the background...I totally forgot to mute it!
Here are some things I've learned so far from having chicks...
They are messy. As in, they don't care where they poop, the love scratching through their shavings and flicking them into their grit, food, and water.
They eat a lot. As in three weeks we've gone through almost an entire 40 pound bag of food.
They love treats. My chicks were scared of me before the introduction of treats, now they flock to my hand when I put it in. Now, if I walk by without throwing something to them they give me the stink eye!
They constantly peep. They only stop when they sleep and even then usually someone is awake to peepy cheep.
They don't sleep as much as I though. With most newborn animals they sleep a lot. Chicks don't. They sleep for maybe 15-30 minutes at a time before they are playing and scratching and eating.
They do chicken things when they are chicks. I though they would be clumsy babies, and it would take time to learn chicken skills. However, I put a stick in there and they knew they should try to sleep on it, they scratch and forage for food like pros, and you should see them dust bathe!
They grow so fast. Within 3 days of having them I noticed they looked bigger, and husband confirmed. Now at three weeks we're at this crazy feather growing stage. We have only about 20 weeks until we get our first egg!
They are not picky. They don't care what their coop, or brooder look like. They just care about each other and food.
So far this has been an awesome adventure, and I can't wait to see where it goes! Do you have chickens? What were you surprised to learn about owning them?
I am happy and very excited to announce a few new additions to the family!
Saturday we plunged ourselves in a new adventure...chickens!
This is a first for both Rob and I. In fact, I'd never even held a chick until we got home! We're nearly two days in and everyone is doing well.
I think I expected baby chicks to be quiet, docile, sleepy little things. I've been amazed at how much they move, flap, run, stretch and REALLY amazed at how much they have eaten.
Look at those tiny, adorable, cute little tail feathers! <3
Here's the whole group together. We have a total of 10. Two leghorns, two production reds, and six barred rocks. We may have a rooster, but there are no ways too know for sure just yet.
Here is a short little clip of them...