Friday, February 17, 2012

A Chicken Story - part 1

I haven’t talked a whole lot about our chickens since last September (okay, I haven’t talked about much of anything since last September!).
It has been quite a saga.

We decided to get a new batch of chickens because the previous flock just wasn’t laying much any more. We had to buy eggs for the first time in two years! We had been planning to start a new flock but it just hadn’t worked out last spring. Then we realized, it just isn’t going to work out in spring period because that is such a busy time. So we went against normal convention and decided to start our flock in the fall.

Around here, you can’t go to the local farm store and pick up a dozen baby chicks in October. You can in February or March, but not October. We also wanted certain kinds of chickens for a variety of egg color and winter hardiness.  So we ordered them from a hatchery, which was more than happy to send whatever we wanted through the mail. However, they come in minimum batches of 25.  I believe the order was for 5 Rhode Island Red hens, 5 Americauna hens, 5 Cuckoo Maran hens, 5 Silver Leghorn hens, and 5 Silver Leghorn roosters. Yes, roosters.  We did not want 25 chickens though! So we started looking around for people who wanted to go in on the order, and we ordered our chicks.

By the time they arrived on September 30, we only had one person interested in four chicks. Others had backed out and no one else was interested. Yikes! People apparently thought starting chicks in the fall could not be done. We sold those four chickens, and then, sadly, one of the roosters died. He just couldn’t take the stress of travel I guess, which sometimes happens. We were down to 20 chicks.

We plunged ahead and Jeremy said maybe we’d sell the extras in the spring. After about one month in the brooder, those tiny little things had gotten massive and were bursting at the seams! I mean, the brooder was bursting – the chickens themselves weren’t bursting.

We had to move them out to the coop. We had cleaned that all up, put down loads of fresh hay, and Jeremy lowered the roosting bar so they could reach it. These chicks didn’t need to be taught how to roost like the last batch. They got it right away. We turned on the sweeter heater (a wonderful new addition to our set-up) and moved the chickens in on November 10th.  I don’t think it was too long after that that we started letting them outdoors. Thank goodness we’ve had a mild winter this year!

The coop looking a bit grungy.

Can it really be comfortable to sleep in stacks, 2 or 3 high?

Almost as soon as the chicks were out of the brooder, Jeremy went to work converting it into a second chicken coop. The Chicken Annex as I like to call it. Cause there was no way 20 chickens were going to fit in our original coop!

walls go up higher and a window goes in.

walls are up, a new roof, nest boxes on the side, and a door to get in and out.

I think Jeremy did a great job on the coop, though we’ve both realized now there are limitations to it and we’re sort of going back to the drawing board. The really great thing is that he built a sturdy covering for the run so the chickens could have their full run available in the winter. We didn’t want them getting bored and picking on each other instead.

Well, that is by no means the end of the story. Just wait till you hear what happens next!!

1 comment:

Tam said...

A lot of birds roost closely in winter. I bet they love it!