MamaManda's Member Page
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Hi! I'm Amanda, a wanna-be farmgirl in suburban Vancouver WA, mama to 3 little ones, and wife to my adoring husband of 10 years. ;)
I have a goal to become as self-sufficient as possible, and figured adding chickens to our 1/4 acre backyard is essential in my goal. :) My husband calls me "The crazy bird lady" as I am quite partial to members of the Aves kingdom. I can sit and watch them for hours. I got my Amazon parrot as a teenager, then was introduced to coturnix quail a couple years ago while doing research for a nature science class I teach, and decided to get a "pair" of my own which has now become a flock of 10.
When a friend of mine that works for Wilco (Farm store) told me they had day old chicks in this fall, I went to the store to 'get paint for the bathroom' and took a peek at the chicks. I had been doing research into the breeds I wanted, and whaddaya know? They had them all. I called my husband, and asked if I could bring 8 babies home with me. I know he was rolling his eyes and shaking his head when he said "Sure honey" in the fakest sweet voice he could muster....but I did. Two Rhode Island Reds, 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Americaunas, and 2 Barred Rocks. One of my Buff Orps died on the way home, so now we have 7.
Our chicks lived in our bathtub for the first 3 weeks of their life. I loved hearing them peep, and sitting in the bathroom watching my 7 little fluff balls peck at nothing and sleep. I was incredibly entertained one evening when a mosquito eater flew into the bathroom and slid down the wall of the tub. My then 2 week old chicks became wildly alert and one of them jumped up and snatched it in mid air in a matter of seconds. I then started leaving my windows and doors open at night to let as many mosquito eaters in as possible for my children and I to catch and handfeed to the chickies. I decided it was a great opportunity to teach them to come when I call, by squealing "Come chicky chicky!' and rewarding the first to arrive with the juicy bug treat. This worked exceptionally well, and I love that they now will all come running as soon as they hear me call.
When they were about 2 weeks old, I began taking them outside for a couple hours every day for some very supervised "free range" time. I was very amused watching such small birds scratch in the dirt. They seemed too little to know how to do that!
Our chicks, Mertz, Butter, Penny, Emma, Larkin, Tagen, and Ollie are now 10 weeks old, and it turns out my favorite, Ollie, is a Roo. (The Barred Rock on my shoulder in the pic above.) I wondered from the time he was tiny if he might end up a rooster, as he always had the strongest personality by far. This is a big bummer to me, as city ordinances do not restrict the number of hens I can have, but do not allow roosters. I CAN'T get rid of him! :(
They have all been living in our garage in a huge refrigerator box brooder. (They go out in the yard for about 4 hours a day now when we're home.) I know they are quickly getting too big for their little brooder, and I have finally decided on my coop plans and we've started building!
I was originally inspired by this coop I found online (on left) and wanted my husband to build me the exact same one, but then found out all sheds and buildings on our property had to be no higher than 8 feet, so I decided to modify it with ideas from a raised coop I saw on BYC, the Cottage Retreat. (right) I drew up some plans, and began scouring Craigslist for reuseable and salvaged materials. A neighbor gave us a big stack of wood and wire left over from his own coop construction, and we found a sweet deal on pressure treated 2x4's and 2x6's on Craigslist. (A third the price of un-treated lumber in the hardware store!) Here's my idea of the sweet marriage between my 2 inspirations:
November decided to give us a whole week of sunshine which is very uncommon here in Vancouver this time of year, so we decided we had better take advantage of it for coop building. We decided to place the coop in an otherwise unuseable corner of our yard where it will get both sun and shade, and protection from wind. That is a creek that runs directly behind the fence, that attracts a lot of animals, which is why we decided to set the coop off the ground. No snakes, rats, or racoons in our coop!
We set to work on day one digging the holes for the footings and getting our pressure treated 4x4 posts set. We set them in concrete Pier blocks about a foot underground.
Once we had the floor joists in, we put on the 5/8" plywood floor and waited til morning to add the vinyl flooring remnant I found at Home Depot. The next morning arrived along with a very hard frost that didn't clear until after 1 pm. My flooring adhesive said to apply with temps between 65'-95'. Yeah, that wasn't gonna happen. We decided to skirt the bottom of the coop with tarps, stick a space heater underneath to warm up the floor for applying the vinyl, then let that baby pump away at 80' all night while it set. Crazy, I know. But it's all for my girls...and Olllie.
Sidewalls have been framed and raised. This step took us a long time, as I kept changing my mind about where/how many nest boxes I wanted, and I still have not located windows for the left and right sides. But, I knew what sizes I wanted them, so we framed them in. Think I'm going to have glass cut, and frame and grid them myself. REALLY hope I don't regret that decision!
*DH is getting some roofing clarification from my Dad, a pro-framer.*
We got the roof peak set before it got dark, but man, it was getting cold fast! We'll put on siding and finish the roof trusses tomorrow!