My name is Lisa and we live in a little town called Starke, located in NE FL. We're south of Jacksonville and north of Gainesville, just to give some reference. Some of my girlfriends in south FL got into raising chickens and were telling me all about it during every phone call. After getting disgusted at the grocery with the price of eggs going up and up, reading about the Avian Flu that was desimating flocks, and then seeing the conditions that commercial chickens are raised, I decided to make a stand not to support that and have my own backyard chickens. In April, I cleaned out the unused lot in our back yard, got a coop, and drove to my girlfriend's house for a few chickens.
I started out with 2 RIR, who are sisters, and a Blue Wynedotte. They did well together, coming from the same flock, and had a good little life going on in their new 23'x23' chicken lot. They have constant access to Layer Pellets and get scratch in the morning and evening. They also get left over produce when we have it. Of course, they have water with a 3 gallon bucket with nipples, to which I add 3 ounces of apple cider vinager. I scatter some DE in their cedar shaving in the coop and replenish as necessary. I clean poo every day, from their coop and their yard. I'm probably the only person in the world who picks up poo from the ground, but after over 20+ years in the dog show world, I just can't leave poo laying about if I see it. LOL The sisters have free run of their chicken lot all day. They also out about once or twice a day for about 45 minutes to an hour to free range in my backyard, which is about 3/4 of an acre. That's on a trial basis, because I love seeing them out there but I don't want to lose all my grass. So far, they graze around pretty well and do some digging but aren't destroying any areas of the yard. Crossing my fingers that continues. If not, they'll have to stay in their lot. That's our routine for now. If you see something that would be better, please feel free to offer suggestions.
I was getting 3 eggs a day from day 1. Perfect for the whole family. Until the Dotte went broody. I did everything that everyone suggested to get her over it, from the country chicken raising folks to the internet. Absolutely nothing worked. As I'm never going to have a rooster, nor do I ever want to raise biddies, I traded with my daughter's friend. She has a small family farm and lets her chickens free range. That's what Blue was used to and what I wanted her to continue to have. She was set up with a nest full of eggs, which she was grateful for, and I brought home another RIR. I followed all the instructions for introducing her to the sisters but nothing worked. They were not mean to her, in the sense that they didn't injure her, but they were totally antisocial. After a month of seeing the new one totally separate from the sisters, I call her up and asked to bring her back. I just couldn't stand the thought of a lonely chicken. They are supposed to be social birds but mine didn't read the book.
The coop I bought was a Precision and that's been a disaster. I've posted on another thread about my experience with that. Needless to say, I'm getting a new coop after only a few months of chicken keeping. I'm having it made to my specs and I'll post pics when I get it. It's more for free ranging, low maintenance upkeep, not "cuteness" but I'll be grateful to have it. Once it's here, I'm getting two more chickens. I've learned my lesson on that one. I will only get a pair, so that they can be their own little pairing if the sisters are antisocial to them too. I'm still investigating what type of chickens to get. I'm most interested in egg laying and non aggressive, and as a bonus, pretty. The problem if finding them. As I said, I don't want biddies, as that's mostly how they are offered. My girlfriend assures me it's possible to get juvenile pullets and she can help me do that.
That's our chicken adventures to date. I'm looking forward to getting to know some of y'all and learning as much as I can so I can be a good chicken keeper. I enjoy watching the silly birds but I'm especially loving having fresh, antibiotic and chemical free eggs from birds that have a good life.
Flock of 2 (for now)