You can read my story or cut to the chase at the bottom...
Growing up on a small farm in Pennsylvania, I loved raising chickens! The fascination with genetics and the color variation from different crosses, along with "turks"(featherless necks), animals with scales, feathers, combs and waddles, etc.. It's the closest thing to a pet dinosaur a kid can have. ...eventually lead to a Master's degree in Developmental genetics (embryology). I followed that with more advanced studies but gave it up... Now, I'm self-employed.
I wanted to have a small farm of my own by this point in my life, but until recently, my only
farm animal was a chick I hatched from a leftover egg used in a virology class (it was never inoculated). I couldn't keep it for long and gave it to another person who had several other chickens.
About six months ago, my neighbor told me they knew a lady whose daughter had ordered 15 chickens without her permission. She was looking to give some away, so I volunteered.
I asked for up to four hens. I was talked into taking a rooster and two hens--Dominiques.
I had the chickens for about a month, had built a nice little coop with small run, and was letting them out in the double back yard daily.
Then, I became very ill with a stomach virus. I didn't leave my house for about 36 hours. I figured the chickens would be okay. They weren't. Something got in and killed one of the hens. That is when I first found this site. From what I read, it was a racoon. Probably a young one. I was very sad but was also glad that it only killed one. I shored up the coop and haven't had any more problems, although something tried to dig under recently. I have wire under the run and coop...
(sorry, my dog is demanding my attention)
Once the rooster started mating, I knew I'd need some more hens. I found a guy on CL who was giving away 6 hens. He said they wouldn't lay many more eggs but I doubted him. I gave 4 to a friend with a small "bird sanctuary" and ten acres... The two I kept (Ameracauna or EE, and Barred Plymoth Rock) didn't lay for about a month but once they started its been 5/week. My Dominique has also been laying since Oct. 1st. She rarely misses a day ever since she started!
Oh, btw, I put two pieces of velcro on my rooster as a "crow collar". It worked great for the first three months but recently he learned how to become more vocal. I adjusted one of the two. I think he thought they were part of him? Now he still belts out the occasional shrill crow, about 60% of normal, i'd say? However, most of his attempts are pitiful, now. I hate doing it to him, but I researched it prior to his arrival and can't have him waking up people in a five block radius.
I made an incubator and am waiting on 3 ameracauna/dominique crosses to hatch, fingers crossed. I started with ten, but 6 were from my dominiqe hen and her eggs are still too small, they didn't make it. One of the ameracauna's didn't make it and I'm concerned about one other but it is very far along. My other hen wasn't laying at the time I started. I made a much better incubator today, and want to test it. I'm not planning on over-running my neighborhood with chickens, and no more than one rooster at a time (don't tell my current roo).
If successful at hatching a few, I want to have replacements for the aging hens, and will give excess to my friend who I mentioned. That said, I already converted a full sized refrigerator into an incubator for future use??? ...maybe not? :) I'm thinking of buying land in Memphis? It's an 8 hr drive from Chicago and winters are not as harsh.
Anyway, found your site and have learned more than I knew as a kid, and relearned some items!!
(my doggie is telling me to stop and play with her...)
-Grew up on very small farm in PA, and loved my pet dinosaurs ....uh hum, chickens.
-Now have one Dominique rooster, one Dom hen, one Americauna? hen, One BR? hen. Three well developed eggs that I'm hoping will hatch any time now. They were put in the incubator as the were produced...
-Testing a much better home made incubator and have 6 eggs ready to go, from each hen (dom's eggs still small).
-Roo wears a couple of velcro "crow collars".
-Don't name my chickens. I would if there was any need but I'm never telling people about them individually, and they would be better served with a description. ;)
-Been all around the country. Notably, FL, CO, CA, PA, IL, SC (SC, CO in military).
Pics of dog and 3 young chickens (prior to racoon). Eggs (duh). Two Doms and a BR (its tough from the pic but can you find the BR?)