Greetings from NorthEast Washington (hence newabyc). My wife and I have always talked about having chickens, but we were not allowed in our last 2 houses. Last summer we bought a new house that came with a chicken coop and run ready to go!
I just realized I don't have any pictures of the coop or run, but here is one of the original 2 chickens. This is Eric and Donna. The rhode island red is the hen, and I kept calling her red, which made me think of Donna (from That 70's Show in case you missed the reference). Since the rooster is scrawny compared to her, Eric fit well.
The same friends that gave us the original two, gave us another rhode island red hen I just call Donna 2.
They gave them to use at the beginning of winter, and all 3 have done well. Donna 1 laid consistently, but Donna 2 took a little time to ramp up. I think she may be younger then Donna 1. Both are laying fine now.
Our friends have been generous enough to get us started, so now it's time to start making more chickens!
A couple years ago, I attended a taping of the Jimmy Kimmel show in Hollywood as part of an employer sponsored team building trip. This only matters because that night, they were giving away free meat if Matthew McConnawhatever (the actor) could make some basketball shots out on the sidewalk. He did, so we all won free Omaha Steaks. When they arrived, I knew this styrofoam container would be great for some future project. In fact, my first thought was an incubator. Fast forward to now, and this happens...
Here is the first batch in the shiny new DIY incubator.
I didn't want to fiddle with a thermostat or a dimmer. I decided to use an arduino and a dallas 18b20 temp sensor to control the incubator.
I already have a home automation server setup that uses wireless sensor nodes, so I made the incubator another node. This allowed me to setup the HA server to text me if the temps fall out of spec.
You can't see the temp sensor in the first picture, or the 2L bottle of water to act as a temperature regulating thermal mass.
Next steps will be to control the humidity, move control of temp (and humidity) settings from hard coded at the node to configurable via HA system, automate egg turner, add webcam...
I'm told the rooster is an araucana. He might be. He is certainly handsome. When they told us the breeds they were gifting us, I became very interested in this breed. I'm using these eggs as 'practice' of sorts. I'm sure I'll get more egg layers out of whatever hatches, but I'm not trying to breed these 3 birds long term. I want to get some real Araucanas, most likely from awesome araucanas.
We've had a few chicken farmer friends over and they all have agreed that we can house about a dozen birds in the space we have. We're planning to build more coops and runs for when we start breeding the araucanas. I've already built a couple PVC feeders that are working great. The feeder inside the coop had seen better days adn was feeding the mice as much as the chickens. Mice are gone now that I upgraded and put set out some poison for them (don't worry chickens can't get to it).
Yes, we're been bitten by the chicken bug.