I will be a brand new chicken owner in 2 weeks once our 4 Buff Orpington chicks arrive. I have been panicking a bit over the responsibility (we have 2 kids and a very mellow dog), and in particular, wondering about two issues:
1. Will I need to get up early in the morning to let the chickens out of their coop? We live in an area with lots of hawks, raccoons, fisher cats, and fox, so I want to be sure they are safe and secure. I had planned to lock the coop door at night with a sturdy lock, and have a fully enclosed run attached to the coop for them to run around in during the day when we can't be in the backyard with them. But I'm worried I'll need to be outside at 7 a.m. to let them out of the coop, and then again at dusk. What if we're not around or I don't feel like getting up that early? I know there a devices that will open the coop door at dawn and dusk, but I don't think that will keep the coop truly safe from predators - am I wrong?
2. What do you do when you go away for one night on the weekend? Will the girls be okay with food and water for 36-40 hours, or will I need to have a friend come over to tend to them?
Thanks so much for your thoughts!