Here in west central Illinois we are suffering from cabin fever. This photo was taken several weeks ago, before the big storm hit that dumped another 21.5 inches on top of what we already had. In the photo the snow is quite lovely, today you can only see the top of the fence posts leading up to the stable. There are shovel wide paths leading to the chicken house, the horses are having a blast playing outdoors during the day galloping thru the deep drifts, but they appreciate their snug as a bug stalls at night!
My husband built me this really spiffy barn and with the leftover materials and about $200 more of additional materials we constructed our chicken coop. Here is a photo of my student intern Sarah, who is responsible for re-introducing me to poultry after over 40 years of not having chickens! As a child, probably about 5 years old I would help my mom feed the chickens with a little metal lard pail that was just my size. A few years back I asked my mother what happened to the chickens. My older brother smirked and said that in 1960 ish dad purchased a new Super M Farmal tractor. Appartently the chickens liked to roost on the steering wheel among other locatoins on the tractor. At some point I probably had fried chicken and didn't make the connection, I was only 5, give me a break!


Pictured above is my student intern, Sarah with her chicken Ginger. I work at Western Illinois University and Sarah was a student intern in my office. She found out that I lived in the country and moved her show hen Ginger in. So with one bird in a small pet cage my husband and I started building a chicken coop from the materials left over from our stable. The coop has four pens with 12 nesting boxes in each pen. Each pen has a run that is covered in deer mesh and electric fence to keep the racoons at bay. We used 1/2 inch electrical conduit to shape the roof structure. So I can let all of my birds out every day that the weather permits and not have to worry about any type of preditor getting them.
I bought 2 hens and one rooster at a flea market two years ago and within one year had over 100 birds. Chickens are fairly easy to raise. I wanted to start with some non-expensive birds just in case there was a learning curve. Now I am ready to fill my coop with my dream birds! I think I would like to find some Dominiques, I really respect the importance of protecting and promoting heritage breeds. My husband wants some of the fuzzy birds that he saw on David Letterman, I am going to have to get him to look at a picture book to select the breed. Then of course, Sarah has since graduated but we have Ginger the Rhode Island Red Bantam and a dozen other RIBs that I purchased last spring. In the last pen I would like a dozen egg layers, I need to do research on what breed I should get to get those awesome huge brown speckled eggs.
So as a new member as of today, I am very excited about this forum, I have so much to learn about genetics and breeding, and feeding, and hatching, and showing, and etc...