Just A Bit About My Family & I:My name is Tanya Davis, and this is my family (above from left). My husband Phil, 4 year old daughter Olivia, and my 2 year old son Oliver. One day we decided that we needed to do something that made US happy, thus the trip to the state we've only dreamed of living in, and the desire to become self-sufficient (not having to buy hormone injected meats and rising food costs, etc.). We now live in Libby, Montana. We have lived here since May 3rd and we LOVE it here! Montana is a place that Phil and I have always dreamed about living in, and with small steps we have made that dream come true (traveling over 2000 miles from Fort Wayne, Indiana), and this is just a start of our journey to our "Happy Place" in life!
Currently, we are renting this house until the day we can own our first home. Olivia is waving on the front porch, and don't mind the clip of my head in the corner lol. The house is actually a bright yellow, with slime green trim. (HORRIBLE COLORS, but the landlord (Warren) has promised to repaint with more mellow colors .) The pictures from my laptop do not seem to pick up colors very well, so I may talk about colors here and there.
How We Started With Chickens:
Shortly after moving in, we realized that we had an insect (mostly stink bugs and such beatles) and spider problem. We talked with Warren about it. Later, he arrived with a small, loosely closed box, Olivia, who always seems to get to the door first opens it for him, and he hands the box to her. She quickly takes the box, turns around and starts to shake it like a christmas present, amidst a shower of fine wood shavings. The look on the Warren's face was of sheer horror, "Don't shake it, there's chicks in there!" he finally squawks. Upon hearing his shout, simultaneously she drops the box on the floor and I am running to catch it. Sitting on the floor next to the box, Olivia and Oliver quickly sit next to me, at first we heard nothing, then a corus of hysterical cheeping ensued. Carefully, I opened the box to behold (to my complete surprise) four, cute and fluffy, week-old chicks.Thankfully, the chicks were unharmed, though thoroughly shaken. There were three Buff Orpingtons, and a Rhode Island Red chick. Warren told us that the Buffs would be ours and that they would take care of our pests, and asked that we care for his Red for a few weeks. Phil and I agree, and he later brings by a large, rectangular, wooden crate (4 ft. long x 3ft. tall x 2ft. wide) to start a coop with (shown below).
A few days later, the Tuesday after Memorial day to be exact, I took the children across the street to Homesteader's Ranch and Feed Supply, to purchase two more chicks, a feeder, waterer, and some wood shavings. We are going to raise them for both eggs and meat. I had originally intended to buy two Rhode Island Reds, until I saw the Black Barred Plymouth Rock chicks, so I got one of each! The Rock is Olivia's favorite. (We might just have to keep that one as a pet, SHHH don't tell my hubby!)
Here the darlings are all nice and cozy, taking a nap!
One of three Buff Orpington chicks. Look! cute and fluffy!
Rhode Island Red chick (actually looks reddish brown), and the Black Barred Plymouth Rock (which is actually really black with a white dot on head) chicks.
Experiences Thus Far:
This being our very first time owning chickens, I had no idea how to care for them, so I hopped on the computer and started Googling chickens. I came up with a number of different sites with tons of information that I scoured from top to bottom. I had read a few things about how to keep chickens from flying by clipping the flight feathers and also the more permanent version of pinioning . At first we thought pinioning would be the way to go, I had the scissors and Phil had the chick (which so happened to be the Rock). I was all worked up and ready to do it, scissors in hand, until the chick was right there peeping miserably. It was then I realized, that I was unable to hurt the chick. So Phil decided he would have the scissors and I would hold the chick. Well, needless to say, he couldn't do it either because I kept pulling the chick away when the scissors got near. I'm not sure if it was my motherly instinct kicking in -- trying to protect the chick with it's scared little peeps, or if I had already grown too attached to the chicks. Either way, I felt pretty bad about even thinking about it. It was then that we decided that we will NOT pinion these or any other chickens we raise and would only clip the flight feathers each time they grow back. By the way the Rock was not harmed.
Then I came across Backyard Chickens. This site is AWSOME! So many people who know about chickens and any number of people are on at whatever time it is, I thought to myself "JACKPOT!!" In just about a week now, I have learned SO much about chickens (and have only just scratched the surface). Now I am HOOKED! The kids absolutely LOVE the chicks, and are constantly asking to pet and hold them . Olivia asks if they will lay eggs almost every day .
So far we have not named any of the chicks yet, Phil thinks it's a bad idea to name them seeing as we are going to eat them later, but I need something to call them other than chicken. So, I am trying to come up with some good names. I like to name animals based on thier personality, so naming could take a while. One of the Buffs have suddenly become bigger than all the other chicks and is quite firey (not sure, but wondering if it may be a roo), and our Red is very attentive to it's surroundings (I wonder about it's sex also). Another Buff is almost constantly talking, even in her sleep! The other Buff is the smallest chick in our little flock and is very quiet and the Rock, stands out due to it's black color, is extremely quick and has shown some escape artist skills. If we do happen to have a roo, hopefully there will only be one, I wouldn't mind having one rooster. I think it would be neat to hear it crow, Phil doesn't agree with me there, he doesn't want to hear it crow in the morning .
So far, these chicks have been the easiest animal to care for that I have ever had (and I've had quite a list of pets over the years). I think I will like raising chickens very much. I especially look forward to the fresh eggs!
In The Near Future:
In the next few weeks, we will be getting 250ft. (hopefully 4ft. tall) of chicken wire to line the fence of our back yard. There, we will allow the chickens to free range once they are old enough to be outside.
This is our back yard, taken from just outside our back door. After we pay our next months' rent, we are going to start building our coop! Like I said earlier, the crate will be incorporated into the making of the coop. I think I have a really nice idea for the coop plans! We will make it a few feet longer and also about a foot or so wider, and attatch a couple nesting boxes on one side, which will have access doors for easy egg collection. The coop will be a tractor coop, the coop itself will be elevated, with the lower portion enclosed with chicken wire for a saftey run, which they will use when we will be away or if it rains/snows. For the winter time, there will be covers for the lower portion to keep out the snow and drafts. It will have a tin roof with small square vents on either end near the peak. The front will have two outward swinging doors that will make it easier to clean out the coop. Half of the coop's floor will be wire mesh, because I intend to make two roosts over that area, which hanging a tray with kitty litter under it, will also make it easy to clean up (Plus we can use the droppings in our garden and leaf pile! Bonus!!) I'm trying to convince my dear hubby to make a window on the short side where the roosts will be, he's grumbling about it. The other half, I would like to cover in a hard plastic sheeting (also for easier clean up) which I will cover in shavings so the chickens don't slip and fall. Hubby's grumbling about that too, . We shall see if he will grant my requests.