From the Mountains of NC-
Our chicken endeavors started April 2011 with 6 day old red star chicks from Tractor Supply. We used a plastic tub with shavings for a brooder and a heat lamp with red bulb for warmth. It really helped having a digital thermometer in there with them for quick check of temps. Hubby really had to get started with coop (chick dust everywhere)! DD (8 years old) practically slept in the laundry room with them the first few nights. She and her brother (7) spent many hours watching their antics and interacting with them.
DH (a wonderful builder) finished the coop with a green metal roof and log siding--honestly--too fancy for a coop but yea!!
In May we purchased an assortment of day old chicks at Southern States. The deal is like this...buy a 50lb bag of chick starter and get up to 10 chicks for $1 each. Hmmm....well we might lose some...better get all ten! Chicken math kicks in early!
We got 4 EEs, 3 buff orphingtons, and 3 black stars and all remained very healthy (lol). The 90% deal kicked in and surprise! one of the EEs is a little roo (a very quiet one until the big roo was killed).
When the 6 red stars were about 3 months old, a friend of ours gave us a year old RIR roo who had been raised as a pet by a girl going off to college. He was beautiful and very large and you could pick him up an carry him around. He was a great guy!
That first brown egg when the girls were 16 weeks old was so exciting!! We bought a hand made basket from one of DD's teachers at the farmers market in Boone, NC for gathering eggs.
Tuff was such a gentleman (mostly) and would always wait to eat treats until the girls had theirs. We loved to sit outside and watch him with his ladies. In September, we (me and the kids) talked DH into hatching! I think he must like these chickens more than he lets on.... so we bought hatching eggs: sebrights (his pick) and silkies (DD's pick) and put in three of our own RIR cross with Red Stars (basically 3/4 RIR).
It was a good thing we did. Shortly after those eggs hatched our neighbor's dog came out and attacked and killed one of the red star hens. The neighbor and her son were unable to catch him for quite some time apparently. The neighbor is my cousin and her son is in high school. They offered to pay for the chicken but we declined and they said they would tie him up. In the interest of keeping the peace we were okay with that. We didn't let the chickens out for free range very often but we severely limited it after that to only when we were right there.
Unfortunately they began to feel sorry for the dog after a week and started letting him off his tie. Veteran's Day the kids and DH came to take me to lunch and we got the call. The dog was at it again. How? apparently the self latching gate (think swimming gate) after multiple hits was enough for door to come ajar. Chickens were scattered by time DH returned over 3+ acres of woods. Tuff, the best rooster ever, died protecting his girls. The bearded black & white EE hen gone. Several wounded and half naked. We spent half the night doctoring a buff orphington hen who luckily survived. Well it was terrible I can tell you.
I walked out to talk to the neighbor-that did in no way go well. The son went and hid and his mother said "well we will pay for the chickens". I told her that was okay whatever she wanted to do was fine but the dog could not come back. She said what do you mean? So I had to tell her that he would be shot on sight if he returned. It was the only chance to save the dog's life. Boy, were they mad. I won't go into all the particulars but suffice it to say we're the bad guys. The whole "they're just chickens" thing for sure.
Well not the pretty side of chicken keeping but a learning experience for the kids. We had lots of discussion about being a good neighbor and responsibility. Kacie still dreams about that rooster....I think it must have been more traumatic than she let on.
On a happier note....the new hatchlings from Oct are 8 weeks old and the new bantam coop is finished! From our rooster who died in the line of duty we have Junior and two pretty hens (Coco and Buzz) coming along! They are still with their hatching buddies in the little coop for now but we rehomed the EE roo across the hill to our neighbors who needed a roo and soon Junior will take his father's place!
Update-at about 15 weeks-Buzz got in some water and drowned while free ranging-more chicken lessons.
But the big ones moved in with big girls and the banties have a coop to themselves. Our remaining EE that lays blue eggs constantly tests us with her rebel ways. She likes to find new and different places to lay her eggs!
We now have self blue bantams, silkies, and duck eggs in the incubator.
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