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I live in Oxford, Connecticut with my husband, teenage son, dog, cat, and 18 chickens. This is my story.
I have a dear friend, "Murphy," who has been telling me about the virtues of chickens for the past 6 years. She's raised a number of them, and is known as "The Chicken Lady" by many of the students and teachers that she works with. She has a remarkable collection of "chicken tschatchkies" which I have always admired. I credit "Murphy" with the "chicken bug." I've casually and cautiously mentioned raising chickens to my husband over the past couple of years and he FINALLY gave in and gave me the okay to get a few in May of 2011. No sooner did he give his blessing, that I placed an order with Meyer Hatchery for sixteen assorted one-day old chicks. Because I had such a variety of breeds picked out, my order was due to arrive between August 2-4. Meanwhile, I spoke with friends who owned chickens, read lots of books about raising chickens, attended seminars in poultry management, and scanned over numerous chicken raising informational websites. If you are new to chickens, you will find an abundance of information on the backyardchickens.com website! You will also meet some wonderful, enabling, and supportive chicken-loving people here, who will explain the nuances of chicken math, pasty butts, meet-ups, swaps, poop charts, pop doors and more.
It never ceases to amaze me the connections we have to other people that we don't even realize exist. My neighbors apparently "got the chicken fever" around the same time that I did, and picked up 4 pullets from a local agricultural supply store. I had the pleasure of chicken-sitting for them on numerous occasions before my own little fuzzy butts arrived. My son attends an agricultural high school, and through him, I've had the privilege to meet other chicken-loving people. We were asked to farm-sit for friends toward the end of June. They have 2 cats, 2 dogs, 4 goats, and about 20 chickens - 3 of which were show quality and sitting on 2 clutches of eggs. During the week they were away on vacation, 5 Bearded Quail D'Anver chicks hatched and were placed into our care. I had a chance to try out my Brinsea EcoGlow chick brooder and my chick-caring skills on these tiny little balls of fluff, in preparation for my own little batch, who had yet to arrive. My son and I also became very good at milking goats! To make a long story short, out of 14 eggs, the only ones to ever hatch were the 5 that hatched during our farm-sitting. We took care of the 5 newly hatched chicks for about five weeks, gave 3 back and were allowed to keep 2 chicks of our choosing. Introducing Gazpacho and Amelia Egghart!
On August 3, 2011, we were blessed with Barbara the Barred Plymouth Rock, Ruby the Speckled Sussex, Pepper the Black Australorp, Dottie the Dominique, Paisley the Salmon Faverolle, Topaz the Golden Campine, Peony Puffy Pants the White Cochin, Autumn the Welsummer, Macy the Silver Laced Wyandotte, Lacy the Golden Laced Wyandotte, Hootie the Ameraucana, Cookie the Barred Plymouth Rock, Sirius the White Silkie, Storm the Blue Silkie, Charmin the White Silkie, and Misty the (Splash) Blue Silkie. All are happy, healthy, and patiently awaiting the finish of our backyard chicken coop.
Before even ordering any chickens, I prayed to the Lord for a "sign" that He really wanted me to raise them. Shortly after, I was offered not one, but two FREE chicken coops. Unfortunately, after examining the coops, we determined that they would not be able to withstand a move to our property from where they currently resided. Again, I prayed to the Lord for another "sign" that He really wanted me to raise chickens. Shortly after, we were offered FREE lumber from Carleton Treat's family. Carleton and family belonged to our church, and he had built, owned and operated his own saw mill up until a few years ago. There was enough raw lumber to build and side a nice size coop. I am still in awe of this most generous gift, and plan to make a plaque for the coop in dedication to and loving memory of Carleton Treat!!
I have spent numerous hours pouring over pictures of chicken coops and came up with a design which incorporated all the features that I wanted in a coop. The design called for a raised 12' x 18' walk-in coop, with access doors for poop clean-out and egg collecting, divided into 1/3 for Silkies and 2/3 for the rest of the flock, with a run extending on either side of the coop, accessible through separate pop doors. Originally, my design included a 6' x 4' attached entryway that would also serve as a storage area. This was not feasible when considering the slope that the coop was to be built upon. As the building of the coop progresses, we are modifying the overall design.
To see the building of our backyard chicken coop..... check out: Dobielady1's Coop Page.