Urban SoCal chick LOVES chickens!
Hello- I live and was raised in Southern California. Back in the 50's my dad had chickens, pheasant, a few head of cattle, turkey, ducks, several hunting dogs, and fish pond. And that was all only a couple of miles from the beach in East Costa Mesa. Having been raised with animals, it is there- like part of your interior being, and even though you may leave it for awhile, the desire to care for them comes back with a vengeance until you can finally, once again have them. I am addicted to chickens!
I am a wife, mother, mother in law, and grandmother. Dh, who having grown up on the beach with no animals or garden to speak of, not only learned to put up with my animal longings, but has supported me in my dreams - the latest of which was building me a fabulous chicken ark to allow me to have my contraband 6 hens. The reason they are contraband is poultry is strictly forbidden where I live (in the city), so I have joined the "underground" chicken movement" of which I have been a huge supporter over the years.

My supportive family have given me chicken sculptures, chicken art, chicken plates, chicken everything, and it wasn't until my 5 year old granddaughter one day innocently asked, as she was looking at one of the many chicken books I have: "grama...when are you going to get some real chickens?" Well, I explained to her I wasn't allowed to have them where I live, but that comment watered the seed in my mind that had been planted many years ago and that seed sprouted up instantly with the thought- why not? - what's the worst the HOA can do? Ask me to get rid of them or move? I am currently looking for another property anyway so it doesn't matter, plus I thought it would be a fun experiment for other "city dwellers" to keep a log of how long I could do this without detection. So I busily went about planning my secret chicken endeavor. I ordered 6 chicks from My pet chicken and dh started the ark- I stained it, and we placed it in the side yard along with an outdoor fountain, and windchimes to keep the "egg song" disguised (I hope.)
They are allowed to "free range" in my planter beds which are mostly ornamental plants which have only been fertilized with Bokashi compost and Vermicompost, and I am now mulching with chicken litter from the ark. I have planted the girls two different herb pots for their enjoyment with a perching board between the two. I have some veggies- but my yard is so small, I have to put them in pots - so they are easy to protect from inquisitive beaks. I give them organic food scraps, worms, yogurt, and they love everything! I have been growing cereal grasses in little tubs and they love to eat those too. They are very tame and when I come outside they rush me to see what wonderful delight I have for them now.
There is nothing quite as satisfying or relaxing as watching chickens scratching and/digging a hole to bathe in, their funny antics with each other, our dog (a standard poodle who thinks he is a shepherd and whom they love and are not afraid), and all the family members. Chicken Watching is a wonderful practice, and in the evening after a stressful day- there is nothing quite as relaxing to me as that. I sit on my patio and watch them as they do their "thing".
Luckily for me, my granddaughter seems to have the same chicken bug I have, and although she is only 5, she is like a mini-chicken-whisperer. She will sit down and put a towel on her lap (to prevent you know what) and they will all be on her- flying up on her shoulder walking around on her legs- it is so cute - I'll post photos of it. Well... there you have it- my introduction to BackYardChicken forum- thank you for letting me blather and thanks for having all the wonderful stories, photos, and information on this great site.

The day the chicks arrived - they hatched on Monday- arrived on Tuesday healthy, active and busy from My Pet Chicken

Out of their shipping box and into their temporary brooder - (cardboard box with heatlamp and temp food dishes). I used 6" drip trays with inverted 4" pots while they were tiny for food and water- the water dish had marbles in it to keep them from drowing - two of them are asleep in their food here- so cute- they just fall over beak first when they get tired.

Beginning the "dream ark" - it's 4'x8' on the bottom- plenty of room for 6 standard hens - they will be allowed to go out on Safari in the yard "free range"

Finished ark- I stained it with moss green waterproof full bodied stain and the inside with weatherproof clear sealer (to facilitate cleaning) It is on a bed of pine shavings until I get to a larger yard-then will go on native grasses and cereal grasses and get moved to raised veggie planters when off season.

They grow fast- this is at 3 weeks old on grand daughters shoulder. At 2.5 wks I had moved them from cardboard box into a 5' showerwith sliding glass doors. I sealed the drain with duct tape and lined the whole thing with cardboard, hung their brooding lamp from the showerhead, feeders went on bricks, pine shavings filled the floor. I put a wooden dowel in about 12" off the floor- they lived in the shower until they were 4.5 wks old and I couldn't stand the dust anymore.
They then went into the outside ark (it took me three hours to clean the bathroom lol) covered with blankets and heatlamp inside until we had our first over 70 night - then I had to tempt them into the upstairs with food and lock them in there the first time- after that they went of their own accord. When I go out to close the hatch at dark now- they are all quietly (whispering to each other) up in the top roosting away.

Hand feeding them at 5 wks- they look at us like walking food machines and come running over to see whatever we have.

Ummmm broccoli in yogurt- a favorite snack- this is Ruby a GLW at 8 weeks (with a single comb- who knew?) She is the friendliest, the first in line for food, and the first to do everything.

Inside the ark looking for handouts

Busy annihilating the lobelia and impatiens- who knew they would like that? I planted herb pots for them to pick on with marigold flowers- they haven't touched them lol

Relaxing on a 2x4 I placed between their two snack pots- L-R SLW, EE,EE

Here is GLW "Ruby" left with EE "Sketcher" on the right- EE "Peanut" in the background- you can see the rear-end of SLW "Lacy" They are 10 wks old in this shot

Foraging for worms from my worm bins. - the terracotta chicken also holds herbs for them- they aren't interested, and now after several weeks of walking right past them- have decided they have a HUGE love for my tomato plants and other veggies- am in the process of trying to protect them but they are clever at getting in anyway:)

Here they are enjoying some leftovers of sprouts- zucchini,tomatoes, carrots, and apple pie crumbs - They are now 19 weeks old and doing the bawk bawk baaaaaawk egg-cluck-(still waiting...) L-R: GLW, EE, EE, EE, EE,SLW

Looking for yougurt

Ruby: (GLW) "Are you lookin at me?!"

Halo (EE)checking it all out

Miss Kitty (EE) showing off her beautiful lemony-blue neck and muff​