Hello! I am a trained artist. I graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design in 1998 with honors. Though I don't do a lot of fine art these days, art permeates my life and everything that I do. As a full time mother, there isn't a lot of time for serious creativity so my energies are broken up into many different, smaller, more practical projects. I run an Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/LadyRSanti), our small farm and the family. On the side, I will occasionally sell myself for murals or commissioned pieces. I started raising chickens in the spring of 2012 when we moved to our new home. Our last house was a half an acre in a rural community. I wanted chickens for years and though the township and our small town would have likely allowed it, our neighbors would certainly have not and I didn't want to test them. Now that we've moved to the middle of nowhere, on a plot that specifically allows chickens, I was quick to set us up.
The first order of business was to build a coop. Well, actually the first order of business was to buy the chicks and then I had 6 weeks to build the coop. Let's be realistic! I don't dive into anything head first... heheh..erm... So I decided, since there was a time limit, that I'd section off a preexisting end of a lean-to on the barn. It involved building a wall. Seemed simple and it was for the most part. The wood was gathered from around the farm and didn't cost me much except for screws and latches. I have since decided that a detached coop would be better for ventilation, dryness and sunlight so that is currently in the planning stages. This coop will still be great for a bachelor pad or grow-out coop.
This is the outside of the coop, finished.
This is the inside view before I installed the nesting boxes.
See the chicks on the ground. Yeah, it would be a while before they needed those nests.
Another view of the inside. Things have changed a little bit.
The roosts have been moved to the opposite corner an a pop door installed with a ramp.
The finished nest boxes.
The little gals and their new ramp. It's been moved since.
Around the feeder. I made the feeder and waterer out of 5 gal.
buckets I had on hand from wine-making. We've got Easter Eggers,
Buff Orpingtons, Silver Laced Wyandottes and Barred Rocks.
12 chickens in all at the start. One of the BO turned out to be a roo.
First day outside.
My unexpected roo, Frittata.
EE pullet, Chip
Getting the kids involved.
Then there was the day they realized they could fly up into the
rafters to roost. Their old roosts only became the jumping off
point and otherwise useless.
Our rooster became quite the man.
The chickens took to the sheep really well, picking grains and hay out
of their wool when they lay down. The sheep have the upper
hand though and will push any nosy chicken aside.
Then came the eggs and more eggs and more eggs... We've
gotten so many eggs recently that we had to donate them to
a food bank in order to see that they found a good home.
And we can't forget the fun eggs, jumbo double-yolkers
And pee-wee ones too
And did I mention we get a lot of eggs? Those are busy gals!
These are the green, blue and cream-colored eggs that I sorted
out before donating the rest to the food pantry.
Being in an area that openly allows chickens is tough selling.
Everyone has them so no one needs them. But here's the
sign I painted for the corner of our lot.
This year, I was given the opportunity to borrow an incubator and hatch some of our own chicks. I also purchased some eggs to go along with them. Two separate hatches later and we now have a total of 33 chickens. From 12 to 33. Chicken math strikes hard. We're only allowed 20 chickens on the property though so we'll be whittling our numbers down over the summer. I had my first slaughter experience this spring too, when our rooster finally became too aggressive with my kids. My youngest confided with me afterwards that he was afraid to go outside if the chickens were free ranging. I didn't know. So I'm glad I had made the decision. Frittata was never aggressive to me so I really wasn't aware of the impact he had on others. He was always sweet to me and let me pick him up anytime and never seemed to mind if I handled his ladies. Anyway, I read as much as I could, put him down and turned him into a slow-cooked chicken stew with dumplings. Yum. It was not a traumatic experience so I'm sure we will be having chicken again soon.
So when there was still snow on the ground and spring was only
a dream I drove out to a local hatchery and picked up some
eggs and collected some of our own to hatch.
Incubating was an exciting experience and I'll probably be
buying our own incubator for next year! I kept detailed notes
and couldn't walk past the incubator without checking on it.
Then came the chicks! BO/EE mixes. We had a great hatch
rate among our flock's eggs. The breeder's eggs weren't as
healthy but we managed several chicks.
On the way to the brooder. In the first hatch we got 7 BO/EE
mixes and 4 Buff Brahmas
Chip's baby (look at those muffs!), turned out to be a roo.
Of course, I had to build a grow-out pen for them. It's also made
almost entirely out of scavenged pieces (an skid this time). The
biggest expense was the hardware cloth. The pvc feeder was
about $13, LOVE IT! They have a pop door that opens into the
already built run that has been sectioned off for them.
Here they are outside for the first time. The hens are curious.
The "old" ladies are rarely in their run anyways, loving their dirt baths while free ranging.
Meanwhile the second hatch is still in the house, in their brooder
and getting bigger every day. In this batch we have SLW and BR mixes
and wheaten marans (below).
A BO/SLW mix, beautiful girl (she's a keeper) at 2 1/2 weeks old
Our only Buff Orpington chick that I'm thinking is also a girl.
Pretty sure this is a roo, BO/BR mix. He'll be pretty though. We
have another roo, a BO/SLW mix that is almost pure white (background)
and he will also be impressiive methinks. At least one of the
5 wheaten marans is definitely a boy. We'll see about the rest.
We got our new coop site approved by the township and broke ground on it a couple of weeks ago. So far it is slow going, foundation work. I'll post pictures when it gets off the ground.
More to come...