Welcome to our page!We're excited to start on this unprecidented journey of chicken-ownership!
It all started with a friend in town who got day-old ducklings. They had to go out of town...could we PLEASE take care of the two-week old ducklings for a long-weekend trip? Sure, I say. Nothing to it, I say. We fell head over heels in love that weekend. Hated to return them...but we did.
Started researching and reading. Discovered a rare-breed (Java's) were being incubated at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Incredibly cute little fuzzy bottoms! Discovered the stock hens/roosters were at Garfield Farm Museum, LaFox. Re-discovered a former co-worker is now managing the farm! Cool. God-breeze. I can feel His hand guiding all this.
More reading. Found this wonderful forum. Became addicted. Chicken math, I get it! How many hours have YOU spent on BYC Forums? (Don't answer, it's in the millions, I know!)
We were in the midst of building a size-able tree-fort for the boys - tree is one corner, 3 posts the others. Son #1 says, 'why not build a coop UNDER our tree fort?'. Son #2 pipes up, 'yeah, then we could build a hatch and drop down on 'em ninja-style to collect the eggs!' Well, son #2 got voted out....but plans were found and we all started construction, some more than others! The project continued until the winter snows stopped all outside work.
Spent the winter reading here at BYC and every chicken book I could inter-library loan. I learned all about predators. So I start watching the skies - red-tailed hawks, four pairs nesting near enough to us (forest preserve) that they circle our acre and a half backyard, fairly high, but I do see them swooping down to catch squirrels. So I start listening at night - racoons, coyotes, skunks. Verdict? We veto the concept of 'free-ranging' our chickens. More reading, more research. More building.
We build a pvc tractor so they can be 'out' but still protected. Oh, and not consume the entire garden in one fell swoop. More research. More reading. More building. Another trip to local hardware vendor. And lumber vendor. Yeah, we've personally helped our local economy get out of the downturn.
But it's all worth it! Here's the resulting fun:
On May 3rd, 2011, we went to Garfield Farm and picked up 8 black Java chicks and 3 white Java chicks that were hatched at a local school. They're about 4-5 wks old. And they've completely stolen our hearts. Son #1 is a skilled chicken 'wrangler' who enjoys the outdoors (in general) and birds (pet exotic birds better, but chickens aren't bad). Son #2 is enthused, but keeps asking when they'll 'grow up' and start laying...he's all about profit margins! What a treat to add to our homeschool lifestyle. We decided to keep only Black Java's, and have a flock of 5 hens and 1 rooster.
So the adventure continues - if we're covering our egg needs with our lovely Java ladies...could we, really, cover some of our meat needs with some Freedom Ranger meat birds? Spring 2012 we determined to try! Ordered 26 chicks - 25 grew out to adults. Discovered our inner farmer and processed them ourselves. Results are a nearly full freezer and ability to share with those we love. Wonderful! Fabulous birds, I highly recommend them.
Spring 2012 - none of the Java's are broody. We'll need new hens if we are to have eggs this winter through a molt season. Back to Garfield Farm to pick up 5 additional chicks. They were too old to try to feather sex, so we just prayed the Lord would give us what we need. Out of 5 chicks, only 1 is a pullet! 4 noisy cockerals are now to be determined who will be our new Rooster.
And wouldn't you know it? Three weeks after we purchased the 5 Garfield chicks, we had 3 broody hens! Have 7 new baby chicks from our own flock! Again, we've been given mostly boys - only 2 definate pullets, 1 is still too young to determine gender. But the five older hens are still producing strongly. Let's hope that trend continues!
Fall 2012, we're set to try Cornish Cross meat birds. We'll need to cover ourselves for winter consumption. I really, really liked the Freedom Rangers, but our weather just won't hold long enough to grow them out. So CX, growing out a month earlier, will be our second meat expedition. Life is always busy here on the farm!
The work continues. But so does the joy. Always joy in His creations! Amazing little things these chickens are.