My name is Dan and I live in Howell MI with my wife and two sons. We also have two dogs, a barn cat and seven laying hens. The hens joined my family during spring of 09. At the time I had no experience with raising chickens, especially baby chicks. I read everything I could get my hands on about this wonderful hobby. I have a close friend that lives in Pinckney who has raised chickens in the past. He was a big help when I first got started. At least I had someone to call when I had stupid little questions like "why do they sleep so much"? Anyway, I learned quick and discovered that caring for this small flock is pretty easy and rewarding. I moved them out into the coop late summer of 09 and have been getting a steady supply of eggs since September 09. I have always been kind of an animal lover so my chickens have a pretty good life. I don't go overboard with their accomodations but I make sure they have the basics. I continue to learn every day and plan to expand my flock eventually.
Before I do that, I would like to add a substantial amount of fencing to my property to help keep them "around" when they free range. They currently have a pretty large coop and run. I am amazed at how fast they can tear up the ground when they're foraging. I figure if I can create a few pastures then I can rotate them around and give the grass a chance to come back. I also want to connect their pastures to my garden with a gate so that I can turn them loose in there once in awhile. I was shocked when I let them in the garden for a couple hours. It looked like I ran the rake through the entire garden. I've been doing some reading on this subject. I'm learning that they can be put to work to help clean up and fertilize. I built a small "tractor" and plan to plant some crops especially for them. I get a little nervous just letting them roam around the garden right now because of the hawks and other predators. I've already lost one to a suspected hawk attack. I plan to cover a lot of the new fenced in areas with netting and fishing line. I used the fishing line idea on one of the two runs I have set up now. I simply ran screws into 1x4s about 16 inches apart and fastened them horizontally on both sides of the run. I then took 50lb test line and ran it from screw to screw in a criss cross pattern. It seems to be holding up nicely. I guess time will tell if this is a good idea. I have the deer netting installed on the other run. Both methods are good but the fishing line is definately more labor intensive.
I'm really looking forward to the good weather setting in. I have so many things that I want to do around here. This new hobby of mine is becoming quite an addiction. I was thrilled when I discovered BYC. I have found other people just like me and I can't wait to share ideas and experiences.