So, for over 2 years, my DH Patrick has been wanting me to give in to having chickens. Nope, nope, nope...every time he "mentioned" it. Then I went to Costco this past Christmas and saw the price of eggs! I walked out of Costco with no eggs and told him to ration what we have left. I was not going to pay almost $14 for 5 dozen eggs. Then the next time I went back a few weeks later, it was almost $17.00! WHAT the what? Well, the state of California passed a new law on Jan. 1, 2015 that farmers had to allow more room for their chickens and thus, egg prices were going to be affected. I returned home eggless again and announced it was time to become Chicken Owners! You'd have thought my husband had won the lottery in his excitement of my final give in to his dream of suburbia homesteading.
Being the intensive researcher in the family, I decided I wanted Ameraucana's for the colored eggs so we got Easter Eggers. Patrick has had chickens in the past so he wanted Rhode Island Reds. We had decided earlier we wanted to start out with about 6 - 8 chicks.... so imagine my surprise when a week later, in casual conversation he mentions that when we get our dozen chicks...
Me: "What? A dozen? You mean the 6-8 we agreed upon, right?
Him: "Well, you know that you should plan on loosing at least 2-3 for every ten due to shipping and illness and whatever...so we should start with a dozen"
We called our local feed store only to find out they were expecting a shipping on my birthday of half EE's and half RIR's. So, it is meant to be, I thought.
Fast forward to us at the feed store on my birthday
Me: "Okay, I want to pick out my babies and you can pick yours out, ok?
Him: "Sure, but don't take too long, you don't want to stress them out. I'll just put my 10 in here (referring to the tote) and you can put your ten in afterwards"
Me: "Uhhhh, babe, did you say 10?"
Him: "Yup, I am picking out my 10 reds and you can get whatever you want"
Me: (Thinking, how does a dozen TOTAL equate to him getting 10 of what he wants and only 2 of mine? What if mine are the 2 that die? Nope, this isn't fair...it is MY birthday)
"Okay, babe... I will just pick out my 10 and put them in with your 10."
And that my dear friends, is how Chicken Math starts...
Because we live in sunny Southern California, we are blessed with wonderful weather pretty much year round. While my friends and family were braving record lows back East, we were in shorts in the sunshine with low to mid 70's in February. The girls were a month old and we would let them get fresh air in an enclosed pen we made from leftover vinyl planks from our patio cover we built last year. A classmate of mine that has chickens told me that whatever we do hold them and pet them as much as possible so they become socialized at a very young age. So we did!
Be sure to take lots of pictures...they grow up so fast! By this time, we had started building the coop. We had sketched it out before even getting the chickens once Patrick had to green light that we were going to have our own chickens. He drew it out on the back of an old shopping list and we spent many hours on the back porch making mutual decisions as to how it would be designed. It went from a 4 x 8 chicken tractor that we could move around the yard, possibly made out of PVC so it would be lighter. We priced it out and decided that would be too much to use PVC for the design we wanted and it would still take two people to move it around the yard with the run. Scratch that. How about if we used lumber? He loved that idea because he happens to be a cabinet maker by trade so this means using the table saw and all the other big, manly tools. Priced that out... okay so if we made it stationary and not movable it would be doable for about $300 or so. Good. We could do that.
Then the conversation of 6-8 chickens turns into a dozen then into actually physically getting 20 chicks! Yikes! We get home and I realize a 4 x 8 coop is wayyyyyyy too small for 20 chicks. What were we thinking? So we go back to the drawing board and I ask hubby how much more in materials would it cost to make it an 8 x 8 coop instead? I had read way too many articles on the BYC pages about how people have to keep expanding their coops and runs and I want to just do it right the first time. Patrick says "Oh, it will probably be about $100 bucks more or so" and I nod my head and am happy. We can do this.
Since I manage the budget, I decide we need to buy most of our materials from Lowe's. I go to EBay and buy (yes buy) some 10 percent off coupons. I hand them to Patrick and tell him these two cost about $4.00 so be sure to spend more than $50 bucks so we aren't at a loss. I realize we are planning on about $400... so I am estimating a little overage so maybe $450 so the coupon is definitely worth it and off to work I go.
That evening I come home and Patrick is so excited about the build. He is working outside and preparing the area to be cleared for the coop and run. I reconfirm we are doing an 8 x 8 coop with an 8 x 12 -16' or so run. In the course of this conversation, I ask him how much was the Lowe's bill?
Him: "Oh, not bad babe. I'm glad I had that coupon! It really saved us money so good job on getting that"
Me: "How much?" Since I still don't have an answer.
Him: "Oh we saved like sixty bucks" and goes back to working on the coop.
I quickly do the math and figure that if we saved sixty bucks he spent over $600!
Me: "You spent over $600? What? I thought you said around $400?"
Him: "Uh, so apparently the price of lumber has gone up a lot in the past few years and I didn't factor that in..... (pause with a grin) Sorry babe"
Ugh! That dang 'ol Chicken Math again.
The never ending saga continues as I find out that the $600 is just on materials for the coop.... excluding paint and the run. Patrick thought I would know that.... uh, nope didn't think to ask as when doing the original budget assumed that would be part of the whole set-up cost. Fast forward to: More coupons for Lowe's bought. In my wanting to save money I bought a 2 gallon bucket of exterior Kilz-2 in white. Thought it was a great price compared to the cost of a gallon of exterior paint almost half the price and the nice lady at the paint department even let me add a little tint in it so it wouldn't be chalky looking. Plus it said it would smooth over surfaces too. Great! Steal of a deal.
Then I get home and find out, nope. It is primer, so yes, we could use it but we will still have to add over it and we already had a 5 gallon bucket of primer from when we remodeled the house and it wouldn't suffice as just the only paint.
Him: "Good idea, babe, but it won't work. That's okay, it isn't opened and it's white so you can take it back since it's just primer."
Me: "Uh, no I can't. They added tint to it so it has a big, fat non-refundable sticker on it so that was a big ol $30 waste."
But in my infinite wisdom, I decide I am going to find the materials for the run cheaper and get many great ideas off of BYC, pinterest and other chicken articles. And off I go to do more research.