I have a dream to be as self reliant and sufficient as monetarily and time possible. I work full time for the Army as a civilian and my husband is also fully employed and in school, we have a four year old who does gymnastics (thank you Nana) and pre-school and a 6 month old as well. So to be self sufficient and reliant I needed something that would require little attention every day. So I garden the expensive veggies, and I can them. This year that just did not seem like it was enough or as enjoyable when last years drought dried everything up.
My mother-in-law kept Plymoth Barred Rock and Rhode Island Reds for a year or two and I reaped the benefits, the eggs and chickens when she decided to stop. Everytime I have to buy eggs from Wal Mart I whine. Its just not the same. I like my backyard fresh eggs. So I played with the idea of keeping chickens. The idea became a possibility when my husband said he would retrofit the shed. The possibility became a plan when I bought the book Chickens: Tending A Small Scale Flock. It is a great starter book and really helped me and my husband understand what we were getting into, lightly prepared us for the challenge of raising chicks, and the pros and cons of various topics. The plan became reality when I drove to Lebanon, Mo to pick up my 30 Buff Orpington chicks from Cackle Hatchery. Who by the way had amazing customer service both on the phone and in store.
I am now the proud mamma of 32 Buff Orpington chicks! the are currently brooded up in a large plastic dog kennel in a corner of my dinning room, away from windows and doors. I am more concerned that the dogs will try to get at them, or the cats and their sneaky paws than I am about a draft, bur today is day 3 and all is well! Day 2 proved to be slightly challenging. The chicks took it upon themselves to eat the pine bedding even though I was told they would not need food or water until later that evening. So as I was preparing to leave for work I noticed one of the chicks had pasty butt ! So as I cleaned that one up I saw another who had it much worse, After that I check all 32 of them, in total there were 5 that could have died while I was gone to work for 10 hours. I'm so glad I stopped to stare at them before I left. I would have been a mess blmaing myself for allowing those chicks to suffer. On a brighter note I caught it in time, and they are all just fine!
Every morning my 4 year old son and I clean up their water and pet as many of them as we can in the limited time I have to spare in our daily routine. I want them to get used to being handled by us adults and my curious george like child. I dont want them to run flapping from us everytime we walk up. A few are naturally curious and peck at our fingers and knuckles. They are already so sweet and full of new life, reminding me how beautiful a simple life can be, as long as I keep it reasonable and easy . I wont ever slaughter my own cows for beef, or milk a cow for that matter. I dont plan on being quite that self suffcient. I still enjoy my trips to Wal Mart, now I wont have to buy eggs, and I still have my garden too. Who knws maybe in a few years I'll be a major vendor at the local farmers market, and quit my job completly! Now thats a dream!
At 2 1/2 weeks along the chickens were a tad crowded in the dog kennel, so I had to come up with something different. A kiddie pool from WalMart, card board boxes and screen and I built a new temporary home. They seem to like it well enough. The husband and I have had NO time to continue the retro fit and the birds are going to be 6 weeks old on Wednesday May 8th. hopefully very soon we will have it done enough to get the birds in there.
W were able to get our turbine put up last week though, a step in the right direction!
My girls are 14 weeks old now! and most of the coop is done, just need to secure the windows better and finish the pop door. I would love to install on of those automatic ones but they are pricey and I'm no engineer so the DIY ones are way out of my skill set too. Here are some more pictures of the coop and our progress.
we cut window openings out on both sides of the shed for max air flow as well as having a turbine on top. During the day we also leave the sliding doors open.
My husband built the wall here, there are 8 nesting boxes with doors to collect eggs from. In the center is a swing door to walk into the coop.
The other side of the wall; the bottom nesting boxes have a ledge up to keep the shavings in, I need to do that to the top boxes as well.
I built this roost from a sappling I chopped down with a hatchet! That was a lot of work, but I do not own a chain saw or limb clippers. so I did what I could!
The girls really like the top I think eventually I'll build something more sturdy and taller for them.
This is the waterer I built, I needs some adjustments as it leaks, but it works for now.
I found a wire basket that used to hang off a grill, it works perfect for holding the scraps I give them. They love it! 14 weeks old here, I can not wait for the to start laying. For some reason I though it would be any day now, but I did some reading today and it wont be for another 6 weeks. I'm getting very impatient!
Bad news time. I am so not sure what happened. But I dont get home until after 10pm from work right now and when I went down to the coop to shut our makeshift pop door my husband only counted 7 chickens. We had 16. He found one in a tree right over the coop, and I found another a short distance away on a sappling about 3 feet off the ground. The the other 7 were still missing, we searched the woods all around the coop hoping against the odds they had just gotten out and were roosting in the trees, but we didnt see any. This morning when I went out side to see if any had returned and I found a wing. and a pile of feathers. I'm very sad about the loss of 7 chickens. I just pray when I get home tonight I'm not missing any more. I closed up the top of the run entirely this morning, previously I had left two small section uncovered to be able to drop treats in, not any more! apparently they figured out how to get out!!
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