We are new to chicken keeping. This past May, we adopted two young pullets from a neighbor... we built a small coop, fenced off a 25x50 foot section of our yard for "ranging"... and the rest is history. I am a professional photographer, and CANNOT help but create lots of images of our adventures... and I'd love to share them with other chicken lovers! So here is our story...
Our first two little girls: Gloria the Delaware and Olive the Brahma
They were about 8 weeks old when they first joined our family.
As previously noted, we fenced off a section of our yard, to protect the chickens from our two dogs.
Louie is a 3 year old husky/shepherd mix... and Frank is a 7 year old collie/shepherd mix.
A few short weeks later, in early June, we experienced our first traumatic lesson. I left Louie unsupervised outside for less than two minutes, while I ran in the house to get my shoes. Either he rushed the fence and startled Gloria, causing her to fly up... or she just flew out on her own for the first time. When I came out of the house, Louie had her in his mouth. She was still conscious, and not bleeding... however, she died a few minutes later. We felt very sad... and very foolish. That weekend, we modified the fence.
Miss Olive was now alone... but not for long! We added Sadie, a Salmon Favorelle... and Mabel, an American Dominique.
And for the summer, we enjoyed our flock of three.
By mid-September, however, the threesome became a twosome. One day, sweet Miss Mabel ended up on the wrong side of the fence. An overly bold groundhog has been making daily visits to the chicken yard. At first everyone seemed to coexist, but soon we noticed a change. The hens had been getting quite agitated by his presence, as the groundhog roamed farther and stayed longer. Usually, the girls would either fly to the top of the coop and raise a commotion, or race to a corner of their "yard", protesting all the way with frantic clucking and flapping of wings. When I heard the telltale ruckus that day, I ran around the corner of the house, expecting to see the three chickens in their usual corner, loudly complaining. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Sadie and Olive were sounding the alarm, however, Mabel had flown over the fence and into the danger zone. The danger zone, meaning the No Trespassing Zone... The Louie Zone... where violation is punishable by death. Not good. Lou, the siberian husky/german shepherd who fancies himself a hunter, beat me to the scene. He did back off at my command, but Mabel was already flopping around on the ground and obviously injured. She didn't appear to have any wounds, however her legs were limp and she couldn't stand or balance. Poor thing! I wrapped her up in my flannel shirt and brought her in the house to keep her warm and quiet...
and by the next morning... there were only two.
For the next few weeks, Louie was not allowed to be off leash... but we realized that just was not going to work... it wasn't fair to him. But Sadie was CONSTANTLY flying over the fence. Realizing that our "chicken ranging yard" was just not secure enough... we ended up covering the whole area with poultry netting.
Problem solved. Now we just had to be patient and wait for eggs! And wait. And wait.
Finally ... the eggs started coming. Sadie in October and Olive in November.
Which brings us to the new year... Happy 2013! Sadie is SO pretty... and she's doing just fine with this cold Minnesota winter we are having. Back in November, we stacked hay bales around three sides of the coop, and covered them with a tarp. We also created a nice wind block between the coop and another out building, so the girls have a little area outside the coop that stays fairly dry and protects them from the wind. So far, so good! Although Miss Olive is tolerating the winter weather well... she has decided to go broody. With an intensity I just was not expecting. I'm seriously considering ordering some hatching eggs for her to incubate... we'll see. Of course, I'll update any new developments on this page!