Chicken Math. Or "The story of how I didn't want chickens and got hooked"

Creating this thread to document my family's journey with chickens in images and words. It will be multiple posts over time as I get the chance to upload more content.

I didn't really want chickens and my wife worked on me for a couple of years before I finally let her talk me into getting some. We already had a number of pets including large tortoises, a hedgehog, a pony, and dogs, so I didn't really want to take on more mouths to feed. Eventually I figured she was serious about and and decided "eh, why not have our own source of eggs and later meat?". So off we went to the local co-op and picked up coop, feed/water containers, misc supplies, and 4 barred rocks. The kids promptly named them "Henwyn", "Oreo", "Swirlie", and "Spot". I named them as well. "Nuggets", "Strips","Cordon Bleau", and "Fried". For some reason no one but my wife liked MY names... I had a funny feeling that when it came time to put them in the pot, I might encounter resistance.

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Above: Barred Rocks on the first day home, Approx. 3 weeks old (Early Nov 2016)

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Approx. 6 weeks old (late Nov. 2016)

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Above: First time out of the coop, approx. 12 weeks (end Dec. 2016)
 
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At this point we had to go pick up more supplies, as the girls had gone through the feed we initially picked up when we got them. Of course, what trip to the feed store for chicken supplies would be complete without more chickens! So we brought home was was supposedly an Ameraucana (pretty sure she's an EE) and a Delaware, who we named Merry and Buttercup.
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Above: Buttercup and Merry exploring in the yard

They stayed in the house for a couple weeks as we had a bit of a cold snap (for AZ temps in the 30's is cold). The other girls slept outside, but instead of locking them in the coop, I let them bunk in the tortoise shed for a few nights.
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By late January we had all the girls outside together and they integrated fairly well as a small flock.

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At this point we ended up losing 2 of our Barred Rocks. A hawk of some kind attacked one of them but didn't get to finish her off because the dogs scared it off. She didn't end up making it. Then the dogs accidentally trampled one while playing and broke her neck. We were bummed, but decided we'd get some hatchlings and replace them. One of our local feed stores sells a lot of heritage and rare breeds, so we stopped in there for a look at what they had.

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Above: Belle, Blue Langshan

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Above: Blackie, Black Langshan

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Above: Fluffy, White Bantam Silkie. Buffy, Buff Bantam Silkie. Fuzzy, Black Bantam Silkie.

At this point, I finally understood how addicting chickens were, and why. It's like having an aquarium in your backyard. Always something going on no matter where you look.
 
Along toward the end of April, we found a local hatchery that had a bunch of breeds we didn't have in our flock. A quick car trip out there and we ended up coming home with a Svart Hona, a Black Ameraucauna, Tolbunt Polish, and a Black Naked Neck. We also ended up with another Cuckoo Maran because we thought the one we had was a roo.
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(there's a Blue Isbar in this pic too, she didn't make it.)
 
We also picked up an Olive Egger on one of our last trips to the feed store. We've had a couple of losses over time and mostly I've replaced like with like (though I've lost 4 blue isbars that we got from the same breeder, so I'm gonna hold off on those for a bit) and we're holding steady at 21 kids in the chicken pool right now. The 2 prefab coops we bought weren't big enough to hold them all, so I ended up building a new coop over the last couple of weekends from a combination of new framing and scrap lumber we had around the place. They're acclimating to it now and the 4 oldest have started laying again after the move. We're still working on adding nesting boxes and I'd like to put in an auto-waterer as well, but for now it's covering shelter and predator protection which were the most critical.

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Above: Most of the girls in the coop.
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Last group out of the brooder.
 

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