I'm new to the whole backyard chicken hobby, but so far I love it way more than I initially thought I would. My husband and I recently moved to NoCo from Texas for the beauty, and because my hopes are to attend CSU's vet school, but I am in no hurry that is for sure! We found a cute little place in Wellington and it was right around the time when the chicks arrived at the local hardware/feed store, Bomgaars. We couldn't resist as many of you know! We started with a Red-sex linked named Fry (or Red), a Brahma named Korma, and two wyandottes, Benny, aka Eggs Benedict, and Scrambles (but we can't tell them apart and because of their personalities we have dubbed them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum). If you couldn't tell we named them all after chicken/egg dishes which may seem cruel or weird to some, but we have a dry or dark sense of humor so it amused us. A week or two went by and our friend mentioned to us that we needed two more "Colonel Sanders" and "General Tso" so we returned to Bomgaars and picked out an Ameraucana, The Colonel, and an Ancona, The General (And boy does she act like one). Our flock started as couple day to week old chicks and we raised them in Rubbermaid containers with heat lamps inside our mud room since we A) didn't have a coop yet, and B) it was still very chilly when we moved up here. We had a few bouts of respiratory distress in Korma and a few others, but mostly Korma. So we separated her and treated them with a tetracycline based antibiotic we bought from the JAX home and ranch feed store. We treated them for 10 days and everyone seemed to get better, but Korma always seemed to have issues now and then. They grew up and out of their containers so we had to build them a basic coop until we could build a fence for the backyard. My husband found plans online for $25 for a DIY coop, the directions were a little screwy and it isn't the best coop on this website, but it is what it is and it does what we need it to do. We painted it a basic white, filled the nest and roost box with shavings and introduced the pullets to their new home. They were pretty stressed by the transition but they settled in soon enough and had the grass cleared within a couple days. Since the yard was not fenced yet we could not let them roam on their own, so we would find dandelion greens all over the yard and feed them to the chickens when we could. They LOVE dandelion greens. Red would even start to take them from my hands! It was such a treat for them. Red is our friendliest chicken by far. Korma was always curious but cautious and would never let you touch her, but she grew into the largest chicken but she was initially one of the younger ones of the first group. She also started producing these iridescent tail feathers. She was turning into such a pretty chicken! Several weeks went by, and the fence was finally installed! WE FINALLY HAVE FREE RANGE CHICKENS yay!! They love it, I love it. But one day the Ancona, General Tso, was spooked when my husband walked too close by and flew up onto our fence (granted it was only four feet high at this section of the fence) and that was when we decided the wings MUST be clipped! Since my brother has had many (smaller) birds in the past we knew what we were doing for the most part. As soon as the deed was done, no more chicken run! Our dog, Laila, a pit bull mix, has met our friendly flock a few times. We are trying to work with her about chasing the chickens. She loves everyone and everything and only wants to play and love and groom our chickens but they don't know that and think she wants to kill them so naturally they freak out and run away. She is getting better about it by distracting herself with finding their poop to eat, haha. This is why her nickname used to be Trash Rocket On the other hand, our cat, Kitty or Kitten, likes to hang in our open screened windows and watch our hens pluck away at the yard. Or go to our mud room for one of those up close views like they have at the zoo, but kitty version. We believe Red started laying around week 16 or 17, if my math matches up correctly. We were surprised to find an egg in our nest box, but we knew she had to start laying soon because she became very vocal and broody. Also we found a yolky bloody mess in the nest box one day that I suspect was a shell-less egg which was a sign she was reaching laying age. One day she laid two in the same day and eventually made a nest in a bush. To this day that has been where we find her eggs, well until we left town for a while and had to keep them in their coop. Which became another surprise! Someone else started laying and they laid us a small tiny speckled fairy egg. I thought maybe Ancona was the "mother" since it was so small and, although she may be young and one of the smallest we have, she is getting close to laying age and her face is not as pale as it used to be. However, I have a feeling one of the Wyandottes' is the "mother". She has become vocal lately like Red and her face has become a BRIGHT RED and swollen. We had thought maybe Korma would lay soon but we read how Brahma's as late maturing chickens and would take as long as 29 weeks to start laying sometimes. Unfortunately we found out that Korma was actually a rooster and was reaching sexual maturity. We had thought about posting ads on craigslist for anyone who would want to adopt him but we noticed how many cockerels are already on craigslist in our area and read that many chicken producers would cull and process the cockerels when they were distinguishable from the pullets and hens. We are not squeemish people, and I personally attended an Agriculture College in a major chicken producing area of East Texas, so we weren't unfamiliar or afraid to do what had to be done. I can post a separate thread describing our slaughter process if anyone likes, otherwise I'll spare the gory details. It was sad to see Korma go, I do truly miss her...I mean him...but it is a part of life and raising livestock like chickens. I honestly thought I would feel worse about actually eating my own chick, but Korma turned into a tasty Chicken Adobo and my husband is a great cook so I did what came natural. Hopefully no one else turns out to be a rooster, but at least I know it won't be the end of the world if they are. Next spring we want to raise a few broilers since Korma turned out to be such a positive experience, and it would be nice to have fresh backyard raised chicken in our fridge.