Newbie here.

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Sessie, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Sessie

    Sessie Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2016
    SW Sussex County, NJ
    Hi. I am new to BYC forum and new to chickens. Well, to be honest - I'm also new to rural life. A little shy of my 55th birthday, I'm just starting all over again, I guess.

    I always lived in big cities: Born in Chicago, grew up in Philadelphia, lived in New York City (then married and lived in urban Newark, NJ area). A few months ago, we moved up into very rural western Sussex county, NJ. What a major lifestyle change! Now that the new house is settled, I want to do what I have wished for for months - get chickens!

    This house already has a chicken coop on the edge of the property, although it has been in disuse for about 2 years. I'm told it's a rather large coop (what do I know? until the past few months, chickens lived in refrigerator cases in the grocery store!); it's roughly 10 ft x 12 ft x 6-1/2 or 7 ft high, with five nesting boxes built into one long wall & the people door along the other long side (facing my house), and a separate fenced-off area for - I think - supplies. The smaller portion of the coop is at the rear (a short wall) of the coop, with a chicken door and a ramp at the front short wall that leads down into a small fenced-in/fenced-over run. There are window in both long sides (between the nesting boxes and to the side of the people door, and a round vent over the chicken door. There is an electric pole just outside the coop with motion sensor security lights (to the rear of the coop, along the same side as the people door. There aren't any overhead lights except for one in the supply section of the interior. The entire area hereabouts has ground consisting of the same shale as the nearby Kittatinney Mountains - we live in the Kittatinney Valley. So most homes hereabouts are built into dug- or blasted-out holes in the hillsides. Ours is, as well. And our chicken coop is built of wooden clapboard and roofing shingles and the run of sturdy chicken wire and enough metal posts. The coop is built on top of large shale rocks, filled in with smaller rocks and gravel, and the floor appears to have sub-flooring and flooring. Stone stairs up into the people door. I want to take the entire side yard (haven't measured it yet, but it's roughly 24-25 feet wide from house to coop & roughly 15-18 feet deep (from top of hill over the road to the first terrace of the terraced forested back yard) - which is about another four levels and perhaps another 25-30 feet back into deeper wooded area, beyond which are other homes) and fence it off, as well, and sink posts enough to cover with netting against the local brigand of hawks. I'll need to put a pre-fab gate at the front, where there is a full flight of (14? 15?) wooden stairs up from the street to the yard, and at the rear, at the edge of the back yard patio, where my dog has access on a tie-out that is into the ground further up the hill of the back yard.

    I probably need advice how to protect my chickens from the local predators. As I've mentioned, there are plenty of a handful of hawks - all called 'chicken hawks' locally - here. And these hawks steal chickens from my neighbors on a regular basis. One swooped down last October, near Halloween, when I was using the 13-ft extensible pruning hook to shake pears down from the tree in the side yard, and it stole a pear from the darned pruning hook in my hands! Then, to really annoy me, the hawk circled, dropped low again, and dive-bombed me with the pear!! If it hadn't been a red-tailed hawk (protected species here in NJ), I'd've given serious consideration to lobbing the pear right back at the hawk, but it was too fast and I would never have been able to throw the pear high up enough to hit the hawk, because once it had dropped it's pear bomb on me, it hightailed high above in the sky immediately… and then it circled me for a while, as if laughing at me. It's buddies also circled above, at that point. Either the same red-tailed hawk, or another, also occasionally spends time annoying my dog in the back yard, every once in a while. Rufus is a boxer/pit bull/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix - a pretty big dog - with pit bull jaws, but this doesn't scare this hawk at all. None of the other hawks bother Rufus (or me). Even the back yard bear doesn't bother my dog or me. We have a large 8-year-old black bear that lives in the woods up at the top of my terraced back yard. The bear also steals my pears… and my vegetables and fruits… and, once, the pizza I'd left out on the back patio to dash inside for another soda - but he doesn't bother my dog, nor does he bother me. This bear and I only had one incident, and he was just as scared as I was! I had gone out back to the wood shed to bring in enough wood for the night (we heat with a wood stove), and it was just about twilight, and there this big bear was (did I mention, yet, that he is, literally, as big as a Volkswagon with legs? Everyone hereabouts 'knows' him, but he causes no trouble, other than to steal food or garbage - well, I guess that IS food to him - when the opportunity presents itself), and he was standing upright, just behind my wood shed. Now my wood shed is only about 8 or 9 paces, maybe 18 or 20 feet, from my kitchen door; it's just across the small patio. So the bear was standing there, just looking at me. He was so surprised that I came out of my back door. I do't usually go out there at that time of evening. And I was stunned to see him so close to my back door. He appeared to be eyeing either my kitchen door OR my large cooler that I'd left out on the patio to air out. I had already brought in the dog's food and water bowls; I never leave them out after dark. The bear and I both stopped, stared at each other, and let out sounds of surprise. I screamed, and he made a strange kind of high-pitched sound. I swear, if he could have spoken English, I think he'd have been crying out, "Oh, my God! It's HER!" I know I was thinking that, OMG, it's the bear! My shrieks carried over the hill, and a number of neighbors came or hollered asking if all was well. I only managed to get "BEAR!" out, and people showed up within five minutes, in trucks, to help the new city neighbor out. The bear and I were still frozen still and staring at each other. Once the people started showing up, the bear turned and took off, running up my back yard hill, and was gone. No one saw the poor thing for weeks afterwards. We've seen him since, though, and he's just fine. I put new bulbs into the back security lights, and made certain that they all worked well. SO, this bear semi-regularly - a few times each month - wakes me up in bed when he trips the motion detector security lights out near the chicken coop, as he ambles down through my back yard to access the road. He has always, I'm told, used my back yard as his highway to the street below my house. The previous residents here never lost a single chicken to this bear, I know that much. There must be snakes in the rocks of the terraces of my yard. How could there NOT be snakes in loose rocks? There are red foxes; I see them around the neighborhood all the time. Once in a blue moon something other than the big bear trips the lights out at the chicken coop in the middle of the night and wakes me up. Raccoons? Opossums? Skinks? There must be some around… I don't know. I never see any critter. Maybe it's a fox. We all hear the coywolves up in the mountains, but not close enough to be a nuisance to livestock. My own dog is likelier to harass (but not kill) a chicken, you know, by chasing them. My cats are indoor-only. My Eastern Box turtle isn't big enough to bother chickens. Since he's a; box turtle, the rooster can't really do much to the turtle, either; he'll just close himself up in his shell and wait for me to come. Hubby has had this turtle for about 55 years, and the turtle trusts us to watch out for him. Besides, we don't let him out in the yard unless we are with him, because of the hawks. And the turtle always wears his bright red 'sweater' when he's out in grass, so we can easily spy him at once. It's bright scarlet with a neon yellow "G" knitted into the sweater and bright yellow edging. (The turtle's name is Georgie.)
    So, any advice on how to predator-proof my chickens will be much appreciated.

    It must be painfully obvious, by now, that I have never had chickens before. lol

    I just bought my first chicken - a French Black Copper Marans rooster - this morning. The woman I bought him from says it's a Jeane/Grisham line. I understand what that means (I read voraciously), but can't know if that is true. I do know that this rooster looks like everything I have read his breed is supposed to look like. She has a handful of these roosters for sale. She got unlucky in a straight run purchase, she said, and ended up with 10 roosters and 5 hens. I saw the hens, in their yard with some Houdans and a few other hens. (I forgot what she said they were, but they were buff with lightly speckled breasts and tails.) I want to buy 4 to 5 Black Copper Marans hens.

    So, does anyone have any advice for a newbie like me? Or where to buy BCM pullets? I'd rather not start off trying to raise chicks myself, if I can avoid that.

    thanks! :-T
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hi and welcome to BYC. Congrats on your new place - must be exciting times ahead, I'm sure.

    If you check out the Learning Centre, you'll find a whole host of resources on all things chicken.

    Your state thread is worth joining as you will get to know other BYC members in your area ( and they may be able to point you in the right direction for pullets local to you. In fact, the search box should become your best friend [​IMG] Lastly but by no means least, the members here are amazing - very friendly and helpful, so if you need an answer to a question or simply want some reassurance that what you are doing is ok, then post away - we all help each other out here at BYC.

    All the best
  3. Sessie

    Sessie Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2016
    SW Sussex County, NJ
    Thank you.

    Let me go search. I need to find out how to begin to tame this rooster. He's BIG. Fortunately, he didn't act aggressively to me yesterday, just skittish. All of the roosters (8 or 9?) in the run with him (all were hatch brothers… if that's a term?), I was told - and all were skittish, but none were aggressive, and remember that they didn't know me at all. I just went carefully into the pen, at the owner's suggestion (she followed me in) and acted calm and quiet and moved slowly, and spoke to them quietly and in a low-pitched voice (my normal speaking voice). I am no sranger to animals and animal rescue, so I just applied my knowledge of other critters to the roosters. I didn't let on to the birds that… big secret revelation coming, rotfl… I'm scared of birds. Birds and cows are the only animals that scare me. But what I'm afraid of, with birds, is their flying up at me or their pecking at me. My silliness is due to an incident in Rittenhouse Square (Philadelphia) in 1966-ish; my father - may he rest in peace - had taken me there to see & to feed the pigeons. Well, some bread dropped into my shoe, and they all tried to get it - pecking my ankle rather badly, and I bled through my sock. The problem is that I am slow to clot and bleed more than most, due to a genetic disorder. It was terrifying to me, and I guess I stupidly never got over it. lol SO what did I do? I bought a BIG bird. ha ha ha ha ha Seriously, I've been around hens before, and they don't scare me. The roosters kind of took me aback a bit… but I was in a run with or 9 of 'em. And none were tamed, all were skittish. I think I did ok. I chose my rooster because he was one of the two best roos there, in context of what his breed should look like. If I had enough room, I'd've considered getting the second-best roo, as well. Sadly, all of these roosters' combs were a tad frostbitten along the edges of their combs. The lady doesn't keep her birds in a heated coop and doesn't have electricity to her coop. Mine has electricity and can be heated. But her roos look healthy and act healthily. I also need to find out how to get this roo to come to me when I call. If I can get HIM to do that, before I get the hens, then if I want the flock to come to me (or to the coop, or wherever), and the roo comes, won't the hens naturally follow him? Well, I nee to start searching this site.

    I also need to choose a name for my rooster, a great name, because he is a French Black Copper Marans and I hope he will found a BCM flock for me… so he needs an appropriate name. I have considered Henri/Henry (since Eleanor of Aquitaine gave Henry II of England some of the original Marans chickens to take back to England with him upon their marriage. There is an extant record of that. (I'm a medieval history scholar.) I considered General (or President) DeGaulle… after the great French statesman, of course. There is always the obvious names for my first hen, with either of these names (Ali-Aenor or Eleanor for th former, and Yvonne for the latter.)
  4. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :)
  5. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by