My wife and I just bought our first flock (5) off Craigslist to try to control the grasshopper plague on our garden. They are Rhode Island Reds. They eat like a horse and poop like a rhino (without the loud helicopter mess). We have them in a brooder box in the kitchen for now but we are working on a tractor for the backyard. I don't have a sense of smell as a result from a brain tumor, but I told her if they get to stinking let me know and we would move them. So far she hasn't said anything. Here they are in the box on the way home. Here is our brooder box. Kinda threw it together with some old quarter inch plywood I had from an old shelf and some one by twos. We originally had the box where the lid was on the side but decided to turn it up like a fish tank to access it from the top. I think its about 4' x 2' wide. We put a red heat lamp from tractor supply on one end and they seem to be pretty happy. We keep their water in a bottle, we saved on a shelf to keep it at room temp until it needs to be refilled. So far they have been pretty easy to take care of. Here is the tractor we are building. Still in progress but the boss said it had to match the house and not look like a shack. I've got to install a roof and mount the nest box. I used cedar for the support poles rather than treated lumber for fear they would peck at it. Some wise old man (dad) reminded me it was poisonous. We made the floor re-moveable and will wrap it in 3mil drop cloth I got from Sherwin Williams for our greenhouse. I'm planning on using a piece of gutter for the roof cap and we will probably use rain water for their main source of water.The guy we bought them from recommended making a nipple waterer to keep the trash out of the water so that will be coming soon. Got the roof on. This came from a job Dad did, that I salvaged. So it cost me zero. Thanks Dad! Decided to use some of the metal I trimmed off the roof to cover the nest box. Ended up measuring out perfect. What a blessing! Rather than spend 4 or five dollars per hinge, I drilled some holes and used some bailing wire to make hinges for the nest box lid. There will be a wall on top of the wire so no one will ever see (cept the chickens and they can't tell no body!) They wanted like $30 for a 10' roof cap at Lowes. So I used the back side of a piece of gutter. Trimmed it with the sawzall and hammered over the trimmed edge and then attached to the roof with some roofing washers and 1" #8 self tapping sheet metal screws. There is high wind all day today so we will see if it holds up. Still need to install the foam closures under the roof edge. Got a coat of wood primer on and then a coat of the "test colors" from Sherwins Williams. I knew they would be subject to change so I took advantage of their sample colors in a quart. Cut the extension ladder section for the roost. Installed the ladder and added some stops to keep it from sliding when any fat butts sit on it. Installed the back access door and latch. We may add a storage compartment on this door so I over did it on the hinge size. Got the window framed out. We put up screen door screen and then backed it with that square welded wire stuff. Then screwed it all on from the inside with 1 x 2 trim. I guess if a critter gets in, it deserves a chicken dinner. Made us a storm window out of the piece that we cut out for the window. It fit like a glove....Imagine that. We attached some chain to the window to keep it out of the way of the clean out door it doubles as a nice shelf when open. Took the trim off and cut it to match the window. Here is a day shot of the back service door. You cant see it but we put on a storm door chain spring to keep the wind from breaking the door off. Put on cedar 2x4's for the run. You can see the other chunk of ladder I plan to use for the ramp. I think we are planning on investing in an automatic door for the coop. I figure its a one time cost that will save us in the long run. Then...We got some Ameraucana chicks. They made it home fine. I think three of them had some kind of raisin looking thing stuck to their belly. We found it when we went to clean their vents. I tried to pull one off but it didn't come easy. So I found an article on here where a girl pulled one off and it bled and died the next day. So we left them all on. My wife decided to take the bands out of their wings while I was out. She said one went into shock and wouldn't move. So when I got back I prayed over that one and the rest of them. They were all pretty sad and out of it. Acting like they were ready to croke. So we took each one and dipped their beaks in the water. We had to do it twice. On the second time, those little guys looked like crack heads running around in that box. That was Thursday? Today is Monday and those little guys are doing fantastic. We can stand on one end of the box and start talking to them and they will come running like puppies. Our Rhode Islands are not as friendly but they were nearly two weeks old when we got them. I would imagine they will warm up to us eventually. I put some feed in my hand yesterday and let the Reds eat most of it straight out of my hand while I stood there. We bought a digital thermometer from tractor supply for like $10. Its got a remote that you can stick outside too. We put one with the teenagers in the coop outside and the other with the babies. We can monitor their temps from one locations which is really nice. Once the chickens are grown I plan to use it to see if I need a coat in the morning before I step outside. Ahhhhh, getting old. Supposed to freeze the next couple nights so I insulated under the floor of the coop and then covered the bottom with a piece of 3/8 plywood. Planning on loosening up the roof and adding some foam closure and some insulation today. Figured that would help hold heat in and reflect some of the heat come summer. Against our better judgment and risking sanity we added guineas. They are some loud creatures. Once you get them settled they are a little more tame. It seems like they have a more gamy smell too, almost like wild ducks. We put up a barrier to separate them from the Ameraucanas. The guineas are eating game bird food and we wanted to keep them near each other so they would be accustomed. They made it through their first night ok. The RIR's are getting bigger and staying out in the coop. They were alive this morning after it froze last night. We plan on combining everyone here in a couple weeks. Built us a temporary run for the RIR's. They were happy to get some sunshine yesterday. Gave us a chance to do some detail work on the coop. They are back in today. Went from 80 yesterday to 26 today with thunder sleet. The clean out door worked like a champ. We pulled the floor out and ended up putting plastic underneath that too. Other than that, clean out went well. Here are the girls taking a nap in the sunshine. We dropped roughly 60 in 24 hrs. That is about as cold as it gets around here. Good thing we spent some time insulating and caulking. The RIR's made it through the night and are up running around today. Bought some cracked corn for the RIR's since its so cold outside. We put the corn in a strainer to get it a little smaller and then sprinkled it on their starter food. They also got a few mill worms on top this morning.