I don’t think I ever shared details of the traumatic demise of most of our little chicken flock last year. After a really great/easy run of first time backyard chicken owning, we had a bit of bad luck toward the end. Raccoons and or a coyote got to a few of our girls – I’ll save that aftermath story for another time, it was gruesome and so hard on the girls. Then while we were away we think a hawk picked up one of the remaining girls (my favorite chicken, sweet sweet fluffy Margot) leaving just two of our hens left standing. We were getting close to winter and Brandon and I decided there was little reason to keep two chickens who were not going to lay eggs much longer when we need to take down and rebuild our chicken coop anyway. It was already stressful trying to figure out what to do with the chickens we owned while we dismantled and over hauled the chicken coop so re-homing our ladies was a better option. Thanks to some super awesome facebook groups I found a local family with kids to take our girls. They went to live with other chickens and ducks and are hopefully happy.
I’m not going to lie and say I missed them terribly over the winter – it’s *so nice* not to have to go out and deal with chickens in negative temps and snow. But I’m really excited to start anew with modifications to our whole system that will make vacations and winter months so much easier to deal with (I hope I’m not coming off as dramatic, chickens really are super low maintenance and after setting up the coop initially- they’re cheap).
Last Friday we headed out to a place called Freehling Farms. It’s a bit of a drive for us but worth it for the quality and variety of chicks available.
So cute right?!
We scooped up our babies and headed home.
Without further adeau here are our newest chickens! No judgement on my grainy photos – it is literally impossible to wrangle three kids, five chickens, and one dog AND hold my real camera. iPhone snaps will have to do ha. Names TBD but the tiniest one is officially “Bow Makeup” as named by five year old Grace. Bow is a frizzle chicken so we are super excited to see what her feathers end up looking like.
^ frizzle chicken ^
Also in the mix are a cuckoo maran who will lay chocolate brown eggs, two easter eggers who will lay blueish eggs, and an “olive” egger who is supposed to lay olive green eggs. She’s a test breed I think so sometimes they don’t lay the expected color of eggs but we don’t really care. It’s fun to have a variety!
Resident chicken whisperer. We all love the chicks but Gracie just adores them. She sits by them all day every day, talking to them, telling them things, showing them her toys and her ipod games. “Want to watch Trolls babies? You’ll love it! Chickie chickies this is a Shopkin!” on and on. It is the sweetest thing. She calls the easter eggs that are brown and look similar “the twins”. So cute!
Sally is so funny with them. She loves them and is so delighted by every movement. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see my wild child so gentle and sweet with the chicks. I love it.
Many of you are curious about our labradoodle Denver with the chickens. He is totally fine with them right now. He has never been very animal-motivated (not like the standard poodles we had growing up- they would’ve done ANYTHING to eat these chicks ha). He’s never chased a bunny or a squirrel or a deer in his entire life. Most of the time I call him my “dope” because he is just so clueless. He’s curious and he wants to sit in my lap but thats about it. I still baby gate the room though when I’m not around just incase.
Oh, hey little Bow Makeup. Nice name ya got there.
Thinking about getting chicks? Here is my best advice as a Mama and now veteran chicken owner. (jokes there guys, I have no clue what I’m doing most of the time!)
- Consider renting chickens first. Seriously. We did this for a summer and it was a really, really good introduction for us to chickens. We were so much more prepared for our own chicks the following spring and figured out what we did and did not want as far as coop features.
- Do you have a safe, warm place to keep your chicks for 2 months of so before putting them outside? Chicks need to live in a “brooder box” for awhile. Ours is a super simple homemade rubber maid tub, heating lamp, pine shavings, chick feeder and waterer, and heating pad underneath when necessary. When the chicks get bigger I’ll need to fix them up the rubber maid lid (interior “window” cut out, chicken wire affixed, and then clipped down). Ours are safe and warm in my craft room for now but at our old house they lived in the master bath!
- Are you squeamish? If you are and you have chickens you will face some obstacles. There is no such thing as chicken vets (to the rational human ha). You pretty much take care of everything yourself with items found in feed stores/Tractor Supply type places. And then you google, pinterest and facebook the heck out of any problems that come up. We’ve been lucky so far – no major chicken issues beyond excess poopy butt on one of our fluffiest girls (remember Margot?). I had to soak her in a vinegar bath and blow dry her a few times a day for a while to get her cleaned up. But tumors, bumble foot and other things do happen with chickens and you need to be prepared to handle them.
- Do you have someone on standby to help with the chickens if you are away? When a coop is built well your chickens won’t need much except for full food and water and egg collection daily. Shout out to my sis, cousin and best friend for watching our girls a million times.
- Are your neighbors ok with chickens? Does your neighborhood code allow for chickens?
- Can you dedicate a little bit of time in the morning and at night for your chickens? (hopefully you answer yes to this questions but I guarantee once you get chickens you’ll spend just a tad more than a little bit of time with your girls! Haha)
- Do you know how to properly predator proof and winterize your coop? Chickens are pretty hearty birds. Think of all the animals that survive outside in the winter – birds are always just fine. We choose not to artificially heat or light our coop for safety and convenience reasons. I’ve also read that it is healthier for the chickens to naturally cease egg production on their own body clocks. It is not natural for chickens to lay eggs for 12 months straight. Some chose to heat and light their coop which is totally fine, just our preference not to. We take measures to decrease wetness and wind from all around our coop, then employ the “deep litter method” that creates natural warmth all winter long and limits maintenance inside the coop.
- Is there room in your house for all-the-chicken-things? Joking, sort of, but I promise once you start down the road of chickens you’ll be a crazy chicken lady too and you’ll never look back! I’m not sure how many ceramic chickens, trinkets and towels I’ve accumulate but… it is a lot.
- Chickens poop. A lot. It’s just how things go. If you’ve ever owned a bird you know this is par for the course. It’s just something to be prepared for. Chicken poop everywhere!
- If you keep the pine shavings clean and dry, the chicks really don’t “smell”. I’m not sitting here feeling like I’m sitting in a barn. Promise.
Happy Monday, I’ll keep checking in with updates and info on our chickens. I love that so many of ya’ll are interested in the process!