This is literally the foremost question I get asked, on a daily basis.
Let me give you a little background. I was raised around animals. There was a local feed store about 2 blocks from my childhood home that supplied you with anything you could imagine, including animals. It seemed as though every other day I would take my mowing money to the store and come home with some ridiculous animal hidden in a box until my parents got home. My mother would shake her head and just storm off. My father on the other hand, he seemed to enjoy my antics. He would look at me and simply say "Where is it going in the yard?"
We would build cages and pens all over the place. Pretty soon the yard was overtaken by what seemed like a micro zoo. They never complained. It was my responsibility to make sure everything was clean and organized, after all we lived in the city and if the neighbors complained that would be the end of it. I was terrified that they would all be taken away from my negligence, so I always made sure that the animals were always in tip top shape. Thus began my animals obsession.
Around Christmas of last year (2019) I had mentioned to Jason (The Boyfriend) that I wouldn't mind getting back into animals, but this time with a purpose. We have the empty space and it would be a cute addition to the neighborhood. The neighbors a couple houses down from us have a small flock and I love walking down and visiting them. Why not bring that here, right?
So all it took was a few puppy dog eyes and that was it! I had started researching what types to get, what kind of coop to build. Even what to landscape the run with. Clearly none of that worked out because it didn't happen. You can plan and plan for something to happen but when it finally does, nothing goes your way and you're stuck with making on the spot decisions.
Most people start by laying out plans for a coop. We did that, drew out plans, talked about what would make the most sense and what would work the best for us. We had it drawn and it laid on the kitchen table for about a month. Finally I had it and one day I dragged him to nearest feed store. We walked in and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. THE CHICK SECTION! He literally rolled his eyes but, knew we were leaving with them regardless.
There I am standing in front of bins upon bins of chicks. Every shape, size and color. All of my planning and research instantly went out the window because obviously what are you gonna do.... Not leave without any??? That's a good joke. So I paced back and forth, contemplating on which to choose, meanwhile Jason was trying to flag down the nearest store associate because I was pretty impatient. We decided to get 16, that's a good number right. Keep a few eggs for yourself, give some to mom and grandma. I was going to let him choose 8 and I'll choose 8, as long as they matched mine. I'm big on presentation and looks, for those that know me well. He picked the first ones he saw, this wasn't going to end good. There was no thought behind it, he just saw some chickens and picked them. What a typical dude.
Rhode Island Reds, that was enough for me to cut him off. I'm not a huge fan of their color but they make great meat birds and are great layers. Okay, I was fine with that choice.. Maybe? Then he chose Golden Laced Wyandotte's, a very pretty bird and they matched the RIR's. Okay, that was his eight, time for me to shine! I picked 4 Auracana's. A really cute bird, somewhat of a healthy muscle build. The coolest part, they're all different color from bird to bird and they lay PINK, BLUE and GREEN EGGS! Like, what? so cool. Then I picked Blue Plymouth Rocks. These are my favorite chicken. They're literally blue and so regal looking when fully fledged (Feathered). Okay, we're set so let's grab our supplied and get the crap out of here before we buy more. We made another stop at TSC and grabbed a handful of Bantams. That's a story for another time.
So here we are with 26 chickens, well above the 16 we planned for. He didn't bat an eye and actually wanted more. Clearly we know who has the restraint in this relationship. We get them home, set up their crates, heat lamps, food and water. We're set. We didn't stop staring at them for the entire weekend. Now mind you over the course of the three days we lost two to unforeseen complications. As sad as this was, I'm had to be okay with it as we had way too many birds at this point.
They've done so well, eating, drinking and playing. They would jump so high as they got bigger that we had to put a baby gate over the bin. This was when I looked at him and said we need a coop!!! He agreed so off to the lumber store we went. Now you can sit and plan and prepare on how to build, where to build, what to build but I will tell you now that will not matter when it comes down to it. We started with this very sweet quaint coop in mind, what we ended up with was not at all what we had invisioned.
The inside of this thing is so crooked, seeing as how we built it on a lean. Clearly we didn't intend for this to happen... But you make it work when you can't turn back. So after a lot of fenagling and patience it turned out great. They've got plenty of room to run around, play, frolic (hell I don't know what chickens do when I'm not around). We put them in their coop when they were about 8 or 9 weeks old. Obviously with plenty of heat lamps, I'm not a monster! They were so happy, they had so much more room than their little bins!
Since then they have grown so much. I'm terrible at taking photos but I manage to snap one when I randomly think about it. The Rhode Island Reds and Golden Laced Wyandotte's are the biggest by far. They're starting to get their voices and the rooster has made himself known with a very awkward crow. They get the most excited when I open their doors to fill their feed bowls.
At 10 weeks old they still aren't done growing. We won't get eggs for another few months, but when we do we'll have plenty to spare. We got chickens to give a source of meat and eggs but what we got in return was adorable pets who worm their way into your hearts. Watching them out of the kitchen window every morning, coffee in hand is the best way to start your morning. They have a way of hypnotizing you, you could watch them for hours at a time and forget what day it is. I know that sounds crazy but it's true. Don't believe me, come over and see for yourself.
If you are thinking of adding a small flock to your garden I highly recommend it. They keep very easily, require very little work once they are past the "baby" phase and are great gardeners themselves. They've kept the yard free from flyers and creepy crawlys. They do however catch the attention of the turkey vultures and a neighborhood hawk. (Don't worry, they are very secure inside of their coop and run). With all of that being said, I'll post more about their care in another blog. They are so much fun to have and just a great energy to be around.
Until next Blog,
The Little Happy Farm