Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Inevitable Chicken Lady Post

For some years, I've wanted chickens. Apparently, this is common these days. My sister informs me that there are a lot of yuppies getting chickens and expensive coops in an effort to feed the family healthier foods.

I'm all for that kind of thing, even if it's a yuppie development, but I feel like I have to defend myself in getting three Rhode Island Reds this spring. 

Little House in the Suburbs was my first foray into the wonderful world of self-sufficiency about 5 years ago. We were still living in an apartment at the time. Before these fine women published their book, their blog was full of lots of information about chickens, DIY home solutions, and stuff like that. 

This spring, when I found out that the city allowed for chickens, I got my husband's support and we ordered three Rhode Island Red chickens. I painstakingly did research on which breed would be best for us, and this is where we landed.

We're awful builders. We decided to buy a coop instead of constructing one, mostly because while we'd spend a little less on materials, we were confident that the savings wouldn't make up for something we could count on through the year. We spent $250 on a decent coop with a large run.

We also splurged and bought a solar-powered, programmable automatic door for the coop. This means that we can actually go places and do stuff for a couple of days without having to worry about opening and closing the coop, which frankly is very valuable. This door came in at a whopping $250 with solar power panel, battery, and the door itself. The money is well worth it... we've already benefit from it!

The chicks came in on May 23. They were only a day old, and they were the cutest little
Chicks, Day 1
puffballs of joy. They've grown incredibly since we first got them. We've been doing things unconventionally since we got them, despite reading posts on Backyard Chickens (a great resource!) exhaustively.

We set up the brooder (or the warm, safe place) for them as chicks in the cellar. Within 2 weeks, we decided the weather was warm enough for us to put them outside with a 250W heat lamp in the coop. Technically, I guess you're not supposed to put them outside until their full feathers come in (8 weeks), but I figured they could have a little day trip out doors and then we can bring them back in.

We did this for a week or so; it worked for a while. They got too big for their brooder after a time, so we let them sleep outside in their coop with the heat lamp overnight.

My handsome husband with Peggy a few days ago
Just yesterday, we've tapered their heat lamp down to just a few hours a night. Interesting thing here is that if a light isn't on in their coop at sundown, they refuse to go in. Just last night, I heard quite the ruckus out there, all because they wanted to go into the coop, but there was no light on. I turned it on for them, and they were happy to go in after that.

It's been an interesting few weeks. Chickens are insanely entertaining to watch, even at this age. They've only gotten more entertaining as they age. We let them out for supervised free-ranging. They stick to only a small patch of land at a time, and they generally stick together during this time. Dried meal worm treats seem to control them well enough for when I want them back in the run, but they're stubborn and definitely have minds of their own. We've named them Peggy, Betty and Joan. 

I know it's been a while since I've said or done much here, but here's hoping I can add "chickens" to the list of things I can blog about.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I've been offline for a while and it was lovely to come back and see your recent posts.
Aren't chickens great! I love our chickens and they are a joy to spend time with (and they are a great asset for our garden with their waste products!).
We have two Australorps and one RIR. The Australorps are very beautiful (black with green shimmer) and can produce a lot of eggs, but they go broody every summer at least once. The RIR we have (and the one we had a couple of years ago before she sadly died unexpectedly) is a solid egg producer. She is also the last of our chickens to stop laying in autumn and the first to start again in mid-winter. Neither of our RIR have ever gone broody which is good if you don't have a rooster and aren't looking to increase your brood.
As with all animals, our chooks have different personalities and like different foods and it is great fun getting to know them. I hope you continue to enjoy yours!