When my family and I decided to raise a few chickens, we didn't take it lightly. We knew it would be a lot of work in the beginning. And we dove in head first.
Where would they live? That was the first question. We analyzed our yard and realized, wih a little heavy lifting, we could have an incredible place. Move a small sitting area. Move a compost heap. And there it was. A nice area in the corner of our side yard where all-things-chicken would go nicely. Enough sun. Enough shade. Level and quiet. The only thiwere missing were a coop and a run.
A month later.
The coop is in place and my run is all set up. I'll be posting photos soon! The coop was built by a friend and has about 20 square feet of space inside. Plenty of roosting. Three nice-sized nesting boxes. Windows in the front to catch the morning sun, and in the back to get the evening sun. The big door makes it easy to clean. The little chicken door leads out into about 120 square foot run. Heavy-duty. Nothing getting in. Nothing getting out.
Now the only thing missing was the chickens.
Two days after that. We bought 4 chicks from a local shop. 1 Red Star. 1 Ameraucana. 1 Dark Brahma. 1 Light Brahma. They were all sexed, so in theory we have four hens. We'll see.
Being only two days old, we couldn't put them in the coop. Not yet. Not this time of year. So, we bought a 100 quart Rubbermaid container. I cut two holes in the lid and covered one side with a screen to support a heat-lamp. The other side I covered with hardware cloth, the 1/2 inch metal screen-type. My wife filled it with pine shavings, threw in a water bottle and a bowl of food and everything was good to go. The chicks were introduced to their new home and loved it!!!
For the next week, we handled them daily and talked to them a lot. My wife even sang to them. And the Ameraucana, in particular, loved it. She would just sit and watch and listen as my wife sang such hits as 'Turkey in the Straw' and 'You Are My Sunshine'. Very calmly. very awesomely. She (the Ameraucana) is still the easiest to handle from the group.
One week later.
We went back to the same pet store and saw they had a new shipment of chicks. Silkies and Japanese. So, we bought two more. 1 Black Silkie. 1 White Silkie. Each of these being bantams, they weren't sexed. Meaning, there's a 50/50 chance of getting a hen. We'll see.
We put them in with the other four and everyone got along. We were worried, because of the age difference, that there'd be an issue. But, no problems. No problems at all.
More handling. More talking. More singing. A lot of growing.
The chicks have pretty much tripled in size and have been moved into a 16 square foot pen in the garage. Their original Rubbermaid brooder is in with them, a large hole cut in the side to enter and exit. And the heat lamp still shines down through the original screen. I've built two small roosts and everything is well.
Every now and then, we take them out and let them roam the yard or put them in the Run. But only for a bit. This time of year they explore for a short time then eventually huddle together for warmth. When we see this it's back to the pen. Back to the heat.
I think it'll be another month or so until our girls (are they all girls?!) can live permanently in their coop. It'll be good to see them doing what they do out where we've built a place where they can do it.