Saturday, March 15, 2014

Getting Started with Backyard Chickens - Part 1

Our family members have been discussing raising chickens and bees for a couple of years.  This fall we finally took the first steps to do more than just talk about our vision; my wife, daughter, and son-in-law enrolled in bee school and I purchased of a small chicken coop when I found an excellent deal online.

The coop came and was stored in the two boxes it arrived in until Issac, Steven, and I decided to put it together shortly after the big snow of 2014.  The family stayed at our house during the week it snowed.  This took place several weeks before I had planned so things were moving fast which required immediate reading and learning about chickens.  So while the others were learning about bees I was learning about chickens in a self study through books and Internet sites.  I found the website Backyard Chickens most helpful.  I also used Google Image searches as a place to start for ideas for feeders, water containers, and runs.

Betsy purchases her meat from Farmer Art and shared with him our desire to raise chickens and that we already had a chicken coop and wanted his advice for our next step.  He shared that he works with Farmer Tim who was needing to thin his flock in preparation for new chicks that would arrive soon.  We contacted Farmer Tim and set up a time to visit his farm and bring home our new pets.  The weather was perfect and it was so exciting for us all to be on a real farm that had cattle, goats, and chicken.  We were able to see so many different breeds of chickens.

We took quail and pet cages to house the chickens on the way home.  Farmer Tim had picked out two Rhode Island Reds and two Dominique chickens to start our backyard flock.  Since all this happened faster than I expected, I had to used a makeshift run that I created out the plastic fencing we used to keep Isaac and Elise from going into the street and some plastic netting for the top.  Isaac, Elise, and I wondered how we were going to be able to get the chickens into the coop. 

I finally pulled the run away from the coop and put the chickens into the coop.  Farmer Tim said it would be best to leave the chickens in the coop for a day or two so they would know it was their home.  This was wise advice and the chickens quickly made the coop their home.  Isaac and Elise fed the chickens their first meal.  We all were surprised that the chickens started eating as soon as the vegetables hit the ground.  I was not sure if the chickens would know how to get the water out of the bottle so we put a bowl of water inside and left them alone.

Robin and Steven came to see the chickens when they arrived home from work.  Steven really wanted to hold a chicken so he decided on one of the Rhode Island Reds.  Robin petted the girl while Steven was holding her.  We were all amazed that the chickens knew to go into the coop's nesting and roosting area at dark.

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