The Chickens Are Coming!

So isn’t that Featured Image photo ADORABLE?!? Normally I put photo credits at the end of a post, but in this case, I am moving it up to the top to say many thanks to Hannah Oliver on Unsplash for her wonderful and truly adorable Featured Image photo.

Now on to other things….

It is hard to believe that it is almost March. The spring equinox is on March 20th this year and my lil’ chicks ship tomorrow, on Monday, March 1st!! I ordered them waaaaay back in November. If you are interested in what I bought and why, read all about it here.

Recently, I debated whether starting a flock of chickens (right now, at this time) is what I want to be doing. Who will take care of these chickens when I am gone visiting in Seattle? Or camping and hiking on the weekends? And what about all the work to get things ready for them? The brooder box? The chicken coop? And taking care of them every day?

Ultimately I have decided to go ahead with my original plans. Here is why:

  1. I have wanted my own chickens for a long time. I think I can do this in a way that will support me and not overwhelm me. And I won’t know if this is true until I try. Obviously I can choose to try at a different time, but because of #2 through #4, I think now is as fine a time as any.
  2. I specifically purchased dual-purpose heritage birds because I wanted to harvest their meat as well as their eggs. If I find that my flock is too much for me to handle, I can sell them to other people (they will be gorgeous birds) and/or harvest them all for meat.
  3. I will purposefully attempt to do the least amount of work while still providing excellent care to the chickens. I can make projects bigger than they need to be, sort of an “eyes-bigger-than-my-stomach” type of impulse. I don’t need the perfect brooder or perfect coop, nor do I need to fully anticipate every possible future scenario.
  4. These chickens are intended to be backyard hobby chickens. While I might sell a dozen eggs here or there, I am approaching this as a personal project only and not one intended to make money or income for the farm.

I am, somewhat sheepishly, still debating where I will house the chickens once they are older. I have two possible locations in mind, on either side of the old milking barn.

One is on the north side of the barn and that room is fully finished with a ceiling and windows and walls and a drain in the center of a concrete floor. It is more like an actual room with a house door that swings inside. The positive about this location is that it would take almost no work to get ready – I need roosts and nesting boxes and that’s about it. The biggest downside of that space is it is too enclosed to be healthy for the chickens over the long haul. I am thinking about all the humidity and moisture with only a few windows to allow it to escape.

The second location is on the south side of the old milking barn. It is enclosed as well, but more like an actual addition to the barn with a door that swings out and a threshold you step over, making it easier to keep straw litter in the coop. The ceiling is not really a ceiling but a breezeway that connects the milking barn to the large tin “night” barn. This addition to the milking barn sits under that enormous breezeway. Its walls are tall, likely a full 9 or 10 feet high, but after those walls end, it is open under the extremely tall, raftered ceiling. The space is darker but the ventilation is excellent given how tall that the top of the open space is under the breezeway, allowing for an excellent and almost constant cross breeze. Downside is that I will need to enclose the top (e.g., create a hardware cloth ceiling) to prevent predators from climbing up into those rafters and then down into the coop.

So seems like the south side of the milking barn is my spot for the chicken coop!! But before all of that, I need to decide what I am using as my brooder box and make all final decisions and preparations for the chicks to arrive. I have a number of key supplies coming via the mail, and after a lot of mental back-and-forth, I am going to put the chicks in the large upstairs bathroom. Trying to keep an outdoor space warm enough for them in the early weeks is too much trouble and a waste of energy. If these kiddos are in the upstairs bathroom, that space is already in the 70s, so heating them to a toasty 95 degrees for that first week is a helluva lot easier. As the chicks get larger and need more space, and their temperature requirements drop into the 70s, I may use that north side location as a really big brooder box until I move them into the actual coop in the south side space. That too has real potential and gives me plenty of time to get the south-side coop ready.

One small project I want to try my hand at is building one or two “training perches” for the chicks. I saw a few examples online and think they are adorable! I have a lot of leftover lumber from the backyard fence project that I can use for the ends, and I will hopefully find the perfect tiny twigs and branches to fill in between. Oh, and maybe one or two tiny chicken swings as well!! [Complete tangent, but the thought of making tiny perches and swings for baby chicks brings out the little-girl-playing-with-dolls energy in me.]

Wish me luck, folks. I have no idea what I am doing. I have read lots of articles (and continue to read more and more) and have also read a few books, including “The Beginners Guide to Raising Chickens,” but I have never tried to raise chickens before. And so the adventure begins!!

P.S. I am starting to think about how to name my chickens. Was reading someone else’s blog and was so impressed with their excellent names. I won’t manage their creativity, but would like to figure out some naming convention or rule of thumb to help me. Maybe come up with a theme – like Star Wars names or anime names – that helps hang all the names together? Oooh, maybe have one theme for the Andalusians that hail from Spain versus one theme for the Welsummers that hail from the Netherlands? The naming part will be oh so fun!!

Published by thefemfarmer

Born in Chicago, grew up in Mississippi, and raised a family in Seattle. Coming back home to MS for part of the year to work on our new farm and spend time with my father. These are my voyages.

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