On our FB page I’ve mentioned our chickens frequently enough that I wanted to blog about it here. First, let me say that I learned the hard way that Whiskey is not going to be a guard for our chickens.
When they were small and indoors he wanted to eat them. Bad. The dog drooled every time he heard them. Now that they are outdoors he moseys about their coop as if they were the least interesting thing in the world. He rarely even sniffs them. I don’t trust him enough to let them out in the back yard when he’s there. But maybe one day…
When they were babies I regretfully mistook his still k9 attention stance, when we first got them home and misguidedly let him sit by them, to be that of watchful guardianship. Until he lunged and tried to bite Feather Locklears head off. I didn’t even try with the cat after that incident. No puncture wounds were found and the chicken survived and we banned him from the “chicken room.”
I hope if you’ve stumbled across my site wanting to learn more about chicken raising that you’ll feel free to contact me via fb and ask all the questions you need.
Our adventure started when we got married… I said “I want to live where we can have chickens and goats.” Eventually we did move to a bigger property (just under 2 acres) but a big portion of it is woods that will need to be partially cleared to be usable. We immediately set to getting chickens. I see my chickens as pets. We raised them by hand inside until they were big enough to go outdoors. They are family members not food or livestock. If there was severe weather I’d bring them in. They are important to us and a part of our family. I know there are places that have ordinances against chickens. I know people who break these ordinances. If you choose to get chickens in a “questionable” area (ordinance wise) keep your numbers small, name your animals, love them as pets, and take good care of them. Not being able to have 3 chickens is as ludicrous as not being able to grow my own food in a garden on my own land. It is a step towards self sufficiency that I value. Eggs are valuable. But even if my chickens quit laying they will still be my pets. Their value extends beyond a food source into companionship and amusement. Chickens are, if nothing else, amusing to no end.
Brooder #1- we converted a fish tank we weren’t using into a brooder. We attached a heat lamp to a mic stand and adjusted it as needed until they could handle the room temperature and then turned it off.
Brooder #2 we switched them to when they got too big for the first one. I bought the biggest plastic container Lowes had and cut out the top then cut some screen we found in the basement of the hoarders house we moved into (hoarder no longer lives here, we just bought his house. thank you hoarder for chicken lumber and screen donations in your piles) and duct taped that screen around the top. Laid bedding and food and some perches and voila! I don’t have a pic. Bad chicken momma! Oh well. Here’s a cute baby chicken pic instead.
Final home #3: The husband miraculously built a Chicken Tractor from some plans he bought online. Honestly, the plans weren’t that great and we had to modify them a lot to get what we wanted. I thank god B is talented at this stuff or I’d have had them in a dog pen with a tarp over the top. Not that this would have been that bad actually, it would have worked, but the cute blue and white home they have now is definitely more fashionable.
Let me introduce the chickens which we have nicknamed the “Whixie Chicks.”
Chicki Minja- Australorpe.
Feather Locklear- Was supposed to be an Ameracauna but turned out to be a laced Wyandotte
Yolko Ono- Laced Wyandotte.
We are terrified that Feather Locklear will turn out to be a Rooster. She’s bigger and louder than the other two and much more red around the combs and wattle. Chicki Minaj is my favorite. She ties with Feather in bossiness and I’m not sure which is the top hen. They all love each other and sleep in a big puppy pile on the floor during the day or shoved like sardines next to each other on their perches at night. Chicki is the least skittish and will hop on my shoulder each morning if I let her. She growls at me if I move around too much and keep her from mounting my shoulder. The first time she growled at me I was like “What the heck?” It really shocked me. Since then she growls regularly because I often don’t want a hen on my shoulder at 6 or 7 am. Feather has been more social to me ever since her comb got busted up after a dog visited and upset her (she hit the walls and made herself bleed 😦 ) so I had to scoop her up and bandage her. Forcing her to be held made her relax with me a little. She’s the strongest (obviously. She’s huge!) and bravest of the group. Yolko Ono is the wall flower. She is quiet. The last to do anything. Reserved. Does not want physical human contact and keeps to herself when I come in the coop. She’s prone to panic if I try to pick her up and the most likely to hurt herself if she panics.
Since getting chickens my life has been fuller and amazingly more full of interesting things. There have been some horror stories (like finding my prize chicken Chicki Minaj hanging upside down and backwards inside the hen house. Feather Locklear waiting patiently at her feet…er…head for me to arrive and fix it). She had gotten her toe stuck in a tiny opening between boards in the hen house. God only knows how and was found dangling like that, her toe supporting all her weight as it was bent backwards… a horrifying thing that left me gasping for air and crying hysterically on the phone to my husband.
But all that passed and the chicken revived and the toe healed and all is well. Chickens really do make great pets. Their little baauuuk baaauk noises are comforting to hear in the back yard, even though we’ve had to lecture Feather Locklear a few times who is the loudest (because we’re afraid the neighbors might hear her) but for the most part they are quiet, easy to take care of, keep clean, and while they like interaction with you, they don’t need it every day like the dog. The feral cat and the dog hang out outside their coop all day and everyone seems to be a happy family. It’s funny though because we thought we’d just get two chickens… no reason to be outnumbered. But we had heard about the high mortality rate of baby chicks and everything that could go wrong so we got 3, expecting to end up with 2. Well, we still have 3 for which we feel very lucky!
Thanks to everyone who wanted up to date pics of the chicken process (shout out to Thomas!) and to all of you who ask about and find our chicken stories amusing. It means a lot to me. Thanks especially to my mother in law who is actually using our chicken names and some of our stories in a skit on a retreat she is going to soon. Makes me feel famous. Can you copyright a chicken? Maybe I better start getting writing on that book hmm….
From everyone here at Moonshine Farms (the barely there, we just call it a farm because we gots chickens and a few veggies and fruit and nut trees- farm)- Happy Hiking and Merry Chickens to you all!