I finally got some chickens. It’s something that’s been on the backburner for over two years, but finally pulled the trigger. I had everything ready two years ago but wound up putting off getting chickens in order to take care of other things that needed taking care of.
So I have four red sex-linked and four barred rock chicks here. Why did I pick these breeds? Pretty much because that’s what the store had available but fortunately these are both good layers, cold hardy and tend to be docile (good for novice chicken owners).
For some reason I planned on getting full-grown layers later in the year and not dealing with chicks. Turns out dealing with chicks is cheaper and easier than I thought. I really didn’t have to buy much except for about $20 on a lamp and heat bulb. A big bag of food was $11 or so and the chicks were a little less than $3 each.
The dogs have been kind of funny about them. When Murray first saw them he got this serious “what the fuck…” kind of look on his face. Juno is just really curious. They’re blocked off from them for now but I let them down there every now and then. Murray seems kind of protective of them from Juno, which might be a good thing down the road.
I want four chickens, give or take one. I figure I’ll lose a couple along the way for whatever reason. If they all make it, great, I’ll make adjustments to handle that many.
The laws for chickens in this city are pretty good. You can have up to 25, no roosters and you have to keep them 20 feet from the neighbors and I think there’s some clause in there as long as they’re not causing any problems, everything is fine. My neighbors don’t care and if anything I think they approve. I know a few people on my block already have chickens and occasionally I’ll hear a rooster from the area.
They don’t do much besides sleep and eat so there’s not really much to say about them so far. I watched one of them catch an ant the other day and carry it around while the others chased him and then he swallowed it. That’s about the extent of the excitement so far. It is kind of fun to have the sounds of cheaping chicks in the house though.
Purina Hen House and Hutch Design
I just broke ground on building this chicken coop. So far I’ve picked up all of the plywood and made all the cuts. Probably next week I’ll pick up the 2×4’s, cut them and begin the assembly. Just getting started is usually the hard part for me on these kinds of things, so I’m glad I’m at least part way into it.
I have a book on chicken coop designs and there’s all kinds of plans out there on the internet. I’ve gone through a lot of plans and decided on this one because it’s more or less the exact size that I want, looks simple enough to build and it’s very utilitarian while still looking decent enough. The plans on the Purina website are a little vague, but I think I have it figured out and I’ll post about it step-by-step.
I’m kind of learning the power of Craigslist and just asking around on building materials with this. Today I checked Craigslist to see if anyone had any of the things I’ll need for sale and found a guy that was selling 4×8 sheets of plywood for about 1/3 of what it would cost if I went to Menard’s to pick it up. When the guy asked what I was building, I told him a chicken coop. He just kind of chuckled and told me to go into his backyard. He had about twenty chickens in his modest-sized backyard as well as a few dwarf fruit trees, berries and garden beds. Pretty impressive “urban homestead”. We ended up talking about those kinds of things for a little less than an hour. I told him I was planning on putting siding on the coop and he will have a few extra sheets of siding laying around after a project so I’ll pick those up for a few bucks next week. Score. Another guy I work with his some of the corrugated roofing that I’ll need laying around as well as a few other things to round off the edges on this project. I’m planning on checking Craiglist over the weekend to see if any 2×4’s or a skylight surface.
Two of my goals for the year on the 13 skills in 2013 project was to improve my carpentry/woodworking skills and to raise poultry. This one starts to kill two birds with one stone. I never was very handy, but over the past few years I’ve built a few things and have gotten a lot better. Building raised garden beds a few years ago was a good project for a novice and then later that year I built a pergola, which was a little more difficult and actually turned out pretty good. I didn’t do a very good job of staining it, but such is life. I’m hoping my kiwis will cover it anyways. I also took a woodworking class last year and built a bat house, a sweet cold frame and then a pair of Indian clubs on lathe. I’m definitely a lot more comfortable with these kinds of things now.