Last April we took the plunge into the world of backyard chickens. Our son Austin was the driving force as he loves everything that moves. Karen Krumenacher from Royal Roost gave us the encouragement, expertise and support to go for it. I wanted to do it not just for the beautiful delicious eggs but for the opportunity to bring our family closer by sharing in the care of chickens. Now almost a year later I can honesty say it has been AWESOME. We are huge backyard chicken cheerleaders!!! I wish everybody could experience the joy of backyard chickens.
Our coop is built from repurposed materials: a moving crate, windows from a show room, and other materials from a junk yard. I spent a lot of time online looking for a coop. An experienced chicken keeper built our coop inspired from Pinterest pictures with Austin’s help. I love our coop, it is a happy home for our chicks!
We love feeding our chickens! Birdie enjoys feeding them by hand. During the summer it gives me great satisfaction to feed them weeds and scraps from the garden. Year round we bring them lots of our leftovers! They love to eat leftovers and we love what would have been wasted food now goes to the production of our eggs.
We like to let them free range in our yard when we can but we learned the hard way that they don’t always stay in the yard. We did have a dramatic afternoon when they wandered into the neighbors yard and their sweet Burmese Mountain dog tried to send them home and actually brought one home in his mouth. That chicken had a small cut and did survive. We built a chicken wire fence to discourage them from going that direction which has worked but then they started venturing in the other neighbors yard and they didn’t care for them pecking around in their flower garden understandably. So now they get limited free range time when we can keep an eye on them and make sure they stay in our yard. I love watching the dogs and the chickens. I actually think our Teddy Bear dog thinks he is part chicken. This spring we hope to add some more fencing so they can free range in our yard safely and eat all the ticks!
We have learned a lot from our chickens! I had no idea the endless learning opportunities they would provide us. When they were baby chicks the kids had to watch the temperature and make sure they were warm enough. We had to research what not to feed them, which isn’t much, but oranges are on that list. We learned they love watermelon and we learned they love a good dirt bath! The dirt bath is chickens dry shampoo. The dirt baths prevent mites and lice from finding a home in their feathers. Yes they can be destructive but they are so funny to watch it is so worth it! I eventually learned that they would leave marigolds alone.
When the first eggs started showing up it was almost as exciting as Christmas morning! This cute little egg was a great addition to our garden harvest. And the best part of the eggs is we get to collect them all year.
Birdie has enjoyed the job of collecting eggs and if it’s after dark we go together with a flash light!
I read so many different articles about how to get through the winter with chickens. There are many different opinions about whether to add heat or a light. We are trying to keep it simple but when we had over a week of sub zero weather my kind husband, who didn’t even want chickens, installed this little heater to keep the ladies safe from frostbite. We have not added a light to encourage more laying. We are content with the eggs the chickens produce naturally and we hope this approach leads to happy chicks who lay eggs for a long time.
We added some artwork and a mirror to their coop.
This lady looks pretty proud! Are these the same two love birds?
Yes we are in love with the chickens but in order for this to be a complete story I have to share it isn’t easy and all rosy. It is work. We’ve worried a lot about the ten additions to our family! We’ve had a sick chicken that made me worried sick. The kids help clean the coop and collect the eggs. Sierra has filled in for me when I’ve traveled being in charge of bringing them fresh water. But as with most pets the kids have lost some interest and I am the main caretaker. But I am ok with that. I find something so refreshingly simple and satisfying in taking care of our chickens. I love their little sounds and their pecking about exploring. Many times when I head out to take care of our chickens one of the kids will join me and we will connect and to me that is so worth it.
Our chicken adventure is continuing! We are giving a try at incubating eggs to diversify our flock. We are counting the days and cheering for some happy chicks to hatch!
* Disclaimer, my sweet patient husband, is pretty certain that we are not saving money by having our backyard chickens. But the smiles are worth the investment.
* I do think the drop of Young Living Oregano essential oil in our chicken water has helped keep our flock healthy.