Category / Chickens

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Home Sweet Home

So, as I am sure many of you have searched and searched for the perfect coop for your girls.  I did too!  I spent months searching and deciding whether I should order plans, concoct one from various designs to build or just order something.

Initially, I ordered a small coop from http://www.mypetchicken.com/.  However, it was soon apparent that it was rapidly being out grown.  I also found that I had to replace the cheaply made hardware if I was going to protect the chickens from any predators.  This first coop is now used as a nursery as well as a place to quarantine anyone who doesn’t feel well or is injured from the rest of the flock.

It took me about 3 months of intensive searching to find ultimately what I believe to be the perfect chicken coop.  A man named Dan Cohen from Michigan has a company online called
www.greenchickencoop.com

He makes the coops from scratch with really great sturdy materials.  The coop itself is really terrific.  It takes only 5 minutes to clean out.   The floor inside has industrial grade linoleum that makes even the most caked on doo doo scrape right off!  When the eggs come, the handy little door opens to reveal 3 nest boxes.  I added the extra windows in the front with plexiglass slide-outs in warm weather and a small plexiglass vent on the side.  Dan truly was extremely thoughtful in creating this home for the girls.

The run comes in 3’x 6′ sections.  You can order them seperately.  I ordered 3 sections to create a 6’x9′ run.  Just perfect for 6-8 standard size breeds.  All the screening on both the coop and the run are 1/2 inch hardware cloth as well.  Often during the middle of a beautiful day, I find the girls lounging in their house.  They love it.

The area where we live on Cape Cod is known for predators.  We have racoons, foxes, coyotes, fisher cats, oppossum and owls.  I purchased additional hardware cloth and dug a 12″ trench around the run.  I buried the wire around the entire run and folded the top into the run area as well.  I hope this will be enough protection.  Time will tell.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

And then there were 5

In the early days, our favorite little chicken was Peanut.  Peanut was always so curious; the first to come to us, discover the newest addition placed into his tiny 2’x2′ world.  Peanut always needed more care than the others in the beginning too.  Peanut was the one that I wasn’t sure would survive.  Peanut seemed the weakest of them all on that first day, droopy and wobbly.  Over time, our love for Peanut blosssomed.  The kids loved holding Peanut.  Peanut would snuggle into our chests and sit for time on end.  Sometimes, we would even hear a pleasure trill!

Peanut is a Buff Silkie Bantam.  At http://www.mypetchicken.com/ you can pay extra to have your chickens sexed.  Many people do not want rooster for the various reasons. Most people will pay extra just to ensure that they will get only females. However, silkies are very difficult to sex.  Most hatcheries don’t even attempt this.  However, http://www.mypetchicken.com/ does!  I paid extra for all females including the Silkie Bantams.

It wasn’t until about week 10 that I had my suspicions.  Peanut soon began to grow so fast.  Peanut’s waddle and comb were getting huge.  I read on the internet that you can be fooled by Silkies, that they often will look like one sex but turn out to be the other.  The other disturbing thing was that anytime I need to hold Peanut, I would be pecked.  At first the pecking was gentle, but as time went on it really could hurt depending on how you were gotten.

One day, early in the morning, my husband was leaving for work and I was in the garage getting their food and I heard it.  From inside the coop, a pathetic, “OOO, OOOO, DOO.”  Was I imagining things?  Then we heard it again.  I could not be sure who it was coming from.  Finally, after about a week I realized that it was Peanut.  Peanut was a rooster.

Over the next few weeks, Peanut turning out to be a rooster was becoming even more evident with each day that passed.  Again, I did research about keeping a rooster.  Currently, in our town, there are no regulations about keeping chickens or rooster.  Thank goodness for that.  I was just worried about his aggressive tendencies and our 2 little kids.  My husband and I decided that our rooster needed a new home.  I emailed many local farms on a whim and a farm off Cape about 40 minutes away agreed to take him.  There he will have about 100 hens to himself.  Oh, what a rooster’s dream!

It has now been about a week since we rehomed Peanut.  I do miss him so.  I miss his silly little antics, his trying to bully the hens, his curiosity, his gorgeous blue earlobes, and even his warm little body.  I do know that we made the right choice and he should be much happier it is just hard to say goodbye.  Just like a baby, he was mine since he was one day old.

Chickens Coop Care Seasonal Care Stories from Our Nest

Colder Days, Planning for Winter

This will be my first Winter with the girls.  Cape Cod doesn’t get too cold, but it has really gotten me to thinking about the coop and run set up as well as freezing waterers and nasty weather ahead.  As a hobbist chicken raiser, we are not doing this on a very large scale.   Our maximum flock size will mostlikely be about 12 girls, 6 of those being bantams.  It is difficult to even find small feeders and waterers that are not hobbist size for adult chickens and most smaller versions are for little chicks.

My coop is 3’x4′ and the run is 6’x9′.  I am currently using the plastic Little Giant 3 pound feeder.  I have placed it upon 2 bricks elevating it above the pine shavings in the coop.  The waterer is outside in the run.  That too is a Little Giant 2 gallon galvanized metal waterer. 

That being said, I am now looking into making the winter easy for the girls and for me too.  There are numerous options from heated pet bowls, plastic waterers with an area to plug and extension cord into, as well as a metal heater base for the waterers to sit upon.  The reviews are mixed on all choices.  Thus, here in lies the difficulties.  I guess this conversation will have to be continued…

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

When they were chicks

Here are the two Buff Orpingtons when they were 3 days old.  Still as curious as ever.   It is hard to believe that they look like full grown chickens within about 6 weeks.  They are on an organic feed from Vermont.  Who know there were so many options with the feed; mash, crumbles, pellets.  Our girls at 16 weeks are now on layer pellets.  They seem to be less messy and the girls don’t mind.

The Austrolorp, Tilly, is the head hen.  She has been at the pecking order since day 1.  It is amazing to see them grow.  She is a sweet gentle natured girl.  She is not the biggest anymore, but that does not seem to matter.  They all have unique personalities and funny quirks.  I never thought that I would ever love a chicken let alone all 6 of them.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

In the beginning…

I became serious about raising chickens this past winter.  I really always was intrigued by them.  I however, was not sure what the necessary requirements were. Like any typical type A person, I read and read and read.  Finally, after talking to numerous people.  I ordered the girls from  http://www.mypetchicken.com/ .   I really had to wait a long time.  I ordered them in February but decided to have them delivered in June after school let out for the summer.  I did this for a few reasons.  One being that I had no where to put them.  Two, that I heard how quickly they grow and did not want my children to miss out.

I can clearly remember the post office frantically leaving 2 messages on my answering machine that day.  It was late June and hot.  I went as quickly as I could to the post office and when I arrived I was handed a peeping cardboard box.  It was about 12″x6″x6″.  I drove so carefully talking to my box all the way in my best Mama hen impersonation. 

When I arrived home, I gently removed the lid and found huddled in the corner six tiny day old chicks.  Eager to meet their new family,  we taught them how to drink and eat and placed them under the heat lamp in soft pine shavings.  We had just met the newest members of our family:  Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine, Chocolate, Feathers and Peanut Butter.