Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In which we become...

feeding chickens

...chicken farmers!

our six girls

Starting at top left, clockwise: Silver Laced Wyandotte, Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Delaware, Barred Rock, and Australorp. I'm hoping to find a couple of Ameraucana/Araucania/Easter Eggers to round out the group (they lay blue/green eggs). For more info on chicken breeds, check out Henderson's chart. This chart was very helpful to me during this whole process of choosing chickens. I love that we were able to get six different breeds all in one go. I met the woman who raised these chicks through Craigs.list--she was over at our house yesterday to dig up a hops plant that I was offering for free. It turns out she sells chickens and had around two dozen six week old pullets who were outside and ready for new homes. I was able to go by today and see her flock. She had such a sweet garden (a bit wild, it looked like it would be fun to explore) and I'm still thinking about her Blue Andalusians. I am also dreaming about finding some Marans, known for their eggs that are a dark chocolate brown.

Golden and Sweet

Josh named these two Golden and Sweet, though I suspect they will go through quite a few name changes before something sticks.

I also had my first adventure as a chicken farmer. I was a little concerned that our little chickens were going to try to spend the night under the coop instead of in it. Thankfully we thought to put wire down all around the outside of the coop, but we forgot to put the wire down on the side that attaches to the run. Because of this, our chickens spent all afternoon hiding under there. So this evening I went out there to try to catch chickens and put them to bed in the coop (and so I could put up some rocks to temporarily block the underside of the coop). I had five chickens inside the coop, and while I was trying to lure the last chicken (that speckled sussex) out, I looked up and saw a chicken on the other side of the coop, outside the wire.

My first thought was, "Please tell me that is not my chicken. That is my neighbor's chicken." I think I said this to myself a couple of times, maybe even out loud, before I admitted that my neighbor's chickens were full grown hens and this was definitely a young pullet. This was definitely my chicken, outside of the run, and heading for the trees. I had left the door to the run open (what was I thinking?!) and she had managed to get behind me and sneak out while I was trying to lure her out from under the coop. I also knew that if I didn't get her in for the night we would probably never see her again.

I jumped up and ran after her (yes, I remembered to close the door to the run first), crashing through the brush and catching on all the catbriar thorns. My legs really suffered, those briars are nasty! After a few minutes of this I realized I was never going to catch this chicken on my own. Thankfully I have really great neighbors, and in response to my plea for a chicken catcher they sent their kids out with me (having chickens themselves, they are quite experienced with this). In less than two minutes, their ten-year old had caught my chicken. Then both kids helped me get the rest of them inside and cover the underside of the coop so that I wouldn't have any more chickens hiding out under there. Yep, I think these kids have a lot to teach me about raising chickens!

my little farm in the making

Looking at this photo makes me so happy. We've been seriously hoping and then planning for chickens for over a year now, and to see it finally happen is very exciting. Also, in the foreground you can see our potato bed on the left and onion bed on the right. They were koi ponds we drained last fall (no koi in them, just frogs we re-homed at the pond across the street) and this year we put them to use as extra garden space. It is so nice to see our little homestead coming together at last, the realization of a dream. Lyle and I do not have any experience with gardens or chickens or anything of that nature, so this has all definitely been a learning adventure for our whole family.

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