New Developments at My House
It all started in the kitchen. I had a small bucket on my counter, where I was putting all of the vegetables scraps from the dinner I was making. I was amazed at how much I had! I have been working on not having any waste in my kitchen. So that bucket of scraps looked like a lot of waste to me. I knew that I needed to do something with it. Composting? I liked that idea. I have been wanting to get more into gardening, and our soil isn’t that great, so composting would be an excellent choice. I looked into “worm composting”, which I am still very interested in. Meanwhile, while I researched the worm composting method, I kept thinking about how small farmers used too, and still do, use the kitchen scraps to feed farm animals (which in turn, provide more food for you). There is a rhythm and cycle to old fashioned farming that I love. Nothing is wasted, all of the farm animals are fully utilized to do their fair share on the farm, and the farmer’s family get to reap the benefit.
Somehow that thought turned into action. My little family rents from my parents, so we live, with them, on two acres. Plenty of land for some small farm animals, right? We have been getting some wonderful free range chicken eggs from friends, but weren’t going to be able to anymore. I have talked about the benefits of free range eggs here, and the comparison of real free range to store bought here. It’s not only about the health benefits, but the taste as well. The almost 5 dollar a dozen, free range chicken eggs I just bought from the store taste so dry and tasteless now that I have been used to better stuff.
Enter, 12 little chicks
As you can see, we have a wide variety. They are so pretty!
I went in expecting to get 6, at most. But left with 12 (long story). We are hoping that these little ladies will provide us plenty of eggs to both eat and sell, and are good at scratching out bugs to eat in our yard. They are currently in our garage, but in a few weeks we need to set up a chicken house for them. We had some simple plans for my 6 chickens, that won’t work for my 12, so I am trying to figure out what to do. Any ideas? It would actually be quite simple, if we had more money to invest in a chicken coop. So I have been scouring Craig’s list for free chicken coops and sheds. No luck yet (they are always snatched up before me), but hopefully something will turn up soon.
I would love to get advice from any chicken “farmers” out there. I would especially love to hear from those of you who “free ranged” your chickens.
Latest posts by KimiHarris (see all)
- 2 Ingredient Peppermint Bark - December 21, 2022
- Herbal Hibiscus Lemonade (Keto, THM) - March 16, 2022
- Creamy Curry Red Lentil Soup - December 8, 2021
I’m not a chicken farmer, so can’t give you any advice along those lines, but I have to say that I’m so jealous! Once we have some land, we hope to get some chicks too! 🙂 Good luck and enjoy those tasty eggs! We missed our Farmer’s Market this weekend due to other plans so we weren’t able to buy our pasture fed eggs there (which, btw, run at $5.75/dozen here) so we’re reduced to normal organic eggs from the store. Bleh. Oh well, more next week!
Enjoy and good luck with your plans!
Well! Congratulations! I think eveyrone ought to have some chickens! 😀
I feed all the scraps I can think of to my chickens. Currently we move them in their tractor, but we are getting ready to permanently install them with two yards, so that we can switch them between the yards every year. That way, we can toss kitchen scraps, garden waste, grass clippings, even compostable non-edibles (like cotton fabric, paper, etc.) into the yard that they are using and let them compost it while adding their valuable fertilizer. 😀 After a year, probably in the spring, we will switch them, transfer the compost to the garden, till the yard, and plant pasture plants, herbs, and other chicken treats. I can’t wait. It is a little messy feeding scraps to them when they are moving around our yard. 😉
Well, sorry for the long post, but it is really nifty that you are raising chicks. You will love it. And when you get your first egg… Wow! How exciting!
They’re little cuties! Let me guess – you’ve got some Barred Rocks, some Rhode Island Reds, and the yellow ones are White Rocks? That’s what we’ve got and your littles look like ours.
We’ve got somewhere between 50 and 60 chickens (some that we ordered this spring have recently died so I’m not sure how many we have now). They’re not completely free range – with the stray dogs in our neighborhood we wouldn’t have any chickens if they were free range. We have a penned-in area for our birds and a coop that we shut them inside at night. It’s worked well for us.
Our entire chicken area was built with materials from freecycle or that were given to us. I’ve blogged about it some, but I don’t have many pictures of the coop setup on my blog.
We also took an old bookcase and made it into what we call our “chicken condos.” We put chicken wire across the front and added a door to each section. That gave us four sections. Then he cut a trap door in the middle partition that we can open if we need to – giving us two bigger cells for the birds. We use it when we have little chicks, a mama that’s sitting on some eggs, or if we have an injured bird that needs to heal. It’s great!
Have fun with your chicks!
This is so exciting! We live on a teeny piece of property in the uburbs. We are talking about getting a few (like 3) chickens next spring.
I am looking forward to seeing the progress.
Thanks for the great posts and comments: I am so encouraged and excited to get our own very soon after seeing the success with the chickens everyone owns.
It’s hard to not have the “good eggs” when you are used to them, isn’t it! You know, I don’t know where you are living now, but you can have 2-3 chickens, even in the city! The produce lady at my local grocery store has 3 chickens, even though she lives in the city.
Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing what you are doing. That is a really interesting idea! I will keep that mind!
Wow! You have a ton of chickens! How much land do you need for all of those? We have one Rhode Island Red, one New Hampshire red, two black sex link, two golden sex link, 3 buff Orpingtons, and a few others. 🙂
Thanks for the tip about freecyle. I will have to check it out! If you have any pictures of your chicken coop, I would love to see it! You could even just send it to me via email, if that was easier. 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org
I have heard great things about keeping a small flock of chickens in your backyard. Good luck, when you do it!
I’ve been bothering my mom for the past few months to get chickens again. Unfortunately I can’t have them myself as we moved to a house where it’s ‘outlawed’!
I normally buy them from our farm share, but everyone else seems to scoop them up first, so I had to buy some other ‘organic’ eggs at the farmers market last week. Totally not the same as free range! The taste is so different!
Both my parents (when I was young) and our farmer now, had coops that could be moved every few days to give the chickens something new to peck at.
Good luck with your new brood!
Wow, good for you! I live in a relatively urban area just outside Boston, so single family homes are rare, small, and have almost no lawn. But I do have a friend who raises chickens in her garage in the midst of it all! I wish I could do the same on the back porch of my condo… 🙂 Good luck!
My friends that sell free range eggs and meat use bottomless “cages,” so to speak, for their chickens. They have wire walls around a wooden frame, to allow ventilation, but no bottom to allow them to feed. The chickens are in a huge field, and the wire cages keeps them slightly more contained. Twice a day (or something like that), they move the cages around for them to get more nutrients.
I’m not sure if it would work in your situation, but you could try. 🙂
Hooray! Chickens! 🙂
We would love to have chickens someday. (Unfortunately, our 3rd floor apartment isn’t conducive to animals.)
I saw your note on freecycle. I hope you’re able to find the materials you need!
oh my. I opted for the worms, though my sister went with chickens. Her choice is much cuter than mine.
Thank you for sharing that! That is exactly what I have been thinking of doing. I just may need to do two, otherwise I will have to do such a large one to fit 12 chickens! Building a fence would be easier, but since we live in a nicer, not country, area, we would have to actually make it look nice, and that would be too expensive.
I would love to hear how your worms work for you! 🙂
Oh my goodness, I am so jealous! I’ve been bugging my husband to agree to raising some chickens, but so far it’s been a no go. Still working though! Luckily around here in central Pennsylvania there are a lot of Amish farms and I can get free-range eggs for around $2.25/dozen. But those little chicks are such cuties! I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress!
Yay, Kimmy! I bet Elena loves them, too. It will totally pay itself off. If the one Michael made could be transported I’d give it to you! 🙂 I think my mom will grow accustomed to the idea by next spring. 😉
That is so great, Kimi. My mom has done hundreds of chickens over the years…broilers and layers. Most of the helpful info they got to start was from Joel Salatin. Look him up…he has great advice and it is all done with very little money, just common sense.
Best blessings on you and your chicks!
Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home
Oh, lucky you! I would really like to have some chickens of our own, but probably not while we’re living where we are. I’m not sure the neighbors would be okay with it. Can’t wait to see an update on them!
Hey there. I’m unsure where you are located. I bet it’s here somewhere… But I have a coop you can have. We had six girls that fit in it quite well. They all like to huddle together anyways. I live in Lake Forest Park. My husband built it last year. It’s heavy and sturdy and blue 🙂
Love your site.
sharon @ the good woman
Heavenly! One day I look forward to having chickens. The Lord knows! We got all geared up for chickens – build a “chicken tractor” – the bottomless cages Rebekah wrote of. After we finished and were ready to buy chicks, an acquaintance and chicken expert told us that the tractors are only good for warm weather. During the winter, chickens need shelter from wind, rain and cold. Since we did not have money to build a coop, we put the whole thing on hold. Now I’m getting all excited just reading your post and all the comments! May God bless your hard work with many free range golden eggs!
We just got three pullets and now a friend has offered us three laying hens as well. We built a 6′ wide by 10′ long A-frame coop/tractor. It’s on wheels, but the bottom is lined with the same 1/2″ hardwire cloth as the rest of the coop. Four feet of the length is covered and houses their roost and nesting box, the remaining six feet is open, just covered with the hardwire cloth. I haven’t taken a picture yet, but the inspiration for the design came from this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tractor
It wasn’t cheap…about $300 in materials, not including the 2x4s, which we had on hand. I think ours is large enough to house 6 chickens during the cold months (when we won’t let them free range everyday), but we may keep some additional chickens for meat during the spring and summer.
While our backyard is fully fenced, we had to do some chicken-proofing when our little chickies showed us they could scoot right under the fence. I adding chicken wire to the bottom couple feet of fence.
The thing about chickens is that they need somewhere safe to lay their eggs, which means they need nesting boxes. They also need roosts. Building a coop doesn’t have to be all that expensive. If you have a small shed you could easily convert it into a coop by adding simple wooden boxes for them to nest and lay in. You could probably even use scrap lumber to build a small coop for them (search Craig’s List for building supplies). For the roosts just extend 2″ diameter poles diagonally in one corner of the coop.
Very important: the coop must be well-ventilated. Chickens have high rates of respiration and a high body temperature and they excrete no sweat or urine. Thus, they breathe out more moisture and use more oxygen than other farm animals. This makes the chicken susceptible to anything floating in the air and moisture and damp in general.
If you want your chickens to free range during the day (provided there are no predators that will kill them), you should lock them in the coop for a few weeks so that when you finally let them out during the day they will come back to roost at night.
It would also be a good investment to purchase (these are fairly inexpensive) an automatic waterer so that the water doesn’t get dirty.
Kimi, I’ll see what I can dig up for pictures.
We incubate our own eggs sometimes, and we’ve ended up with quite a few sex links over the years. Some of our best layers have been the sex links….and they’ve also been some of the gentlest hens too.
I was going to recommend a chicken tractor too – but I see others have already mentioned it. We’ve looked into it, but haven’t built one yet. We’d like to though!
We’re on 1.6 acres, though it’s outside city limits. Our birds are back in the woods. It’s not so much to keep them out of sight as that’s just the best place on our property for them.
Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures with the chickens!
Michele in Salem
I’ve been enjoying your blog and I was so excited to see that you now have chickens. They will be everything that your hoping for and more. We have twelve right now (we started with seven last year and added two buff orphingtons and three araucanas this year)… my husband and kids built a great coop last summer. I’ll try to e-mail you a few photos. A GREAT resource for information and ideas is backyardchickens.com Enjoy them!
Here is a picture of how Teresa’s family uses a movable chicken coop:
That is so generous and kind of you! But are you sure you want to get rid of yours?
It would definitely be a bit of a drive for us, but we would do need a chicken coop, lol!
You can email me, email@example.com, if you are really sure that’s something you aren’t wanting anymore.
Thanks to both of the Michele’s for the helpful links!
Thanks for the advice! Don’t worry, I wasn’t planning on leaving them out all night. 🙂 We have raccoons and coyotes that would eat them quite quickly.
A friend also gave us the great advice of converting a shed. That’s what we were hoping to do, until we saw the price tag! But I am will keeping that advice in mind as the most likely solution.
Mrs. Amy Brigham
I am green with envy! Can I come play with your chicks? 😛
We’re hoping to possibly have some teeny tiny chicks come next summer. Until then I’m filling my mind and notebooks with lots of chickeny research. :o) I do hope you might share more about this adventure as it unfolds!
We have about 40 chickens including roosters. We got into chickens because our source for fresh eggs dried up and we had to go back to store eggs.
It isn’t that much work, really, our children open the coop in the morning and gather eggs. We spend time in chicken “therapy” just hanging out with the girls (and the boys).
If you can build at all, you can turn anything into a coop. Also, if you are free ranging them during the day, you can get away with less floor space, so long as you have enough room in the nesting boxes. Build up like condos. 🙂 This only works if you let them roam during the day, otherwise it is too crowded indoors for them.
We do limited range during the work week, because we live on an airport and there are construction vehicles driving around during the day, but on the weekends, we let them free range completely. Once they know where home is, they don’t wander too far. They put themselves to bed at night, too. We just shut the gate to their fenced area and the door to the coop.
If we can get our whole home area fenced, we’ll let them free range all day long everyday.
We give them all scraps except onions/garlic because it flavors the eggs and we don’t give them avocados, chocolate or bananas, because we read the first two are poisonous to them, and we can’t find out anything about the bananas. They love to get our melon skins and peck them down until they are paper thin.
Also, if you are going to keep roosters, if one gets mean, get rid of him right away. He can and will teach any other roosters the mean behavior. Rich butchered one rooster that we got for free who had traits we didn’t want to be passed on, three of four bantam roosters that were extras and too aggressive, and, sadly, two beautiful roosters who got mean, the first teaching the second, jumping up at our sons and me. I had bruises for months, and we all learned where the phrase cock-eyed came from. And yes, we ate them all.
We have two beautiful roosters now, who are protective of the hens, good at herding them and showing them where good food is, while also being friendly to us. We need to get a third, as we have to high a ratio of hens to roosters right now. A rooster should really only “service” 12 hens at the most and a good ratio is one rooster to 10 hens. It is bad for the rooster and can actually cause him physical problems.
We are by no means veterans, but we’ve kept chickens for three years now, ducks for a year and we’d like to get turkeys. Unless you have a huge amount of land and a natural pond, I wouldn’t recommend ducks. They aren’t that bright (sitting duck? There’s a reason for that saying), and they are incontinent. We have four, they make more of a mess than all the rest of the chickens. When they go, they go. We aren’t breeding them, and we will not buy more unless we move somewhere with tons more land.
My hubby has built 2 chicken tractors for our younger chicks/turkeys and is working on more for our fall batch of chicks. He used 2X2's attached with little L brackets,that are 8 feet long and 1/2" plywood to cover the top and sides of the back half and chicken wire on the front half with an open bottom of course. The one that is for laying hens is 8 X 4 X 4. There is a shelf with a "ladder" to get to it under the covering. It is really only big enough for 6-8 full sized hens. The bottom is open of course so they can scratch and eat all the good grass and bugs. We move it 2-3 times a day. Right now it is housing my 7 baby turkeys and my young hens (who we hope will start laying sometime in October) are running loose. 🙂 We have over 100 chickens/roosters right now. The 50 that are teenagers/adults range free with our 2 geese & 6 ducks on our 2 acre place. The 50 that are only about 6 weeks old are divided between a chicken tractor and a broody room. We need to get the ones in the room outside but need another tractor for them, so they won't get eaten by the local hawks.
If you do have to build, do it as a lean-to on the south side of a building currently on your property. That will mean less lumber & more sun for them in the winter months. Be sure your window is on the south side too. With only 12 birds it doesn't have to be huge! You may enjoy reading: Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens. I've learned a lot from it, and the Encyclopedia of Country Living. We are new to raising chickens too and are anxiously waiting for our first eggs and for butchering our first roosters this fall.
When we kept chicken while I was young we had a coup built into our pump house. That way the pump would keep the chickies warm when it was cold out. We had two doors to the pump house. One was a person door the other was a chicken door, the chicken door lead out to a fenced in area that had a gate in it. We would put the birds up at night because of the “wild” dogs; ya and we don’t really live in the country. They really liked it. We would go into the cage and feed them at night to get them home. In the morning we just opened the gate and let them be free.
I remember eggs were my fav food. I used to like them fried soft and then mashed up with the white, now I don’t like yolk. But today I get the organic eggs from Publix. I wonder if I grew picky as a kid and it stuck. I have been looking for pastured eggs, but I don’t have any days off to go to farmer’s markets and the like. Maybe I can find some at a produce stand.
I thought of you and this post when I read this…