Sunday, May 22, 2011

the joys of chickens


Chickens I mean what can i say? Lovable smart creatures each with a personality..

Shadow, Salt & pepper, and Red are the most lovable pets.. easier to take care of then a dog and just as friendly.. I mean you wouldn't think so but they are. Here i started gardening fruits, veggies, flowers.. i wanted to lean towards sustainability but something was missing.. entire food groups actually! So what can I do here in urban America sitting on a quarter acre? Well raise chickens! They are not overly loud unlike peafowl or geese.. they don't need water to splash in like ducks.. they don't take up huge amounts of room like cattle, goats, sheep, etc.. they seemed perfect!

So to the local library where i checked out the whole 2 books they had (next to the 50 or so books about dogs and 30 or so about cats) great stories not enough info. so to the bookshop i went where i bought the storey publisher guide to raising chickens. AMAZING purchase well worth the $15 paid.. i wanted this to be budget friendly as well so after reading the book i went online to different chicken breeders websites looking for certain traits in my chickens.. I wanted quite, friendly, cage friendly birds (cage friendly cause i didn't need birds that would freak out when i close them in the coop at night during the day they free range)

I found about 20 breeds.. wrote down my favorite and headed to the 2 local feed stores. I found my first one at a store about 2 miles from my house a golden laced wyandotte, my other 2 i got at a store a little farther away but within reason. there i got a buff orpington and amercuana. i took them home in there little box and placed them into a little brooder box i made for them. it was a 10 gallon aquarium with a piece of chicken wire on the top and heat light hung over top and the floor covered in ripped newspaper and paper towels. We had a thermometer inside as for there first week they need to be at 92 degrees then slowly declining which i could control by lowing or raising the heat lamp. Everything i made that out of was recycled or picked off of freecycle except the hanging heat lamp which i made with a extension cord($2), red heat lamp($8), and bulb converter ($1).. they lived happily in that brooder and came out to exercise 2 times a day by walking around the living room and being loved by us.. at about a month old they out grew their little box.. i had made a coop out of pallets and chicken wire.. problem was they were small enough to escape through the front door which was lattice and the next morning i came out to find them dead ripped about in my yard.. one was left but had its wing torn off and was clucking in pain.. i ended up cutting its head off to put it out of its misery.. i cried for hours that day and every time i think about it just like now i tear up.. i couldn't bear to tell my 2 year old daughter at that time her chickens had died so a couple days later i went out and got 3 more.. they didn't have all the same birds but somewhat.. we got a americuana, a silver laced wyandotte, and a jersey giant. same thing they went into brooder, then we borrowed a big steel dog cage from my dad placed it on a table in the porch and when they out grew the brooder they went into that until they were about 3 months old at which point in my fury of letting my first 3 birds die i had torn apart their old homebuilt coop.. on freecycle a guy was giving away his old coop after his daughter didn't lock up the chickens one night and something came out of the woods and killed his chickens.. score! we drove over in our SUV and fought to get the coop on top and secure (that was fun) and we slowly drove home.. placed concrete bricks down to raise it off the floor placed 2 pallets down covered in chicken wire as the floor and put the new coop on top! it was perfect.. it has 2 sides each roughly 4x4 and tilted roof lowest being about 4 ft highest about 5ft.. the next week i bought hay for the flooring set up a brick inside for their water to sit on nailed a feeder to the side and put in the new chickens! the next day i was afraid to go outside so Ronnie did.. they were safe and sound.. every morning they get let out to roam then every sunset they get put back in the coop to sleep.. at about 5 1/2 months old i needed a nest box installed.. i went to Walgreens asked for a milk crate they gave me one i brought it home nailed a 2 inch high piece of wood at the bottom covered the box in black fabric and screwed it in.. they use that box everyday and are now laying us about 1 egg a day each : )

even with my trials i would suggest to everyone to get these creatures. everyday shadow the jersey giant comes inside the house sits on my lap and lets me pet her while i watch TV.. my daughter picks them up carries them around and cuddles them.. this is a sight cause she just turned 3 and when she picks them up they go almost as long as she is tall.. they tolerate more then our cat does when it comes to my daughter.. they follow her around and every night she rounds them up puts them in the coop and locks up : )

chickens are truly amazing animals and pets!


  1. love the post! found your blog link on craigslist. i live in st pete and have chickens too!!!

  2. Oh Georgia I'm so glad you enjoyed my post and found me! What type of chickens do you have and how many? I do hope you enjoy my blog and look forward to hearing from you in the near future! : )

  3. Although this is quite an older post I think it might be the best place to ask. In Tampa, the law says you must not house chickens within 200ft of the neighbors. How did you get around that? Did you ask all your neighbors or just do it anyway?

    I ask because I live in Tampa and want chickens, but have not the space.

  4. Hey thanks for the comment and great question.
    Yes I asked my neighbors and they all thought it was a fun idea and one neighbor liked the idea so much they also got 3 chickens. Make sure when explaining you say you will NOT have a rooster and hens make very little noise (less then a dog).. tampa city states they will not go looking for illegal chickens and only come is someone complains.. some people even barter eggs with their neighbors as a thanks. Where do you live? I'm on a quater acre so the chickens have room to roam and live while not being right next to someone else house which helps : )

  5. That makes a lot of sense, I suppose I'm a little afraid of asking because I'm the new girl in the neighborhood. The house I live behind(in law house) sits on 1/8th acre right off Nebraska near Hillsborough. I rent it so I guess I'd need my landlord's approval too. He already thinks I'm crazy for having a vegetable garden where the weeds and trash used to be.
    Thank you for answering! I think I will try to ask my neighbors about them.

  6. Hey if your new to the area arrange a cookout and invite them. not only do you create a friendship with your neighbors but its a great time to share your ideas about growing your own food, raising chickens, etc.. maybe they will be on board and love the idea! : ) and yes make sure you ask the landlord, make sure to tell him you will be on cleanup and make sure the place stays beautiful! : )