|Our Easter Egger, Sunshine, 2 weeks old|
I mentioned to my husband how fun it would be to have our own chickens so we could have our own "organic, free-range" eggs. I'm not sure if he thought I was serious back then, and to be honest, I'm not sure I was serious either! But the more I thought about it, the more I really liked the idea. I researched to find out that it was legal in my county as long as our neighbors were OK with it. And after talking to the neighbors, it seemed the project was on!
In January, we decided to finally take the plunge and order one chick per family member. We went through My Pet Chicken. Each of us carefully selected the breed we wanted and sent our order in with two other local friends. We even paid extra to make sure we got all hens, plus we paid to have them vaccinated. We paid about $40 for five chicks, including shipping: 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Silkies, and 1 Easter Egger.
In preparation of their arrival, I built a chick brooder. The supplies I purchased and assembled include a large plastic tub with lid, wire mesh, fasteners, bird perch, bedding (we use pine shavings), thermometer, heat lamp & red bulb, chick feed & grit, and a feeder & waterer. I cut out the inside of the lid and attached the wire mesh with some fasteners. I lined the bottom with paper towels and bedding and set up the lamp. Altogether we paid approximately $65 total. Luckily, I found a hen house on ebay and even had some paypal credit, so our coop cost $300, shipped. It arrived pretty quickly and was relatively easy to assemble.
|Live chicks in the mail!|
Needless to say, my husband was shocked to learn we had an extra. But one of our silkies was not guaranteed to be a hen (it was from a "straight run" that didn't get "sexed" before sending). We promptly set about naming them: Scarlett & Rainbow are the Rhode Island Reds, Sugar & Cinnamon are the Silkies, and Pepper & Sunshine are the Easter Eggers.
|Our Silkie named Sugar, 2 weeks old|
|Ivy, about 5 weeks old|
Introducing three new chickens into our flock wasn't easy. Poor little Ivy was picked on quite a lot the first two days. We actually brought her and Violet back into the brooder the first night we had them. Then we just carefully watched them and made sure they didn't get injured by our big bullies. Now they have been fully accepted into the flock. Ivy still has be to careful she doesn't get in the way of the "top hens" (Sunshine, Pepper, or Scarlett), but for the most part they all get along.
So that's how we ended up with nine pet chickens in our backyard! I must say, I really enjoy letting the "ladies" out in the morning from their hen house into the run, and then letting them free range in our backyard for one to two hours each afternoon. The best part is when they take a dust bath in the mulch -- what a funny sight! I was afraid they would be difficult to catch after letting them free-range, but usually after an hour or two, they start going back into the run on their own. If they don't, we just grab one or two of the "top hens" and the rest will follow. At night, it's so sweet as all nine waddle up the ladder into the coop for the night.
|Scarlett, Rainbow & Sunshine, top hens of the coop|
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