So I grew up in Calgary – the city, we did not have a garden growing up and no animals until I brought home a stray cat when I was 17 years old. We did spend most summer’s at the family grain farm in Saskatchewan, but that farm did not have any animals either. So we are starting from zero with the whole chicken thing! A former customer of mine from Baaad Anna’s gave me a book at the going away party Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow. This is an excellent, thorough book and I highly recommend that you pick up a copy if you are considering raising chickens.
We decided for this first year that we wanted a flock of ‘layers’ (as opposed to broilers – the difference is hopefully obvious, although I never knew this terminology before). So on day 6 of moving into our new place I went and picked up our first 3 chicks. These three are Light Brahma’s and are “straight run” which basically means they may be female or male its just luck of the draw. We are trying to avoid having any roosters for the first year, so this is why we only bought a small amount of these chicks. Two weeks later I picked up 8 more chicks (Cream Legbars and Rhodebars), these were ‘sexed pullets’ meaning I chose the sex (female) and pullets is the name for baby chickens – just in case you decide to raise chickens of your own someday you will already have the lingo!
For the first 4 weeks they lived inside of a ‘brooder box’ in our living room – partly so we could control their environment, but mostly because we didn’t have anything else set up (nothing like jumpin in head first right?). Once they got too big (and a bit too stinky) Luke built a brooder box that was inside of the garage – this was a major upgrade from the cardboard box, but still they outgrew this very fast. Luke was also working on a brand new chicken coop – which we lovingly call the ‘chicken-cabin’ because it’s a really lovely coop!
We ran into some timing hiccups around completing the coop, and also had to clear some major poison ivy (note to reader: NEVER under any circumstances remove poison ivy with a weed wacker – it will not end well). But things finally got rolling and last weekend our chickens moved into their new home. There is a post dedicated to the coop forthcoming!
So chickens don’t start laying eggs until about 6 months after they hatch (who knew?). We are anxiously awaiting the first egg – due around Christmas time. We feed our chickens a mixed ration from a local feed store, but I’m also planning to supplement their diet with ‘table scraps’ although still doing some research on what their diet will consist of. Our chickens have a temporary yard that they have access to while we are at home, but they won’t be full free-range chickens, as we have a LOT of predators on our property.
The boys absolutely love having chickens, I think there is something truly magical about animals and children and the lessons they learn from caring for those animals. Of course my boys have given the chickens some absolutely awesome/ridiculous names: eggy, chase on the case, costumy, pollen, peck, nicholas jack, not-nicholas jack, stripey). But the things they have learned in the short two months of having these chickens is amazing!
I will try not to post about chickens too much – but come on, they are freakin cool!