Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Raising Chickens

Eric and I had this great idea that we would start this blog as a way of creating a garden journal for ourselves. The journal would be a way of us to look back during future years and fix any mistakes along the way. Well, we failed at that task. But we tried our best.

Lots of things have happened over the past couple months. The biggest event is the raising of chickens. We found out that the town was changing the ordinance to allow chickens and other small animals. I sat in on town board meetings and Eric talked to neighbors to find out how other people felt about chickens.

Talking to neighbors was a bit more challenging because we just moved to town and didn’t know anyone. “Hi, my name is Eric and we just moved in the house down the road…Do you mind if we raise a few chickens?” Even though the topic of conversation was odd, we found out a lot more interesting things about our neighbors. And everyone hopes to receive a few free eggs.

After realizing that all of our immediate neighbors were fine with us raising chickens, Eric wrote a proposal for the town’s Planning Committee. He spent a lot of time explaining the purpose of the chickens, coop plans, and waste removal. Along with the proposal, we had to give the town $200 (which I still don’t understand). We sat anxiously during the planning committee meeting and after two hours we found out that we could have chickens. We didn’t see it as a problem in the first place since we live in a small farming community.

Eric ordered 7 chickens from My Pet Chicken. He also ordered coop building plans. The cutest thing in the world is day-old chickens cheeping at the post office! We kept them inside our house in a box. They grew so fast and as soon as they had their feathers they were outside in their new coop.

Some assembled coops can cost over $1,000, but Eric built ours for about $150. Eric doesn’t have carpentry skills, but with the help of my dad the coop was ready in about three days. If Eric can build a coop, anyone can build a coop. We bought some supplies at the Habitat for Humanity Restore which saved us a lot of money. We choose to stain the wood instead of buying pretreated wood. (We weren’t sure about exposing chickens to chemicals). We buy our chicken feed from a local pet supply store instead of online. The moveable coop plan allows us to maintain chickens in an urban setting and lets the chickens eat nutritious plants and bugs.

The chickens are very amusing and are developing their own personalities. They all come running towards me when I open the coop door. One chicken is brave enough to peck at my 7-month old German Shepherd. We are still having difficulty deciding if any of the chickens are roosters, since we can’t have roosters as part of our permit. Two of the chickens are easy to tell apart from the rest (the only two Easter Eggers). We are naming the chickens after ways to cook eggs, so the two chickens received the names, “Sunny” and “Scrambles”. Let us know if you have any other ideas!
I thought that keeping chickens was going to be a lot of work. But the chickens do most of the work. All I do is open and close the coop ramp, refill water and food, and help move the coop to another spot in the yard. I’m looking forward to beautiful eggs in four or five months!