Friday, October 18, 2013

the newest beams...

Shortly after we moved, we started thinking about having chickens.  We've always talked about putting a garden in, but didn't feel like we had quite the right space before.  The thought of fresh eggs was wonderful too, but we never even considered it at our old house.  Somehow, moving here has brought forth many more considerations of the sort.

I like to say that we've dipped our toes into the country.  We're only five or six miles from our old house, but we're now in a rural county instead of a suburban county so having chickens is more doable.  And simply having more space (almost an acre versus 1/4 of an acre) creates lots of possibilities.

So when the kids and I left for Michigan, JD and our dear friend, Bootsie, began to repurpose our play set into a chicken coop.      

We loved that playset and the kids had many years of good play on it.  But when we took it apart and moved it to our new house, the sight of it just made reassembling it feel a tad hopeless.  Granted, I'm sure we could've gotten it together again, but it was going to be a tough task.  It was a heap of wood and we didn't have the original instructions.  My wheels started spinning about rebuilding the fort section into a chicken coop and simply enclosing it.  JD wasn't so sure at first, but the kids were totally thrilled at the idea of having chickens.  They quickly chose chickens over their playset which kind of makes sense because they spend so much more time here riding their bikes and playing sports with the neighbor kids.

JD and Bootsie spent several days building (a weekend, plus a couple of evenings after JD got home from work), but then JD left to join us in Minnesota for our summer vacation.  Bootsie kept on truckin' (this man loves a project!).  And we came home to a finished coup!  

Aren't they cute?!  Including the coop!  

Time to paint!  Good thing I have lots of little helpers!

We decided to try to match it to our house a little.

This is my kind of painting with the kids -- outdoors!  Drips and drops!?  Who cares!  

Jackson concentrated on the nesting box.

Brooks lends a hand.

Little bodies sure do fit well in small places.  Thanks goodness.


After JD and I wired it on Labor Day, we headed to a farm to purchase chickens.

Gathering all our chicken supplies: feed, scratch, bedding, water cans, feeders.

Avery's got the bag of scratch (this is a treat the chickens love and get one small cup of each day)!

'Mom, put the camera down!  We're ready to pick out our chickens!'

Jackson picked out a Barred Rock and named her Layla.

Brooks picked out a Black Star and named her Goldie.

Payton picked a cross of Buff Orpington and Rhode Island Red and named her Henrietta.

I went with a Maranaucana and named her Mabel.  She'll lay olive-colored eggs!  

Avery chose an Ameraucana and named her Flossie.  She'll lay blue eggs!  

Jimmy Jam guarded the chickens still in the boxes from transport.  I don't have a photo of him with his chicken (JD took him to the car at the farm because he was being eaten up by mosquitoes!).  His chicken is a Black Star like Brooks' and he named her Jessie.

Laying the bedding in the coup.

Cozy little nesting boxes waiting for eggs -- although we chose to get young chickens so they won't start laying until closer to Thanksgiving.  When we find our first egg, our entire neighborhood will hear our squeals of delight!

Brooks brought over some compost to put in the coup for the hens.  They love to scratch in it and find bugs and worms.

My goodness they're so little!  I need to post a more current photo -- they're getting big and fat!  Not that we'll be eating them.  :)

Their first time down the ramp (they practically slid down).  But now they have the hang of it.

They're so fun to have!  Sometimes we just sit outside down by their coup and watch them while they peck at the ground and sometimes our shoes.  Chicken behavior is fascinating!  We were letting them roam our yard and they were doing a good job of staying down near the coop.  Well, apparently they've gotten a little too comfortable with their new surroundings because now they're wandering all the way up our side yard into our neighbors' bushes and almost into our front yards!  Good gracious!  We can't have that.  We've gotten one estimate from a fence company and I'm waiting for a call back from another.  We gotta fence these girls in or they'll roam the neighborhood!  And we're not sure our neighbors would appreciate that.  We may be out of the 'burbs, but we do live in a neighborhood and need to be sensitive to what our neighbors are willing to put up with.  

Not to mention that we could have a disaster when a neighborhood dog goes strolling by -- which is all the time.  

Interestingly, our Lucy doesn't mess with them.  We find her in their coop sometimes!  Doing what?  Eating chicken poop, of course.  She's more interested in eating their poop than she is in eating them!

Go figure.

Now, if only she could act like a sheep dog and help us round them up when we need to put them back in their coop.  

Now that is fun (read: not fun at all).  

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