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the chickens

UPDATE: We no longer have chickens. We kept these until they were old enough to draw Social Security! We planned on getting more this spring, but our life plans have changed drastically! I will be posting about our new adventures on the main page. 

Enjoy reading about our experience with raising chickens. 


It all started here...
This bird house was given to Mr J by his other mother-in-law.  Her husband had built it.  She thought Mr J could use it for his chickens.

Mr J added wheels and handles to make it portable.  When we started with 4 hens and 2 roosters (given to us), this house was adequate. 

But then, Mr J ordered these...
 Count 'em if you want... There's 75!

Yep, Mr J ordered 50 one-day-old pullets (baby girls) to come in the mail!  As a bonus for ordering 50, they gave us 25 free birds of their choice.  We figured we'd sort out the boys and girls later, and keep all the hens.  We learned that 'our choice' means 'the cockerels that we cannot sell.'  Not a pullet in the bunch!

Granted, that cock-a-doodle-do  sounds rather nice... but 25 cocks do not sound nice.  As a matter of fact, they torment the hens and fight!  Lesson learned.

Of course, this many hens meant a much larger hen house, so Mr J went to work...
We started building the previous fall, with recycled telephone poles for the posts.  We bought new, pressure-treated lumber for the floor joist... Don't wanna skimp there.

Mr J covered this with chicken wire to prevent other critters (raccoons) from eating through the floor.  (Yep, they do.)

Now that it has a good foundation, how about a floor? 

FIL gets in on the act, helping Mr J nail down the plywood... FREE plywood.  More on that in a minute.

Did I mention the vinyl flooring?  Remnants.  A bit costly, but helps tremendously with the cleaning. 

Next came the walls... 
They were free.  We salvaged these 2x4s from old skids.  You know those places that redo bathrooms?  Well, those shower stalls come in on really long skids... just 3 inches short of being 9 feet.  We had a place call us whenever they had a bunch to pick up.  It was labor intensive to  pull all the nails, but hey, it was FREE!  And you know I love to re-purpose.

The planks made nice campfires too.

Now for a roof...

We actually got some free lumber here, too!  A store in town had boarded up some big windows during remodeling.   When they finished, they said we could have the sheets of plywood!  

Some were damaged in places, but could be used for other things.  Many were in perfect shape except for a couple of nail holes.  We got enough for the floor and the roof!


We had some in the barn, left over from the house.  Family members cleaned out their sheds and donated all their extra shingles. Since we didn't care that the roof was four different colors, we didn't have to buy any!

I'll bet, from the air, our roof looks like a beautiful patchwork quilt!

Of course, the doors and windows were all salvaged.

We bought the siding from Lowe's. 

Mr J has a new door waiting in the barn.  He got it for $10 at a barn equipment sale.

Now, we're ready for the inside...
Remember those planks we burned?  Well, we didn't burn all of them!  Here they are as interior walls, dividing off the feed storage area inside the door.

We have a stack of about 500 left in the barn for shelving, etc.

Chickens love to roost! 
Do you recognize these roosts?  They came from an old wooden swing set... ladders and monkey bars.

With the house completed, Mr J ordered his hens for delivery the following April.
Followers of my blog got to watch them grow... losing that soft fuzz and growing real feathers.

Here's a barred Plymouth Rock chick at just one month old!   Look at the size of those feet! 

They had outgrown the pen in the garage.  It was time to move them to the new house...

My followers got to watch videos of their reaction to their new digs.  We put a big window in one end so we could watch them from outside.

At 2 1/2 months old, they were ready for the outdoors... 

Followers of Blahwg! watched the amusing videos of us trying to coax them out.  It seems like it took days to get them to leave the door.  I even tried chasing them out from inside! 

I got e-mails and messages on facebook, wanting to know if they went outside yet!

They did finally come out...
They stuck near the house for a few days, even though they had a large area to roam.

In the background you can see the little red hen house.  We kept the mature birds separated from them until they got older.

Did I mention that 25 of our hens lay green eggs?
Those hens took longer to start laying, but on September 10th, we got our first green egg.   They're a hit with everyone!

Our eggs come in all colors, shapes and sizes! 

Pretty soon we were averaging  almost 3 dozen eggs a day.  We figured we could sell enough eggs to pay for the feed.  The Farmer's Market sells them for $4/dozen, but Mr J refuses to charge more than 1/2 that.  We're lucky if we break even... but we do have tasty eggs!

We've had our good days and bad... 
Mr J decided that, even though the hens had a really large area to run, he would turn them loose.  He figured they'd go in the woods and eat lots of bugs.

He figured wrong!  I knew when they crossed the driveway and went to the round pen, I was in trouble.

It didn't take them long to make it to my garden.  I remember the anger pouring out onto the keyboard when I blogged about this one!  It took some seriously rough words to convince Mr J that his chicks belonged inside the fence!

Mr J has learned that chickens take a lot of time.  You have to fetch eggs and keep refilling the water.    They spend a lot of time inside the house, and that means lots of cleaning.  Even with all the goats, horses and cats, we never felt bound to home until we got the chickens.   Mr J's already talking about cutting back the number.  I've heard everything from 4 to 12.  We'll see.  I'm sure whatever happens with the chickens...  you'll be the first to know.