2 Years of owning Backyard Chickens.
The highlights.

It was almost 2 years ago that I woke up on Easter morning to find a box of day old chicks on my kitchen counter.

I pretty much took it all in stride.  You know.  Acted real cool about it.   I know I look a tiny bit “alarmed” in the picture here.  It kind of looks as though I was thinking “Oh my GOD there are baby chickens in this box!!!!!  What am I going to do with baby CHICKENS??!!!”  But what I was really thinking was …

 

Hey, look at the cute chicks.  OMG is that the last Diet Coke you’re drinking?!

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I can see how you’d be confused though and think I’d lost my cool.  I did not.   In fact I didn’t lose my cool until a good 30 seconds later when it sunk in that I had nowhere for these things to live.   Also, I had no idea what to feed them, how to take care of them, if they needed medical shots, if they could fly away, attack me in the middle of the night, what kind of chickens they were and whether or not they came when you called them.  Among other things.

I knew nothing more than you do.  One laptop and 5 hours later I knew what to feed them and generally how long I had before they needed a house of their own.  The rest I learned with each passing day as a chicken owner.

The most surprising thing I learned was how hilarious chickens are.  And calming.  For both of these reasons it’s easy to spend hours just watching them.  And for the first few months I did.  I’d go into the potting shed where we were housing them until I built the coop, and I’d just watch them hop around.  I couldn’t get enough of watching the little fluff bums.

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And neither could anyone else …

 

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Over the past 2 years they’ve gone from tiny chicks to gawky teens to what they are now, content hens settled into their routine of eating, pooping, scratching and egg laying.

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There’ve only been 2 major bumps in the road. The first was Lucky.  That’s little Lucky in the picture above.  Lucky only lasted a week or two.  Lucky was a weak little chick and despite our best efforts, died.  Poor little lucky.

The next stressor  was Tuco.

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We had our suspicions about Tuco from day one.  They were confirmed on  July 16th, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.

 

 

That’s the thing about getting a box full of chicks.  You don’t know how many will live and you don’t know how many will end up being roosters.   Chickens are illegal where I live let alone screaming roosters.  By 9:00 that morning I had found Tuco a nice home where he still resides to this day.  His new owner has informed me Tuco has grown into a beautiful rooster with  a bit of a mean streak.

The other 4 chickens, Norma …

 

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Cuddles …

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Walnut …

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and Cheez Whiz, live a ridiculously happy life.

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If you’ve been toying with the idea of getting backyard chickens yourself but are a bit scared, or don’t know what it involves, next week I’ll have something that could interest you.

On Tuesday I’ll be putting up a post outlining all of the basics of owning backyard chickens. From where to buy them, to how much their feed costs, to the every day tasks you’ll have to perform if you own them.

That way you can decide whether this whole chicken keeping craze is worth what you get in exchange … eggs.  And chicken cuddles.

 


 

67 Comments

  1. Jody Cooper says:

    Why quarantine them from each other? I have raised chickens and guineas and rabbits around each other and they seem to do quiet well together. If the birds are raised together from the start they take on similarities of each other. For example, I bought 2 guineas, and 12 chickens all straight runs, so far we lost 1 chicken, might have 1 rooster( still watching, hasn’t crowed yet ) not laying yet, waiting for a Christmas miracle LOL . Guineas are making that funny call ( kinda sounds like , COME BACK, COME BACK!!!!!) Those are both hens no doubt, even though they resemble buzzard headed chickens, Big big girls, but eggs are supposed to be good and small in size. They are scaredy chickens, big ole bad ,not! Run like hell if a crow flies bye, funny as all get out, comedians of the yard. Best damn watch dogs I’ve ever had . My girls think they are chickens, they fan out in the sun after a good roll in the dirt. Preening and stretching, 2 seconds later they are at a dead run as fast as they can go darting about turning on a dime. These crazy things act like chickens and for some unknown reason they aren’t trying to get away or fly at all. I clipped once, but have regrown awhile ago. Time will tell I guess.

  2. Allison says:

    Hi Karen,
    I have followed your chicken posts for over a year now and was so inspired by your girls I got my own 4 chicks in January! Blanche turned out to be a rooster though (gave us his first crow at 6 weeks!), and unfortunately our sweet Rose got sick last week and we just lost her on Saturday :( I know I need to move on and keep learning, but it has been quite discouraging only 3 months in…

    But I do love seeing your darling flock and am always so encouraged. Keep up the great work!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Allison. I’m so sorry about your hen Rose. Don’t be discouraged though. I too had a rooster, and I too had one (albeit a very young one) die. If I were you I would build up the flock again with 2 healthy pullets. Good luck! ~ karen

      • Allison says:

        Thank you Karen. That’s the plan. But all my research makes introducing new chickens sound so tricky! Where am I supposed to quarantine new birds for 30 days?! Sheesh.

        I’ll let you know how it goes :)

      • Karen says:

        Hi Allison – 30 days is probably a good idea, but might not be necessary if you buy your birds from a very reputable source. As opposed to some random chicken seller on the side of the road. You do have to go slow with keeping them separated so they get to know each other though. Like cats. Or best friends. :) ~ karen

  3. Nancy says:

    FYI You can hypnotize a chicken by stroking it between the eyes. :)With your finger. :D

  4. Nicki Woo says:

    Oh man. I mean, Oh chicken. I really, really want chickens. But. . I don’t think they are permitted in my suburbian area. I live in a city outside of Houston, part country, part suburbia, and we actually have neighbors near by with chickens, horses, and maybe a goat or two. But they have more land than we do, and I think the deal is you have to have your coup 100 ft. from neighboring houses. but, i’m not sure. . .gonna need to check into that after reading this sweet post:)

  5. julie s says:

    You named him Tuco — of course he has a mean streak! He’s a Salamanca! I’m surprised you didn’t have two chicken cousins on your doorstep prepared to exact retribution for giving Tuco away.

  6. Esther says:

    Woohoo!!! I can’t wait for the upcoming post. I am moving to a permanent residence come May and am wanting to have chickens, this could not have been better timing. Thank You.

  7. Jodi says:

    I started saying I was holding up nicely, beacause Jacob’s Cave is happening this weekend and I’m trying not to get in the car and bring home more chickens! Lol! Looking at the photos of your chicks got me all nostalgic!

  8. Jodi says:

    I was holding up nicely today. There’s a place where I live called Jacob’s Cave and several times a year people come out, set up a booth and sell and trade. Chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks and other birds. Two years ago, my husband and I purchased our first chickens. We were hooked!! We only have five birds right now. Three bantams and two full size birds. They all live together and we love them! They are definitely worth the effort and money. Besides the eggs, they are interactive, have individual personalities and are just plain fun!

  9. nicole d says:

    OH YAY! thanks Karen! I’m looking forward to your tuesday post, which i had been waiting and asking for…THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    (we have been planning out our coop this past weekend, but have NO CLUE what to do once we get the little guys. haha)

  10. Lisa says:

    OMG Now I cannot wait for next week! I’ve been considering getting backyard chickens for my suburbian home. I was raised on a Quarter Horse form and want so desperately to get back to my country roots. Since I can’t keep a horse in my garage I’m begging my down home redneck BF to build me a chicken coop…..or a house in the country…..I’m thinking the coop will come first. Now I won’t have to go to my uncle’s coop and steal his eggs! lol

  11. Rita says:

    I’ve gone from being a chicken wisher to a chicken owner this spring. We have 6 lovely little birds in their partially finished coop in the garage. All we need is to finish the coop, fix the fence and have weather warm enough for partially feathered birds to survive in and we can move them into the backyard.

  12. marion says:

    Im very much looking forward to your post since I have been thinking of getting chickens for about 2 years now, only my husband does not like this idea at all …
    Now something totally differnt: tell me how you like this:http://enpundit.com/family-builds-amazing-rainbow-igloo-in-backyard/
    you could keep this in mind for a post next winter
    (if you are really bored or out of ideas)! I just love it!

  13. Pam'a says:

    I’ve wondered for a while now… What sort of arrangements do you have to make for your girls if you’re going to be away for a few days? What are a chicken sitter’s duties?

    Someday, I may need to know such things. ;)

  14. Cathy in Colorado says:

    We have 5 chickens; one was killed by feral cats. We love them dearly and they are wonderful.

  15. Toronto Boy says:

    As Ren and Stimpy would often declare,”Happy, happy, joy, joy! Happy, happy, joy!” I’ve been toying with the idea of raising chickens but lack the foresight and knowledge to put the plan into action.

  16. marilyn says:

    lovin the chickens..

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