Chickens. No homestead seems complete without them. They’re quite trendy and all the rage these days. When we first got married, I always assumed that we would *someday* have chickens. Funny, because at the time my husband was more interested in computer games and jiu jitsu. Oh how time [and opportunity] changes things.
Some friends of ours, who had chickens [and a rooster], gave us eggs to incubate. In exchange, we would get to keep 3-6 hens and they would take the rest home. Win win. They brought us the eggs one Sunday and we happily tucked them into the incubator [that we also borrowed from them]. It was a still- air incubator with an added egg turner.
There are many wonderful tutorials on the actual incubation process, so I won’t bore you with all those details. Basically, we put them [poop ‘n all] in the incubator for 21 days. Kept it at 101 degrees F. Then turned off and removed the turner at 18 days. Waited and watched for the first signs of life. A small chip turned into a wet bird and then a fluffy little chick. Magic! 🙂
Oh the brooder. This was one of the many situations where we get excited about something, commit to it, and then realize that we forgot one critical detail. In this case, it was where we were going to brood them. Brooding Chicks- what do you do when you don’t have a shed, level basement, or other appropriate outside facility? You use an extra room in your house. One that’s easy to clean and nonessential. The Spare Bathroom. We put the base of an under- the- bed tote in the bathtub, packed it in with towels and hung a light from the curtain rod. We put up the baby gate to keep the kiddos out of the bathroom.
It worked great initially.
The boys loved being able to see the chicks.
Eventually, with 28 little chicks, they started to outgrowing the tub. We switched them over to our kiddy pool and added a few accessories so they could perch (a box & a board). All while keeping them in the bathroom. We put an OSB board down on top of the tub and set some cinder blocks under the end that stuck out. That gave us a nice platform to put the kiddy pool on. On a side note, it does make for an interesting time when you use the bathroom with all those little chicks chirping at you. You don’t need a magazine when you can watch chicken drama unfold. 😉
Once they started getting a few feathers they started flying out of the kiddy pool. We added some fence wire around the pool to keep them contained.
It started to get REALLY crowded as they continued to grow. Thankfully, our friends took all but 12 chicks. The original plan was 3-6 hens, mind you. That number grew to a definite 6 and then somehow managed to get to 12… We built the coop to house a max of 12- the number we would get to “someday” as our family grew. “Someday” came really quickly. Funny, all the chicken people warn you that you can never build your coop big enough. And we thought we would be safe if we doubled the size of the coop. Tisk tisk. So much for that safety net.
Well two of the hens turned out to be roosters, so we gave those back. I had to stop Evan from asking to trade those two roosters for two hens…. 10 was enough sweetie. 🙂
Something we learned from keeping our chickens inside- they make this terrible film of dander. It coated every room in our house. It was awful. I kept cleaning, but as long as they were in the house the film kept reappearing. Bleck.
They had to stay in the bathroom a little longer, since our Chicken Coop wasn’t ready yet. I was anxiously waiting for our chicks [now pullets] to go outside. When the Coop was finally finished, we rejoiced on move out day. Evan, because he finished the coop; and me, because I could finally get rid of that dander.