Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chickens, Coops, and Farms...Oh My!

Sooo, we got some chicks. 

Problem was, we were totally not prepared. When I say 'not prepared', I mean, we didn't have one thing we needed to take care of these little feeders, no food, no housing, no nothing. 

So, how did we end up getting these little puffballs? Big J's sister was getting 13 chicks in one afternoon and wanted to know if we wanted a few. So, Big J and lil' J made a quick trip to Tractor Supply, picked up some feed, a feeder, a waterer, and some pine shavings. Our 'plan' was to keep a few of them in a rubbermaid container to give us a few weeks to build a coop. Boy am I glad we didn't end up going with that plan! Those little things grow fast! 

After we picked up the chicks, we stopped by Big J's Granny's house to show them to her. As we were leaving, an old dog cage she hasn't used in years caught my eye. So, it came home with us. After some alterations and tweaking, we had a pretty nice temporary coop for the chicks perfect for growing chicks. 

The 2 with the blue marks on their heads are supposed to be Araucana/Americauna chicks and the 2 with the green dots are supposed to be Rhode Island Reds.

The chicks are about 2 weeks old in this picture
We only plan to keep 2 or 3 of the hens and give the rest back to my sister-in-law. Problem is, we have no idea which ones are hens and which ones are roosters. They'll have to get much older to be able to tell    what sex they are though. The kids hold the chicks every day. We are trying to get them used to us and tame them down a bit. The chicks are quite comical to watch...such inquisitive little creatures. One seems to be very intelligent. It is not really scared of us and is ALWAYS looking for ways to escape the cage. 

We put the coop in an old dog pen we no longer use. More recently, it was the kids' home for their turtles, but we set those free shortly before the chickens arrived.

Jason is using as much scrap material as he can that we already have laying around the house. He estimates the coop only costing a little more than $30. 

The coop is still a work in progress. We'll have to do some railing repairs from some past hurricane damage and a few other modifications to the fencing, but it's a start :)

We also took a very informative, eye opening field trip to a little dairy farm. I used to think about getting a dairy cow, but not any more. They are a lot of work! I have no desire to milk a cow twice a day, nor could we drink up that much milk! This lady sells her extra milk. 

She also makes and sells all sorts of cheeses, buttermilks, and butters out of her extra milk. I have no desire to do any of that! Plus, the cheese making process is quite tedious and some cheeses take months till they are ready. Nope, a dairy cow is not for me. 
In a few months, this will be cheddar cheese.


I liked her chicken coop. It was pretty simple...a lot like ours will be. Very little maintenance and work overall. ...And once the hens reach maturity, you get a few eggs every day. I can handle that.

They also had a garden, various fruit trees, and tons of herbs. I can handle this part too, just on a much smaller scale. After seeing her already planted and growing garden, I realized a better get a start on mine before the season gets away from me. So, I planted potatoes, green beans, a few herbs, and some companion plants good for keeping pests away from my veggie plants. I'll have to do the rest soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this field trip...more so than the kids, I! We even came home with a gallon of fresh raw Jersey cow's milk, italian herb cheese, jalapeno garlic cheese, and butter :) 


  1. Yum raw milk... oh I'd love to my hands on some of that but .. I'm with you - no cow in my future. Chickens? sure - next year.

  2. Cody threw our cheese away Sunday. He said it was bad already which I do not see how that could be so soon. I thought it would only age a bit. Ughhh... anyway, it was good stuff. We also left there with a pound of butter with a pretty flower on top and two gallons of milk. One of the milks we drank as it was and the other I took the cream off the top and made more butter. So cool to do with your own raw milk. I have done it before with Whipping Cream from the grocery store, but it was so much more exciting with the raw milk.


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