Wednesday, April 10, 2013

a post about chickens...

So... Chickens.  

True story: We are now the proud owners of chickens.  Eight of them to be exact.  Yes, eight.  Just call me Farmer Julia.  Well... truth be told, it's really Lance that is the farmer here.  I'm just here for moral support... and the scrambled eggs:)
I'll admit, at first I was pretty skeptical.  Chickens??  In our backyard??

But sure enough, these gals are starting to grow on me.

A few things to note in case you don't know much about chickens (I certainly didn't)...  All eight of our chickens are little ladies... no roosters at this party.  We got them for eggs... not chicken legs.

The girls have their very own chicken penthouse... compliments of Lance.  They have a "coop" (the metal part) which is where they sleep and eventually is where they will lay their eggs.  And then they also have a little "run" (the larger cage part) which is where they can roam around a bit while still being protected.

We typically open the run during the day so the girls can wander around the entire backyard.  They are absolutely hilarious to watch.  Chickens really are as dumb as people say they are... which makes for some pretty awesome backyard entertainment.

The main reason why we decided to get the Astralop chickens was because we had read that this type was known to be super docile.  We wanted our friend's kids and our neighbor's kids, and even our own kids eventually, to be able to play and interact with the chickens.  So far we've been pretty impressed.

We feed them a blend of grains, and fill up the feeder about once every 2-3 days.  These little ladies are very well fed... and so are the neighborhood squirrels, so we've learned.

We also give them a few handfuls of mill worms (aka chicken crack) everyday.  It's like candy.  I know it looks gross, but it's like dried peanut shells or something... and the chickens love this stuff.

All you have to do is shake the mill worm bag a couple of times and the girls come runnin'.  They love them some chicken crack.

Probably the number one question that we've been asked is, "Aren't they loud?" or "Don't your neighbors mind?"  And the answer is no, and no.  Surprisingly the chickens barely make a peep.  They do a little bit of soft chirping, but you can hardly hear it.  On a rare occasion one of them might let out a little squawk... but even that is pretty quiet.  From what I understand, it's the roosters that are typically the noisy ones, and since we have all girls, noise just hasn't been an issue.  And as for my neighbors... they love them.  Both of our next door neighbors have been over numerous times to see the chickens and everyone's excited about the eggs.

Which is probably the number two question... "When do they start laying eggs?"  Typically a hen will start laying her eggs around 20 weeks.  Our chickens are about 11-12 weeks old right now... so we should start seeing some eggs in about 2 more months... and after that we'll have eggs coming out of our ears.

Bedtime comes like clockwork for these girls.  As soon as the sun starts to go down, one by one, the chickens walk up the ramp to settle in their cozy coop.  We have a couple of roosts built inside and they all huddle together for a good night's sleep.  If you go out late enough at night, you can even hear them snoring... swear.

So, what does Little Cat think about his new sisters??
He's completely unimpressed.  He will sit and watch them for hours, but for the most part doesn't really know what to make of his new feathered friends.

What about you?  Do you know anyone that has backyard chickens?  Have you thought about it yourself?  Stay tuned for more tales of urban farming...  


Flossie said...

My cousin got chickens about a year ago. I'm not sure what breed they have, but they initially only got 3 or 4 females. They laid eggs, but only here and there. Then someone told them to get a rooster. It seems that the hens will lay more eggs when there's a rooster around. They now have eggs coming out of their ears!

Flossie said...

I'm kinda wondering about the poop....weird question? Seems like 8 chickens would get a little messy...

Jaimie said...

This is awesome. How fantastic that you have a big fenced-in yard that they can roam around in! Do they eat the grass, too? And you guys could start making some money off the eggs (free-range!) if you wanted to, depending on how many they lay!

My aunt and uncle have chickens, but they keep them in a coop all the time... big property, no fences, two big dogs. :)

If you don't mind my asking, how much did it cost to buy the birds and get the coop and cage set up? Is it going to be worth it in the end for all the "free" eggs?

Kathryn said...

I would love to have chickens! I think it's great.

Angie said...

I got to be honest, my experience with chickens have NOT been good. Of course I live in Eastern, KY and everyone around here has fighting roosters (yes illegal I know) but they are ridiculously loud and mean. I guess that has just scared me away from them!

Your girls look super friendly though. Hope you enjoy your journey as chicken farmers LOL!

Terri Lynn Grothe said...

im terrified of chickens, hens and roosters.
so kudos to you:)

Stacie Jean said...

This is awesome! Love the post, I definitely learned something new today. Can't wait to meet these little ladies the next time I'm in Louisville!

bcontratto said...

i'm totally jealous. i've been wanting a small brood of chickens myself, but we're renting the house we're in now and all of our surrounding neighbors have dogs. can't wait to get a place of our own. looking forward to see how your experience turns out.

isaac and jenny said...

So when you have eggs coming out your ears, remember we'll be glad to help you eat some of said eggs.