My First Year with Chickens – part 1

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Hard to believe my chickens are closing in on their first birthday in early March, which coincides quite nicely with mine.

I have another batch of chicks on order and slated for an early April arrival, so for the next few weeks I’m going to take a look back at my first year with the chickies. The list of things I never expected when I brought that little cardboard box of fluffballs home…well, it’s endless…that they would grow so fast…that they would have such distinct personalities….that I would process a few of them for meat myself…that I would be absolutely nuts about a rooster named Millie!

I don’t really recall what caused me to wake up one day and decide I was determined to have a little farm and chickens. I have wanted to live on a farm my entire life and my mother will vouch for that, but it just never seemed to be in the cards, and the chicken element was certainly new. This was no longer just some dream…this was now a mission.

There was a breakup. The very abrupt and unexpected end of a long-term relationship – a relationship that lasted too long. As those types of things can often do, my life took a hard turn in a vastly different direction than I ever imagined.

I know that within a week or so of the breakup I had decided that I wanted to move out to the country have chickens and a big garden and, of course, more dogs.

I craved space.

I needed to be able to breathe.

That was in September 2013.

In September 2015 I closed on my fixer-upper of a house on 3 mostly wooded acres.

I wouldn’t be able to move in until January of 2016…and that is a whole other blog topic….let me just say in the real world renovations do not happen like they do on Fixer Upper.

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I read about raising baby chicks. I fretted about creating a brooder…fretted about where to put said brooder…fretted about keeping the chickens away from the dogs…fretted about keeping things the exact right temperature for the birds…in short, I did a lot of fretting.

I read up on breeds, decided on a few that I wanted and then set out to order online. Problem was it was already February and a couple of the breeds I wanted were already sold out for the year and others wouldn’t be available until early summer.

Chick Days at Tractor Supply were just gearing up. They had new chicks arriving each week.

Friends started sending me pictures of chicks at the Tractor Supply near them…I went to one closest to me and they only had Jersey Giants and lots of baby ducks, which are about the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.

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I bought a waterer and feeder and vowed to wait until they had what I wanted. Online I had seen options for turning a dog crate into a brooder – that I could do! I set it up, lined the edges with cardboard and put it in my shower. There were two reasons for the location I chose: 1. I could shut the dogs not only out of the bathroom, but the bedroom entirely and 2. At the time I wasn’t using the shower in there for showering as my septic system was not functioning.

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After a birthday Sunday brunch celebration with some friends, and with birthday gift cards in hand, my Mom and I stopped at a different Tractor Supply on the way home…they had a much bigger selection. I signed the form they ask you to fill out and then asked for a pair each of Rhode Island Reds, Australorps and Ameraucanas. After she had placed the little chicks into the little cardboard box and sealed it up like a little lunch pail my Mom asked what ‘straight run’ means. I looked at the sign…none of them were sexed.

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One guess who this little snugbug is now…

I shrugged it off feeling certain I would have mostly hens. I gave them all female names to help ensure this would happen!

Ha, well if you have any experience with chickens, or you have followed me on instagram, you have an idea of what I ended up with!

Many more adventures to come!

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