Saturday, September 26, 2009

We have chickens!!!

And they are in our backyard right now!!! Chris has done an excellent job building their home, a "chicken tractor," which is an enclosure that can be dragged around to various locations in the yard to simulate free-ranging. Also, the chicken poop won't all build up in one spot this way! I have been wanting to get some hens for over a year now and have just been waiting for the right time. About two months ago, Cecilia and I were at a farmers market at a local college, and I learned some more about chickens from a man who was selling them there. We did some research and asking around and decided what breeds we were most interested in and then called Bill up to see what types he had currently. He had two black Australorp hens who were just about to laying age, so we wanted those. He also had light brahmas and barred rocks, and we ended up choosing two of the rocks to make four hens in all.

The rain held off for us most of the time at the farmers market today, but it was pouring by the time we were leaving. Chris and Caroline wore rain gear and went out to introduce the chickens to their new home. Apparently they like it, because they stayed out in the open part even though the rain was coming down hard!

Here are the two Australorps, once the rain slowed down late this afternoon. It is hard to tell them apart... they look basically identical. These are one of the gentlest breed, plus they are the best layers of all. Under optimal circumstances, some people get about an egg a day from each Australorp! We really want to eat mostly fresh eggs, so getting a breed that lays a lot was a priority, and being gentle and laid-back will be a plus around the children!

Here is a good view of the chicken tractor. Chris built the enclosed indoor section with old fence posts and then we painted them black. The nesting box is inside - we just have to fill it with some straw. There is also a roost that runs the entire width of the tractor. They get in by going underneath the front panel and then they can go up some ramps to get to the nesting box and the roost.

Chris also put an old broom handle across a corner of the outdoor section... the barred rocks hopped right up there. So far, they seem to really like roosting more than the Australorps. They are also a very gentle breed and are good layers. Right now, they are slightly smaller than the Australorps, but I don't know if that will last.

Caroline has named the chickens. We have Eat, More, Chicken, and Sally. I am not joking - she came up with this on her own. The Australorps are Eat and More... Eat has a slightly larger light area on the tip of her beak than More. The rocks are Chicken and Sally, and it is really hard to tell them apart... their ears are slightly different (yes, chickens apparently have ears!). I asked Caroline if we should spell their names the real way, or the silly way that the Chick-fil-A cows spell them (Mor and Chikin), and she opted for the actual spelling. I am not sure how the hens feel about these words yet, what with their meaning and all...

I think this is Chicken...

... and Sally scratches in the background.

Cecilia is amazed by the chickens... she loves them, and cried when I wouldn't put her inside the tractor with them. Caroline said she wanted to camp out there with them in her sleeping bag. The chickens seem to be popular here so far :)

And now, we wait for the first egg!


Lisa said...

Wow! Congratulations! I am jealous that we're not permitted to have them here. I hope you have lots of fresh eggs in the spring!

Kris said...

I want chickens so badly!! Unfortunately, we are not allowed where we live - not enough acreage, I guess. Boo! The names are hysterical!!

That Married Couple said...

Oh my gosh! That is the coolest ever! I'm so jealous! Have fun with them!

Christine said...

They are really beautiful birds! I love the idea of being able to move the henhouse around the yard! That makes so much sense! What's next? Goats?