First Time Chicken Owner

February 14, 2019, we decided to bring on a brand new responsibility… CHICKENS!! That’s right, I’m not flocking kidding (sorry for my fowl language, be prepared for a ton of puns)! I could not be more eggcited for this new adventure!

Minor backstory:

For years, I’ve always want to raise chickens! However, living in a subdivision that isn’t exactly realistic, or allowed. Two years ago, we decided to move from our three story condo, to an amazing single family home on one acre! I wouldn’t say we live in the country, but we have the country views/feels, and a Target within 10 minutes!

We moved into our home, in January of 2017, and we were going to get all of our ducks in a row before we introduced a flock. Shortly after moving in, BAM I’m pregnant. I was not ready to scramble to get chickens! Then a year later we have a new born, and I kept chickening out at the thought of getting chickens! Fortunately I have a really supportive flock of friends and family! Here we are now, with 7 chickens in my basement!!

My friend (and farmer), Erica at Hayfield Farm, has been a WEALTH of knowledge! In addition to my friend, Lauren at Hillsborough Homestead!! Without them I don’t know what I’d do! They’ve been in the game for many many years, and they’ve taken me under their wings, to help my family get closer to self-sufficiency!

(As I go on this journey of owning chickens for the first time, I’ll add new posts as I go along!)

SOOO, my dear friend, and neighbor, Sarah, decided to add chicks to her existing flock! I decided to tag along with her online order, and get some chicks for myself. She ordered 25 chicks in total, and 6 were for me. Believe it or not, but the chicks came via USPS!! Who knew!! Apparently they can survive in the mail up to 3 days. I still think that’s pretty funny. The birds arrived at the post office the morning of Valentine’s day, and Sarah called me asking if I could go pick them up. Obviously I said yes!! So with my toddler in tow, we headed out to the USPS office! Once I got there, I had to call them, to let them know I was out front. Within minutes, here comes a woman with a TINY box of 25 chickens!!

That was one of the most stressful car rides ever!! Sometimes they were chirping like crazy, other times they were completely silent! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to open that little box! We get home, I already had my brooder set up, and I open the box. Right away I was terrified! There was reddish pink all over!! I thought someone was bleeding! I later find out, that the red marking was an indicator that they had been vaccinated. I wish that they had used a different color!! Very scary. But, I get them out of that tiny box, and into my brooder! Seeing all 25 baby chicks in the brooder was the sweetest thing ever!

I had read on the internet that your supposed to dip each birds face in the water so they know where it is, but I didn’t because so many of them naturally went to the water.

Later that evening, Sarah comes by to collect her chicks. When she arrives, she noticed that one chick wasn’t doing so hot. I interpreted what she said to be, “don’t be surprised if this one doesn’t make it”. I was crushed! She had to make it! My first 24 hour experience with chickens could not include one dying!! For about an hour I forced her to drink water straight from the tip on my finger, and we got her to eat too! By the time we went to bed, she was doing much better! You better believe I was up at the butt crack of dawn to check on her, AND SHE LIVED!!! That’s right! So we named her Chance the chicken!

Here we are, 3 weeks later, and we don’t even know which one she is! For a while, we could tell her apart from the rest because she was so tiny, but she’s since caught up. My heart is so full!! Other than Chance almost dying, our first 4 weeks have been great! I’m learning a lot as we go.

Something we do with our birds, we try to get the dogs used to them. Every single night we spend quality time with the birds and the dogs. We will put each bird on top of the dogs. We let the dogs sniff the birds, and scope it all out. So far it’s been a huge success because our mutt dog, Zoey, is in LOVE with them! We’re pretty sure, she thinks they’re her babies! Any time we go towards the basement, she darts straight to the brooder! She shows nothing but love and curiosity for these sweet birds

One thing we’ve learned along the way is, we probably shouldn’t keep our birds in the basement! We vaccuum our house regularly, but the dog hair is almost unavoidable. Dusting on the other hand… well… we don’t do that! My husband Kevin noticed that the table in the basement was looking rather dingy. He ran his hand across it, and there was an absurd amount of dust on the table. After investigating, we found dust is EVERYWHERE. I mean EVERYWHERE!! Anything in the basement, from all the toys, to the furniture, the woodstove, and the walls! It never ever crossed my mind that the shavings in the bottom of the brooder, would create dust!! I know my friend keeps her chicks in the garage, and we were going to, but they were just too itty bitty at first. The garage is so cold and lonely, I didnt want to leave them out there. Now that they’re 4 weeks of age, and have a decent amount of feathers, I don’t feel as nervous. We have them under the heat lamp still, theyll be fine!

From personal experience, I dont recommend keeping the chicks in the house. It’s definitely doable, obviously we were able to clean everything up, but if it’s somewhere you’re frequently hanging out, I’d be concerned about breathing it all in.

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll have our coop all set up outside. In no time, these wild girls will be scrambling around the yard!

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