Chickens, Getting Started with Chicks, Keeping Chickens

The Brooder Box

This is our newborn chick nursery for the first few days. You can see it’s just a standard storage box. For our house, it’s important to have a clamped lid, because we have two curious house cats. The lid also helps contain the heat. Also, although the chicks are too small now, they will be able to jump and flutter out of the box sooner than you think!

I’ve drilled a few circulation holes in the top, and a larger hole in the side to run cords through. I also have holes with bamboo sticks for baby perches.

We’ll graduate to bigger chicken homes along the way. But this is the first step.

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #cooptofork #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #prettycoop #coopdreams #coopgoals #prettyeggs #chicks

Chickens, Getting Started with Chicks, Keeping Chickens

Food, Water, and Chicken Poop

You can get “chick starter” electrolytes to add to the water at your feed store. Chicks don’t love it if they know there’s an alternative, so it’s best to use it right away, or some will hold out for plain water. Chick water gets yucky, quickly. So I only fill the little red waterer less than half way, so as not to waste the expensive electrolytes. I change it frequently. Putting the waterer on a small block helps keep the water more clean. Just make sure your littlest babies can reach it. The block trick helps keep the food more tidy also.

If you don’t have a waterer, you can also use a shallow dish or bowl for water. Put small stones in it so that the chicks won’t drown. (This definitely can happen.) You will want to change the water in the dish frequently, because the chicks will poop in it. You’re going to get used to chicken poop. It’s part of having chickens. Just make sure to wash your hands after each contact. 😁

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #cooptofork #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #prettycoop #coopdreams #coopgoals #prettyeggs #chicks

Chickens, Getting Started with Chicks, Keeping Chickens

Are You Considering Chicks?

My favorite feed store (with gorgeous heritage breeds) was sold out of everything but roosters after the long weekend – so we had fun cuddling the chicks, but haven’t gotten any yet. But soon!!!

If you’re thinking of getting chicks, but nervous, this is for you.

First of all, you can totally do it! It’s not as difficult as it seems. You’ll learn as you go. You’ll make it work. And it is so rewarding!

Second of all, even though I really shouldn’t get more chicks, I have selflessly decided that I must, for your sake, get at least a few. 😊 I’ll walk you through the steps.

Do you remember Julia Child on PBS in the 80’s? When I was little, my mom would assemble the ingredients, pour a glass of wine, turn on Julia, and cook along with her. This will be like that, except that I’m no Julia Child, (who is one of my idols). However, like Julia, I believe in making mistakes and getting messy (or is that Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus? Yet another brilliant woman!)

We’ll start this week with how to prepare before you bring home your chicks. So pour yourself a glass of wine (or coffee), start picking breeds, and stay tuned. 😊

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #chickens #eggs #cooptofork #coop #barn #farmlife #coopdreams #coopgoals

Chickens, Family, Getting Started with Chicks, Keeping Chickens

Bringing Home Baby

Those of you with kids probably went through something like I did when you were expecting your first baby. Remember how everyone had advice and opinions about what kind of diapers, or pacifiers, or baths, to use? Remember the strong opinions of well meaning aunties about nursing vs. bottle feeding, or vaccines? And god forbid we get into sleeping habits, or discipline! Do you remember the first time you walked in to a Babies-R-Us? Personally, I wandered around overwhelmed, and stunned, by the vastness of it all, and finally fled without having bought a thing.

And do you remember, how, once the baby came, there were some hiccups along the way, and a learning curve, but eventually it mostly worked out. And how all that advice was kind of helpful, but also, that you figured out what worked best for you. And that it turns out a lot of different choices work for different people. And that your kids have somehow grown up to be pretty spectacular, whatever diapers you used, or mistakes you made.

That’s what it’s like with chickens. I wanted chickens for twenty years, and was afraid I didn’t know enough about them to do it. I will forever be grateful to Lisa Steele for sharing her experiences at Fresh Eggs Daily, which is what gave me the confidence to try. There are a lot of different ways to raise chickens. But it’s not as complicated as it seems. And you have to figure out what works for you. Want to keep the little ones inside to cuddle and stay warm and get tame? Great! Want to raise them in a grow out pen or a barn? Sure! Want to have your hen be mama? That works too! Medicated, vaccinated, fed only organic – all reasonable choices. Three hens in your urban backyard, or too many to count, with roosters, on rolling green acres, are both perfectly reasonable. Heritage breed show chicks, hatchery eggs for incubating, a handful of fuzzy yellow babies from the feed store bin – will all be lovely, spectacular, chickens.

So I’m not going to tell you what you ought to do, just what works for me. It doesn’t all work out perfectly. My kids have learned the phrase “farm strong”, because sometimes chickens die. But we have also each held a small chick to our chest until the chirping stopped and it fell fast asleep against us, warm and soft. We have had the magical joy of a first egg. We have laughed at their dinosaur run, and learned their personalities, and hunted for precious eggs hidden in the straw. My hope is that I will give someone else the confidence to give it a try. If you have questions, I’m happy to answer them. But also, you will figure out what works for you, and it will be fine. You can do this! ❤️

Stay tuned for the first steps of getting set up for baby chicks…

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #cooptofork #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #prettycoop #coopdreams #coopgoals #prettyeggs #chicks

Chickens, Keeping Chickens

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! ❤️🐔❤️🐔❤️

So many people have asked about these gorgeous chocolate eggs, I want to take a moment to let y’all know about them.

They are from Fat Hen Farms in Connecticut. Bernard started out breeding Black Copper Marans for their beautiful dark chocolate colored eggs. He gradually added on several other of my most favorite breeds, each known for their luscious egg colors, including Lavender Orpingtons, Blue Wheatens, Easter Eggers, and Deathlayers, (whose name always makes me think of a Star Wars-esque chicken villain! 😂 Actually, they are called Deathlayers because, unlike most hens who only lay for a couple years, the Deathlayers supposedly lay until their death.)

Bernard meticulously keeps and breeds small flocks for egg vibrancy. His approach is thoughtful and intelligent. At age 24, Bernard is not only a farmer, but also a pre-med student, so he consults with his professors about breeding projects. He focuses on egg color, but also chicken health and standards. I’ve been impressed by Fat Hen Farms ever since I came across a picture of his amazing egg colors, and had to learn more! Full disclosure: I’ve never actually spoken with Bernard – he’s probably wondering who this crazy chicken lady is who’s going all fangirl on him. 😂 The truth is I’m a little infatuated with his eggs. Sadly, but understandably, there are waiting lists for his hatching eggs and chicks. But a girl can dream, can’t she….. I recommend checking out his page, I’ve learned so much from it!

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #marans #chocolateeggs #fresheggs #cooptofork #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #coopdreams #coopgoals #prettyeggs #chicks

Chickens, Keeping Chickens

What Color Eggs Will She Lay?

Jessica Rankin asked what color eggs her new little Silver Laced Wyandottes will lay? It’s such an interesting question, because the color isn’t as certain as it is for other breeds. Some breeders say “cream”, some say “pale brown”. Our Hermia lays eggs that almost have a pinkish hue. That’s her egg from yesterday in the front.

One of the reasons we got so many different breeds is that I love seeing all of our eggs being different colors. But also, I just think Hermia is so pretty. I mean, just look at those feathers!! 😍

Good luck with your Wyandottes Jessica! Send us a picture when they start laying!

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #cooptofork #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #prettycoop #coopdreams #coopgoals #prettyeggs #chicks

Chickens, Keeping Chickens

Silver Laced Wyandotte

This is Hermia, our little Silver Laced Wyandotte. She’s a bit shy, but soooooo pretty!

When we first got chickens, I didn’t know much about breeds so decided to start with one each of different breeds, to get to know them better. It’s been fun to get all different color eggs. Also, it sure does make it easy to tell them apart!

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #chickens #eggs #cooptofork #coop #barn #farmlife #coopdreams #coopgoals

Chickens, Keeping Chickens

Blue Egg Breeds

I am still learning about this myself, but here’s my understanding of it:

Auracanas lay blue eggs, but are difficult to raise as they die easily in the shell, and are only available through breeders. Auracanas have ear tufts. Auracanas only lay blue eggs.

Ameraucanas are a more hardy, and common, breed, which I believe is derived from Auracanas genes. I have found excellent Ameraucana chicks at o ur local feed store. Ameraucanas have muffs and a beard, rather than ear tufts. You can see the muff and beard on my Ameraucana, Helena, in the picture. They lay blue, or grey-blue eggs.

Easter Eggers are a mixed breed of chicken which do not conform to any show standards, but are great coop chickens. Many feed stores and hatcheries mistakenly label their Easter Eggers as Ameraucanas. If you are buying them for your own back yard, it doesn’t really matter. If you want a show chicken, you’ll want to be careful to verify the breed. Easter Eggers lay blue, green, pink, olive, or cream eggs. You never really know what color a feed store Easter Egger chick will grow up to lay. But I have heard what may be an old farmer’s wives tale that the color of the legs or ears of the chick will predict the color egg they will lay.

Finally, there are the Cream Legbars. They are an English breed and on my wishlist! They are autosexing (which means you can tell the sex of the chick as soon as it is born). They are supposed to be friendly and smart, and they always lay some shade of blue egg.

Please let me know if you have information to add!

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #minihorse #hobbithorse #horses #fresheggs #cooptofork #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #prettycoop #coopdreams #coopgoals #prettyeggs #chicks