Chickens, Getting Started with Chicks, Keeping Chickens, Things I Like

The Heat Source

Keeping chicks warm is one of the most important parts of raising new chicks.

Baby chicks need at least part of their coop to be 95-100 degrees for the first two weeks. Then it should be reduced by 5 degrees a week, for a month, until their feathers have grown in.

We keep our youngest baby chicks in front of the fireplace, which, in the winter, always has a pilot light lit and is warm. I’ve made a window in one side, with hardware cloth and duct tape, to allow the warm air in. I had read horror stories of fires started by heat lamps, and decided they were too risky. So our first batch of chicks were warmed by the fireplace, and a waterproof, fire-safe, pet-warming pad, under half the crate (only half, so that they could move away from it if they got too hot). There was a lot of starting and stopping the gas fire, worrying that they were too hot or too cold.

But a more consistent heat source would make life easier for everyone. Last year I bought a brooder plate. It was about $60, which is more than I usually spend on chicken supplies. But it has been worth it. It’s safe, holds a steady temperature, and adjusts higher as they grow. I really like it.

I also put a sticker thermometer on the inside of the box, to easily keep an eye on the temperature. Even so, we still keep them by the fire when they are tiny. It’s cozy there, and so fun to watch them!

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

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, Silly Chickens

Blue Silkie

Oh my goodness!! I almost forgot about this! This right here is why I wanted a silkie chicken!

It was an overnight pioneer historical re-enactment at Sutter’s Fort with the all the kids. Daisy fell in love with this fluffball of a chicken! She followed it around all day.

(And, by the way, wasn’t she the most adorable doll-baby prairie girl?) ❤️❤️❤️

And also, no, I won’t be posting pictures of me in my pioneer getup after two muddy days of no sleep. 😂

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

Chickens, Garden, Silly Chickens, Things I Like

Flyte So Fancy!

Oh my gosh you guys!!! I have found the most amazing, in-your-fantasy-life-this-is-where-you-will-buy-all-your-chicken-supplies website! 😍😍😍 You have to check it out! It’s called Flyte so Fancy. https://www.flytesofancy.co.uk/index.html

Tragically, unless you live in England, it can only be in your fantasy life. Flyte So Fancy, I think I love your coops more than anything in the world. I think you need to expand your market to the U.S., and that you should start by sending me a coop that I can share with the thousands of people who would also fall in love with your coops here!! 😘 😁)

In the meantime, dear readers, you’re welcome for many hours worth of weekend chicken daydreaming on their site. (And it’s not just the pictures, the articles are really good too! Seriously!! 😂)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pretend that I’m Princess Kate, and my countryside cottage needs a coop. ❤️❤️❤️😁

https://www.flytesofancy.co.uk/chickenhouses/The_Gypsy_Daydream.html

#urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #cooptofork #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #prettycoop #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