About two years ago, my best friend and I became infatuated with the idea of being chicken owners. She’s already in a rural setting, but inhibited by HOA rules from owning them, and I was living in a downtown area and physically incapable of owning chickens. So we both did research and dreamed of fresh eggs and crowing and chicken shit and lady hens named Mable and Gertrude. When my partner and I became seriously invested in the idea of owning a farm, my BFF and I decided that Friendship Chickens Unincorporated needed a reality, and so that’s where we’re headed. We’ve done the reading, we’ve done the research, we’ve talked to chicken enthusiasts and owners.
From a sustainability standpoint, there’s no getting away from the fact that chickens are king. They will be used for eggs and when they are no longer useful for that, they will be used for meat. My bestie might persuade me to spare her hens from the chopping block. But as far as we’re concerned (me and A), they’re fair game after the eggs stop.
My fiance and I started by converting an old goat barn into a chicken coop. We have galvanized tin sheets protecting most of the structure, with chicken wire and hardware cloth protecting the home-made door. Believe it or not, the door is level to the funny old building! (We’re pretty proud of that.) There’s chicken wire (that you can’t see in the photo) protecting the upper part of the structure. We have six plastic milk crates set lined with hay and 2×4’s to allow access to the hens, and to prevent the eggs from rolling out. There is a lot of perch area and the structure is closeable, so at night when the chickens are not roaming the yard they’ll be safe from predators. They’re going to be free-range with supplemental feed and water. Their runs are fenced to 7′ high, and we’re hoping that our roaming dog and the proposed rooster keep hawks from getting young chickens. I’ve been hoarding egg cartons since June. 🙂
Next up: The hens!! We’re going Craigslist for the initial layers, maybe two or three (picking them up and bringing them home in cleaned out cat carriers). On February 4, when the bestie and her husband visit, we’ll pick those up and will be ordering chicks through the mail to raise in a brooder, then set in the chicken yard. If the initial layers are jerk-faces, they’ll be the first ones on our table, with the chicks being hand-raised and guaranteed sweet. That’s the hope!
A really really wants a rooster, so we’ll get one. I was against the idea until I read that they help prevent fighting amongst the hens, are great “watch dogs” (crowing when there’s an intruder), and will actually defend the flock against predators. So, go rooster!