Gettin' Chickens!

The adventures of a busy, silly family who decide to add chickens to their funny farm!

BROODER BOX BASICS

Our brooder box had warmed up to about 90 degrees, so it was warm enough to put our little chicks in.  Here is a picture of the prepared box:004

We used a 50-gallon storage bin for the brooder, filling it with about an inch of pine shavings for bedding at the bottom.  Then we added their food and water containers, a roosting bar to teach them how to roost, a heat lamp at the opposite end from their water, and a thermometer at each end of the box.

Another view of the box set up in our playroom.

Another view of the box set up in our playroom.

Next, I filled their feeder with chick starter/grower.  Again, I want to stress that it’s very important you store your chick’s food in a cool, dry, not damp in the least kind of place.  We made the mistake of storing the bag of food we bought on the concrete floor of our garage, and apparently Florida humidity is nothing to mess around with, and our starter feed went bad.  So we purchased a metal can from the feed supply store to keep it air-tight and dry.

Better to be safe than sorry...I would have felt horrible if we had fed our chicks moldy food!

Better to be safe than sorry…I would have felt horrible if we had fed our chicks moldy food!

After that, I prepared their water.  We bought electrolyte packets to put in the water.  One packet goes in a gallon of water and it makes it orange.  Like chick Gatorade.  🙂

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THEY’RE HOME!

I got a call from our local post office late this morning saying, “Hi ma’am, your live chicks are here and ready for pick up.”  Oh. My. Gosh.  They’re a day EARLY!!  I went straight into panic mode and called my husband to get a game plan going.  We decided since we didn’t have the 100-watt bulb yet that I would set up the red bulb and get it on and warming up the brooder.  I closed the air conditioning vent to that room and shut the door so it could get as warm as it could, and I decided to wait and check it after I ate lunch.  I kept checking the temperature of the box and it was gradually climbing upward, but it was still only 88 degrees and I needed it to be at least 90.  I didn’t want to wait too much longer, as I figured they would be better off at home in their warm brooder than in a cold box in the post office, so I went to go get them.

When I arrived at the post office and told them I had the baby chicks, the lady said, “Awww yesssss!” and went to get them.  I could hear their tiny (but surprisingly loud!) peeps as she carried their box down the hall to me.  They came in a small cardboard box with airholes all over it and the lid could be lifted up a tad on one corner and she asked if she could take a peek.  We did and they were so tiny and precious!  The postal lady and I had a moment together.

This is the box they are shipped in!

This is the box they are shipped in!

I drove like a new mother coming home with her baby from the hospital.  They were peeping up a storm the entire ride in the car.   Once inside, I cut open the lid and saw our six new babies all huddled together in a feathery, peeping mass.  I knew they were cold but I had to take a picture before I put them in the brooder box!!

Tadaaaa!

Tadaaaa!

 

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Happy Birthday, Chicks!

We got a call from Meyer Hatchery Monday saying they had an unexpected overage of chicks born that day.  All six different types we had ordered were ready to go if we wanted them…we said to send them on down to Florida!  She said we could expect them to arrive at our local post office on Thursday.

My husband and daughters were doing the happy dance(and the chicken dance)  all over the house when I hung up the phone!  We decided to get their brooder box all set up and ready to go to make sure we had all we needed.  We decided that the safest and most climate controlled place for them was our playroom, which is located right between my two girls’ bedrooms (neutral ground, as opposed to putting them in my older daughter’s bathroom as we had first discussed…not a winning solution to my youngest daughter!).  Fortunately, we are getting ready to do some construction on that side of the house in a few weeks, so we have been moving things out of that room and it’s nearly empty at this point.  We moved a small table in there, set a giant 50-gallon clear storage box on it and put in our bedding, two thermometers, their water container and the feeder, and a roosting bar.  Next, we hooked up a heat lamp but replaced the bulb with a 60-watt bulb and started recording the temperature.  It wasn’t getting warm enough, so my husband said he would go buy a 100-watt bulb and try that the following morning.

They decided to check the chick starter food we had purchased in March when we got some of the other supplies…apparently you can’t store chicken feed in the bag on the garage floor.  It had mildewed and smelled yucky, so in the garbage it went, and off to the feed supply store the three of them went to get some more!  While there, they got more starter feed, as well as some packets to add electrolytes to the water (a suggestion made by the hatchery).

Now I think we are all set for our new babies to come home!  This is so exciting!

Our brooder box

Our brooder box

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CHECK THIS OUT!

I came across an interesting website that talks about getting baby chicks in the mail.  I love getting as much information as possible about what to expect in 10 weeks when our babies arrive.  Here is the  website in case you are interested in reading too!

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“You WHAT….?”

That was my response that echoed throughout IKEA today when my husband called me as I shopped and said, “Umm…I called Meyer Hatchery and ordered two more chicks…”  Seriously?!  And then there were six…

In his defense, he did it in case we had any casualties in the shipping of them, and this way no one was without a chicken.  And we worried if we were to order any new chicks that the flock wouldn’t accept the new ones.  SO…we are getting two more little babies in June!

The first is going to be a Barred Rock.  These are good egg layers and are peaceful birds from what I hear.  Okay, I’m down with that (peaceful isn’t a word used to describe any of the breathing beings at our house).

Barred Rock Hen

Barred Rock Hen

The second one is going to be a White Cochin.  These have feathery legs and feet.  I’m REALLY super-excited to get one of these.  They look adorable!!

White Cochin

White Cochin

So there you have it.  We will have a multi-cultural flock.  I can’t wait to get to know their personalities!  Now…on to naming them all!

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PICKIN’ CHICKENS!!

For a couple of months we have been researching the type of chicken we would like to get.  It would be for my daughter’s agriculture class, would stay at the school for the most part and would be a show chicken that she would get to show in the State Fair next year.  After researching all the different kinds of chickens out there, she decided she liked the Golden Spangled Hamburg.  When we looked up the availability of that kind, we found none were available in the time frame we needed it.

Golden Spangled Hamburg Hen

Golden Spangled Hamburg Hen

Sooo, onto the next type. Well, as we researched some more, we kept reading that you should never just have ONE chicken. They might get lonely. Apparently chickens have feelings. Who knew?! So now we decided we would get two….until someone said, “Well what if one dies?  The other one will be sad and lonely!”  and then there were three.  But since we are a family of FOUR, wouldn’t it make more sense if we got one for each of us?  I didn’t think so either, but then there were four.  So now we needed to pick four different types of chickens.  This made it fun, because we each got to pick the kinds we liked best.  Then we wrote them all down, voted on the most popular four among our lists, and here is what we came up with:

1. White Leghorn.  This is going to be my husband’s chicken.  He liked the clean look of them with the stark contrast of the red comb against the white feathers.  And they are great egg layers.

white leghorn

2. Buff Chantecler. This one will be mine. I originally wanted a Buff Orpington because I heard they were very docile and sweet. But alas, there weren’t any available in the time period we needed it, so my next choice was this one.  They lay light brown eggs and look very pretty!

buff

3. Barnevelder. This is going to be my older daughter’s bird.  It lays dark brown eggs and was very rare until recently when people wanted those famous dark brown eggs, and it has since gained popularity.

barnevelder

4. Blue Ameraucana. This birdy lays pretty blue eggs and has lovely gray-blue feathers! It has muffs, or little puffs of feathers, on the sides of it’s head, too!  This one will be my younger daughter’s chicky.

blue

So this will be our flock! My husband called Meyer Hatchery and ordered the birds.  Yes, I said ORDERED them.  Like ordering a pair of shoes.  Only these are birds.  I can’t believe this is how they do it!  The chicks will be hatched the second week of June, and will be mailed to us in a box when they are a day old.  We will be going to the local post office to pick up our Special Delivery!  It all seems so strange and scary.  The girls are afraid one of them will die from the stress of shipping them.  I sure hope not.  They are already becoming a part of our family and are our pets!

The girls are already working on names for our little girls!  I will post the names as soon as we have a final decision made. This is actually fun!

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A PREDATOR-PROOF PULLET PALACE

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Things are moving right along with the coop building and my husband and daughter are working on the run portion now.  Because we live in a rural area where the foxes, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes and hawks are ever-present, we are taking every precaution to make the run as predator-proof as possible.  They are so cute, going to the feed store together to get supplies and making decisions together.  She has also learned how to use power tools for the first time during this process! I love it.

My husband chose laminate flooring for easy cleanup.  I think it's hilarious.

My husband chose vinyl flooring for easy cleanup. I think it’s hilarious.

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My daughter hangs the outside chicken waterer under the coop. We’re all getting excited now that the final finishes are being put on!

My husband picked up some vinyl flooring that looks like bricks for the inside.  We read somewhere that vinyl makes it easier to clean, so there ya go.  I just went outside to check on the progress and he’s currently installing commercial vinyl baseboards!!  Absolutely hilarious.  But his reasoning makes perfect sense:  the vinyl baseboards and flooring will keep any…you know, icky stuff, off the walls and will make it easy to scoop or wipe clean (as you can tell, I have no clue at this point if you scoop the coop like a litter box or if you wash it out with a hose, or what.  I haven’t yet gotten to that part of Raising Chickens For Dummies.)

I still can’t believe we’re doing this…

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A COOP WITH NO NAME JUST ISN’T THE SAME…

Our beautiful new chicken coop is almost finished!! Here are some pictures of the new red paint job that took more than 4 coats to achieve.

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Now we’ve been toying with a name for this little chicken house for some time.    Here are the ones we’ve come up with so far:

1.  Coop Deville

2.  The Chicken Shack

3.  Chickenville

4. Chicken Towne

5.  The Little Red Barn

6.  The Red Roost Inn

7.  Coop Sweet Coop

8.  Chicken Run

I was sharing pictures of the newly completed coop with my cousin who lives in Alaska and owns chickens…and she remarked, “Wow, that’s the Pullet Palace!!” and so the name has stuck:  The Pullet Palace…at least for the first year, and then we’ll have to re-name it!

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IN A NEW COOP STATE OF MIND

Ah, our days have been filled with everything chicken coop-related lately!  It has really come along!

It's primed and ready for RED PAINT!

It’s primed and ready for RED PAINT!

After much negotiation and a family vote, we decided to paint the coop red with white trim.  My hubby brought home some color swatches from the paint section of Home Depot and again, after much negotiation and a family vote, we chose a nice bright barn-red color (it’s actually Behr Ruby Ring color)  and got started painting.  The guy at the paint counter warned us that it would take about 4 coats of paint to achieve the color we chose…and he wasn’t kidding!!

Coat #1 looks disgustingly fuscia...did we choose the wrong color?!

Coat #1 looks disgustingly fuscia…did we choose the wrong color?!

It's a family affair with everyone getting a turn at painting a coat!  (This is going to take awhile...)

It’s a family affair with everyone getting a turn at painting a coat! (This is going to take awhile…)

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Color is almost achieved!!

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A COOP TO BE RECKONED WITH

I showed my husband this blog I found with the mack daddy of all chicken coops this guy built!  I love it but knew it was too late (not to mention probably too expensive!) for us to make ours look like that one.  But I am on the hunt for a really cool cupula and chicken/rooster weathervane for the top of ours!

Ours is really coming along! Here are some pictures of the current progress…

It's looking like a little house now!  The nesting boxes are now in place (my hubby calls it the Bread Box) and the roofing is going on now.  It looks so cute!

It’s looking like a little house now! The nesting boxes are now in place (my hubby calls it the Bread Box) and the roofing is going on now. It looks so cute!

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My daughter has really learned a lot helping her daddy build this! It is turning out really cute, and is a lot bigger than I thought it would be!

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