A couple weeks ago my friend gave me a stack of magazines she thought I’d enjoy. She knows me so well. The magazine is MaryJanes Farm and I love it! MaryJane has a zeal for life and beauty and organic and green farm living. She finds ways to make her messages relevant even for those of us who will probably never ever have the joy of living on a farm. She respects that deep inner connection that some seem to have with nature and simple living. She respects that there are people out there who don’t have any desire or wherewithal to live a farm life yet want to find ways to disconnect from the “plugged-in” nature of our culture and just slow down.
Anyway. MaryJane likes chickens. I read several articles devoted to raising chickens in the typical urban backyard. For several years I’ve been dreaming of having backyard chickens and have repeatedly let the opportunity slip through my fingers. Spring would come and I would still not have a coop built. Spring would go and baby chicks were no longer available at the feed store. “Next year” became my consoling thought.
After reading a few of Maryjane’s articles (and not being happy spending $5/dozen organic/local/free range eggs) I went on an online information hunt and stumbled across a blog (or two hundred) on the subject and learned that the chicks need to remain indoors (or in a warm place) until they’re around 6 weeks old. Well. Heck. I can make that happen! Six to eight weeks is plenty of time to make a coop come together and break up the cost of materials over two months instead of in one lump. Woo Hoo!
First thing I needed was to make sure I had a decent place to keep the chickies warm when we got them home (we’re still having lows in the teens…shiver). I pulled out the old aquarium and heat lamp we used for my sons snake and we were in business! I went on a hunt for a bigger brooder yesterday. I was at a “big box” store and guess what I found sitting empty in the garden center? Yep. A BIG BOX! heh heh. I asked the nearest employee if I could have it and he even helped me take it to the car. I’m glad I was thinking clear enough to grab the divider insert. Without the divider insert the box is about 4′x 4′. I think that might just be a bit of overkill for these little chicks – but I do know they’ll grow into the space eventually. The picture is awful – but at least you can see how much space they have now and get an idea just how big this box is. I think I could house a small cow in the remaining section. My husband is paranoid that I might.
Are you thinking of raising a few chickens? Don’t have a clue where to start? Urban Chicken Keeping and My Pet Chicken are two great place to gather knowledge. Also: Find out if it is even permissible in your city. It’s kind of a no-brainer that roosters are almost a universal no-no within city limits. But some cities don’t even allow hens.
Backyard Chickens is also a great resource.
And don’t forget that old faithful The Library.
So, tell me. Am I crazy? My husband sure thinks so.