Monday, May 30, 2011

Construction Part 1

After talking about chickens for a very long time, we finally agreed to invest the time and money into a coop. Since we had wanted a greenhouse too, we decided to do it all at once this spring. On Easter weekend Whitney's parents came over and helped us with the building. I really enjoyed learning a lot about building from Gary, and we all spent some good time togther.

We had asked around for people getting rid of stuff, so were able to find free windows, shingles, tar paper, a door and some of the lumber. This really helped us keep some of the cost down.

We built the 8' x 8' coop floor and walls on the cement driveway and then moved them into place after leveling the spot. The coop was build like a mini house, complete with insulation and electrical. We also framed in a chicken door and a special hatch for cleaning out the manure. We were pretty proud of the poop chute! This was supposed to be a quick project, but turned into the better part of a week. The next part was figuring out the greenhouse...

More on that later.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Friends

After the first few days, we are glad to say everybody is alive and well. The chicks are starting to show some early developments. They run now, out of the blue. One minute they will be asleep standing or squatting on the floor and the next they are running across the brooder. Then they'll stop and go along pecking and peeping like nothing happened. Also they've starting preening and stretching a lot, and they love to scratch. Small things of course, but fun to witness.
Today, Whitney stopped by the feed store and heard from the owner that she had some chicks who needed a home. It turns out the other box at the post office was bound for Plains also. The chicks arrived only the person who had ordered them decided he didn't want them afterall. The feed store lady was in a tight spot, trying to find homes for these chicks. Whitney went to work calling around and was able to place many of the chicks with her chicken loving friends. Some of them needed to be brooded, so another 5 came to our place. These chicks were Barred Plymouth Rocks and Road Island Reds. We already had a bunch of Barred Rocks, but had not ordered Road Island Reds. The funny thing was that these red chicks look identicle to our mystery chicks. So now we know we got some reds along with others in our order. Some chicks were given to a friend already, and some are remaining here to be brooded. Tonight there are 28 chicks in the coop, so far so good!

First Introductions

This week our chicks arrived from the hatchery. They pecked their way out of a shell, were sexed and sorted, then placed in a box and mailed to us. Since a chick is hatched with no need for food or water in the first 48 hours, this really wasn't that stressfull, but is still amazing. We got the call at 9pm thursday that the chicks were in Missoula and we could come get them from the post office if we wanted. Or we could wait and they would arrive in Plains the following morning. The post office man was nice and said ours looked good, but the other box he had recieved didn't look so good, he thought some had died. He also said that he'd find something to put over them to keep the wind off. Chicks have to be kept above 95 degrees for the first week and in light of our recent cool wet weather Whitney decided that a run to Missoula was in order. She had planned and waited too long to have her chicks die on a post office loading dock. So as I went to bed in preparation for another 0530 work day Whitney headed to rescue the chicks. She found them at the post office safe and sound and brought the peeping box home to the brooder ready with heat lamps, making it home around midnight - thirty. I got up as she was headed to bed, exhausted but satisfied that all the chicks were safe and healthy. We had ordered 25, but the hatchery sent 29. Maybe because it's late in the chick season, or maybe because some do die often, but in this case all survived. Whitney spent the first day with them introducing them to the water and food and making certain that the temperature stayed constant. At the end of the first day she decided all four of the varieties she ordered were there, plus a few mystery chicks.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blog comes back to life!

Kyle and I have decided to get back into our blog after a year break, oops! Since the last post we have expanded our garden, built a greenhouse and a chicken coop. The 25 baby chicks will arrive in 3 days and I am terrified! 25 little lives in my hands is making me feel not near prepared enough. Because the chickens and garden have already taken up such a huge chunk of our lives, we are going to dedicate the blog to our food raising endeavors! I hope that our garden updates and stories of chick antics are interesting enough. I look forward to reporting on baby chicks soon!