We are proud new chicken owners. It happened suddenly and a bit unexpectedly. We had stopped into our local (40 minutes away) Tractor Supply Company to grab some supplies. It also happened to be the day they got chickens in.
We watched the baby chicks and pined over them, but agreed we weren't ready. While our landlord had approved us keeping chickens on the property, we still felt unprepared. Sure, I had spent many nights reading chicken blogs, but that doesn't prepare you for raising them. Really, nothing can fully prepare you for raising anything.
As we stared at the chirping fluffy babies, an employee came over to provide information about the various breeds. They had silkies, although unsexed. And Brahmas, Plymouth Barred Rocks, Golden Sex Links, Copper Marans, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Leghorns, Cornishes, on and on and on. Some were sexed, others were not. She told us these birds wouldn't last long; everyone will come flooding in for these heritage breeds.
And so next thing we knew, we were walking out of Tractor Supply with two armfuls of supplies and a box of 5 baby chicks. One Brahma- Bug, Gold Sex Link- Turbo, Golden Laced Wyandotte- Dixie, Barred Rock- Dot & a Copper Maran- Petey. All future hens, and the latest additions to our family.
That was a month ago, and we are still in the process of building the run and coop. In fact our 1/2 inch welded wire just arrived in the mail, and the project is moving forward.
We put a call out on Instagram story for free building supplies in the high desert, and were able to salvage some 2x4's, wood siding, and pieces of broken slate from a barn like motel in Joshua Tree. I'll dive into our build in another blog post. I want to detail our process for y'all (with plenty of photos of course).
Neither of us had owned chickens before. We took the babies home and stared at them for hours, watching them doze off while in the middle of eating. Their little heads would wilt to the floor, awakening themselves in surprise.
Today, we start assembling and building the chicken run and coop. They are loosing their down, and soft brilliantly colored feather have moved in. Each hen's personality is starting to develop. Dixie is tenacious and curious, Bug and Turbo love to fly across their brooder and cuddle up for pets, Petey takes time to warm up, and Dot is a total sweetie.
baby bug 2 days old and 1 month old
They've seemingly become chickens over night, as you can see from photos. A few mornings we have gone into the spare room only to find Bug wandering around outside of her pen. Yesterday, I was sitting with them as I wrote e-mails, and watched as Dixie flew up onto the wooden bar that her food and water hangs from.
We take them outside so they can become adjusted to the desert environment, and they huddle around us, opening their wings a bit to be pet. Dot found a fuzz, and ran around with it in her mouth as the other 4 chased her and pecked at her for the fuzz.
Just yesterday, I noticed Petey making herself a nest out of the pine shavings. Turbo and Bug followed suit, and all three laid in their nest as if they were sitting atop an egg.
Raising chickens is easy, but just like anything else it requires attention. I know my chickens personalities through daily observation. I handle them, pet them, pick them up and play with them. Chickens are beautiful, funny animals that when shown proper care, will be amazing pets! They copy each other easily, (which is why we need to get this chicken run completed soon before they all start escaping the brooder), and get excited every time I enter the room.
We haven't had a single issue with the chickies yet, but moving them outside is a dangerous endeavor that we have been planning for weeks. We live at the base of a mountain range that is protected National Park land. That means bob cats, coyotes, mountain lions, snakes, and who knows other predators, call our neighborhood home. We are not in the business of hurting natural predators- in fact we realize we are introducing a non-native species to the area, which will warrant constant protection. I'm excited to share our coop + run build with you all once the project is completed, so stay tuned!