Spring isn’t here officially yet, but it feels like it. Everything is budding and trying to bloom so the pollen count is already ridiculous and we’re hitting temps in the 70s (we’re just outside of Atlanta, GA). I’m not going to run out and plant anything yet, because I know better. There has been blizzards in March and April and while I don’t *think* thats happening this year, I’m not going to chance it. Still, the weather is gorgeous. I spent Saturday raking up the back yard and planning what I want to do. It includes additional fencing in a large chunk of the backyard so the ladies have their own space. We’ve had some close calls with people accidentally letting the dogs out when the girls were free ranging. I also want (one or three) more chickens. I’ve read that it is better to have even numbers when you have fewer chickens so that they don’t gang up on one which is what happens now with having three.
Other than that I’m debating on what I want to plant. I was thinking of peppers (pepperoncini and maybe one other), some sort of tomato, green beans, pumpkins for Halloween, strawberries, and maybe a birdhouse or luffa gourd. Is that too much though? Oh and various herbs in containers. I also want to plant all of this in raised beds that we build in the front yard. I’m thinking the front to keep out the chickens and dogs.
Are you planning your summer garden yet? What are you planting?
For years and years, I’ve wanted a flock of chickens in the backyard, as pets and for egg production. Hubby was skeptical, I think because of the cost and the work involved. Still, I dreamed, read homesteading websites, stalked Instagram feeds of people with chickens, and lurked on the Backyard Chickens forum.
When we moved, I started trying to come up with a chicken coop plan. We have an old playhouse we wanted to use and had started researching. One night I was on e-Bay though and found a local seller trying to sell 5 chicken coops for $99 each. They were A-frame tractors so they would be easily movable, although only hold a few chickens. I messaged the seller and made a deal to buy two of them for $150.
A few weeks later, I was on Facebook and someone posted in a local group that they needed to re-home their flock of 11 chickens of various breeds. I texted Hubby and he reluctantly agreed that we could go take a look. I messaged the lady and made arrangements. Since I wouldn’t have time to go home for cat carriers, I snagged some large boxes and poked holes for air in them.
The chicken lady had a huge coop and a fantastic set up. She pointed out the different types of chickens and told me about each one. I picked a Rhode Island Red that had been rescued from an overcrowded farm, an Easter Egger, and what I think she said was an Orpington mix. We popped them in the boxes and headed home.
One our way home, we stopped and picked the boys up from daycare. We did not tell them what was in the boxes. When we got home, we set the boxes down in the backyard and let them boys take the lids off.
They did not come with names and we had fun coming up with what to call them. The RIR is now Gladys, the Orpington is Gertrude, and the little gray Easter Egger is Bernadette.
The boys love them. Orion especially, and he is great at helping catch them when it is time to put them up. “Mama! Catch chickens! Orion catch chickens!” It is the cutest thing, and anything that gets him to practice talking is a miracle. He has a speech delay and has had speech therapy but is still making progress.
I will admit, that to my embarrassment, I was a little afraid of them at first. They were squawky, and unfriendly, and Gertrude was so loud when we’d get close. Things are calming down now that they know we’re nice and give them treats. So far I’ve learned that they like strawberries, even just the tops I cut off for the kids. They also liked Sebastian’s leftover peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich. Bananas, oranges, and apple chunks were not a hit.
For the first 2 weeks, we didn’t get any eggs which I expected since they were traumatized with the move. Then we started getting one a day. I suspect it is Gladys. She was the quickest to catch on to the humans=treats thing and is now the friendliest.
I love the chicken tractor because we can move it around the yard every few days to give them some new green space and a clean floor. I’m using wood shavings inside the coop and just add a little layer every day and then clean it out on the weekends. The dirty shavings go in my compost bin.
It has been about 3 weeks and we’re up to a dozen eggs now. The girls are getting used to us but I need to plan an enclosure around their coop so they can get out and about without us worrying about the dogs.
OK, I’ve rambled enough about our new ladies. If you have a flock, please tell me about them! What treats do they like?