Keeping Chickens – It’s All About Small Victories

Keeping Chickens – It’s All About Small Victories

WOOOOOHOOOOO! This month’s post is gunna be short and sweet but no less exciting 😉 But first a little back history to let you know why this girl is so excited! As I mentioned in March’s post Old Dirt, New Ideas, we wanted to try several ecofriendly, sustainable ways to improve our farm literally from the ground up. One such way was to rotate chickens in the pastures just a few days after moving the cattle out. The chickens would eat my nemesis (insects) in the field, scatter the cow manure evenly, eat weeds, aerate the field by scratching, and add their own rich manure.

Dominique Hen
Saw a bug!

But neither of us had ever raised chickens and didn’t want to jump into this endeavor unprepared. So after reading anything and everything I could about chickens I totally felt confident enough that I could keep some chickens alive. I then spent even more time picking the brains of friends and family that have chickens in order to design the perfect coop and flock. I compiled a list of breeds that would thrive in the oppressive Louisiana summers and would also (if all goes well) supply me with a nice collection of free range eggs.

Breed Order List
Breed Order List

I opted to practice my chicken-rearing skills with a small colorful flock housed in a small mobile chicken tractor I could pull around the yard. I wanted to start with a small flock so that I could learn about my chickens and make sure that I could even keep them alive. Lofty goals, I know. But if we succeed then we could move on to more chickens and a bigger chicken tractor!

The Chicken Tractor...be jealous
The Chicken Tractor…be jealous

After compiling my list of breeds that matched my needs I then scoured the hatcheries online. Cackle Hatchery bred many of the breeds on my list so I decided to order 18 female chicks from them to serve as the foundation of my flock. So on March 10th I got all excited and placed my order for my fluffy lil farm laborers!…Only to find that I couldn’t have picked a worse time to order them because EVERYONE else in the country had already ordered theirs and my order of puffy lil peeps wouldn’t arrive until JUNE! Of course they didn’t tell me this until after I purchased them.

My baby chicks finally arrived!
My baby chicks finally arrived!

Now I’m gunna let you in on a little secret…I’m NOT a patient person. AT ALL! So those 3 months of scratching days off the calendar until my chirpy cheeps arrived were agonizing!!! BUT it did give us plenty of time to get the mobile coop built. Also, in hind sight, getting the chicks in June made keeping them alive much easier because keeping them warm and dry was certainly not a problem. I never even had to use the heating lamp I bought.

Free Ranging
Free Ranging

 

So fast forward 5 and half months to now. They are still very much alive and are a fat, fluffy, bug-eating, mulch-scattering, pooping-wherever-they-want (well not everyone is perfect) flock of free-ranging beauties.

Peaking through the shutters from my office
The girls hanging out on the back porch. I’m peaking through the shutters from my office

Oh yeah! AND OUR FIRST EGG!!!!! Found an itty bitty butt nugget yesterday morning! I’m totally chocking this up as a success and today nobody can still my thunder!

MY FIRST EGG!!!
MY FIRST EGG!!!

For all my other crazy chicken folks out there, tell me about your little victories! I’d love to hear about your flock and firsts!

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