October 19, 2013

A cluck cluck here...

Back in the early spring, the farm stores filled with tiny, cute baby chickens and ducks. Growing up I always wanted to take some home. In 5th grade we did a class project where we got to hatch chicks and then parent permitting we got to take them home. My parents were not permitting at the time. No cute little chick for me. 

In general, I have not been excited about the whole becoming an adult thing, but sometimes it works out in my favor. Tyler and I started thinking about getting a small brood of chicks and when we decided to go for it, there was no one to tell us no. It was our adult decision to make!

Mid March, Alesha came to visit and she got to be a part of our chicken adoption process. We got a chicken magazine (from Barnes and Noble, because when we asked where they were at Home Depot they looked at us like we had two heads. We know we've seen them there before, also Lowes has them.) and did a little research as to what kind we wanted. 

The Ameraucanas chicken is what we decided on. Pullets only (baby girls only). They are medium/small chickens and they are often called Easter-Eggers because their eggs are often tinted blue and green. 

My sister Erin was still working at Buchheit at the time, so she did some scouting for us when she got to work over the weekend, sure enough they had a new batch of Ameraucanas pullets.  So we headed to Buchheits. 

{ Alesha and a duckling }
We picked out five little ladies because you cannot legally buy chickens in quantities less than five in Illinois. We got a variety of colors. Tyler and I each picked two and Alesha picked one. We bought food, a water dish, and a heat lamp and we were set. We took them straight over to my parents house as we were going up for dinner, so they got to meet their grand-chicks right away. 

We named them with Greek god insiration. From left to right: Hades, Artemis, Nyx, Aura, and Athena

Nyx was an early lover of perching, sitting on the side of their bin. 

Tyler and Alesha started building a stylish A-frame when I was at work. The bottom is open to the ground and there is a second floor where they can go to get away from the elements and nest.  We finished it off with some waterproof roofing and a nice coat of yellow paint. By the end of April the ladies (as we call them) were ready to inhabit their coop.

{ They grow so fast! }

We learned the hard way that chicken wire works great to keep the chickens in, but not so great to keep other animals out. One day when we got home from work our neighbors dog Jessie was laying out back. I didn't think much of it and called her over and told Tyler to come say Hi to Jessie. As I was telling him that she was out back, it started dawning on me. I hadn't checked the chickens, and Jessie is  border collie... we looked at the coop and sure enough the upstairs window was pushed in and one side of the coop was busted out. No chickens in sight. 

She got three of them. Athena, Aura, and Artemis. It was gruesome. 

Two survived. They somehow escaped and hid under the house. Once Tyler was down walking around, they came out to say hi. Hades and Nyx.

We reinforced the coop. It now has chicken wire and a wire mesh covering the sides. One other day we came home and all the roofing materials were ripped off and there were some gnawing marks on the wood, but our chickens were safe!

Tyler had made them nesting boxes and we set out a couple golf balls to set an example. Then, in early September we got a surprise. Our first egg!

And then the next day, another! One lays blue eggs and the other slightly greenish. Ever since we've been getting a steady supply of Easter eggs, one to two a day. We keep them in a bowl on our counter (you don't have to refrigerate eggs fresh from the chicken) and once we get over eight we generally make a quiche. So far we've been keeping up with them okay, but the flow of eggs from two chickens is a lot and I can't imagine how many we would have if we still had all five ladies. Come Easter I'm sure we could sell them as pre-decorated eggs...

And speaking of eggs, we've been gone for the last two days so I'm sure there are quite a few waiting to be collected and turned into a late breakfast. We're off for our regular egg hunt!


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