Long story short -> I bought baby chicks!
Trouble is cheap! I was surprised to learn that it only cost $47 to get started with keeping chickens. Here's the breakdown.
Buff Orpington chicks $2.89 each
White Leghorn chicks $1.09 each
25 lbs. bagged food $4
"Scratch" (cracked corn) 32 cents
Heat light bulb $7.50
Wood shavings $6.50
***Two Days Later***
I seemed to have misjudged my experience caring for birds. I've had pet birds since I was 10. Malachi was my little blue parakeet that lived for a long, long time. I also had cockatiels (not my favorite). My grandpa had an African Grey which was the coolest, smartest bird ever and I still tell stories about "Hubert." I got "Ferd" our little green lovebird, when I was in college. She was a piece of work. I'll just leave it at that. And we have a 12-year-old, Hahn's Macaw that we've had since she was a baby and she could live to age sixty. So, I guess you could say that I have an extensive avian history. I just never really thought if it that way. Hopefully, my experience will serve me well.
I can already tell that the plastic box that the birds are in, will be outgrown in a couple days. Even after having the chicks for only two days, they are noticeably bigger. Today, I need to figure out what their next living arrangement will be.
We have all but the two Buff Orpington's named. I'll share the names soon.
It's apparent that I'll have to come up with a system that takes advantage of the chicken compost, and soon, because as I've been warned by... everyone... "chickens poop A LOT."
*** Day Six ***
I've been a "chicken farmer" as my husband calls it, for six days now and I've learned a lot.
Most important fact so far: When the wood shavings get wet with poop-water, the smell gets nasty. Keep the wood chips dry if possible.
The birds were cramped in their plastic crate, so we just added another crate and split them up. The crates are clear, so they can all see their bird friends. And we regularly switch birds/ crates.
The two White Leghorns and Buff Orpingtons look exactly alike at the moment, but we named them all anyway.
White Leghorns (light yellow) "Flip-Flap" and "Princess-Pecks-A Lot"
Buff Orpingtons (darker yellow) "Buffy" and "Stella"
Sicilian Buttercup (speckled) "Buttercup"
Silkie Bantam (white with black skin) "Daisy"
And that concludes Week One with chicks!
I went to my dad's house today, dragging along all my extra wood from other projects. We took a look at what spare lumber he had, looked at a doghouse on his property and perused my favorite coops on the internet. We settled on an adorable style from Saltbox designs. We were concerned about how well the coop would hold up in the winter, as well as the size of the run. Our run needs to be attached to the coop and extend beyond it. The Saltbox coop is around $700, but I'm hoping we can used spare wood and not break the bank here.
We took a ride to the feed store to do some more coop research, but as soon as I got in there, the red, incubator lights sucked me in and I saw all the chicks and that was it.
The fact that I was (am) clueless about raising chickens, despite doing months of research caused me to hesitate, but not by much. I got the White Leghorns because they were so darn cute and the Orpingtons because they're, like, sooo popular (flips hair). Both types are cold hardy, which is a concern of mine because I get a lot of snow at my house. They are also good layers.
My dad stood by, only a little concerned about my husband's reaction when I'd be bringing chicks home.
We put the chicks in a plastic box and decided to build the coop another day. The birds will be indoors for another 10 weeks anyway, so we've got TONS of time. (Famous last words.)