Chicken's are dirty birds! We kept the chicks in our laundry room and as they continued to grow, their bird dust/ dander was getting thicker everywhere in the house. I could feel it between my shoes and the floor. The kids had it all over their feet and socks and my husband was having serious allergic reactions.
I didn't want the chicks in the garage, so they found a new home in our garden shed.
I then had to use a wet towel to mop the laundry room from top to bottom.
The birds were still under the warm, red light in the shed. They lazed around in wood chips and tried their best to kick the chips into their water and food dishes.
As the weather warmed up, it was fun to watch the chicks run around in the yard. We could catch them easily and they liked to stick together. I used some spare vinyl-coated, wire fencing to make a little run. It gave them a chance to pick at the grass and dig for bugs.
The day came, when even the circular run was getting cramped and the birds took it upon themselves to fly out and explore the nearby forest.
The coop was well underway, but nowhere near being finished, so I used a plastic poultry fence to make a larger run under our deck. It wasn't pretty, but it was nice to give the birds some more space.
After a couple months of carrying six chickens back and forth to their run every day, the novelty wore off and I was desperate to finish the coop.
We've had the chicks for three weeks now and they're about four weeks old.
They are funny and love to lay against each other when they drift off to sleep. They look so snuggly!
All they do is eat, sleep, poop and peep, so they are pretty low-maintenance. I scrape out the wood shavings in their brooder about once a week and more if necessary.
I lost the thermometer that I'm supposed to be keeping track of their environment with, so I've been watching how close, or far they stay from the heat lamp. It's almost mid-June and in true Seattle-weather fashion, it's about 50 degrees and rainy outside. If the weather was warm and stable, I would consider putting them outside, but we don't have a home for them yet anyway...
I still haven't told my H.O.A. that I'm going to have birds. I'm assuming chickens are allowed, but there might be a limit to how many I can keep. I'm not super emotional about the birds, but after all the time and energy that's gone into keeping them, getting rid of any of the little buggers would break my heart.
I'll be crafting a coop together in a couple weeks and hopefully around that time, the chicken run will be in progress as well. The coop will be nearby, so I can keep a close eye on the birds from inside my house.
The kids love to say "hi" to the birds, so we've had to make sure there's no mouth-to-bird contact (no kisses!) We also wash hands before and after touching the chicks.
The birds are figuring out their pecking order, which has been interesting because the bossy chick (our Sicilian Buttercup- the one with the black spots) is also the wimpiest. She'll jump behind her friends to hide from danger, but she'll harass them to control the food dish and nock them sideways to steal a treat.
They grow larger every day and are about 1/3 bigger each week. They should be out of the brooder and into the coop in another five weeks. They should begin laying in October.
Maintaining the chicken space inside our laundry room hasn't been too bad. I learned quickly to keep everything dry after spilled water on the pine shavings and poop made my nostrils burn with the strong smell of ammonia. I immediately removed the wet bedding and the store-bought waterer. I used two small, heavy mugs for the water and they stayed much cleaner.
Now onto the coop update. With my rose-colored glasses on, I dragged my family up to my dad's house to "get started" on the chicken coop. I started with the basic layout from a cute Saltbox Designs coop, (as detailed in my Week One post,) but tweaked it and then tweaked it a little more... until I was fairly confident that I had a well-designed, thought-out, adorable and most importantly, functional coop.
Knowing that my girls will have a large, 400-square-foot, covered run, I made the coop small and cozy with a covered lower level. Of course, I wont know how I did until the first rain fall. Will the coop stink? Will the birds freeze in winter? Will their food attract unwanted visitors? Time will tell. We didn't come close to breaking ground on the coop, but instead...
My dad fashioned a 3x4 foot brooder box out of scraps in his garage. I am so happy the birds have a such a nice little condo before they get tossed out into the real world. The birds could easily hop out of their plastic boxes, so this one is 2 feet deep and I've got a window screen we're using as a lid. (Thanks dad!)