I researched all the cute breeds. I googled all the things about all the things. I weighed the pros and cons of chicks vs pullets ( chicks not yet of laying age but not in need of heat lamps and baby care). I read all the fun blogs from The City Chicken to Chicken Blog to The Chicken Chic ( non of which asked me to link anything, I just do because I liked them). While learning more and more about the awesome things having chickens can bring to my garden/farm, I just solidified my conquest. The next step was the coop.
Coops are insanely priced. I will be super honest about how stupid I think that might be. NOT saying some aren't really cool looking. Just saying a coop for chickens had better not look cooler or be more well built than my kids play house. Nor does it need scalloped trim and shutters ( I was all "squeeeeeee shutters!!!" and then I was all, STFU it's a hen house!"). I realizes pretty quickly that building one was way smarter for my "not costing anything" goal. Because $349 costs a bunch.
We have a local place that is wickedly awesome!!! It's called ReStore and everything about what it stands for makes me want to remodel my home and help others at the same time. If you have one of these locations near you I can pretty much guarantee you will walk in and wish you had always known it existed. I fell in love after a friend brought me. That friend and I walked the aisles in search of the perfect cabinet or hutch to convert into a recycled hen house. Deep in the kitchen cast offs we found an unfinished, solid pine project. Combined with the free pallets also collected from ReStore, I made this.
Next I went all DIY crazytown and built a run from salvage wood bought for 12 cents a foot from the same beloved store. And the final home pen was completed.
We got our laying hens from a neighboring town with much farmland. A chance happening where you make a connection you hadn't seen coming at all. This gal was a momma to a ten year old 4H chicken wrangler that looked like a teeny tiny Taylor Swift in Chicken mucking galoshes. Mom had posted an ad on craigslist because the eggs she had from her hens, plus the eggs she got from a hatchery, plus the eggs she acquired online all yielded ladies when they hatched. She had counted on the amount of roosters being greater and thus she wanted to unload some hens. Did you know that birds from one clutch of eggs will flock with themselves? And each group of eggs she got made a mini flock. Instead of combining, they kept with their own. I found that pretty interesting. Anyhow, we adopted four of her feathered girls and as we were leaving she pointed out that one was smaller than the other three. After explaining pecking order to my ten year old and then deciding that two little would be better than one she went back into the hen house and brought out a pretty little silver girl with blue feet! Also small. And she came home us too. She is named Lady Rainicorn as per our sweet little 4 year old friend. She made five. Five lady birds in a chicky condo about a month or two from laying age. Perfect amount of time for them to get comfy and free range the yard before they start making us eggs.
So far the chickens are happy and my kiddos couldn't be more into it. The ten year old loves to feed them new treats like fresh peas or blackberries and watch them go crazy. They are not as hand tamed as they might have been from chicks, but I'd say they like us quite a bit. I especially like how the follow Aidan around at a safe distance, curious of his every move. He is starting to hand feed them too and sing Old Macdonald had a Farm. Every E-I-E-I-O makes my heart flutter. I am so grateful for these new friends for so many reasons. I am sure there will be more stories but I will really try to keep the Crazy Chicken Lady stuff to a minimum.
Also, you can't have a chicken and not name it Beyonce.
Lady Rainicorn, Queen Elizabeth, Buffy and Beyonce.
Oh, and the whole chicken mission was nearly free. Nearly being less than $60. Once these hormone free free range eggs start appearing I think hubs will feel like $60 pretty much cost him nothing.