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Despite my earlier protestations, and with much appreciated assistance, I not only planted what turned out to be an overfilled garden, I har...

July 6, 2016

Ummm, We Are Chicken Keepers Now...

As cliché as it may sound, I have been very busy....
I know I know, if someone is committed to something as inspiring as a blog on living a wholesome homesteading life and providing practical and tried and true DIY tips they should be better at time management. Well, apparently I am not that person of late. Why? Well, life really does take over sometimes, and then there were these four new little lives that have taken up residence in, and then directly outside of our home. In other words, Hurray for us, We Have Chickens!!!!!!! Soon to be laying hens to be specific.  Well, this journey into raising our own layers has been a true labor of love, a testament to friendship, and the realization of a very long six-year dream. It all started this spring, April to be exact; after the new Urban Ag laws for Minneapolis were amended and put into affect. A crew of three which included me, my daughter, and her close friend (he’s a carpenter) vigilantly researched every chicken coop design we could find that would fit into this vision I had for backyard chicken rearing. I say mine because the husband always gives me the side eye when I come up with a "new idea" for our family. Especially those involving landscaping and getting rid of his precious grass. [a guy thing maybe?] So some of my plans work and some we've had to leave by the wayside over the years but I assured him this was not some sketchy new fangled venture. We both have strong agrarian roots within our immediate and extended families. So the "country life" as our folks call it is literally in our blood. For instance, take my mom who orders meat birds and layers 40 in one whop! ... You get the idea, we've had some exposure a time or two...    
Well, somehow the kids and I pushed passed the scowls and the stank face after we got the call to come pick up our four new hatchlings a day or two earlier than expected. The hardest one to convince we hadn't lost our minds at this point was the dog, which is a whole post of it's own. I'm thinking of calling it How to introduce your dog to new chicks....
Well, after 6 to 8 weeks these ladies which I should mention are: a silver lace wyandotte, buff orpington, red star, and amaraucana (easter egger),  were rearing to go outdoors. We had been gathering supplies and assessing items to re-purpose for the build for some time and now it was go time. Quickly we realized that it would be just as much work and expense $$$ to modify a structure as it would be to build from scratch, so our carpenter friend designed it on paper and then we all got busy. When I say we all got busy, I had to recruit my husband (honestly by day 3 he was smitten with the crazy little cluckers), and our son for some heavy lifting and some polishing up when our carpenter couldn't be here. Not to mention the clean up…J
Over several weeks, and several trips to Menards, Home Depot, Ace, and Fleet Farm we finally finished our build, the permitting process, and most recently the cities requirement for a chicken keeping class. Our coop is roughly 6′ x 5′ (counting the nesting boxes) with additional 8′ x 8′ attached run. We currently have more nesting boxes than we need but have plans to add on more coop space at a later date for more birds. As I already mentioned, we have four curious and rambunctious chickens in residence who are all layers.
This project has left me with an appreciation for skilled laborers, including first our visionary carpenter friend, my husband for his plumbing expertise (chicken waterer and feeder), and those who work tirelessly to grow our food every day. Lastly, I have an immense pride in our one of a kind build (We all learned a ton), and I love the stylish yet rustic look that it has. Our neighbors thought we were building a play house which is exactly the look we were going for.

I'm hoping our journey encourages more city dwellers to take in a bird or two for their many benefits. So far I can tell you that these ladies go crazy for ripe raspberries, bugs that would usually eradicate my squash by this time any other year, fresh grass, weeds, and their poop is garden gold already! You can't beat your own organic fertilizer... and No I do not add it directly to the garden but they sometimes do (I just water it in). They do free-range for several hours during the day so we are vigilant about keeping an eagle eye on them lest a for real eagle or hawk come through for a chicken snack. There are also curious cats, raccoon, weasels and the like... Ayi-yi why did I want to do this again? jk... 
It has been beyond rewarding and eggs will be the icing and candle on top. Can't wait to show that off. I'm sure it will be just too pretty to eat... NOT!!!! Besides our future egg supply I truly enjoy their company when i'm working in the actual garden or on my laptop on the patio. Even when my side-chick Chip randomly jumps onto someones head..... long story.


My Side-Chick Chipmunk - Chip for short
Well, with everything I've shared, I can only hope you will forgive a very long break in between posts. I have found a new calling with these birds for the self-sufficiency and entertainment of my family. These birds really do serve a purpose and are a hallmark for things to come in more Metropolitan areas around the country. I am glad to be on the forefront with my family and look forward to hearing and seeing how more families are taking back control of their diets and what ends up on their plates. 




Diva & Eb
Black Raspberries - Chickens Favorite
Ladies enjoying some good city life