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What does it take to become an urban farmer you might ask? For us, we decided that we qualified when we added chickens to our large gardens. We were already avid perennial gardeners and have a fairly decent-sized veggie garden. Once we decided that we wanted to add chickens, we were definitely on the urban farmer track.
I thought that talking “Handy” into chicken was going to be a hard sell. I did all of the research on everything. The coop, the chickens, the care, and the upkeep of being chicken parents. I even had done the research necessary to get approval from our village board as no one in our town had chickens before us. With a PowerPoint presentation prepared, I was armed and ready for the big fight.
As soon as I broached the subject, “Handy” was all in. Good thing that all my research was not in vain. We definitely needed a great coop as well as information on how to raise our little brood.
We chose a Chicken Coop design that I found on Pinterest. Thank you Heather Bullard for the inspiration and the coop blueprints. “Handy” made some modifications to the plan but you can always tell a Heather Bullard Chicken Coop. If you follow Penny @happydaysfarm on Instagram you will notice that she also has the same coop.
We had our birds all picked out and scheduled to be picked up on April 24th and April 26th. The breeds that we picked are known for their hardiness, and good laying. The breeds that do well in Illinois are Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rocks, Australorp, and Wyandotte. We also are getting two Americana (Easter Eggers) because I so want to get blue and green eggs.
And Then There was 7
Once our seven chicks arrived they lived in our laundry room in a galvanized tub with a heat lamp hanging above them. We had a rough couple of days with a few of them but we were able to nurse one back to health and we lost the other. Our plan was to move them out to the shed but it became evident that they needed too much care so we just built a bigger cage and they moved to the dining room. Our dog Molly was so very curious about these new little creatures that were invading her space.
While they grew “Handy” was building and installing the chicken coop and run.
I don’t say it enough, I’m so lucky to be married to the handiest man. He also happens to own his own business. Consequently a lot of my projects he is able to assemble in a shop with all the right tools.
To start your chicken farming experience, you’ll need a few things. We bought a large galvanized tub for the newborns. They also need the following:
- Wood chip bedding
- Heat Lamp
- Thermometer (to check the temperature of the chick’s environment)
- Chick Feed
- Container for water & food
- Electrolytes for their water
We are able to get all of these items at a Farm & Fleet or Tracker Supply.
Our chicks went out into the coop when they were about 6-8 weeks old and it was above 60 degrees at night. We kept a heat lamp on them in the beginning. We still keep a heating element in the coop for when it gets really cold but a constant heat lamp when they are older will shorten their life span.
Our Hens Today
As of this posting, we are now seasoned, chicken farmers. We are on our second flock with a somewhat failed attempt to add to our flock in between. We found that adding some “teenagers” to our ladies was not a very good idea. This works if you have many hens but we only have 5 and they did not like the new additions at all. We ended up giving our ladies to a friend who has a large farm when they were getting older and not really laying much anymore. We then started over.
Should you get Chickens?
If you’re allowed to have chickens where you live, I say go for it. They are fun and entertaining and they provide you with organic farm-fresh eggs every day. There is nothing like an egg from your backyard. You will wonder how you ever ate store-bought. They are relatively easy to care for. The only thing we had to do differently was finding a dog/chicken sitter for when we travel. But it actually isn’t hard to find, if they get to keep the eggs while you’re gone.
I have to thank my good friend Leslie who is considering getting some chicks for the inspiration for this post.
Hope you all have a very happy Memorial Day Weekend!
If you liked this post here is another with some of the same information along with additional information. You can find it HERE