Our First Grand Chick

This past Sunday, Sally and I became grandparents – in a manner of speaking.  Our favorite hen, Chicken Little, hatched the first of what we were hoping would be a whole litter of baby chickens.  We started out with five fertilized eggs that we picked up from our friends at Yonder Way Farms in Fayeteville, Texas.   However, one precious little chick is all we got.


Our precious little chick on the day she was hatched.

And that is just fine with us.  We really don’t need a lot of chickens at our house.  Our coop is not set up for more than six to eight birds.  In fact, this is why we waited so long to let one of our hens sit.  We didn’t want a crowded coop.

Sally and I decided to let Chicken Little sit for a couple of reasons.  First, she is the hen at the bottom of the pecking order.  It is hard for us to watch the constant pecking and pushing around that she is forced to endure.  We read on a blog that a batch of chicks had a way of bringing out the mother in all of the hens.  So, we are hoping that this little chick will make the other girls treat Chicken Little a whole lot better.  At the very least we are hoping it will prevent, or at least delay, the bad treatment that Chicken Little is forced to endure.


Our baby is four days old and already getting pin feathers on her wings!

While Sally and I think Chicken Little is the sweetest, bestest hen of the bunch, she does have one little problem – she gets broody – A LOT.  In the past few months she has become broody four different times.  Each time this happened we were forced to quarantine her in a metal cage for a few days.  During that time she didn’t eat or drink much.  Plus it was just hard for us to watch.  So, since she is such a good girl –and she REALLY wanted to sit – we decided to let her.


Chicken Little is such a good mother! Here, she and baby explore their world.

While we had hoped for a few more chicks, we are absolutely thrilled with our one little baby.  She truly is precious and Chicken Little is proving to be a great little mother.  Plus, the other hens really do seem to be impressed (and they are treating her a little better).  They keep coming up and looking at the baby.  When they get too close Chicken Little blows up her feathers and clucks and they politely walk off.  I truly hope that that this new baby raises her mom’s standing in the flock!

BTW, this post has been shared on The HomeAcre Hop and the Homestead Barn Hop #173.  Be sure to check them out.  They are full of great posts from homesteaders across the web.

Chicken Update

5-12-2013 11-28-29 AM I am amazed at how much progress both our chickens and the coop have over the past two weeks.  Before Sally and I got our babies we read “Chick Days – Raising Chickens From Hatchlings to Laying Hens” by Jenna Woginrich.  This book was amazingly well written.  In it she stresses how quickly the little birds grow.  However, until you see it in person, you really can’t appreciate how quickly they mature.  In the past two weeks the birds have gone from fuzzy little babies to aggressive, active fledglings that are beginning to try to fly and already establishing a pecking order.  They have also learned to come when I call them (as long as I allow them to eat dehydrated meal worms out of my hand).

Chris is helping the girls adjust to the great outdoors.

Chris is helping the girls adjust to the great outdoors.

By the end of week one they had the beginnings of wing and tail feathers.  Now their wings and tails are very developed and all of that down is beginning to fall out.  Yesterday, since the girls are getting so big, we took them outside for the first time.  It is truly amazing to me that they do not need to be taught anything.  While they were a little nervous at first, they quickly began to happily scratch and eat all manner of weeds and grasses.  All in all I think it was a great start for them.

Chris's dog Ed wants to play with the girls too

Chris’s dog Ed wants to play with the girls too

Since they are growing so quickly, the coop has needed to progress just as quickly.  Luckily, it has.  I have been very lucky to have the help of our son Chris for the past couple of weekends.  Last weekend, we set the posts and started the framing.  This weekend, I paid a friend to come and add the roof and do the plumbing and electrical.  Here are some shots of our progress:

Last weekend's progress

Last weekend’s progress

Eventhough it rained on Friday, my buddy Ruben was still able to get the roof frame on the coop


Here you can see the the triangular topped door that is going to be very cute with the diamond shaped window that will go in it

Here you can see the the triangular topped door that is going to be very cute with the diamond shaped window that will go in it

5-12-2013 11-57-18 AM


Austin’s Funky Chicken Coop Tour

Like just about every other middle class American, my wife and I feel like we need some chickens.  I don’t know what is going on with people and chickens right now, but these fluffy egg producers seem to be about the hottest thing going.  Sally and I have talked about getting chickens for a while now.  However, talk is as far as it has gone.  We mentioned our chicken desires to our friend Linda Lemusvirta and she suggested that we attend the Funky Chicken Coop Tour in Austin.  So, two weeks ago, that is exactly what we did.

Andrea Feathers is the artist that designed the incredibly cool logo for the tour. Photo by Sally White

Austin’s Funky Chicken Coop Tour started in 2009.  Over the years it has grown into one of the most successful events of its kind anywhere.  The tour is designed to educate people in the whys and how tos of keeping backyard chickens.  Austin is at the forefront of backyard chicken raising movement.  In fact, it has the second highest number of backyard, urban chickens in the US.  Since there are so many chicken coops in Austin and a whole bunch of people who like things that are a little bit weird, Austin is the perfect place for this event.

My daughter Jessie dressed appropriately for the occasion. Photo by Cameron Bell

The tour started at the Buck Moore Feed Store in central Austin.  There, tour goers picked up their maps, registered for a really sweet grand prize and had the opportunity to visit with a host of vendors that were selling just about everything you could ever imagine related to chickens.  The weather was great and everyone was so friendly.  I almost hate to say this, but I think I had more fun at Buck Moore’s than I did one the rest of the tour.

Sharing a laugh with my friends from the Brazos Valley Poultry Club. Photo by Cameron Bell

The tour consists of several coops scattered all across Austin.  You pay a $10 fee for a map and then you, and as many people as you can squeeze in your car, use that map to drive around and visit with the people that are successfully raising chickens in their backyards.  The coops come in all flavors; large, small, beautiful and humble.  Each of the hosts that we visited with seemed genuinely happy that you and about 1000 other people had come to walk through their yard and admire their birds and coops.

Pactical advice from the folks at Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms. These are also the folks that feed their chickens hamburger!

Despite the large number of attendees and limited parking, it was everything it was advertised to be; fun and entertaining (I learned that chickens love raw hamburger.  Who knew?).  I had so much fun that I am certain I will be back again next year.  If you are interested in keeping a few chickens of your own, I suggest you stop “brooding” and “laying” around, get off your “tail” and start checking out the zoning laws in your areas.  Then, mark your calendar for next year’s tour.  The Funky Chicken Coop tour is an “egg-ceptionally” good time for you and your whole “brood”!

(Sorry for the bad chicken jokes but I couldn’t resist)!