Our first "farm" animals, 8 Red Star Hens, arrived back on June 22nd, 2010 while we were still living at the old place...here's A & Y taking a peak at them.
Here they are all settled in at the place...
I picked this particular breed of chicken from the McMurray Hatchery because they were described as great layers of brown eggs and extremely friendly. So far we are pleased...they worked their way up to 8 eggs/day in the long summer days and 7-8/day during the shorter winter days. They are so friendly with the children who aren't just content to pet them, but prefer to pick them up and carry them around. As we prepared to move, the top priority was making the house liveable for us. So, the chickens had to make do with an old small coop that already existed on the property. It took longer than we had planned & we still have some finishing touches to make, but we finally moved them a new more appropriate dwelling, with plenty of indoor & outdoor space...in the interest of saving time & money, we decided to take advantage of old shed sitting on the property for the coop portion. They seem to be enjoying foraging for bugs & plants in their new outdoor space nestled in the middle of our 6 almond trees. We let them out frequently as well so that they can forage the property for more bugs, plants, etc. and they really seem to enjoy that freedom. Here's a nice shot of the new coop area with one of the blossoming almond trees.
I think most chicken owners will agree that this chicken thing gets addicting. It wasn't long before I was researching other breeds & trying to decide which ones we'd add to our flock. Although not top on my wish list of breeds, I went ahead & purchased another 8 four month old Plymouth White Rock Hens here locally that should be laying in about a month, mostly because I'd like to increase our egg supply soon so that we can start selling some. These particular hens are pretty self sufficient, having been raised to scavenge for their food, so at this point we let them have the run of the property with free access to the old coop for shelter, food, & water.
For our first meat bird experience, we decided to go with Freedom Rangers & are expecting 20 chicks mid-April. Then late May we have 9 more chicks coming including 5 Cuckoo Maran pullets & a cockeral, & 2 Buff Orpington pullets & a cockeral. I picked those breeds because (along with the white rocks) they can be considered dual purpose birds. Although we plan to build a second coop/large run area, we may not be keeping both roosters. I've heard great things about the temperments of the Cuckoo Maran Roosters & that is the breed I most want to start breeding, but we may give it a go with breeding the Buff Orpingtons too, and if not, then that rooster will just join the FR's in the freezer.
So, besides adding the finishing touches to the coop area (need to build in some user friendly nest boxes & paint the exterior "barn" red w/white trim), next on the list will be to build a second coop & run area adjacent to this one. This will be essential when our spring chicks are ready to be moved outside, but not yet big enough to be thrown in with the existing chickens. And of course, even more important is getting brooders set up...I'm a little nervous about raising chicks since up to this points all 16 of our chickens have joined as at around 4 months of age, but I'm excited too.