Backyard Chickens: Daily Chores

Hey folks,

So a lovely friend who I met through an online business community we are both members of commented asking about what it takes to raise backyard chickens. I had already planned on creating a post on this very topic, so I decided to dive in and get it written. Here goes! The first couple of weeks were a bit intense. I had no idea what I was doing, so I made a few newbie mistakes but it was a fun learning process.

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Building the coop was an insane amount of work (for my husband and his helper, our 12-year-old daughter).

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Once the chicks were in the coop, the biggest issue for me personally was my fear of the predators I was warned about. People who have raised chickens told me horror stories about coyotes, weasels, raccoons, and neighbor dogs killing their chickens. Everyone told me that there is no such thing as a ‘predator-proof’ chicken coop’. I felt responsible for these little beings, so I went to the extreme to keep them safe.

I the picture on the right, you can see my husband and daughter installing wire mesh over the coop window (which is needed for ventilation). I figured it would make it impossible for anything to tear through the screen to get in. We installed locks on the coop door and reinforced any holes (there are two vents on either side of the roof) with the same wire mesh.

I also installed a baby monitor, lol. I kept it beside my bed at night ready to fly out the door (which I did unnecessarily multiple times) to protect my brood of vulnerable sleeping chicks. I also read somewhere that mint keeps raccoons away. My neighbor (an old school farmer) came driving by and unfortunately saw me sprinkling mint essential oil around the base of my coop, lol. He was truly amused.

The chicks arrived on my birthday (August 30th) so they are now almost 3 months old. We started with 16 chicks and in a brutal moment, one of our dogs managed to very quickly kill 2. One died instantly and the other died in my arms as I held space for her. It was sad and it was also our fault. We learned a harsh lesson and have been much more careful since that fatal day (if you look above, you will actually see Bindi, our heeler cross slinking by the coop almost as if she knew we were going to put chickens in it.

Once the initial work was complete and the chicks were old enough not to need a heat lamp (for us, about 6 weeks old) things got MUCH easier. I wake up, walk out and open up the coop, feed, and water the chicks and sprinkle out the table scraps I’ve saved them. I check on them throughout the day if I’m around, but they have a covered area (the brush along our fenceline and the connecting forest so they are protected from birds of prey.

At the end of the day, they all huddle up safe and warm in their spacious coop (over 4′ of interior space per bird). I close and lock the door and call it a day! As for eggs, they don’t lay until around 6 months old, so we aren’t going to get eggs until Spring…for now, the only benefit is getting to watch them and interact with them. They are curious creatures for sure. When they are laying, we will get as many as 14 eggs per day! Enough for our huge family plus some to sell or share.

To me, it’s well worth the effort! I am truly enjoying my backyard brood!

That’s all she wrote,

Joy

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Posted by Joy

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Joy:-) Lots of ovely pictures!

    What a wonderful story about the little chicks you painted, I am sure they will be safe and sound with loads of space to move around. I can just see you listening to the baby monitor all night and running out in your nightgown to the yard in moonlight 🙂

    Hard to believe they have grown so much in 6 weeks, they almost look adults now. So they all lay an egg per day? Interesting, 14 eggs a day sounds good indeed. I am looking forward to your updates on the egg-business 🙂

    Sad to hear about your dog killing 2, but indeed, mine has done the same for one of the neighbors chicks, nature I call it! Lots of my neighbors have chickens and they often escape into my land, we end up chasing them away together with the dog, great fun 😀

    Love and Light,
    ArtyByHeart

    1. It is definitely an adventure! I hate to admit that my teenage boy’s friends also saw me run into the moonlight thinking I was going to face down some coyotes, ever notice how similar coyotes and teenage boys sound, lol? Thanks so for your sweet comment and I will definitely keep you updated! – Blessings, Joy

  2. Wow, Joy!
    What a wonderfui place to live! I am a country girl myself and i am feeling a little bit jealous cause i live in a city right now so i am not able to have my vegetable garden or chickes! I think that you consider those little fellows as your babies and you were and still are concerned about them! Glad to know that they are ok and they give you many eggs! I look forward for more pictures and adventures of your backyard brood!
    Best wishes,
    Rebecca!

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