Spring Chicken Special!

The joys of keeping chickens in a small urban backyard…

You don’t get popular when talking about your chickens with your friends. It’s sort of one step right below being a cat-lady. My peeps are funny, friendly little ladies though, and having them has been great fun together with my kids.

The inspiration to it all.  For a semi-urban backyard turned "Almost_A-Farm", just add chickens.
The inspiration to it all. For a semi-urban backyard turned “Almost-A-Farm”, just add chickens.

How to keep chickens in a suburban backyard and still get along with the neighbors? Stealth, as quiet-as-possible, backyard chickens, that’s the answer.  Excessive squawkers must move up the hill to our friend’s farm.  Chris, we’re happy to have you!

Goldie, up close and personal!  She's a Buff Orpington and the star of our group.
Goldie, up close and personal! She’s a Buff Orpington and the star of our group.

We keep our little clan of semi secret peeps on the side of our house.  They are really interesting little girls. Very sweet and come running right up as soon as they see us if loose outside.   In most regular conversations, chicken keeping topics have proved not to be too fashionable.  It’s mostly  regarded a bit weird, possibly half crazy to have them as pets.   For the boys and I, it has just been a blast raising these chickens, learning all about them, and eating their eggs.
They deserve their own “Spring Chicken Special” here at Dressage On A Dime.
Here is our story:

Baby chick keeping in the bathtub.  Made for very tame chicks the first year.
Baby chick keeping in the bathtub. Made for very tame chicks the first year.
Tiny start up brooder for 4 chicks.  Heavily decorated by my boys.  You can see Marshmallow, Snoball, Norpan and Brownie passed out under the heatlamp.  We later graduated to a huge, multiple "room" brooder in the garage.
Tiny start up brooder for 4 chicks. Heavily decorated by my boys. You can see Marshmallow, Snowball, Norpan and Brownie passed out under the heatlamp. We later graduated to a huge, “multiple room” brooder in the garage.
Caring for fragile little bodies was a great learning experience for my kids.
Caring for fragile little bodies was a great learning experience for my kids.
I don't share the joy of ball games and rock throwing with my boys, but THIS was something we all had fun learning about!
I don’t share the joy of ball games and rock throwing with my boys, but THIS was something we all had fun learning about! Look how fast they grew in just a few weeks!
They can easily be taught to come to a treat, so it's easy to gather them in again.
Chicks turned pullets! They can easily be taught to come to a treat when a bit older like this, so it’s easy to gather them in again.
We built them a pen with a small coop.  Of course it had to be made bigger...  The original coop is now their large sized nesting box.  Go big from the start!
We built them a pen with a small coop. Of course it had to be made bigger… The original coop is now their large sized nesting box. Go big from the start!
An old children's playhouse, painted and outfitted with net made for a great coop for the ladies.  My boys made the ladder themselves, which is more than half the fun of doing this.
An old children’s playhouse, painted and outfitted with net made for a great coop for the ladies. My boys made the ladder themselves, which is more than half the fun of doing this.
Marshmallow, a White Delaware, puffed up sunbathing on the patio.
Marshmallow, a White Delaware, puffed up sunbathing on the patio.

They’re easy to care for, really, but difficult at the same time. Do it wrong and everything will become a filthy, noisy mess.  Do it right, and you will have a cute set-up with a few happy and tame hens that lay their eggs where you want them, put themselves to sleep at night, and come when you call them.
Yep.
That’s what ours do.
Their set-up could be cuter.  Tools are not my specialty, so we’re stuck with what we’ve got for now.

Would love to have a really nicely built pen of course. Our pen and all the stuff around it has taken a beating from the weather in just one year. A beautiful wood pen is on the wish list, but it’s not going to happen…

Reading with The Golden Pecker, our other Buff Orpington
Reading with The Golden Pecker, our other Buff Orpington
And the eggs, don't forget the eggs!
And the eggs, don’t forget the eggs!
Golden Pecker
Golden Pecker in the patio sofa. She’s really not supposed to be there. Chickens don’t care about that.

The queen of all chicken keeping is the “The Chicken Chick”. You wonder, how interesting can it be, really, but she’s got a wonderful and very active blog, Chicken Resources Directory, Facebook page – you name it, she’s there, and she has the answers to just about any chicken dilemma.
In style!
Did a lot of reading on her site when we started out, and she’s the reason we’re doing sand in both the run and the coop, and have a separate “broody breaker”, among many other things.  The Chicken Chick is the best.

Other great “chickeny resources” are www.backyardchickens.com and www.mypetchicken.com

Come back soon for just one more chicken post.  I’ll share (or torture you, depending on how you see it) some lessons we learned through it all.  Just if you’re considering doing this, too.

“Horses frighten me as much as chickens do,’ he said. ‘That is too bad, because lack of communication with horses has impeded human progress,’ said Abrenuncio. ‘If we ever broke down the barriers, we could produce the centaur.” ― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

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