my life as a chicken farmer is sooo much fun!! this week i moved the chickens from mom's laundry room to the coop. the meat chicks went first as they had gotten huge and had outgrown the large plastic tub they were living in. i rigged a pen in the corner of the barn for them to live in since we don't want them to get a ton of exercise. calm, quiet chicks = tender meat!! the hens were moved a few days later into a large metal horse trough in the barn. still under the heat lamp for the cool evenings, the hens had so much more room to move around in the trough.
today we gathered at mom's to build the chicken run attached to the barn. my brother brian and my son matt helped me construct a 12' by 6' welded wire pen. brian cut a hole in the barn door and rigged it with a weight and rope so we can open the door into the run from outside. we still need to add a roof and will be working on it one evening this week. then we'll construct a fence wall in the barn so that the hens can be moved out of the trough and be able to go in and out of the barn all day.
we couldn't resist letting the hens out to play in the run once the fence was up. we had to hand gather them and then set them thru the door until they get the hang of it. they seemed stunned at first and huddled together in a tight circle. but within 5 minutes they started to peck in the dirt and were able to pull up a few worms. there was a flurry of running and short distance flying when a worm was discovered.
my SIL candy selected our hens for us and gave us a nice variety; i have 2 each of aracuanas, barred rock, buff orpington, golden comet, new hampshire and rhode island reds. all of the hens will lay brown eggs except for the aracuanas who will lay a greenish blue egg.the goal for now is to keep them happy and well-fed and watered as they grown and mature. when they get a little bigger we will let them free-range on mom's 3+ acres. it will be september before they start to lay eggs.
all 12 of the meat chicks are cornish rocks. we visited a local amish farm this week to set up an appointment to have them slaughtered on june 22nd -- 7 weeks after they were born. mom and i plan to have a little celebration feast of the first chicken and then we'll freeze the rest.
i've already named 2 of my hens -- one of the rhode island reds is named hermione and one of the golden comets is named luna. both are tributes to my love of the harry potter books.
in other news, i'm working a part-time job at a local antique mall which i am loooooving! i assist the customers, run the cash register, enter new inventory, do a little cleaning and get first look at all the new antiques that come in. it is low-stress and perfect for me right now.