I moved into my house in February, 2006. So far, this blog has been about those early months of owning my acre of lava. My intent was to write about everything here in chronological order, but alas, my mind doesn’t always work that way.
I feel a strong need to tell you about my “girls,” my six hens. I’m not sure what happened to all the fresh local eggs, but it seems that most (if not all) of the egg farms on our island have shut down. I refuse to buy eggs that have been shipped for who-knows-how-long all the way from who-knows-where on the mainland.
So I set out on a quest for chickens. I knew there must be chickens somewhere because I hear roosters all over the place. (That’s another story!) The first day of my search, I asked the local feed store if they knew who was selling chickens. Right there on the bulletin board was a note from someone right here in my community who was taking orders for baby chicks.
I’d already done a bit of reading and looking around to see what I might want. So I made an order for six chicks to be delivered sometime in April. I opted to let the young man raise them for the first month. I didn’t want to invest in a brooder, or worry about losing them quite yet. Maybe I’ll try that next time I get chickens.
In my past life as a mother of four and a local community 4-H leader, I’ve helped to raise everything – pigs, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs and cats – but never chickens. This would be a totally new experience for me.
I started checking books out of the library and looking on the internet for ideas on chicken coops. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but knew I needed to have something ready for them when they arrived.
My two daughters (Debbie and Inga) and my wonderful son-in-law (Harry) came to visit in March during spring break. Harry, is a general contractor in California, so I asked his advice.
And “would you please build a chicken coop for me?”
I think he knew what was coming, because he flew from California with his tool belt and his own power saw! He quickly set up shop.
He was as confused about what I wanted as I was, but anything to please a mother-in-law, right? He took an old metal futon couch frame that I’d left sitting behind my shed and converted it into a beautiful coop.
I showed the finished coop to a friend (his wife raised chickens). He took one look and said, “It will never be this clean again.” He was right!
When I got the call, I was ecstatic, but as nervous as when I was having babies. He brought the “girls” over at one month of age – three Rhode Island Reds (who will lay brown eggs for me) and three Araucana (who will lay blue or blue-green eggs). The Araucana girl in the top photo is a color called Wheaten.
Here they are on April 13, 2008. Just below the log perch, is the Wheaten Araucana. At the bottom right is a Rhode Island Red and there are two mottled black/tan/gold Araucana. I haven’t been able to figure out the exact name for that coloration.
Here they are, six weeks later – and they are growing like weeds! One of the Reds is in front and an Araucana behind her. Not sure why they find that bare piece of wood so fascinating!
By early June, I knew they needed to get out and scratch around. So I enlisted the help of a friend to build a “chicken run.” We opened up a square at one end of the coop, added a removable door, and built a run for them to use. They get down through the door and a little ladder-type arrangement. Here you can see the beginning of the framework.
It was finally finished and the “girls” got their first taste of relative freedom.
You can see the entire run better in this next picture. Sometimes I toss a bit of corn scratch in through the top and let them search for it.
They are now four months old – big and plump! I expect them to start laying in about another six weeks or so. Stay tuned!