Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18, 2011

Well, whatever happened to the site, it appears to be back up and running.  Thanks Judy if you had a hand in it.  Anyway, I've been spending this last week's spare moments reading Raising Chickens for Idiots, by Jerome Belanger.   I've been trying to come up with reasons not to get them, if that makes sense.  I realize they are a ton of work, but I want to make sure I can live with them if I commit.  So far, I've come up with the following negatives excluding cost:

1) The new chicks need 4 weeks of mother henning... 5 times a day check ups to check the heat lamp temperature, sanitation, water and feed supply etc.  Sounds like a full time job, and I really hope to be employed by then.

2) After the first 4-5 weeks, they still need to be inside, but are running around and need more space.  I believe I could set something up in our newly created play room in the unheated garage, but still, it would be a bit of a sacrifice for the family.  Of course, it's ony a month or so before they can go outside.

3) As good for the droppings are for the garden when composted, they are a hot fertilizer and burn grass and plants.  The idea of free ranging them in the back yard could destroy our grass area (read children's play area).  Also, my wife would kill me if I tracked presents into the house.

4) Finally, I likely wouldn't be able to free range them in the strictest sense.  Apparently they love to eat plants, any plants, so my food and ornamental gardens would be at risk.  The solution to that is to tractor them.  I had planned on building a tractor for my beds, but using one all the time was not my intention.  I thought maybe tractoring during the strawberry season, or a temporary chicken wire fence for the blueberry beds.  Permanent fences would be ugly.

As you can see, the more I learn about them, the more questions I have.  I'm still not to the point where I'm abandoning the idea, but I need more research for sure.

I am almost done with Chickens for Idiots.  Then I'll move on to Chickens for Dummies.  My brother said to read them both in that order.  Great information there if you're at all interested in raising chickens, now or in the future.  Pretty much everything I was planning on is what he recommended.  At least I know I'm on the right track and not biting off more than I can chew.  For backyard chickens, 3-4 is the gold standard. I am planning on getting four chicks and hoping at least 3 survive.  

I'm also researching Laura's garden planning schedule to make sure I don't miss seed starting.  You'd think I would know better by now, but I really think she has the timing down for the area.  More about that and the breeds of chickens I'm considering later. 

Enjoy your garden!


  1. Glad to see you back! You might try the book "Chicken Tractor"...lots of good information there...I was reading everything I could, planning on chickens in the spring, but DH played his hold card...we live on a lake...E.Coli in chicken poop...not good for kids playing in lake :( No chickens for me....

  2. Hurrah you are back online! Those are all very true aspects of having chickens and if you don't have a good area to free range them I would probably encourage you to think twice about it. Our flock (six) have the run of the fenced back yard and we are adding cross fencing to keep them out of the garden area unless we take them there (with supervision) or in the winter when they will get free run of it again. They still get almost a quarter of an acre of area (much of it in woodlot) that they daily range on though and I honestly think they need that kind of room to get adequate amounts of fresh weeds and bugs to supplement the commercial layer crumbles and scratch mix we feed them. They are so worth the work - but they are work and do have a decided impact on the yard.

    I did not post my seed starting schedule on line as such this year - putting it on my calender instead - so if you want to follow along just check out the garden calender at:


    January Seed Starting:
    This week I started my onions. Next week will be the ultra early tomatoes (pampered and kept indoors about a month longer than tomatoes started at the usual time) and the week following that will be leeks.

  3. Most of the blogs online are pretty much the same but i honestly enjoyed what i read. Bravo !

  4. I ended up building one of these:
    It costed just over $200 and the plans are worth every penny because you know exactly what to buy. We've spent over $800 on our 4 chickens and we wanted to tractor them, but saw they enjoyed free ranging but also realized very quickly we had a red-tailed hawk that wanted them. We ended up putting up T-posts a fence and an overhead aviar net in their area. In eggs alone the chickens will never pay for themselves even at ~$3.00 a dozen, but I don't know how to put a price on the fertilizer or work they do on our yard.

    We only had our chicks indoors for 3 weeks and kept them with their brooder light in the top of our coop while the temperatures were in the 60's outside.

    Good luck!

  5. Well, I don't have any chicken advise, but I'm sure glad to see your blog back up and running! I've missed you.

  6. I just spent 12 minutes writing a comment and when I finally finished my browser crashed and my comment was not published. So now I will keep it short and straight to the point. I find something interesting to read on your blog every time I visit it. Respect!

  7. Great tips! I will try to use them.

  8. Great seeing everyone. So glad you came back too! I've missed you all.

    Kermit, great looking coop. Looks like a modified ark that my brother and I are planning. I shudder to think how much my brother's plans are going to cost to build if your simple one was $200, but $800 on 4 chickens may just put the girls out of my budget... half that I can see, but yikes.

  9. Running Costs:
    $19.99 ConvertiCoop plans
    $5.50 Plastic 1 gallon chick/chicken water
    $12.00 Heat lamp with reflector, guard and clamp
    $9.00 Infrared Heat Lamp Bulb - Red
    $7.00 Chick Feeder – Plastic Hanging – 3lb
    $46.00 Organic Chick Starter Feed – 25 lb
    $17.43 Shipping
    $19.77 Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens
    $52.20 4 Chicks
    $25.19 Coop Materials
    $246.49 Coop Materials
    $159.07 T posts, Fence and grass seed
    $28.41 Fence pounder
    $100.37 Electric Fence Gate Handle
    And Aluminum Electric Fence Wire
    And Electric Fence insulators
    And Underground wire
    And Poultry Drench
    And Ground clamp
    $13.10 Aspen Wood Shavings
    $16.38 25# medicated Chick Starter
    $44.00 Aviary Netting
    $81.92 25# medicated Chick Starter
    And Heated Fountain
    $16.38 25# medicated Chick Starter
    $920.20 Total

    I've updated my totals so you can see where you can cut things out to get it in budget. For example Electric fencing, T posts, Aviary netting etc. I hope this helps you figure the actual numbers out to see if it's feasible for your situation.
    Our chickens will probably be laying at the end of February, the coop uses very little bedding because of the shape so the wood shavings can last up to 6 months and they eat about #25 pounds a month (at least so far during the winter months.)

  10. Wow, thanks Kermit. I can definitely see where I'll be cutting down the cost, but not too much. Going to be a conversation with my brother. He's a good sounding board.