Chicken Conundrum: Ready or Not Here They Come
By Mrs. Canadian Renegade
Did you know that Matt and I dated for seven years before we got married? When we reflect back on our past time together we laugh about how our days were lazy and unproductive. Maybe it was less about being unproductive and more about focusing on different priorities. We would always talk about what our future together would look like and would make plans like, "Once we establish this, then we'll do that". Well, the this's and the that's just weren't getting done and we were beginning to feel like we were getting nowhere fast.
So what does this have to do with chickens? Well, once we got married, we really hit the gas pedal. We bought property, had kids, and built a house simultaneously. When our second set of twins were born Matt planted a garden and all I could think was Why? We had enough on our plate without adding more chores to the list. But then something happened. We realized that, with a little help and hard work, we could tackle the projects we wanted to and actually make some progress. Now, we're starting to jump into projects feet first even when we're not quite ready. Because, what's the point of having all this land if we're not going to do anything with it?
When I was traveling to the NICU to care for W and N, I found out that one of my friends and her seven year old daughter were breeding chickens. Her daughter was raising and selling these adorable pet chickens called Silkies. She would post questions on her social media asking for business name ideas. Since I used to work in marketing, I would use my long drives to brainstorm business names and logos; it was a fun past time for me. I would sketch ideas and send them to her for fun but eventually she fell in love with a design. I was grateful for a creative outlet and a task to take my mind away from it's constant state of worry. When she asked what I wanted in exchange, I suggested a few chickens for our place. Well, then she offered to hatch 50 chicks for us.
Our move to the homestead was quite abrupt, meaning work still needed to happen on our house and yard; we had outstanding permits and a yard devoid of grass. We already had a lot of work on our plates and now we were on the hunt for an affordable second-hand shed to convert to a chicken coop. Thankfully, Matt's dad managed to score a 10x10 shed for free. Once the shed made it's way out here we felt like it was too nice to convert to a coop but we were turning up empty on any other accessible or affordable option so chicken coop it will be.
After a few months went by, we received a bad news/good news update from my friend. The bad news: She was no longer capable of hatching chicks or taking care of her own flock. The good news: She was willing to inventory her flock for us to choose what we wanted to take over. The bonus was that having mature chickens meant less of a wait time for eggs. Then, a few weeks later we received some more bad news: her pot bellied big had begun to break holes in their fencing and not only were the chickens getting out but they were being attacked by dogs. Her flock was beginning to dwindle. Suddenly, we had to find a housing solution for these chickens if we wanted to inherit the flock.
With passing permit inspections at the top of the priority list, Matt said we would not be getting the chickens after all [Insert sad instrumental music here]. But I had an idea: I knew the flock was down to about 13 chickens and there was potential to lose more before we were able to pick them up on the weekend. I also knew that Matt's dad had brought out his old chicken tractor and it was just sitting in the field collecting dust. Even though the tractor was in rough shape, I had a feeling it could hold us over until Matt had time to prepare the coop. Now, we were back in the game.
Matt repaired the tractor the best he could, our neighbour generously dropped off some chicken feed, and the kids and I went out to pull some dead grass for the nesting boxes until we could pick up some straw. We are getting well versed at just jumping into life's challenges feet first.
Luckily, Matt had Friday off for our permit inspection so once that was done he headed out to bring home the flock. They spent nearly an hour chasing chickens around the coop and the yard and loading them into dog kennels for the ride home. By that evening we had our flock. Despite their traumatic past few weeks being tormented by dogs, and then their sudden relocation, they settled in quite easily and we've even gotten six eggs in the past three days.
We're still figuring out the different breeds we've acquired but we know for sure that we have Blue Laced Wyandottes, Easter/Olive Eggers, Cream Legbars, Cuckoo Marans, one Silkie, and one Frizzle. According to our friend, the rest are likely just barnyard mixes. I didn't think I'd want to keep the Silkie and Frizzle since they're not well suited to our cold winter climate. I even offered to give them back when they're ready to have chickens again and, unfortunately for me, the little critters are super adorable and growing on me quickly.
And so, the farmstead grows.