Well after turning around a couple of times faster than a spinning top it is going to be chickens first. At least for now. Now we can start getting ready.
#1. Location, location, location. Where are we going to locate the coop? Where is there enough sun during the winter that also provides shade in the summer? Where can we see them to keep them safe and collect eggs in my PJ’s?
# 2. Oh yea, then there is the other location, the coop. The main coop design is picked out though it’s going to need some modifications to adjust for additional ventilation for an Arizona summer, including fan mounts and a water cooler. Really like the simple and straight forward design and clean lines. Then there is also the run. Oh, and a separate location for any birds that become ill or new birds waiting to be introduced to the flock. Perhaps a chicken tractor? Can you say chicken compound?
# 3. Choose the breed(s). We have started the research and I can tell you there are a lot of kinds of chickens out there! Lots to choose from and it would be really easy to get distracted. We are keeping the main goals in mind, we want eggs and meat, not pretty and neat. Ok maybe one or two chickens that have some ‘wow’ factor. There are obstacles too – we regularly have temperatures of 100 degrees and more for the summer with nights in the 90’s, live with two dogs of our own and have roaming dogs/coyotes and other risk factors right outside the fence. So heat tolerant chickens are a must, then egg production, finally meat. The safety factor is on us.
# 4. Brood the chicks. This was not part of the original dream plan. I wanted to start with Pullets, hens less than one year old. Think of them as chicken teenagers. However after some research (see # 3 – Breeds) and checking hatcheries, the heat tolerant breeds I’m most interested in have limited availability and are more readily available as chicks. So now I need to learn about brooding chicks. Honey darling is absolutely adamant that he is having nothing to do with pasty butt (no link, trust me don’t even look it up unless you are serious about raising chickens).
# 5. Transition housing, yep – young bird daycare. Oh yes the chicks need a brooder but that stage between chick and pullet has special housing needs. And sometimes you need to get the birds out of the coop/run but keep them safe. Hence the chicken tractor. Refer to # 2 – Chicken compound.
# 6. As the old radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, then there is “the rest of the story” – feed, treats, dust baths, bedding, etc. And don’t forget the décor. Yes, apparently crazy chicken ladies are supposed to decorate their coops. Inside and out. And you just know I must have a basket to gather the eggs. While I’m at it I might as well have a couple for the fruit trees and garden too.
# 7. Do all of this while we are also watering, fall fertilizing trees, hanging the new house gutters and building swales for more rain capture, planting the fall gardens, laying out new planting beds, planning a visit to the goat breeder, cooking, cleaning and sleeping.
Don’t tell Honey darling, it’s going to be a busy Autumn.