Books for a New Chicken Keeper

My mom has been telling me for years now that I ought to get chickens, and I would love it. Well, I think she was right. We've had our chickens for 6 days now, and I am loving it. 

The day we got the chickens, it snowed!

I was talking on the phone with mom just before Christmas and she said, "Is this the year that I get to buy you a chicken coop?" I said that this year it was actually fathomable that we could keep chickens. We are now living in our own home and my youngest is 3 year old. Well, she and my dad bought us the Omlet Eglu Go. It's a chicken coop to house 2-4 hens (up to 6 if they are bantams). 

Along with the coop she sent a book, How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey. This was a good move! Reading this book got me more excited than I ever had been to own chickens. The author loves her chickens dearly and just makes the chicken keeping life seem enjoyable and accessible. 

After reading How to Speak Chicken, I started researching chicken breeds in earnest. I had each of my four kids pick out a breed of chicken they'd like. I figured since the coop can hold four chickens and I have four kids, everybody can have their own, right? Sam didn't care, yet. 

We planned to order chicks online, once we figured out that if we ordered from Meyer in the spring then the a minimum order requirement was much smaller, but then we encountered the cost of shipping. I think it was going to be about $50 to ship 4 chicks (who cost about $3 each).  That was just too much for Jacob. So we hung on for a little bit, hoping to find some chicks locally this spring. 

However, I had posted on our local chicken keepers facebook page, asking for recommendations on where to get chicks, and someone wanted to get rid of chickens and remembered my post. She sent me a message last week asking if we still wanted chickens and offering hers to us for free. After doing all the hard work of raising this chicks into hens of about 7 months old, she was finding the chicken keeping life too stressful. Her preschooler was terrified of the chickens, and her neighbors 4 pitbulls didn't like them either. They weren't laying yet, despite being old enough. 

Well! Although my kids had their breeds picked out, this worked out great for us. Jubilee had hoped for a chicken just like this (an Isa Brown, or Cinnamon Queen, or anything that will lay lots of eggs and be nice). And Sam doesn't care. So we adopted/rescued two chickens, about 2 hours later. We don't know exactly what breed they are, they were purchased from a bin that said "brown egg layers."

This is Sprite

This is Rootbeer

Now, on the Facebook group I also got a recommendation from someone to find Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens -- so I put that on hold at the library. I was glad I had it checked out when we got the chickens one unexpected Tuesday! It has come in handy as I have had questions about feed, winterizing, and housing chickens (can we fit a few more in this coop? I think we can, but we might want to extend the run, according to Storey's Guide). 

Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens

The only complaint I have about Storey's Guide is that it's aimed at people who want to have more than 2 chickens right now. I mean, I get that. I think it's much more common to have more than two, and we do plan to have four at some point. Four is both the maximum for our coop and the maximum for our property size, according to our town. 

I have also found good info online about keeping chickens. I haven't got favorite websites yet, but I'll let you know when I notice myself revisiting certain sites. 

It sure was a thrill when we got our first egg! I wasn't sure they would lay until things got warmer -- we've had a bad cold snap this past week (and snow and wind, today), and I thought maybe they wouldn't lay until they were getting more light. But I was delighted to discover an egg in the coop on Friday morning, Saturday afternoon, and one on Monday morning before the chickens had breakfast. Was it laid on Sunday? We'll never know. 

Spot the egg...

Today we had a more stressful chicken adventure. With the recent cold, plus today's snow and wind, I was keeping a close eye on the chickens. I looked up what to watch for and this afternoon, as the first signs of frostbite showed up on Rootbeer's comb, I decided to move the chickens and their coop into our attached garage. The sudden move and the completely alien landscape stressed the chickens out a bit, I think. Them being stressed made me a little stressed. I hope I moved them soon enough to prevent permanent damage to the birds! Nothing was turning black yet, so I'm hopeful. 

I'll keep you posted. 

p.s. The other book that made me want to keep chickens was Some Writer, which I read back in 2018. 

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