So it was exactly a year ago that I got sucked into this crazy backyard chicken idea... not that I hadn't already had the seed planted in my mind. When we moved out to the country, I thought briefly about having chickens, planting a garden, doing some country living type things... but LATER, like when the kids are old enough to do most of the work later. :)
Then a friend from church called me. They live in town and had gotten chickens, and then found out that it wasn't quite allowed or something like that, so they needed a country home.
WHAT WAS I THINKING!??!?! We said yes!
Enter Sunshine and Mocha...
So we didn't really have time to plan and make a coop for cheap, etc. So we bought this handy dandy little coop off the internet and assembled it. It's nice, it's small. Holds 4-5 chickens comfortably and has 2 nice nesting boxes on the side. It works great!
Then not even 2 months later we had our first unwelcome visitor. He/She just wandered around and wandered off.
Then, Mocha started CROWING, and growing a pretty, plummy tail... and I began to suspect he was a Rooster and not a hen!! Can I just say that ONE hen isn't going to provide enough eggs for a family of 6!!
The end of July is when we got our first egg... I was sooo excited, this is what I so wanted.
shortly after that I found a friend of a friend that sold us 2 Buff Orpingtons to help fill our egg cartons
And fill it they did... This makes me happy...
Our chickens did a great job of surviving our very mild winter... I'm pretty sure this was from October's snowstorm, one of 2 or 3 we had all year!
I confess, when you want to leave town to visit family and friends... chickens can be a real pain. because nobody else enjoys them like you do... nobody else gets excited about the farm fresh eggs... nobody else wants to be responsible for putting food out every morning and putting it away in the garage every night... opening the coop and closing the coop, to protect these fun birds. ...Nobody!
So over Christmas break when we were only going to be gone for 2 nights, we chanced it. Bought a water heater to keep the water from freezing overnight, filled the feeder with some extra feed and wrapped plastic around the chicken wire for added protection. ... and they survived just fine!!
Besides the great eggs they provide, they also provide some entertainment... like this game of "Queen of the Roost"
and skritch/scratching around the yard and in the leaves... etc. --although having my kids panic when Mocha is "attacking" or "hurting" one of the hens isn't something I bargained for (another negative of a rooster)
SO when we decided to go away for Easter, I figured we could do the same thing... Problem is, bears aren't hibernating anymore, and the plastic wasn't wrapped around the chicken wire anymore, and we were gone for 3 nights... and we came home to this... (horrible quality pic, and I had already righted the run, and picked up the food dish) the coop is on it's side... wood pieces broken off and the water dispenser and food dispenser were each in pieces... surprisingly all four chickens were still there!
We righted the coop and set the run aside; it was pretty wobbly and my chickens became completely free range chickens. A few days later, my husband heard a ruckus outside in the middle of the night, went to investigate and found a bear had snapped the nesting boxes off the coop and flipped the coop AGAIN!! Only one chicken was in the coop when he went to investigate...
But early the next morning, I heard my rooster crowing away again... and all the hens were in the yard!!
Then 2 weeks later, my husband was out of town for five days... and I'm not a light sleeper, so I didn't hear the ruckus... and I woke up to THIS!!
So, my kids were late to school that day! I was a little panicked... how am I supposed to deal with these things with my hubby out of town???!!? and there were an awful lot of feathers there in the run and not a chicken in sight. But I couldn't go searching... kids needed fed, lunches needed gathered, children needed to get to school!!
When I returned home later that day, I wandered around a little bit... and these appeared... MINUS ONE!
I tried not to cry over one lost chicken... but my husband was out of town, and I was exhausted, and discouraged, and my afternoon was spent trying to reassemble and secure the broken coop so that the remaining chickens would have a chance of survival. It was pathetic to say the least.
SO... now I just don't know what to do... was this just a fling, a fad?!!? What do I do next? I have one rooster, one hen that isn't laying and one hen is...Not much! Do I build a bigger, better coop? Buy more chickens and make it worth my while? Or do I find a farm who wants some more chickens??!?! and when we want to go visit family and I can't find anyone willing to check in on my chickens.... then what??!?! Is it worth the stress?!?! .... help!!
My sweet husband is so awesome. He has repaired the coop a few times now... added some wood supports, lots more screws, etc. But he's pretty sure it won't last another bear visit.
He is so awesome that he is willing to help me in my endeavors, but he hates to see me get worked up over finding a "chicken sitter" and worrying about the bears and all.... So the decision is mine... but I don't know what to do!!!??!!! ... anybody wanna come chicken sit for me on occasion!?!?
Any advice?!?!? any suggestions?!??! I'm taking votes... keep the chickens or get rid of them?!