` Chicken of the Sound

Fast forward a few years. A new wife, a new family, a new home, a new town. And now new chickens.

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14 in all… Sicilian Buttercups, Welsummers, Jersey Blacks, and Ameraucanas. No names yet, and haven’t been keeping statistics at all. The ChickenCam isn’t on yet, but will be coming soon. Keep an eye out for an announcement about it!

I’m really excited about them, and enjoying the farm life. We’re on 20 acres in a little valley north of Sedro-Woolley, Washington. 4 cows, 6 pigs, a small orchard, as well as 4 ball pythons. Won’t be commenting much on the snakes, so don’t worry if you’re not as attracted to them as I am. 🙂

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OK, it’s my fault for not checking the local ordinances myself, and relying on word of mouth from others. The city of Oak Harbor doesn’t allow raising poultry within city limits, so my girls will have to find themselves new homes. I’m pretty bummed, but there’s not a lot I can do about it. More thoughts later, when I can think clearly.

OK, time for a bigger box. Clara fluttered to the edge of the box today.

Got a new chick today… an Araucana. They’re one of the breeds that lay blue & green eggs, so I especially wanted one. However, the feed store was out of them the week I got the others. Also, it’s time for a little rooster insurance. I really want at least 3 laying hens, and one of the current ones (Clara, the Welsummer) is already showing signs of a comb – and she’s only about 2 1/2 weeks old. It’ll be hard on most of us if she’s a he… she’s just about our favorite of all of them.

The new one is named Zelda – after the video game character. Since the kids are helping a lot with the care of the chicks, I felt it was only right to let them have a chance to name one.

I’m really loving watching the different personalities that the girls are developing… but that’s for another day.

It’s interesting how each individual gets his/her own timeline… in chickens, humans, and all God’s creatures, I guess. Emily, the smallest of our chicks, the fewest feathers, is the first one to be falling asleep standing up.

Click on the ‘ChickenCam’ button at the top of the page to see our chickens. Live camera most of the time, other times recorded.

Sure is fun watching ’em scurry around. I have to suppress the same instincts that Zeus has… I wanna go look every time there’s a sound from the box.

Dang, these things can get noisy. But that’s part of the bargain, i guess.

I love watching them try to get to sleep… everyone wants onto the bottom of the pile, I guess that’s where it’s warmest. Unfortunately, that bumps the guy on the top off, and then he has to get comfortable again.

Zeus watching "his" chicks

Zeus watching "his" chicks

Zeus, our 2-year-old St. Bernard, is constantly fascinated and/or perturbed by the new arrivals. He spends 10-15 minutes at a time with his nose on the edge of the box, watching the commotion. He’ll go and lie down, but then as soon as there’s the slightest peep, he’s back at the box again to figure out what the sound was.

simple brooder box

Lindahl Chicken Containment System (Juvenile), Mark I

Feeding: Purina Medicated Start-n-Grow

Bedding: Wood pellets, feed store calls ’em “Barn Dry”, but that’s not on the label anywhere

Keeping them in a u-haul box for now, until I get the brooder built.

150-watt clear light bulb in a brooder lamp frame.

I grew up in the suburbs east of San Francisco. Agriculture just wasn’t a part of my upbringing. I was more educated in such things than some; I never had any misconceptions about where my food was coming from, what kind of animal or plant produced each food. We just never grew anything of our own.

In my 30s & 40s, I began trying to grow things… roses, strawberries, tomatoes, etc. — the kind of thing that gets along well in a pot on the front porch. I was curious about chickens, but never quite got around to actually pursuing it. The plants went well, most of the time — as long as the weather on the Oregon coast would cooperate and not just drown things or spread various fungi all over the place.

Now here we are in Oak Harbor, Washington, a little north of Seattle on Whidbey Island, one of the many islands that dot Puget Sound. Plants are once again underway — we have roses & begonias started, and plans for planters of strawberries and pots of tomatoes. Then one day about a month ago, I walk into the feed store and see all the baby chicks peeping in their brooders. I remember the interest I’d had in fresh eggs, and got the crazy idea in my head that we could actually do such a thing. It took longest to get permission from my wife; even when she finally said “yes”, she was secretly hoping that the landlady wouldn’t allow it. However, when I got our landlady on the phone, she was not only positive but quite enthusiastic about the raising of chickens.

And so it began… researching coop & brooder designs, care & feeding, and all the other stuff that I didn’t have much of a clue about. When payday came, so did some lumber for a brooder box, and a couple of days later, my first chickens:

chicks

From left to right, Clara, Emily, Bertha, and Carrie

  • Emily, a Buff Orpington
  • Clara, a Welsummer
  • Bertha, a Jersey Black Giant
  • and last, but not least, Carrie, a Black Minorca.

They’re named after my grandmother, Emily Bertelsen (Holl), and her sisters. I’ve heard lots of stories about them growing up in the bleak landscape of eastern Montana, and I feel some small connection to an older, simpler way of life when I sit watching the chicks. I hope none of them mind me paying them some little tribute in this fashion :).

I’ll be posting regularly with stories and pictures as well as statistics. I want to keep good records of my adventure in poultry, and I hope the results will also someday help another beginner along the way.