Our new house has a large open backyard. We decided that our summer project would be to build a chicken coop and plant a garden for the fall. We have had a garden on multiple occasions in our married life, but we have never ventured out to raise any other animal but our dog, Maddy. Since Scott would be off for the summer, we knew we had a limited about of time to get everything done that we needed to get done before he went back to teaching. I had purchased a book at the homeschool convention called The Backyard Homestead. It is a wonderful book and makes you think you can do anything related to gardening and becoming self-sufficient with regards to feeding your family. Anyway, I sent a copy of the chicken coop plans to my dad who is a carpenter so that he could take a look at them and give us some direction. He found some other ideas and shared them with me.
That weekend I took Hannah, Nathan, and Peter to Lowes and bought some of the material we needed to begin the coop. We didn't have to purchase too much wood because we were using old fence that had fallen down during hurricane Ike several years ago. Scott and Dawson were away at Kidz Camp so I was flying solo. That didn't stop me though. After all my dad is a carpenter and surely I could run a skill saw and drill!!
With blueprints, wood, screws, skill saw, drill, and fence in hand, I went to work. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of what I built, but I couldn't take a picture while I was working!! However, I did build the base of the chicken coop all by myself. We did have to make a few minor adjustments when Scott got home, but at least I got it started!! Once Scott got home, I shared with him the ideas and after he worked a solid week on the coop, we were really close to the finished product.
Front view of the unfinished coop.
Kids peeking through the hen boxes.
Backside view of the unfinished coop.
Dawson and Peter helping to cut the chicken wire.
Scott had talked to his brother in Lufkin who has had chickens for several years now. He told him to order us some chickens and Scott's parents, who would be coming to visit his brother and family that weekend, could bring them back to us. Now we really had to have not only the coop ready, but also the pen. So on a Sunday afternoon, we all set out to finish the job. Dad came over and helped out with finishing up the doors and gates. We were now ready for our chickens!!Hannah acting like a hen.
The coop is finished!!
Scott's parents got in to late that night to deliver the hen, but the next morning 'Lil Red entered her new home.Inside the chicken pen.
Taking 'Lil Red to the coop.
But one hen was not going to suffice for the Zbylot children. Scott took them the next day to the feed store and came home with six new baby chicks. They were about a week old and were so cute. We had to keep the chicks separate from the hens because chickens can be cannibalistic!! Who knew? We kept them in a large box on the back porch with a heating lamp so they would stay warm.
'Lil Red checking out her new home.
Later in the week we had a neighbor's mother give us her hen who kept eating her tomatoes and she wanted to get rid of it. So we took in Ole Yeller!!Our new chicks exploring.
After having the hens for a little over a week, we finally got our first egg!!! It was about the size of a robin egg. You know, the malted milk kind you eat at Easter!! We didn't know what to think. How were we going to survive off eggs the size of robin eggs?!?'Lil Red and Ole Yeller getting use to each other.
Scott bought some different feed and about a week later we had our first real size egg.
I never thought in a million years having chickens would be so much fun, interesting, and entertaining. The kids have had a ball and watching the personalities of the chicks and hens has been amazing. Getting chicks has been better than getting a cat or dog for a pet.
The kids have enjoyed playing with the chicks so much. Here they are just a few days after getting them.