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We started our chicken adventures back in 2017. A family in town was downsizing their flock and gave us four Rhode Island Red Hens. They were so big and beautiful and fluffy. I was hooked! It wasn’t long before we expanded our chicken yard and my husband build a bigger coop to accommodate what was coming. We connected with the Chicken Man… a fellow in town who is in the chicken business. He guarantees hens and has them ready to pick up when they are about 2-3 months old. The reason this is nice is that you don’t need a brooder (a special box for chicks with a heat source). We got our first round of pullets (young hens) in Spring 2018. We have been in the rhythm of adding to our flock at least once a year since then.
We seem to maintain about 25 chickens in our flock. We went for several years with no predators or mishaps. Our coop was basically a box on stilts and the yard was uncovered other than the natural covering from the trees on the backside. Eventually, the predators began to find our girls. We have lost some to hawks, some to what we think are coyotes… maybe raccoons… maybe possums… we aren’t sure. And some of the ladies have died of what seems to be natural causes. Such is the life of chicken owning.
We adjust when we can. We are on our third coop now. It is bigger… an 8 ft by 8 ft shed that my husband built. We’ve gradually increased the height of the fence and now have covered the yard with fencing as well. The ladies are in a secured, Fort Knox kind of situation. Of course, I am sure there are weaknesses in the fort. We often walk around, check for holes, patch things here and there, and make sure things are secure. For now, I think we are in a good situation.
Sometime in the last year, we went to the chicken man to get our yearly pullets. We had pre-ordered a few- a Brown Leghorn, a Lavender Orpington, a Barred Rock, and a Mottled Java. When we went to pick up the girls, I noticed a cage with some Bantam Frizzles in it. For the most part, we try to stick to the breeds that are good, consistent layers, but every now and then I like to get something fun! The previous Spring, my husband had surprised us with chicks from Tractor Supply- a Silkie and 2 Polish. Unfortunately, one of the Polish and the Silkie didn’t make it into the coop one night and therefore didn’t make it through the night. Something found a hold in the fence and crept in to get them.
I was still mourning the loss of these two favorite chickens and thought maybe getting a Frizzle would ease my pain. After we paid for it, the Chicken Man informed us that those chickens were straight run… meaning he couldn’t guarantee if it was a boy or a girl. My husband and I decided to take our chances and took it home. I was secretly hoping for a rooster. I’m not sure why. I just thought it might be fun. I decided the hold the little one frequently just in case it was a rooster to make sure it would be friendly.
A few months went by and we moved the new little flock in with the others. We have a small coop to the side of the big yard where we house newcomers for a time. This also serves as the quarantine coop if someone needs to have a little alone time for a while. We moved the little ones over and they found their place amongst the established flock. Everyone seemed to be getting along.
One day, we heard crowing. Now… up until this point, we have never had a rooster. We didn’t want the noise. We didn’t want to be bad or annoying neighbors. We weren’t necessarily interested in hatching chicks. It turned out the crowing wasn’t a big deal. We actually have a hen that crows. She’s a Golden-Laced Wyandotte. She has one eye. She’s cranky. She crows. I don’t know why. To hear crowing coming from the chicken yard wasn’t surprising.
But this crowing was different. It was happening more frequently and throughout the day. Old Blind Betty usually only crows three or four times in the morning and that’s it. This crowing was much more frequent. This crowing was coming from that little Bantam Frizzle. My kids said if it was a girl, they would name her Ms. Frizzle, but since it was a boy, they named it Arnold.
So… now we have Arnold. Our accidental rooster. We weren’t planning for him. We didn’t necessarily want him. We thought about getting rid of him. In fact, I posted on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted him. But he’s so darn cute. His crow isn’t really that loud and he’s not an aggressive rooster. The only reason I posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted him was because I was a little nervous for his safety. The hens didn’t find him to be nearly as charming as he thought himself to be.
But! We kept him.
And then we thought… well… as long as we have a rooster, let’s get an incubator and give hatching chicks a try. We borrowed an incubator from a friend. Our first attempt didn’t work out. I dropped the ball on paying attention to the humidity. My husband got me an incubator of my own for Mother’s Day and we gave it another try. Two of the twelve eggs we put in developed and we had success. I see Mr. Arnold pursuing lots of the ladies, but I’m honestly not sure who lays which eggs so I wasn’t sure which ones to try in the incubator.
Two was perfect. Watching the process was so amazingly fun. I think my husband was the most excited of all. He was on chick watch all day on day 21. They pipped and he called us all in. My daughter set up her camera to time-lapse and capture the process. See her video HERE. Within 24 hours of the first pip, we had two little fluff balls. We are so hoping they are girls. Because… as fun as Arnold is, we really don’t need more roosters in the flock!