As those of you know who visit regularly, we have taken the plunge and gotten a small flock of chickens. This has been nothing but a joyful experience so far, and with two little girls who love a “full breakfast” which includes lots of over-easy eggs, a cost saving one. We approached getting our flock as frugally as possible. The first step was retrieving the old chicken coop (from days of old) out of its resting place on the hillside. We wanted to use it as a model for our own.
It was clear to us that it was not to be salvaged, so John sat out to use what he could from it to create a new coop. We went to Lowes and bought about $60 worth of wood, chicken wire, nails, screws, hinges, and a hook and eye lock. John spent all of one day and part of another building the coop without a pattern. He used the old coop as an example. He enjoyed every minute of it. Deladis could not wait until it would be filled with birds. “When it is all done, the chickens will fly out of the sky and into the new house,” she said. We used two drawers from an old wardrobe for the nesting boxes and the project was ready for its inhabitants.
The next step was purchasing our feathered friends. Our primary use for these birds will be eggs. We’ll eat them if we have to for whatever reason, but we really value the eggs more than anything. I had done some research and thought we’d look for some Rhode Island Reds or something similar. They just sounded like they would be good layers. We left the girls with John’s mother and went to the stock sale at Staffordsville (Paintsville) in Johnson County, Kentucky. Now, that is a true hillbilly stock sale. It was awesome to simply walk through, just like I did when I was a kid. It hadn’t changed at all. On one side there were animals, country wares, guns, and ammo. On the other side they had some produce, bootleg media, and bootleg fashion, along with yard sale type items.
On the side with the animals, there were goats, pot belly pigs, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and hunting dogs. Everything a good mountaineer needs for a little family farm. I could have taken home one of everything, but chickens were our mission. After some looking, and talking with vendors, we were directed by a lady to her brother that had brought some laying hens to sale for their dad. On the way to visit his spot, John was recognized by some up and coming young old time musicians and their dad. He played a coupleof tunes with them, then we talked to our man with the hens.
His hens were gorgeous. He had some Rhode Island Reds, but I had my eye on some he called Golden Comets. They were beautiful girls and he had a glorious looking rooster to go with them. He had a good price on them at $12 a piece and $18 for the rooster. John and I walked the sale to talk it over. A man offered us a bunch of white hens and a rooster for $50 (6 in all), but they didn’t look nearly as healthy. We decided we wanted the Comets and went in search for an ATM. By the time we got back, the man had sold all his beautiful big laying/dual purpose hens. No Golden Comets for us. All he had left were a small brood of what looked to be game hens. He called them small stock chickens. He said they would lay for us and would be fine for that. He asked $10 a piece for them. We dove in head first as the fellow seemed to treat his animals well and looked trustworthy. We picked out three hens. Two brownish buff colored ones with a single red comb, and a buff, black, and brown mix.
The man reached in to give me the lightest of the three ladies. I took her with two hands (mind you I’ve never in my life held a chicken) as I had seen in all the pictures of folks holding chickens. She commenced to squawking and wiggling. Soon, she was out of my arms (I still don’t know how that happened. I know I had her good.) and taking to the woods. John, the man’s son, and I chased the hen all over that stock sale and across the busy two lane road several times. The man’s son finally caught her under a brush pile. 🙂 John took the other two ladies to the truck without my help.
The rooster the man had for $18 was too big for our little ladies, so we bought two roosters from the man with the white chickens for $10. That included the cage. I figured we could eat the weaker at some point, and keep the healthier for the hens. They were smaller men and more suited to our hens. They looked to be of a similar breed.
We got them home and chose the younger of the two roosters to put in with the girls. The older has been spending the nights in the woods and coming down for food in the mornings. He seems content enough. We are trying to lure him into staying closer to home. The hens and young rooster have settled into the coop nicely and have given us two eggs since Saturday. I think that is pretty good considering they’ve only been with us two days. Their eggs are small and white. One of them had two green speckles. The yolks are a deep orange. Yummy!
We have named all five of them. The one that made a break for it at the stock sale we call Lucille. She is very vocal. The darkest one, who’s a bit quieter, but looks so wise, we call Ida Lee. The other lighter one thinks she’s pretty and holds her own. We call her Bobby Lou. They are named for our grandmothers. The young rooster is Big Sexy. He fits the name so well. And our old man is Roy Roo.
John bought the lumber today to build them a chicken run. I can’t wait to see them out and scratching. Things are coming together with our little place. I’m sure this coop is a coup de jour. I have a feeling we will be expanding. 🙂