We finally got our chicks this week! After so long planning and building the coop, it felt awesome to bring home chicks. There’s something about having livestock that makes this whole urban homestead thing feel much more real than simply having a large garden.
I wish I could say that this first week has been all wonderfulness and fuzzy tiny chicken butts, but that hasn’t been the case. We ended up losing a few chicks in the first few days after bringing them home.
After lots of struggle and heartache (and pretty much as little response from the original farm as possible), we finally stabilized the chicks that did survive, and we bought a few more from the Monroe Co-Op.
Showing the employee there the photos of the original chicks, she agreed that we had been misled to their age (they were definitely younger than we were told), and even we could tell the new chicks were much healthier with just a week of chick keeping under our belts.
I didn’t really want to talk about the rough experience we’ve had out of the gate, especially as the Enneagram 3 in me felt like a total failure for losing chicks right out of the gate. Even though I had seasoned chicken keeping friends tell me it wasn’t my fault, it sure felt like it was. Finally now, with the new chicks, I’m realizing it really wasn’t my fault.
Instead of pushing the original farm to reimburse us for the loss or blasting them on social media, I’ve decided to just let it go and move on. They had help wanted signs up and everyone has struggled through Covid, so I’m attempting to go with grace here. And simply never recommend anyone their way. If you’re local, I will however recommend the Monroe Co-Op.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. After months of hard work, the coop was finally finished, as I talked about last week. Looking at the prebuilt ones we could have purchased, we definitely saved a lot of money building it ourselves with a lot of salvaged materials, and it’s much bigger and more secure as well.
On top of that, I feel much more competent through the process of building it ourselves. When we finally get around to now building a greenhouse, I’m going to be able to use those skills there. I’ll still want help with the design, but I can do a lot more myself now. And that feels awesome.
2. I may have started with the bad news, but ultimately, getting chicks has felt like very good news. I’ve been hanging out in my “chicken sauna,” ie the extra warm coop with two heat lamps, for a few hours every day.
There’s something about the quiet peeping and scratching and pecking of the chicks that is calming to my soul. It may have only been a week so far, but I am so happy to be settling into my new role as chicken lady.
3. When we went to the Monroe Co-Op to pick up replacement chicks and more bedding, I also signed up for their annual membership. For $100, we get 10% off all of our purchases for the year. I expect we will now be getting all of our supplies from there, so it will definitely pay for itself.
I had previously looked at getting bedding delivered from another local place in order to skip an Amazon purchase, but the delivery fee would have ended up being $50 for $60 worth of bedding…. There’s a reason it’s so hard to quit Amazon.
Instead, we’ll just be driving out to Monroe on the semi regular and filling my trunk with bags of bedding each trip. They’re cheaper anyway, and even more so with the additional 10% off.
4. Perhaps not the thing that most urban homesteaders get super excited for when it comes to keeping chickens, but I am very much looking forward to the chicken manure we’ll be getting as they grow older.
Chicken manure is pretty much the best compost ever for the garden, and having my own source shifts us a bit more in the self sufficiency direction.
5. The kiddo has wanted a farm since he was two years old, and he’s been thrilled with his new status as chicken farmer. Losing those chicks at the beginning was tough on both of us, but I was so proud of how well he handled it. If he really wants a farm someday like he always talks about, being able to deal with livestock death is an important thing to learn.
He has been so involved in the whole process this far, and is happy to help with all parts including cleaning the coop and filling the food and water. He’s also planning ahead to his egg selling business – including telling me that some of the proceeds will help people without homes like Mama does. That kid sure does make me proud.