Sunday, November 3, 2013

New Additions to our Family

Unless our next dog is a puppy, this is as close to babies as we will ever have.  So, forgive us if we start posting pictures to FB or talking about our chickens as if we were parents of a actual children.

A little background...
In July of 2012 I sent an email to the City of North Liberty inquiring about urban chickens.  The response I received was basically, "it's been brought up and we're not even considering it".  I was definitely disappointed, and we started questioning if we wanted to live in a town that was anti-urban chickens.  To us, the benefits of raising your own food in the form of a garden was similar to raising chickens for their eggs, and we didn't understand why North Liberty was so against it.  So, we briefly looked into moving.  Madison...?

I was shocked this spring to see it appear in the city council agenda.  Wes and I happily attended the first meeting in which the council would decide if it was worth moving forward with updating the city ordinance.  By a slim margin, they proceeded!  The process was slow moving, but we kept up with contacting the city with our questions and concerns as they changed the ordinance. In the end, it's not ideal, but it's good enough.  Before the end of 2014 it will be brought up again for discussion, or it will sunset and we will need to get rid of our coop and chickens.  We hope during this process we can not only convince the city council that the ordinance should remain, but also lighten some of the restrictions.  As it is, we can have 4 hens in a coop that is 25 feet from our property line and 10 feet from our house.

The chicks...
After taking the required class, we applied for the permit and was granted our wish along with 4 bands that will eventually make it onto the feet of our still-to-small chickens.

We are the first in North Liberty to get our permit!!!

We ordered the chicks through Murray McMurray.  If we wanted day-old chicks, we would have to purchase 20.  Umm, no.  Once they get to 4 weeks old they will ship them individually, so we went with that option.  A little more expensive, but worth it.  Since they are a local company, I had hoped we could just drive over and pick them up.  But, we were told they wouldn't allow it since they are kept off site. The day before they shipped I was contacted by the chicken raising people and found out they will be mailed from Texas.  That's definitely off site!

Shipped with cucumbers to keep them alive.

Clockwise from the top: Rhode Island Red, Black Star, Red Star, Black Australorp (I think...?)

First day outside in Iowa.

The coop...
The coop has been in process for longer than we had anticipated, but it's coming together well.  We found some plans, and some inspiration here (scroll way down for the pictures) and here.  The siding is almost the same color as the siding on our house.  The roof is metal in somewhat the same shade as our shingle roof.  There are two functional windows that can be opened in the warmer days, vents up top to help keep the coop dry in the winter, a nesting box with two nests, and the entire thing is insulated.  The inside still needs walls as well, which are made using tub-surround type plastic.  Soon it will have gutters, soffits, and a run.

Almost done with the siding.  The nesting box (thing sticking out from the side)
is made from the bottoms of the pickets that will eventually be used along the run.

The access door is on the left.  Coming out from under the window side
will eventually be a 4'x8' run.  Under the coop with also be fenced off.

The neighbors...
Before moving it to the backyard, we contacted each of our direct neighbors to give them a heads up of what our latest project was.  We were somewhat surprised with how receptive the neighbors were.  The most common request was to let their kids visit.  Of course the can! We've even had a few visit already.

Is it worth it...?
We are sometimes asked if we will come out even with the cost of the coop and the cost of eggs.  Unless we sell the coop for about what we paid to build it, no.  But, the ability to just walk out the back door and gather eggs is priceless (well, not completely, but you get what I mean, right?).  I wonder sometimes if we break even on our garden.  I do know that the price of our coop and chickens is less than what we have paid in vet bills this year for our dog and nothing edible comes out his butt!

And, the journey begins...