Our guest blogger for today is my youngest sister, Chicken Farmer, who is one of the residents of Double S Farms.  Guess what!?  They are ready for chickens!

Many of you have read Noelle’s post, (A Small House, Transplants and Chickens), about our plans to bring some chickens to Double S Farms.  Well, the time has almost come and our little chicks should be arriving in the mail next week.  We are beyond excited.

We have lived at Double S Farms for just about a year now and have been toying around with the chicken idea ever since we moved in.  This past October, we went on a self-guided tour of the Valley’s coolest urban poultry set-ups (The Phoenix Tour de Coops).  Talking with the chicken owners, seeing their chickens and coop setups, and learning about the benefits of having our own backyard flock sealed the deal.

Since I don’t do much of the gardening at Double S Farms, I have volunteered myself to be the “Chicken Farmer” and have jumped into the role wholeheartedly.  There are several things I have done to get us ready for our new adventure.

First and foremost, I had to get a pair of boots.  I have always loved and adored boots of all kinds so getting my very own pair of Hunter Wellingtons, was a top priority (well, top priority to me).  I know, I know….seriously, if I have to scoop chicken poop, I’d like to look stylish while doing so.

In addition, I’ve read countless books on raising chickens and have spent hours gleaning information from websites like The City Chicken and The Backyard Chicken.  I’ve even joined the Phoenix Permaculture Guild and taken some local classes on raising hens.

The next thing on the agenda was to design the coop.  We explored several different coop setups on the “Tour de Coops” and the coop we liked the best was made from a converted shed.  So we converted an 8′ x 10′ shed of our own.  The chickens will have plenty of room to roam in their 25′ x 20′ fenced in yard around the coop.  We are hoping to let them out into the larger yard a few hours each day to do some “hunting”.  We have a lot of scorpions around Double S Farms and chickens love to snack on them.

The coop is just about finished.  We still need to paint the exterior, finish some work on the fence, and build up a berm around the fence to protect them from the flood irrigation.

Once we finished the majority of the coop, we started on our brooder.  A brooder is a box or cage of some sort where you can raise young chicks and keep them warm until they are fully feathered and ready to move into their coop.  Baby chicks can’t regulate their body temperatures so a heated brooder is essential.  Fortunately, brooders don’t need to be too fancy so a giant Rubbermaid box, some pine shavings, a feeder, waterer, heat lamp and thermometer are all we need.

Once we had all of those preparations in order, we sat down and decided how many and what types of chickens we would order.  Overall, we’d like to have a flock of 8 hens.  Since egg laying productivity starts to decline after a year and a half or so, we decided to order 4 chicks now and then another 4 or 5 chicks next year.  That way, we’ll always have a few hens that are in their egg-laying “prime”.

I have boys that are 2 and 3 years old.  they will be very involved in helping me with the hens so it is essential that we have breeds that are a bit more friendly and social, which is why we chose to order two Easter Eggers (mixed breed), a Barred Plymouth Rock, and a Buff Orpington.  Not only are they better “pets” than some other breeds, they are also hardier to our summer heat (although precautions still need to be taken when it gets extreme).

Buff Orpington Chicken (Wikepedia photo)

About a week ago, we ordered our four chicks from MyPetChicken.com.  Sometime next week, they will express mail our little day-old chicks to us.  I’m still baffled about receiving live animals in the mail, but apparently it is very common.  Chicks can live for 2-3 days without any additional food or water since they are still receiving nourishment from their yolk so they should be fine in transport.

I’m sure  Noelle will keep you all posted on our chicken raising adventures and I always appreciate any advice or tips that anyone has to offer a novice like me.

*Noelle here….I will keep you updated as to when the chicks arrive next week.  I will be going with my sister to pick them up at the post office because I am sure you all will be waiting with baited breath to see photos of their arrival 😉

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

19 replies
  1. Liza
    Liza says:

    What a great post. Informative and interesting. Plus, it's so important for families to have access to fresh eggs – it's a wonderful gift to give to your kids. Keep up the good work, and yes, Noelle, keep us posted!

  2. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    This is exciting and I can hardly wait to see pictures. This post was very interesting. I think the coop looks great.

    Enjoy the egg-sperience. 🙂

    FlowerLady

  3. Teresa O
    Teresa O says:

    Hello! What a venture you're undertaking…I admire your pluck (pun intended). And my isn't that a handsome chicken in such a lovely buff color!

    I enjoyed reading your post and I wish you loads of luck in your chicken journey!

  4. The Running Garlic
    The Running Garlic says:

    Congratulations on the soon to arrive baby chicks! We have 3 Rhode Island Red hens and are still receiving an egg a day from each (for the most part). They are very entertaining to watch and your children will love them! We tried keeping a rooster but he was loud, ornery and would attack everyone…so hens only from now on!

  5. Christine B.
    Christine B. says:

    You certainly did your homework! Your set-up looks very nice, though the part about chickens eating scorpions made me shiver. What a fun concept: an urban chicken coop tour. Wish we had that here in Alaska.

    Christine B.

  6. Yan
    Yan says:

    Yay, chick photos, can't wait. That is a very posh coop, more like a five star chicken hotel. I think they're going to be very spoilt chickens but if they take on the scorpions they'll have earned it!

  7. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    That's funny, I've just been drafting a post myself for tomorrow, as we ordered chicks this morning too!

    Congratulations on finishing your coop! I remember how much work that was when we built ours. I can't wait to see your chicks (or mine for that matter). We just ordered Golden Lace Wyandottes, Delawares, Black Australorps, Partridge Plymouth Rocks, and of course, more Buff Orps! We love our Buff Orps! Our won't arrive until March 29th though…we have a few other things to work on here first.

    Baby chicks means it must almost be spring!

  8. JGH
    JGH says:

    OH my – I just got a chicken coop but haven't put it together yet. and this post makes me realize how totally UNPREPARED I am!! Ack! I don't even have a pair of boots!

    Thanks for the links – I need to study up. (BTW the Storey guides to Raising Chickens are supposed to be good textbooks!)

    Looking forward to following chickenfarmer's progress!

  9. debsgarden
    debsgarden says:

    I didn't know that chicks would eat scorpions! I am looking forward to seeing your little chicks and watching them grow. I envy all the chicken poop fertilizer coming your way!

  10. James Missier
    James Missier says:

    It gave me a shock when you mentioned that the chickens can scorpions for snack!

    Good luck for the new endevour – Im pretty sure everyone is very excited when the new chicks arrives.

  11. Shady Gardener
    Shady Gardener says:

    You have done your homework! I'm passing the address of your post to my daughter. I'm not sure if they're seriously considering this anymore, but it might give them something to think about! 🙂 At any rate, it looks wonderful. Enjoy and best wishes for great success!

  12. Rosie (Leaves n Bloom)
    Rosie (Leaves n Bloom) says:

    Hi Noelle

    My friend has Buff Orpington chickens and they are so beautiful – she wants me to do a feature on them too someday on my blog.

    Hey Hunter boots! best boots in the world and I am sure they are alot cheaper in the USA than they are over here.

    Looking forward to seeing those chicks.

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