Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Own Urban Farm

Richmond and the area surrounding it is the home to many Urban farms that support and educate the people living in these communities. I have looked at and reviewed quite a  few farms (see earlier posts) and I have been inspired by each and every one of them. Them something came to me - if all these other farmers and able to grow and produce food locally, support the community and environment , why can't I?

Obviously because I go to school everyday and do homework every night I can not independently run a local farm that produces like Origins or Tricycle Gardens but maybe I could do something on a smaller scale, like chickens!

So I have decided that with no expertise, a small backyard in Henrico County, a dog, a cat, two siblings, and a computer that I am going to raise chickens. The first thing I needed to do was research, I contacted a few people I know who were already raising chickens and learned there was a lot more to it than I thought.

For the first 5-8 weeks chickens need to stay in a brooder box and be kept warm. When they first arrive the box should be 95 degrees and then each week you decrease the temperature by 5 degrees until it reaches outside temperature. Considering that it is the middle of October this make take longer then expected. Chickens also need special feed and attention for the first weeks.

But, because chicken ordering season is almost over I had to get on it fast so the first step was to order chickens. I am getting a total of 6 hens (and hopefully no rosters, there is a 6% chance). A couple of the breeds I got are referred to as lap chickens (they are very social)! Below are the pictures of the chickens I am getting:

Black Frizzle Cochin Bantam 

Welsummer Bantam 

White Crested Blue Polish 

Golden Buff

My friends dad owns a construction company and very kindly donated wood to build my chicken coop. I created plans based on pictures and designs of other coops I had seen. Each chicken needs an average of 2 to 4 square feet inside the coop and then the same amount of outside space. This may seem like as easy requirement to meet but the big deal is making it predator proof. EVERYTHING eats chickens. Snakes, birds, hawks, raccoons, rats, dogs, cats and may other animals. This means that every little hole needs to be sealed. This weekend I worked on building the coop. The first step (because the wood was untreated) was to prime all the wood. This would help it withstand outside weather. The second step was to assemble the frame. I only got this far in this process but the next step will be to attach siding, make the roof, make the nesting boxes and paint the coop. 

But in the meantime I had some research to do. My chickens will be arriving soon and it would be nice if I knew something about chicken care. I found a wonderful research website called mypetchicken.com which gave me all the basics about what they eat, how they behave and how to keep then happy but I really needed someone with firsthand experience. I contacted two family friends who already raised chickens and they both were very kind and informative. 

My chickens are arriving on October 15th and they will be 2 days old. I will keep you posted on how things are going with my own little Urban farm! 

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