“Chickens are the gateway drug” people told us and that once we had some birds, it was all downhill from there. Our little flock started with six laying hens purchased from the local feed store in the spring of 2016.
When we bought our log house, it came with a beautiful barn that was obviously lovingly built just like our home was. But being fresh from suburban life our first thoughts on the barn were “We can host great parties!” Our realtor even suggested tearing it down to reroute our driveway, but we definitely wanted to keep this charming piece of our new property in tact.
The barn needed some work as well. Three of the windows had been broken so they needed to be replaced as well as all of the glass cleaned up. The stall walls where horses were previously kept had all been ripped down. There was still a chicken coop inside the barn but the door was missing.
We hosted one big bash to celebrate the success of our renovation, complete with hanging lights in the barn and a bonfire out back. After that was out of our system, we weren’t quite sure what to do with it.
Come springtime after our first winter, it only seemed natural to put some animals in it, it is a barn afterall. So, like most, we started with chickens. Just so you know, I never grew up around a barn or farm animals and although my husband had spent some time around farm animals as a child, he certainly wasn’t a farmer now. We didn’t really know anyone yet that kept chickens so we were on our own. We’re those people, city folks that were wanting to live out in the country. Our evolution had begun and we had only been in Alaska for a year.
We read some books and spoke to the owner of the local feed store and settled on three Americaunas, two Buff Orpingtons, and a Moran, all cold-hardy birds that do well in the Alaskan climate. We bought the other supplies needed and housed our baby chicks in a horse feed bin turned brooder box in the barn while we fixed up the chicken coop.
We were excited, in only six months we would have fresh eggs of our own! The girls absolutely loved the chicks and spent much of their time playing in the barn. We were hooked, well at least I was, poor James didn’t know what he had gotten himself into. No more barn parties…
We put a new door on the coop and made some other improvements including fixing the lighting, building a roost and nesting boxes, and hanging their waterer and feeder. There was already a small door cut out of the barn leading outside so we built a ramp and cover for that and put up a fence so they could go outside but be enclosed in their coop at night, safe from predators.
Then came the big day…our first eggs! The months of waiting and caring for and learning about these amazing creatures had paid off. To this day we keep count of how many eggs we get and the excitement never gets old. Fresh eggs from your own birds can’t be beat!
We know our chickens well and who lays which egg. We know that they are tenderly cared for by our family, what they eat, that they have fresh water and receive delicious scraps. And all of that is noticeable in the delicious, healthy eggs that they lay us.
We have since added to our little barn. We now have fourteen layers, three roosters, four ducks, two geese, and a cow, not to mention meat chickens and turkeys during the summers. Who knew it would all start with a few chickens?!