Since the first idea of moving to country and buying the land for the farm, we have discussed what animals could provide us with entertainment, income and food.  The first animals added were the dogs, obviously for  entertainment and as guard animals for the property, though the goofy Mastiff guards us by chasing deer, his size up the driveway and greets the neighbors like long lost friends.  We have observed him getting between us and the neighbor’s somewhat threatening male pitbull.

     We started riding lessons and horse care in preparation of adding a couple of horses to the farm for riding, again entertainment.   A couple of grass raised beef cattle to provide meat are also in the plan, but the large animals require some improvement of the property fencing which we haven’t yet begun.
     Each week we spend between $7 to $8 on freerange eggs at the farmer’s market and a freerange chicken goes for about $7 per pound.  Chickens are relatively easy to raise and require minimal equipment.  For the past two springs, I have thought about starting a free range flock of laying hens and if successful, adding some meat birds to the farm critters.  Today, we were going out to the Amish community in our county to look at the chicken coops that they build and realized that they have opened a Tractor Supply in our county seat.  This necessitated a stop-in and discovered that it is already Chick Days.  We left with 8 chicks, a heat lamp, feeder, waterer, pine chips and chick feed.  Once home, they were bedded down in a large galvanized tub that we had in the garage.  Set up in the heated part of the basement, they are safe from the dogs until they are old enough to introduce and put outdoors.  

     We did go on to look at the coops and decided that the ones they build are too large and too expensive for my small flock needs.  I discussed with hubby, just buying some framing wood and a sheet of marine grade plywood and building one using some of the extra house roofing metal for the roof.  He decided that was more of a task than we were willing to tackle right now and we had seen a more appropriate sized and priced coop in town, so we went back to measure and ask questions about that coop.  It will house according to the literature, up to 20 chickens, the salesman said 15 was probably more appropriate, so we decided to purchase one and maybe add another half dozen meat chickens.  This will be delivered sometime next week and since we have at least 3 or 4 weeks before the chicks can be moved outdoors, I will have time to put a 12 foot square of chicken wire around the coop to help them adjust and help the dogs adjust to the new critters on the property.

     By mid July, we should be getting eggs and should have a few roosters and meat chickens to put in the freezer.  Farming other than my vegetable and fruit garden has commenced.