Our growing family

Well, I've really done it. I've been thinking about this for nearly a year, talking about it for the past several months, and yesterday it all came together.

We have chickens.

Say hello to the girls. At the far right in the back is Maisy. Near the front on the left is bold little Betty, and…well…not sure about the name for the third gal yet. All my friends are suggesting names, but none is really striking me yet.

These ladies were shipped from the Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa on Aug. 15 and arrived on my doorstep at about 9:30 AM the next day. They were very quiet in their snug little shipping container. When I opened up the top and began to reach inside to move them from box to Eglu run, they got a bit agitated. I was glad to find that I could slip the whole container into the Eglu run, tear down a side of the box, and leave them to exit the box on their own.

When I peaked back at them about an hour later, they were all outside the shipping box pecking away at their food and water. In addition to the laying feed in their food dish, I gave them some active culture cottage cheese topped with some raisins and a bit of leftover bread. By the end of the day, the cottage cheese mixture was thoroughly devoured.

The girls are technically pullets: immature hens. They should start laying in about 4-6 weeks. So, I must be patient…

They are a Rhode Island Red hybrid called a Red Star or Red Sex-Link. This breed is supposed to be hardy, friendly, and an excellent layer of brown eggs. As they mature, their feathers will become ginger-colored, with just a touch of white around the tail.

Introducing these girls to the canine girls, Hannah and Sadie, is going to take some time. I had to block off the side yard from the dogs since they became much too agitated and boisterous around the chickens yesterday afternoon. They charged the run and Sadie started barking a lot, which really worked the chooks up. The more agitated the chickens became, the more agitated the dogs became and it was not a pretty sight. I ended up physically hauling the dogs away from the run and holding them in place until all calmed down a bit and I could move the dogs out of the yard. Yes, I could have handled that initial introduction better!

The dogs have not given up in their quest to get to the chickens, though. Hopefully Hannah and Sadie will not drive me totally nuts today as they occasionally break out in a whining binge. 

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7 thoughts on “Our growing family

  1. Actually, the rules are quite lenient. You can look up the code on the Internet. The only prohibition around keeping chickens is in 7-12-300, which refers to "Ban of unlicensed possession of animals for slaugher." A direct quote:

    No person shall own, keep or otherwise possess, or slaughter any sheep, goat, pig, cow or the young of such species, poultry, rabbit, dog, cat, or any other animal, intending to use such animal for food purposes.
    This section is applicable to any cult that kills (sacrifices) animals for any type of ritual, regardless of whether or not the flesh or blood of the animal is to be consumed; except that Kosher slaughtering is exempted from this ordinance.
    Nothing in this ordinance is to be interpreted as prohibiting any licensed establishment from slaughtering for food purposes any animals which are specifically raised for food purposes.
    So, since I'm not going to slaughter the girls in my backyard, my little home egg operation is completely legit.


  2. Hooray! You did it! Welcome to the world of urban chickens, Linda. And what fine looking pullets you have (and is that a red Eglu in the background?).Do they lay brown eggs or white?


  3. Yay for chooks! Im looking forward to having my own in the spring, and intend for them to work in conjunction with my vege patches, permaculture style. it is always so inspiring to read about other people keeping chickens in an urban environment. Yay for you 🙂


  4. I noticed your posts on backyardchickens forum, and had to come check out your site, as I know no one else in Chicago raising chickens. We've had our flock 4 yrs, so if you have any questions on feed stores, vets, etc don't hesitate to ask. A word of warning, Chicago does have racoons, we lost most of our first flock to the lock picking scoundrel!


  5. Linda, I posted a comment for your post re: proposed ordinance changes here in Chicago. I hadn't seen these photos, though. What lovely girls. I just want to echo FEED's comment about coons, and add possums to the list. We just stood in the backyard at midnight when we discovered that Marilla, our precious Rhode Island Red, had gotten nabbed by a possum. They aren't as aggressive as raccoons, but they are opportunistic. Also, I wanted to ask you…are you concerned at all about the cold with your Eglu? (I love those and thought they were so Mac-like and stylin' when I saw them on the UK company site a couple years ago.) I'm just concerned that they wouldn't be very insulated. You'll find that opinion varies about how much protection from cold people feel is necessary. The coop I built is pretty tight and somewhat insulated. Do you have any concerns about this? Steven Edgewater, Chicago


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