Our Chickens: Hermione & Jesse

We bought two chickens on September 29, 2017 from Old Town Horse & Pet.
They've been a wonderful addition to our country life!
I want to keep track of things I learn.
By putting my notes online, perhaps others can benefit from my experience.

Our Chickens and Coop

This is Jesse, at about age 8 months.
Her breed is ‘barred rock’
(also called ‘Plymouth rock’).
The chicks were 2–3 weeks old
when we got them.
Brad told us there was about a 95% chance
they were both female (which we wanted).
We lucked out!

This is Hermione, at about age 8 months.
Her breed is ‘red sex link’.

Jesse and Hermione are best buddies!
They stick together like glue!
About the only time they're apart
is when one is laying an egg,
and the other isn't.

Both breeds are supposed to be
good egg layers—and they are.

We get one egg per hen per day,
which is just about the perfect amount
for our family of three (Carol, Ray, Bethany).

My husband Ray made the gorgeous coop.
It's big enough that the droppings
from two chickens don't achieve
a sufficient accumulation to smell bad.
We've never had any unpleasant odors.

Of course, it helps that this is sunny Arizona
(we live in Sahuarita), so the sun
dries out the droppings very quickly.

We got the crate free—
it was being thrown away.
The crate provides both shade and
a rain-protected place for the chicken feed.

The crate is raised up on a
perimeter wall of concrete blocks.
The cool space created underneath
(with two entry/exit spots)
is their favorite space.

There's a full concrete block wall
behind the crate for stability
and insulation from the weather
(both hot and cold).

It's definitely a makeshift structure:
I cobbled together what we had on the property.
But, it's sturdy—which is important
since we often get 30–40 mph winds.
Also, the price was right!

You can see the feeding container
just inside the crate.

At first we had it outside,
but when it rained the pellets
turned into one soppy yucky mass.

When I got the chicks on September 29, 2017
I was told they were 2–3 weeks old.

Hermione laid her first egg
on January 24, 2018.

Jesse laid her first egg
on February 11, 2018.

Only occasionally do they miss a day.

I bought two nesting boxes,
and they're working out fantastic.
Jesse and Hermione go in,
lay their eggs, then leave.
There has never been even one dropping
in the nesting boxes.
They prefer the left box;
only occasionally use the right.
I put wood shavings/bedding
(left over from when Bethany had rats)
inside the nesting boxes.

The wire hanging from the top goes to a
60 W ceramic heat bulb that we plug in
when it gets near or below freezing
(which is very infrequently here).

The egg you see inside here isn't real.
It's a ceramic egg to encourage chickens
to lay in the correct place.
They're incredibly realistic!
I check carefully when collecting eggs!

I had these fake eggs in place
(one in each box)
before Jesse & Hermione started laying.
So, I don't know if they helped or not.
I do know there has never been an egg laid
anywhere except in the nesting boxes.

Here's our waterer:
2 gallon galvanized steel double wall fount

It's up on blocks to keep it cleaner.
Chickens constantly kick up dirt.

With only two chickens, it lasts a long time.
The only trouble we've had:
occasional mold
hard water deposits (we use hard well water)

I'm currently putting some
organic cider vinegar in the water.
It's supposed to help with
both the mold and water deposits.
Our chickens LOVE:

greek yogurt
sour cream
cheddar cheese

(There seems to be a dairy theme here.)

They're not fond of:

banana peels
They also eat:

black oil sunflower seeds
lettuce (iceberg, green leaf, romaine)
cucumbers and peels
carrots and peels
white potato peels
coconut flakes

(cut into tiny pieces, to prevent impacted crop)

cooked chicken
(throw bones away after they're picked clean)

their own crushed eggshells
(I haven't had any trouble with them
pecking at their own eggs)