Our chicken journey started back in the suburbs of California in Andrew’s dad backyard. He was kind enough to let us get four chickens and build a little chicken coop. Before long, those four chickens turned into 10 and our small chicken coop turned into the chicken palace. We gave them away before we moved to Arkansas and decided we wouldn’t get more until we bought our own farm. Not long after buying our farm, we ordered chickens from a hatchery. We had to pick them up from the post office and you could hear them chirping the minute we walked through the doors. We kept them in the garage until the got big enough and then let me outside, except we didn’t have a coop built. Unfortunately, we lost quite a few to our dogs and our neighbor’s dogs. They were 100% free-range chickens. Besides being prey for our dogs, everything was working out well. They roosted up in the rafters in our barn at night and would lay eggs in the nesting boxes until they decided to change up their routine on us one day. All of a sudden, the chickens started hanging out on our porch and in our carport around the cats. They gave up roosting in the barn and started roosting on our wood box in our carport. They pooped ALL OVER our front porch and we constantly had to hose it off if we wanted to sit out there. Needless to say, Andrew’s battle with the chickens had begun.
Andrew tried so many different things to keep the chickens off of our porch and out of our carport. He would stack things on top of the wood box but they didn’t care. We could not get them out of this area. Andrew got so frustrated he contemplated getting rid of them, especially because we had a porch swing and a church pew on our porch at this point and we couldn’t even enjoy them. Andrew also built little end tables to go on the sides of our church pew. I’ll have to write a post on our front porch! Our chicken problem could easily be solved by building a chicken coop, which we plan to do! We just haven’t had the time and we want to do it right. In fact, we have the perfect building for it, we just need to move it across our farm so they aren’t right by our bedroom window. We need to have our friends come over to help us move it.
One night, after hosing off the porch for the millionth time that week, Andrew had enough. He wanted to take control of our porch again and be able to enjoy it. He spent the whole next day constructing a chicken tractor. If you aren’t familiar with a chicken tractor, they typically look like a long rectangular box. They’re similar to a chicken coop except they’re built to be moved every day or so. I like to think of it as rotational grazing for chickens haha.
I kept hearing this loud noise that sounded like semi truck kept coming up and down our driveway. I was so confused but couldn’t see anything because it was dark at this point. It turns out that loud noise was Andrew trying to move the chicken tractor from the garage to our pasture. Our driveway is gravel and the chicken tractor went over quite a few bumps, stumps, and lumps to get where it needed to be. Plus, Andrew told me that he broke three different tie straps trying to move it since it was so big. In case you glanced over the first paragraph, I did mention that we had a chicken palace at one point. Andrew will always build our chicken coops a lot larger than most people recommend to make sure they have plenty of room and I guess he did the same with our chicken tractor.
Andrew finally came inside and told me he needed my help. He asked me to grab a fitted sheet out of the closet and said that I would hold one side and he would hold the other. “Okay, this is strange,” I thought. We walked quietly into the carport and threw the fitted sheet over the roosting chickens. They were all flapping their wings and squawking. One actually escaped and flew out of the bag right by my head. I remembered going to a sleepover one night and my friends put on the movie Birds. I refused to watch it and I don’t remember if I went to sleep or if I made my mom come pick me up, but all I could think of was, “I wonder if this is what that movie was like” lol. Andrew grabbed a hold of my side of the sheet and had 4 out of the 5 of our chickens in the sheet like a sack. He was trying to walk out to the yard but his shorts had an elastic waist and I’m not sure if they were too big or if the elastic went bad, but they started to fall down. So there he was, running/ waddling out to this massive chicken tractor he built with a sack of chickens that were squawking and flapping their wings. I was laughing so hard I almost peed my pants.
I mentioned that one chicken escaped the fitted sheet. She was a lone ranger for a couple of days but Andrew finally caught her by bribing her with some food. Now, all five of our chickens reside in the chicken tractor. I miss seeing them wander around the yard, but I don’t miss our porch being plastered in chicken droppings. Oakley and I like to walk out there and feed them our scraps. They go nuts over our leftover food. All in all, I would say they’re doing great and are happy birds. We get 5 eggs a day and they’re all pretty plump.
We still plan on moving one of our storage buildings so we can turn it into our coop. This will allow us to let them out during the day so they can roam and then put them back in. They almost get trained because they learn that’s where they learn their food is. We like to feed our chickens grain if they live in a coop. We haven’t fed our chickens chicken feed since they were in the garage and too small to eat anything else. We give them our leftovers and our table scraps but they just ate what they found on the ground. The chicken tractor basically allows them to free range if it’s moved pretty frequently. It’s really good for your soil too, because you can make sure different parts of your soil are getting fertilized. Anyway, Andrew won and was on cloud 9 that battle was over. I’ll keep you updated on our new chicken coop when we get around to moving it, but for now, our chicken tractor is doing its job. Chickens are super low maintenance and you can have them in the suburbs or the country. If you live in city limits, they usually have some limitations but still allow backyard chickens. I wrote a post a while back on our Chicken Coop Tips. We read a ton of articles on chickens when we first started out, so I really tried to make my tips things you don’t read over and over or things you don’t think about until you actually do it.