First Steps…and why everyone should raise chickens in their backyard=)

First of all, congrats to Kris who was the winner in my blog giveaway! I will get those books sent off this afternoon if I can…

We finally got an info packet about fostering in the mail from our county DHS office today. I filled out a request form on the state website over a week ago, but never got a response. I eventually decided to just go to the county office and speak to someone in person, only they recently moved to a new location and never updated their address on the website, so I couldn’t find it. I hope this is not indicative of how the process will be….=) anyways, I finally got ahold of a very nice man on the phone, and he sent the packet to me in the mail the very same day. He also told us that the monthly info meeting for interested families is coming up on Tuesday, so we are definitely going to check it out!

A few of you have asked about the process, so here’s a quick outline of what it looks like so far:

First, a family must meet some basic eligibility requirements (which we do!) such as: be between the ages of 21-65, married for at least 2 years (singles and those divorced for more than one year can also foster), have at least 50 square feet of sleep space per child, have a land-line telephone, and agree not to smoke or permit anyone else to smoke in the home…etc.

Then, In order to become liscenced as foster parents, we will need to attend 30 hours of pre-service training on caring for abused/neglected children. The next step is a homestudy (pretty much the same as for IA), background check, and vehicle safety check. We will also have to pass a physical and TB test, and obtain first aid and CPR training. After becoming liscenced, we will need to complete 15 hours of continuing education each year.

Hopefully after the meeting on Tuesday we will know a bit more about the process. We are excited about getting started!

And finally, a favorite photo of the week:

Here are two of our chickens, Sigrid and Ingeborg. The girls should be big enough to stay outdoors in another week or two, so I have been working frantically on a coop all week. (I’m actually waiting on the 1st coat of paint to dry as I type!) We opted for a  “chicken ark” design which is actually a very clever idea for a small backyard flock of chickens. It is basically a portable coop with a fenced in run that is bottomless and lightweight so it can be moved around the yard easily every few days. The chickens are safe from predators at night (we will probably let them out in the yard during the day while we are home), get to graze on fresh grass every few days, and fertilize your lawn or garden while they are at it! The portable, bottomless design means a lot less work is involved in cleanup (the only bedding is in nesting area) and also means very little smell which is especially nice in small yards. I will be sure to post some in-progress and finished pictures of our coop soon.

Our girls should begin laying by the time they are 4-6 months old (depending on the breed), and will lay an egg every day or so during their first year. If you have never had a fresh egg before you are missing out! Not to mention the good feeling you get from knowing when your food comes from. Well cared for hens raised free-range in your backyard live a MUCH better life than those in battery cages at commercial egg-laying farms. And if those weren’t reason enough to go out and get a few hens, they also make excellent little composters for your kitchen scraps. =)

We weren’t really sure which breed to get, so we opted for four different kind and we will see which ones we like best. Two are larger “dual-purpose” birds-the Rhode Island Red and the New Hampshire Red. These breeds have been traditionally bred for eggs and meat. Dagny is an Americauna, which is a slightly smaller breed. Americaunas are sometimes called “Easter egg chickens” for their blueish-green eggs. I really haven’t found much information about our fourth bird, Elsa (I think she is a newer hybrid). We didn’t really even intend on getting her, but she was they only one left in her cage and we felt sorry for her. She is turning out to be the orneriest of the bunch=)

Well, I better go put another coat of paint on the coop!

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5 thoughts on “First Steps…and why everyone should raise chickens in their backyard=)

  1. what a great post! Good luck! We are going to pursue foster-adopt when we move back to the US 🙂 I worked in that system for quite some time if you’d like to ask me anything, just drop me a mail.

    Beautiful birds!!!

  2. thank for explaining the process…i was curious myself! i am sure you are getting anxious to get it all started. how great that the meeting is so soon! you will have to let us know how it goes!

  3. I’m so excited that your info on fostering came! Can you post a picture of your coop? We have chickens, too. I’m always looking for new coop ideas. We have Buff Orpingtons and Barred Rocks. They were the first chickens we have ever had. 5 1/2 years old and still laying!!! We’ve always wanted to try the Americauna’s. They sound like they would be fun for a child!! Imagine, going out daily and finding a blue egg!! Take care and thanks again for the books!

  4. Kris,
    The coop is still a work in progress (there are a couple of pictures on my flickr site) but I will certainly post more when it is finished. Of course, we have yet to learn how well it will work…=)

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