One of the benefits of moving to the country, is we finally get to have chickens – yay! Getting ready to have chickens, when you’ve never had them before, is a lot of work.
We have so much research to do, so I thought I’d share with you some of the research we’re doing as chicken newbies, to get ready to welcome our flock of chickens in the spring!
We’re also getting ducks at the same time, but much of the research is similar – just some variations in their feed, etc. But we’ll be housing them in the same coop!
Here is how we’re gathering info and keeping it all organized so far.
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of these links, I make a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you. See full disclosure here.
As we’re gathering information, we need somewhere to keep it all organized. I tend not to do well with paper organization. I tend to lose pieces of paper, or have things written in random notebooks, which I can’t find when I need them!
I prefer a system where everything is in one place, easily accessible, and most importantly – SEARCHABLE.
Organizing our Plans using Apple Notes
I love, LOVE Apple Notes for organizing projects.
We are an Apple family – our computers are iMacs and MacBook Pros, and we use iPhones. This makes it incredibly simple to stay synchronized and organized in our family. The apps all work together, and whatever we do on our phones, magically appears on the computers, and vice-versa.
I LOVE digital planning – it keeps me so organized and truly simplifies my life.
(Read my blog post about how going digital simplified my life here).
Apple Notes has come a LONG way in recent years, and it’s really a full-fledged note taking & project app. I used to use Evernote for things like this, but I love using Apple’s built-in apps whenever possible, and this is no exception!
My 15 year old daughter and I are working on this project together, so we share this folder (meaning either one of us can edit it from our computer or phone, and the changes show up for both of us).
My daughter has been the primary instigator and researcher in this project, so it’s been fun for us to collaborate and share what we’ve learned.
I intend to involve the boys as well (they’re 13 and 11), but the research phase is primarily my daughter and I. We share interesting tidbits with the boys as we learn them. 🙂
So in Apple Notes, we have a folder for chickens and ducks, and then a separate ‘note’ for each component.
We are just in the beginning stages of planning, so there is lots to fill in yet, but just wanted to give you an idea of how we’re keeping things organized.
Here is our chickens & ducks folder so far, broken out into notes.
We have a general note for chicken info – things I come across while reading that I want to jot down. Like what’s the best bedding to use, how much feed will fit in a 20 gallon container, etc.
These will likely get moved into more specific notes later, but this is just my ‘brain dump’ note – somewhere to drop info as I’m reading.
This note is all about feed. Anything interesting we come across about feeding chickens goes into this note.
Apple has this cool feature, where you can share a web page directly to a note. So when we’re researching coop designs, we simply share the webpage to the note, and it gives us a snippet of the post, along with a photo (which helps us remember which website is which).
This is another reason why I LOVE planning digitally, as it’s so easy to just click a link and go back to a website.
And of course, every project needs a budget!
This is entirely my daughter – she took the time to research what she thought we would need, then searched online for prices.
We also visited several local farm supply stores to get local pricing (which is further down in the note – you can’t see it in this snap shot).
We’ll try to buy as much locally as we can, unless there are drastic differences between online pricing and local pricing.
We just snapped photos of the items in the stores, along with the price tag, then added them to the note so we could compare prices.
Here are some of our favourite websites so far for chicken planning:
Internet research is great, but there is something so satisfying about holding a book in your hands.
Yes, I am mostly a digital gal, but when it comes to researching, nothing beats real books! I can spread them out all around me, bookmark them, highlight them, and jot notes down in my Apple Notes app to keep track of it all.
It’s the perfect hybrid system between paper and digital. I love to gather information from books, and jot down the important highlights in my notes for future reference.
Here are some of the books we’re using for our chicken planning:
The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide to Zero Waste Chicken Keeping
If you’ve been following us on our blog, or over on Instagram or our Facebook page for awhile, you’ll know that we strive to live as low-waste as possible. I want this chicken endeavour to also remain low-waste. I realize that some waste is inevitable, but as we’re doing research, I want to learn as many tips and tricks as possible to keep our carbon footprint low.
This book gives great tips on how to re-use and re-purpose objects you might already have, for your chicken-raising.
Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard
Since I am extremely interested in permaculture, I want to rely as much on internal inputs as possible, to avoid having to bring in external inputs. I know some external inputs will be inevitable, but the more we can close the loop, the better.
This book is an incredible resource for showing how to design a chicken-friendly yard. The timing is perfect, since we’ve only been on this property for less than a year, and haven’t done a lot of designing yet. Knowing where to locate the gardens, compost bins, and chicken areas will be a valuable tool in our planning.
The Backyard Homestead
This book is obviously about more than just chickens. It’s truly a complete homesteading book, that teaches you how to turn your backyard into your very own homestead. This is particularly useful if you have a relatively small lot. Ours is only 2 1/2 acres, so we try to maximize the space, and do things as efficiently as possible. In fact, the tag line for this book is
Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
It talks about gardening, making your own food from scratch, and of course, raising backyard animals, like chickens. Regarding chickens specifically, it explains which breeds to choose and why, how to collect and store eggs, and how to build a simple chicken coop.
Backyard Homesteading: A Back-To-Basics Guide to Self-Sufficiency
As you can see, I like having well-rounded general homesteading books around, in addition to books that are more specific about a certain area of homesteading. It’s inspiring to see how others have turned their properties into self-sufficient homesteads, and you get a sense of the author’s overall philosophy regarding homesteading.
This particular book is extremely comprehensive about backyard homesteading. I think my favourite part is the GORGEOUS, full colour photographs. It includes detailed examples of homestead layouts, detailed instructions on growing vegetables & herbs (and how to cook with them), instructions on canning & preserving, and raising backyard livestock like chickens.
There are several examples of DIY chicken coops, how to choose which breed is right for you, how to incubate your own eggs, or order chicks online, or choose the ready-to-lay option (pullets). How to feed and water them, use nesting boxes, increase light in winter, and all about feeders & waterers (including DIY options). There’s a section on chicken health, collecting and storing eggs, and so much more.
For those of you who are also interested in ducks, geese, and other fowl, there are sections for that, too.
If you’re looking for a well-rounded book on homesteading, that also includes plenty of details on chicken keeping, I’d recommend this book.
Some of the best resources are the ones that can’t be bought – like other people’s personal experiences. If you have friends or family members with experience raising chickens, pick their brain! I’ve noticed that people are happy to share their expertise. Although everyone does things a little differently, you can take notes from what they share, and then make a decision about what will or won’t work for your family and your circumstances.
Getting ready for Chickens (and ducks)
We’re not planning to get our chicks and ducklings for another 3 months, so we still have plenty of time for planning. We’re currently just in the ‘research and planning’ stage, so I wanted to share with you how we’re gathering information and keeping it organized.
I’ll keep posting about our chicken journey, as we refine our plans, start building our coop, and start creating our chicken-friendly yard!
Are you a long-time chicken keeper, or are you just starting to think about getting some chickens?