Adventures in Chicken Raising
My husband and I have discussed getting some sort of farm animals for years now – we talked about goats first to eat all the leaves, poison ivy and any other weeds around our yard and we also talked about getting chickens. The problem came when we discussed what we would do with the chickens once they stopped laying eggs (chickens only lay consistently for 2 – 5 years). I wanted to keep them as pets, my husband didn’t want to and thought we would maybe eat them, although he didn’t want to slaughter them. We finally found a compromise: A local farm that let you buy baby chicks and return them to the farm at any time. It is meant to be for families who want to have the experience of raising baby chicks, but maybe not keep them once they are full grown, however they will take back the chickens anytime, even if they are several years old.
So we signed up and last April went to pick up our new baby chicks. They were so tiny, but that did not last long!
As they grew, my husband built a chicken coop for them. He build one that could be moved, that way the chickens could work the dirt in one part of the yard, and then we could move them to another part of the yard.
There are 4 of us in the family, so we each got to name a chicken. Since my husband was still saying they were not pets, he named his “Chicken” I named mine “Pepe” because when she was little she looked like a skunk, my daughter named her’s “Lorax” because in the newspaper we had in their box there was an ad for the movie “The Lorax” and my son named his “Tabatha” – Tabatha was the one who would peck the other’s out of the way and seemed to be a little bossy – I love the show Tabatha Takes Over with Tabatha Coffey, and so I suggested the name to my son and he liked it! (For more on Tabatha Takes Over, check out Tabatha Takes Over
If you notice from these pictures, not one of these chickens look alike. There are a lot of different breeds of chickens (something I knew nothing about until I started researching)! And they can all lay different color eggs. Interesting fact: You can tell what color egg the chicken will lay by the color of it’s ear!! IF their ear is white, they will lay white eggs, brown and they will lay brown eggs, another color and they may just lay blueish or greenish eggs.
It was so exciting finding our first egg in the coop – it was so small, but shortly we started getting bigger and bigger eggs. And soon we were getting 3 – 4 eggs a day. If chickens have enough light they will lay an egg approximately every 26 hours.
It does not take too much work to have chickens, we feed them scraps of our food and chicken feed we buy, which turns out to be really cheap, so we will probably continue to keep the chickens even after they stop laying eggs.
And just last week a neighbor came by with an offer of 12 baby chicks that he bought but his wife doesn’t want – we took 4 of them, so now we have 4 more in a dog crate in a room in our house until we can build them a coop and put them outside. Stay tuned . . . we may have eggs for sale in a few months!!
by Michelle Winters