Twelve years ago, when my three oldest kids were in elementary school, we lived on a small hobby farm and had an eclectic flock of about 15 laying hens plus a couple of roosters.
We had farm-fresh eggs everyday for years and loved every minute of it. After 12 years of being chicken-less, our family once again has its own suburban flock. I’ve been singing the praises of backyard chickens for years and finally, finally have chickens once again.
When we moved back to the suburbs, we chose to for-go the chickens for dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hermit crabs, birds, pot-bellied pigs, and bearded dragons (I won’t count the horses, because we board them). After all, one can only have so many animals in a suburban backyard and suburbia isn’t overly conducive to farm animals…or is it?
Our youngest daughter was born after we had left our farm and has been beating us up about raising some chicks. My husband and I were always firm with our answer – we didn’t need any more animals. Okay, my husband was firm about it; I was just trying to look like a responsible grown-up by agreeing with him, but I digress.
For some reason fate smiled on our youngest big time on Sunday when my husband-extraordinaire announced that if she used the money she had been saving and purchased everything for her chickens, she could have two chicks. I’ll give you a minute to imagine this 10-year-old’s reaction which involved a tremendous amount of bouncing and screaming.
I was so cool about the whole thing. Just as collected and grown-up as I could be. I went over the rules with our excited daughter with a serious voice and was extremely laid back when my husband asked when we should go look at the chicks. I shrugged.
“Oh, well whenever you want to. I mean, it doesn’t have to be today…there’s no rush.”
Man, I’m cool. I could’ve kept shaved ice cold. We made it to the feed store and she promptly picked out a Rhode Island Red (“Penelope”) which my husband really wanted because for some reason he thinks of them as “real” chickens. Hey, we’re good with that. We also chose an Americauna (“Churro”) because they lay “Easter eggs” in shades of blue and green.
We purchased a small bag of chick starter, a waterer, and we were out of there to set up a chick brooder. At home, we started thinking that while two hens would provide plenty of eggs for our family, it’d awesome if my daughter could sell eggs to family and friends to help pay for the chicken feed. So, we made another trek down to the feed store and picked up a Black Sex Link we named “Darla” (remember The Little Rascals?).
In case anyone is feeling like poor husband-extraordinaire got rooked into the chicken deal I’ll have you know that Monday morning after he left for work, I got a phone call from him.
He says, “Do you think the chicks were warm enough last night?”
(Me) “Um, I think so.”
“I mean, the black one looks smaller than the others and she could be cold.”
(Me) “I don’t think they were cold, they seem okay to me.”
“Because they’re really fragile. There’s another light up in the attic if you want to get it.”
(Me again) “I really don’t think…”
“Ya know, they looked like they were kinda huddling…” He says.
“I’ll get the other light.”
I think he’s okay with our new family members.
With your own backyard chicken flock, you’ll reap the benefits of fresh eggs which are free of hormones, and antibiotics. You’ll be assured of humane animal practices and save decent cash, as well.
Chickens eat bug pests and love to devour as many ticks as they can get their beaks on. They make docile pets and kids can show them at county fairs as well as in 4H clubs.
If you’re interested in keeping backyard chickens, be sure to check out your check with your city’s ordinances. I have found most ordinances loose in regards to keeping a few hens in the backyard.
|Get more info on chickens and chicken coops:
• Raising Animals as Gardening Allies
• The Urban Garden Project Chicken Coop
• Free Plan: A Small Raised Chicken Coop (on FineWoodworking.com)