6 Things I Didn’t Know About Chickens
“I am never going to raise chickens” Guess who said that. Me! Circa 1978 after my second or third time being dragged through a large commercial poultry operation as part of my quest for a degree in Animal Science. The smell was horrible, the chicken clucking was deafening, and the downy feathers were flying everywhere and made my nose itch. I decided right then that I would stick to horses and other large livestock management.
And Then I Began Homesteading…..
Fast forward almost twenty years and I find myself at the beginning homesteading stage. We had a few horses and goats. And then, one day I said yes to chickens. Well chicks. Tiny, downy, fluffballs of cuteness that didn’t remind me of anything from the poultry houses. Yes, I was hooked. Hoodwinked into raising chickens by a few tiny little newly hatched chicks. We quickly began converting a garden shed into a coop, and gathering supplies to care for the little ones. Then, I brought home some more! Things were getting serious on the homestead.
Once the chicks were big enough to move to the newly converted shed, they were settled into the new palace. Which brings me to the first thing I did not know about raising chickens.
1. When you try to get them back into the coop at night, they will go under the coop instead. We had not thought about blocking off underneath the shed, so we were down on our knees trying to coax the chicks out so we could put them in the coop. We quickly made an adjustment and surrounded the bottom of the coop with chicken wire to keep the chicks from running under the coop. What a work out! Chickens can give you some exercise!
I didn’t know that I would start to look for produce sales in the winter to provide our chickens with extra greens, and fresh veggies. I check the markdowns and even have a good friend who saves all the veggie scraps from her family for our chickens.
2. I didn’t know I would be shopping for groceries with chickens on my mind.
Chickens are rather low on the cycle of life. They have predators. Lots of predators, from the neighborhood roaming dogs, racoons, (yes I used to think racoons were cute, too) opossums and fox, to name a few. “what does the fox say?” I can tell you the fox is saying, let’s have chicken for dinner!
3. I didn’t know I would be fiercely protective of my chickens. Adding security to our coop area, installing electric fencing and making sure someone is always home at dinner time to put the chickens in before the night roaming creatures come by for a snack.
4. I didn’t know that the sweetest chicken in the batch of chicks will always turn out to be a rooster. I know there is no scientific proof of this but anecdotal evidence suggests it, time and time again. All will be fine until he hits puberty and begins to chase you from the chicken yard.
The Fresh Eggs!
The taste of fresh eggs surpasses that of store bought by a long shot. I didn’t know that I would become a sort of egg snob. I pass the eggs in the grocery store without a glance. In the checkout line, I have to restrain myself from telling the customer in line ahead of me, that I raise my own chickens for fresh eggs. I didn’t know I would feel sorry for them, and that they have to eat supermarket eggs.
5. I didn’t know that my friends and neighbors would actually be excited to hear when we have extra eggs to share. Suddenly I am not just the slightly strange lady who raises all kinds of chickens. My chicken boots are cool and so are the fresh eggs.
I have met so many wonderful people because of those first two little chicks that followed me home from the feed store.
6. I didn’t know just how chickens would become a big part of my life. I didn’t know that on some low days, the chickens would be the only reason I get out of bed. And I didn’t know that I would meet some wonderful friends, locally and on line because of our shared love of chickens.
This post appeared first on Backyard Poultry Mag.com
Janet writes about many homestead and livestock related topics on her blog Timber Creek Farm. Her new book, Chickens From Scratch, is available now through the Timber Creek Farm website or from Amazon.com