At The Fence
So until today I have really enjoyed the chickens. Today it isn't so great. It's four degrees (I am not exaggerating), really windy and I nearly froze while doing my daily little chicken chores. I will spend the day worrying about them-they are cooped up inside their small chicken house and their water was frozen this morning. We may have to figure out a way to get an extension cord to the coop to at least put a warmer under their water.
Anyway, we started out with 27 little chicks back in early June. Over the summer, one of the white chickens developed an impacted crop and despite my efforts (days of holding the chicken upside down and pulling stuff out of its mouth), it ended up dying. In September, I gave five hens to our neighbors, whose flock had diminished slightly over the last few years.
We were left with 21 brown egg laying hens. Or so we thought. One morning while I was getting the kids out the door to the bus stop, we all thought we heard a suspicious crowing sound from the chickens. Over the next few days it developed into a distinctive rooster's crow. We were supposed to get layer hens but they missed a few obviously and we have not one but two roosters. They are beautiful though and so far have not given us any trouble. Everyone we know who has roosters says that they are trouble. Some friends of ours who got chickens around the same time as we did ended up with two roosters also and they caused such a problem that both of them have been "eliminated" from the flock. Anyway, one is in charge, but they both get a lot of action, if you know what I mean. Many lovely young ladies to choose from. I have heard that when they are about a year old they start to fight and if that happens, one of them may become a free ranger, And, well if something were to befall him, like a fast car or a coyote, so be it...We have had a few scuffles but they have been resolved quickly. A few weeks ago the #1 Rooster started to give me a hard time when I was in the chicken yard. He kept coming at me, jumping up at me and squawking. I kicked him (not that hard) in the chest and he backed off but still gave me attitude. So I called Penny, our killer dog (she's a sweetie, but has a tendency to hunt, kill and eat small animals, including birds), and she came in and sat inside the fenced yard with me and the chickens. This immediately chilled out the #1 Rooster and he hasn't given me a hard time since. Clearly I am #1. Well, along with Penny.
Some of the hens are more friendly with me than others. A few of them always come up to me and follow me around, two will let me hold them and one of them always unties my shoelaces. They all have their quirks and it is fascinating to sit and watch their activities. They seem to be stupid at first, but then you can see that there is a purpose in their actions and sometimes do very smart things. They are also amazingly perceptive.
We started getting eggs in September. At first there just a few each day and some of them were kind of wacky. They had soft rubbery shells that you could just tear open. Or they had wrinkly shells or were perfectly round instead of well, egg shaped. But those disappeared and we gradually collected more each day. Despite the short days and cold weather now, which affect egg production, we are getting around a dozen eggs a day. Clearly we can't eat that many, so basically we give a dozen eggs to anyone who stops by. Yesterday I gave a dozen to our dentist when I took one of the kids in for an appointment. Our neighbors are set as well. And the flavor of the eggs! It's amazing how tasteless and bland the store bought eggs are in comparison.
Raising chickens has been a really great experience. I have learned that I am capable of things that I never dreamed possible, like trying to save a dying chicken. heh. I love hearing the roosters crow, they are very polite and wait until dawn and it just seems perfect out here to have crowing roosters. We had a lot of company over the summer and the highlight of the visit for their kids was holding a chicken. It's surprising how many kids never have a chance to hold a chicken. Based on the success of this project, and because we have a real barn and 22 acres, we are actually considering getting a few goats and maybe even some sheep next year. So stay tuned!