Friday, February 22, 2013

I am a Chicken Farmer at Heart

Feeding time.

     In my heart I really am a chicken farmer. I love having chickens. I think it comes from growing up  and spending time at my Great Aunt and Uncles home in Claysprings Arizona. They had a huge chicken coop, and we had some fun times gathering the eggs and running from the Roosters.  Actually we were terrified of the Roosters and I still am. They are mean to the bone. I have been attacked by way to many Roosters in my day.  You will not find one in my coop.  The nice thing is you don't even need them unless you want chicks, and why go through the trouble of a Rooster when you can just order them online or go to the nearest feed store and get baby chicks without the hassle of a Rooster.  Someone needs to explain that to them,  maybe then they wouldn't be so cocky.

      We have owned chickens for years and we have had our ups and downs, but I cannot imagine life with out them. I love seeing them and hearing them.  It is a comfort thing for me.  I will often put a chair close by and read a book. I enjoy them.  I do have to confess that I don't think it cheaper to have chickens for just the eggs. But that is not the reason I have them. I do love the eggs, but I also love everything else about having chickens.  

      I think Chickens are a perfect pet for the children.  Our children spent hours holding and playing with baby chicks over the years.  And yes we had some tragic moments that taught our children just how fragile life can be.  They spent hours out in the coop holding and playing with them.  They were really attached to them and learn the lessons of feeding and taking care of animals.  Just how important water is in the heat and food to stay alive.   

     We have great stories.  If fact they are often told when we gather as a family.  From smashing the head to being attached there are plenty of stories in our home about chickens.   

     Over the years we have tried all breeds and all different ways of having them,  from ordering them to hatching our very own. Now that the children are older I have found the best way to do it.  I buy them ready to lay. The initial investment is more than buying a baby chick, but I have found that it really doesn't cost more. By the time I feed and care for them for six months or longer to get eggs it is cheaper to buy them ready to go. There are many places now that understand that and raise to sell.  

     One time I ordered 24 chicks only to discover six months to late they were all roosters. What a waste of time. I don't butcher my own. The company sent new ones free of charge, but they didn't compensate for my time. Another time a neighbors dog got in and killed all of them right before they started laying.  So yes, now I like to buy them ready to go.  

     About the butchering. I can't see me doing that. So what do you do with old chickens. Give them to the neighbors, thats if you have neighbors that do that sort of thing, or you can take them to the feed store,  they resell them to farmers for pest control. Usually chickens last a few years before they stop laying. 

Roasters ready for the feast.  We raised these in record time for a trek.
It's always fun to gather the eggs.
     
 

     Fresh eggs are wonderful to say the least. The yolk is solid and a wonderful color, the shells are thick and strong, which is a good sign the chickens are getting what they need.  And there is a wonderful flavor. You hear a lot about the conditions of chickens in the industry, and I believe that has a lot to do with the quality of the eggs. I read somewhere that eggs are empty of nutrition. The poor mistreated chickens have nothing to give, and so the eggs are void of nutrition compared with free range eggs or home grown chickens that lay. You can see the difference. Buy a store bought egg and get an egg from your Chicken Farmer Neighbor and crack them side by side and you will see the difference from the shell to the yolk.  


This is my hen house and small run.   Under the large tree keeps them cooler in the summer.
Mulching is a great way to use the droppings.

 




  I do a lot of gardening.  Chicken droppings are supposed  to be the best for gardening.  I compost them with all my leaves and trimmings in the yard. I keep my coop and run fresh with a layer of straw.  Every so often as need dictates, I rake it out and start fresh. The stuff I rake out goes into the mulch pile. I have a constant supply of rich droppings to keep my garden healthy.








Nice nest boxes.



      Nest boxes are great and important.  Chickens are creatures of habit and they like the same spot. They are also messy and they drop everywhere.  It's great to keep the eggs out of the line of fire. Once in a while you will get a chicken that eats eggs.  We always have brown or white wooden eggs in the boxes. A few pecks on these will cure them from eating eggs. It also reminds them where to lay.












They love to eat.






           I toss scrapes from the table and grains that get bugs in them to the chickens. I also use the trimmings from my garden.  They love green. I keep them out of the garden because they love green so much they will destroy a garden in moments.  The straw is also a great thing to do. It keeps them  busy scratching all day long.











I suspend the feeder in the air.




        Notice the feeder is up in the air.  I learned long ago to not keep the feed on the ground or in a ground level feeder.  They scratch it all over and my food bill was to high. I keep it just high enough they have to reach for the pellets.  I also keep the water high. They scratch all the dirt into it and have no water so I put it up on a brick. It keeps the water cleaner.











       Chickens are great fun to have. The eggs are wonderful.  But the best part is just the comfort of hearing them cluck away. I always laugh when you hear that excited cluck that announces that one of them just laid an egg. I guess I really am a chicken farmer.  Have a great day.

2 comments:

  1. Chickens can be a lot of fun!
    Love your coop :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just got four (4) and they are amazing... :)

    ReplyDelete