I had NEVER been around chickens. Well, when I was a teenager, I had a boy who liked me buy an "Easter" chick for me that was dyed pink --- sweet at the time, but now it is a horrible thing to look back upon. I had NO IDEA how to care for a chicken, but it survived. Eventually, as it grew larger, I had to give it to someone who I thought would treat it like a pet, but those people ended up butchering that chicken and they ATE IT FOR DINNER.
This was a learning experience.
Anyway, as an adult and more fully aware of how to take care of other living creatures, I was delighted to bring my six chicks home to grow big and strong in my master bathroom garden tub.
No joke. For a couple of weeks, they lived in my bathroom lined with newspaper and hay. Eventually, they became strong enough to be able to hop out, so Sgt. Dave made a nice container for them to live in until they were able to move outdoors.
I scheduled "play-dates" outside with the chicks, sitting on the grass with them in the backyard as they ate from my hand and scratched the grass.
Soon, they were able to move outside. They made a new home in the chicken tractor/coop that Sgt. Dave built for them. And I look back upon this time in my marriage and cringe because we were at that 25 year itch...the only thing we had in common at that point...were chickens. Today, it makes me laugh.
Maybe I should've named this post, "Chickens saved my marriage!"
Anyway, in that first flock, we ended up with two roosters that were purchased by mistake. We had not wanted roosters, but we ended up with two cock-a-doodles that were soon too loud to keep in a backyard city district.
We gave them to a local farmer. By "gave" I mean...Sgt. Dave and I literally drove to this farmer's open chicken range, in the cover of darkness, and we told the roosters to go find a girlfriend!
|I am coaxing the roosters to head over to the gals.|
Talk about an experience, that was one of the most interesting experiences of my life.
Then, Karma seemed to visit me as my youngest daughter Stefie phoned me in a slight panic to let me know a friend of hers had just found two tiny chicks in her garage...Easter weekend.
|Stefie helping to check for eggs.|
Obviously, they were an Easter gift that the recipients "conveniently" let get away.
I took in those two chicks. One was attacked by Belle the Yorkie and lost her top beak, so I hand fed that chicken for two years and she was beautiful. Both of those chickens were an awesome addition to our flock.
Seeing that our farming skills were not so terrible...we'd not lost one chicken due to starvation...Sgt. Dave and I decided to do the opposite of the Beverly Hillbillies. With LESS money that we had been accustomed to, we sold the house in the city, loaded up and moved to the country with nothing more than an RV to move into for the next year.
|We no longer have a small backyard in the suburbs.|
Talk about a risk. We were truly ready for a change in our lives, and we got it.
We moved to the acreage we'd owned in Texas for about 15 years.
|My in-laws are on a long visit, getting the deck built and|
enjoying the nice night in the country.
I towed the trailer that had the chicken coop strapped to it with a special-designed cage that held the six chickens for the near two-hour trip to our land from our old house. We all survived, intact.
Everyone in the area of our acreage said our chickens wouldn't survive three weeks out here due to the heavy forest and prolific numbers of predators.
Well, they survived, for eight months. And then, some predator...I don't know what...killed my beloved chickens that were also fantastic laying hens.
I was the one to discover the carnage. And I am not a violent type of person, but I wanted to kill that predator on the spot.
|The views after I came home and the moment the one remaining|
chicken the predator didn't kill came running toward me.
In fact, I got the .22 and walked the acreage, looking for it. But, it was too late. My daytime free-ranging chickens were massacred. Except for one survivor. Sadly, about three weeks later, the predator came back and finished the job. I literally sat and cried.
|The remains of my chickens on an obvious battlefield where the|
struggle took place. It appears they did fight, but the predator
was too capable of taking their lives.
For over three years I had enjoyed those chickens. For over three years I had not had to buy eggs at the grocery store. For three years I had enjoyed my chicken's antics and had delighted in hand feeding "Beaker."
The next day, my husband took me to town for lunch, being a sweetheart to lift my spirits. Then, he took me to the local feed store and by the end of the day, I had twenty chicks of various varieties!
It's been a couple of months now and all twenty chicks are healthy and growing strong! Soon, I will have eggs coming out of my ears! I never thought I would end up to be a chicken farmer!
Then, this past week, both of my grown daughters have enjoyed visiting us and each wanted to go to the feed store to pick out their OWN chickens. So, I got seven more. Now, I have 27 chickens.
We've not yet let these chickens free-range, and I'm scared to do so, for multiple reasons. I know that predator still lurks about, watching and waiting. Finding my chickens dead is not something I want to go through again, so they remain in the open chicken tractor, happy to scratch the earth, to be in nature and to gobble up their daily feed allowance that is multiplying as they grow bigger. They snuggle inside the chicken coop at night, but will soon need more room.
The seven new chicks are enjoying their extra-protective cage with a heat lamp. Soon though they will join the larger chicks.
My daughters picked out Bantams, which are adorable chickens...they lay small eggs and are sweet birds. I look forward to watching them grow.
Since I will soon have more eggs in one day that would take us one month to eat, I am going to either join a local farmer's coop or start one. It's another step toward fully enjoying our beautiful life in the country.
But in the meantime, Lord have Mercy! I have TWENTY-SEVEN CHICKENS?