Here’s the story of how we got into chicken keeping–
I am not normally the type of person that rushes into things without much thought, but I think my husband has brought this feature out in me. We talked briefly about raising chickens and about how wonderful it would be to have delicious fresh eggs every day…..
….And that pretty much did us in.
We ran out to Rural King and Tractor Supply as soon as the “Chick Days” signs up went up in March. Even though the coop was not ready (something we had been talking about cleaning and preparing for a while), we knew we had a safe place to keep them while they were still baby chicks. So 18 chicks it was! We have since lost a couple–three right away, which Tractor Supply replaced, and then we lost another adult chicken earlier this summer, but overall we have had pretty good success with our chickens.
We got our first egg about four months after bringing our baby chicks home, and then had an egg almost every 24 hours from each chicken until the winter hit. When I had to go to the store to buy eggs for the first time in MONTHS I felt compelled to tell the cashier all about my poor egg-buying self. She may or may not have appreciated my story.
What We’ve Learned
1. Chickens WILL peck at each other, and you WILL have to separate the victim by putting her into a dog cage.
2. Some hens can get broody, and will refuse to leave the nesting boxes, even to eat or drink. We do not have a rooster, so there is no chance of fertilization with our eggs, but we had a couple hens this summer that were very in tune with their “motherly” instincts. I read about a few different solutions on some other blogs, and I ended up going into the coop when it was dark, putting the hens up on the roosting bars and then turning off all the lights very quickly.
3. My dad has always said, “If you have chickens, you will have rats.” He was right. I told him there were some cracks in our concrete floor of the coop, and some crevices in between the brick foundation–our coop is a very old small building that we just made do with–and that the floor was starting to fall in towards the cracks. He said without a doubt we had rats. I was obviously disgusted, but my husband and I faced reality and took care of it. Rat poison dropped in the cracks, and a then batch of concrete mix to fill them in.
4. Chickens are messy, and create dust! We learned this the hard way when we had the chicks in our enclosed back porch/mud room. Even though the wooden crate was not fully open–it had a ventilated lid–dust found its way onto EVERYTHING. I really did not realize this until we moved them out to the coop and started putting the room back together. I had to individually dust everything–think rolls of tape, tools, jars, etc., and vacuum crevices, wipe surfaces, and wash ALL of our hats, gloves, coats, you name it.
5. Most of all though, we have learned that having chickens is an absolutely wonderful and amazing experience that really can be a very easily attainable hobby.