We used to live in Mid-Coast Maine. Cold, wet, smoggy, foggy, steamy, cloudy Maine. Then I learned that I was to be transported to Kansas, with or without my consent. So we packed up our things and took a nice long drive to what I deemed the middle of absolutely nowhere. Pretty soon without my realizing it, I began to change. I now was interested in how these huge fields of dirt became huge fields of corn, wheat or soybeans. When I went to somebody’s farm, I was not interested in their house but the animals outside of it. Without myself hardly knowing it, I began to want chickens.
So I looked at some articles on the internet, and some magazines in the farm stores, and I decided that I wanted chickens. So like any good daughter, I asked my parents over dinner if I might keep a couple hens and try my luck with the whole chicken raising thing. My parents, unfortunately, knew something that I did not, chickens were against the law in this city that we lived in (so were panthers, lions, zebras, goats, and sheep). Just when things started to look grim for my dreams of being a chicken farmer, I stumbled across a website dedicated to the ‘Chicken Revolution.’
Now, I learned that this was an effort to bring chickens back to the city. I learned that it was possible to change the ordinances. I learned that one person wanting chickens in a small town was not a mental condition to be treated by psychiatrists, but a condition where there is but one cure: chickens. I had a very serious illness called chicken fever. I spent hours searching for the perfect breed. There were days my biology lesson consisted of looking at all the sicknesses that could affect poultry and their cures. I learned how to bone a chicken. One day I made a frittata, and another day I made a chicken pot pie. Pretty soon this disease could not be satisfied by just eating eggs or chicken, accompanied by looking at adorable baby chickies on the internet. Every time I went to a friend’s house I had to pet a chicken. My condition was worsening with each passing day.
Since I am home educated, I happen to be able to redirect some of the time spent on certain subjects, and put some of my previous learning to practical use. Within a space of a month, I created a draft ordinance proposal to allow chickens, an accompanying power point presentation, and managed to get on the agenda for the small city council meeting. My speech on how chickens can save the world and fly to the moon, seemed to hit a nice spot in the council members, and they agreed to allow chickens in the city.
Immediately, I began to search for the exact breeds I wanted. It was not a difficult decision to get bantams, because I have always loved miniature things, and a little chicken was just too irresistible. Then began the difficult part. I had to find the right breeds. I wanted pretty eggs and pretty chickens, so I decided to get an order of 5 Easter eggers, 5 mille fluer d’uccles, and 2 silkies. When they arrived I put them in a plastic box I had set up in my bedroom, with a red heat lamp. This lamp, I soon learned, made getting to sleep very difficult, as well as their incessant (and totally adorable) peeping.
After about a week, my parents decided they were done waiting for eggs. My mother searched high and low on Craigslist for full grown chickens, and we managed to find 3 bantam golden-laced cochin hens, but they came with a rooster. Of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have hens and we quickly finished the coop (made from recycled materials), and bought the girls, and dude, and got them all situated in their new accommodations.
Around this time my room began to really smell. The baby chickens weren’t quite as little as they once were, and they were trying to fly. What did we do to fix this problem? We put them out in the coop on one of the sides with chicken wire from the floor to the ceiling. The first night sleeping without that heat lamp in my bedroom was the first time I had got a really nice sleep in about a month.
Then we learned that the rooster (Paprika), crowed a lot. And he taught the little dudes that I had to crow too. So we brought them to a farmer friend’s house and ate them for dinner one day. That mixed with a doggy problem, and some water on the brain, we were left with four pullets, and three hens (one who was broody). Once some eggs hatched, and a couple pet swaps, and some more craigslist-ing, we got our flock up to seventeen chickens, when the town only allowed twelve.
Pretty soon after the four males started causing a racket we moved to our current place of residence. It is a beautiful farm (I am very prejudiced), with five acres (although some of those are still row crop being farmed by the nice man we bought it from) and we have fifty chickens, two goats, a Dexter heifer, three bunnies (with maybe some more on the way), and three dogs. To top it all off, we are the happiest we have been in a long time, and here there are no neighbors to get upset that our roosters are crowing.