My Backyard Chicken Flock
I wanted chickens for years before I got them. I had read that they were good for pest control and that sold me, especially when I found out they eat ticks and fleas. I was always hesitant to get them because I was afraid that they would draw coyotes into the yard and the coyote would kill my cat. I was also afraid the cat would go after the chickens. Paul had asked me to start collecting the eggs since I was there bottle feeding Ed (my cow) and the coops were just a short walk away. I told you I should have been wary when he so readily agreed to let me bottle feed Ed.
Anyway, I figured it would be a good experience to determine what went into caring for chickens and if I really wanted them at home. Turns out they basically care for themselves, feed, water and clean the coop are the extent of it.
After a year of tending the chickens at the farm, I’d decided that, yes, I did want them at home, especially when I found out the cat would not be a problem, so I started looking at coops. My hubby was going to build me one, but we’re not exactly on the same page when it comes to timing. I want it now, he gets around to it, eventually.
After much searching around I found one on Craigslist that included the coop and four hens. It wasn’t too far from home so we borrowed my father-in-law’s truck and picked up the coop and hens. As far as I can tell I have a Sussex, White Plymouth, Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red. Of course, this is completely guessing although I’m fairly certain on the Barred Rock and Sussex, they are not too difficult to determine.
Our daughter Katie named the ladies. They were Lucie Chicken (after our cat), Katie Chicken, Mommy Chicken and Daddy Chicken. I did get her to agree on changing Mommy and Daddy to May and Noodle. I joke that Chicken Noodle is going to be the first in the soup pot, she is so difficult compared to the others.
We’ve had them now for about three years and still get eggs regularly. I’ve enjoyed having them around, they are so much fun to watch. As soon as I open the slider each morning, they come running up to the deck looking for their chicken crack (cracked corn). If you don’t give them any they are quite verbal about letting you know how unhappy they are. Each one has her own quirks and personality.
Katie Chicken insists that I am edible and as soon as I’m weeding or picking or near the ground she pecks at me. You’d think she’d have figured out by now that I don’t taste good.
May is known as Piggy May and she likes to eat frogs. Lucie is skittish most of the time since the neighbor’s dog chased her (the yard has since been fenced in).
Noodle is flighty and a royal pain. She won’t come near you unless you’re weeding, then she practically sits on hand and kicks dirt in your face, which is just lovely. She did just catch a mouse the other day though so I’m willing to forgive her faults if she keeps up the hunting.
The girls have most of the backyard to roam around, and I let them out daily so they can make their rounds around the house and back. Occasionally they venture over to our neighbors Kevin and Judy’s house. Judy’s dad Joe gets a kick out of watching them hunt around. Although I’ve considering raising meat chickens I’m just not there yet. I’m not sure I could do it. For now the girls supply me with eggs and pest control and that is good enough for me.
Read this editor’s letter about her new chickens and their lively personalities.
Backyard Chicken Tools
What tools do you need to raise and process meat chickens? Killing cones are humane, and promote a complete bleed, scalding tanks, plucking machines facilitate easy feather removal.
Integrating Chickens, Dogs and Cats
Introducing the pets to the chickens has been a little more challenging than originally anticipated.