Monday, March 11, 2013

Life with Chickens

Let's talk about chickens.  I haven't mentioned them in a while.  Much of my day Saturday was spent with the chickens outside.

The chickens have been doing so good these days.  The majority of our chickens are over 3 years old.  Let's see, Dotty and Jade are probably about 2 years, and Penny and Bonnie were shelter hens, so we really don't know, but I think they are both about 1 year, give or take.  And Freckles is probably 4 years or more, we got her as a hen.  But most of the chickens are about 3 and a half years old.  We have 15 hens and 2 roosters.  We get 5 or 6 eggs/day right now from our hens.

Having chickens has been a great experience for me.  I'm so glad we got them.  I didn't really plan on having chickens, and I didn't know anything about raising chickens when it all started.  I was the "suburb" girl.  I only knew about what I considered "normal animals" - dogs and cats, even parakeets and hamsters and fish, but that was all I knew.

It all began when Randy wanted to surprise me and came home late when day with 2 huge boxes filled with chicks and a mother hen (Freckles).  I ooowed and aaaawed and held the chicks and laughed as they pecked my fingers.  And eventually I asked him, what do chicks eat?  Do we even have chick food?  He shrugged, and I knew we were in for some trying times. 

Now here we are, 3.5 years later.

We've been through chewed off wings, bloody combs, bumblefoot, broken feet, wings, legs and hips, seizures, unexplained sudden deaths, tumors and autopsies, spur removals, cock fights and rooster attacks.  We've raised our own chicks from eggs using broody hens and without broody hens, rescued abused hens from the animal shelter, even provided advice on chickens to the shelter employees.  We have a number of chickens buried in the chicken cemetery who didn't make it along the way. 

The biggest surprise to me was that chickens have personalities.  Yeah, they might not think deep thoughts, but they have specific likes and dislikes that are unique to them.

I have never eaten a chicken I've raised.  I just can't do it.  We raised a number of roosters which Randy has butchered, but I cannot eat them.  All the hens are named and are considered pets.  Especially now that my hens are getting old and laying is slowing, there's no way I'd ever butcher them and eat them!!!  Freckles still goes into the nest box every day, but never lays an egg.  Such a sweet hen.

At nighttime I go into the coop and give all the chickens on the roosts a pet and say their name as I go down the line.  Some of them, like Freckles, get nervous knowing I'm working my way to them.  Muffin the rooster always tries to peck me as I pet him.  Sometimes I scoop him up and hug him just to piss him off.  Man, does he hate hugs!  I'll never forget the night I got pecked in the eyeball!

I'm going to get some new chicks soon.  I have chick fever!  I'm hoping that my favorite mama hen, Charlotte, goes broody soon, so we can raise our own eggs.  Charlotte, even at 3 and a half, is a great hen.  And I want to add some new breeds of chickens this year, too, so I'm looking forward to some new chicks.

Feel free to tell me about your fav chicken experiences!       


Ronna said...

Love all your stories. Love all your animals too! Fun, fun, fun. All I have is 3 cats and they seem a hand full! Cheers from the north.

Mary Ann said...

I've kept chickens for 20 years and STILL name most of them. My husband thinks it's crazy, but he agrees they have personalities!

Genny said...

You got pecked in the EYEBALL!! How did that happen? How did I miss that? I wanted chickens but I don't want to get pecked in the EYEBALL!!

Farm Girl said...

I just love your history of chickens. I have chick fever too. I am going to just let some of my Silkie's hatch them because of the wedding here in May I just don't think I have enough time to fool with them the way I like too. I love picking up the roosters too. I love to see them get mad. I never knew you got pecked in the eye?
I would like to have more Cuckoo Marans and some more Welsummers. Though I admit to being pretty happy with my New Jersey Giants. My hens are the same age as your are isn't that funny.
Well I hope you get some chicks soon.

Anonymous said...

Love the part about hugging the rooster to piss him off. That would be something I would love to do! So enjoy reading you blog!
Linda in Mississippi

Country Girl said...

Remember that movie Roots? Remember Chicken George? Well.. you must be Chicken Lynn! LOL! Give me a call soon about Easter!