Friday, August 6, 2010

Adventures in raising chickens (Part 1)

This whole chicken fiasco is my Dad's fault. He grew up on a farm and always had chickens. He has wanted chickens for fresh egg ever since Grandpa got rid of his chickens. My grandpa died right after Ben and I got married. I think that we got rid of his chickens when Grandpa's health went downhill and he left his farm and moved in with my parents. By "got rid of" I mean butchered and eaten. I remember going in to gather chicken eggs every time we went to visit my Grandpa. Anyway.... my dad wanted chickens.  When we bought out house there was finally a place to put the chickens and my dad asked if he could get some chicks and keep them at our house. We also wanted chicks for fresh egg and agreed to get them. As I have learned more about "store bought" eggs, I am very glad to have our chickens.

We got our first baby chicks a few months after Heber was born.

My dad was going to get only hens but the guy at the store convinced him that he could accurately pick out the hens from the "straight run" (mixed hens and roosters). My dad got 14 baby chicks. The guy at the store wasn't very good at telling the hens from the rooster and we ended up with 6 hens and 7 rooster (one baby chick died a few weeks after getting them). They were all Rode Island Reds. We kept the baby chicks in my Dad's shed until they no longer needed a heating lamp. This picture was taken shortly before moving them to our house.

We then moved all of the chickens to our house. Their chicken coop was an old camper that was at our house when we bought it. It was worked quite well as a coop.

14 chickens seemed like a lot of chickens. They grew bigger, the hens started laying, and the roosters got aggressive and mean. We had some fun adventures trying to get them to actually roost in the coop. We had one hen that we called "Henny Penny" who would always get out. She was smaller then the others and could fly over the top of the fence that was around the run. Ben once found a huge nest with about 20 egg on top of the shed where she had been laying all of her eggs.

My dad decided it was time to "get rid of" some roosters. We ate them for Thanksgiving ("we" excludes me) and they didn't taste very good. I wanted to keep 1 for some crazy reason and that one ended up being the meanest rooster I have ever met. He would attack every one and anyone again and again. It got so that I wouldn't go out in the yard if he was out. When I would go out to let the chickens out I would open the door to the camper and then run back in to the house as fast as I could to get to the house before the rooster saw me.  I once got stuck in my car when the rooster was out. Every time I would even open the car door he would come running. It was pretty pathetic but I was so afraid of that rooster. We ended of getting rid of this rooster too. That left of with 6 hens. They don't lay many eggs in the winter and between us and my parents, we wanted a few more and decided 6 more hens would be perfect. We got the 6 (ended up being 7 and then 1 died) hens this spring. We, meaning my dad, Ben, brother, and brother-in-law, saved my great-grandpa's honey house from his homestead. It has a wonderful old look and I really like it.

To be continued . . . . see Adventures in Raising Chickens (part 2) or how we ended up with 23 chickens.

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