If someone would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be raising chickens in my backyard on my quiet suburban cul-de-sac, I would have thought they were crazy. The extent of the pets that I have had in my life range from a couple of hermit crabs to a wild and wonderful yellow lab. I’m not what you would call an outdoorsy kind of gal, but something about the idea of fresh eggs every morning intrigued me. My sister in law had been raising a flock for some months with varying degrees of success. My husband took a look at her store bought coop and said if I want to raise chickens, he’ll build me a coop. Before I knew it, there were plans being drawn up and lumber arriving in the garage. Within days, the Taj Mahal of coops was attached to the outbuilding in our back yard. I knew at that point this was really going to happen! I bought a book on raising chickens, a bag of feed, and fresh straw at the local Tractor Supply Store.
Let’s just say chickens can be very entertaining!
We set out early the next Saturday to pick up our three poults. After a quick stop for breakfast along the way, we were excited to meet the newest members of our family! The workers at the chicken farm threw our chickens into the box we brought with us and sent us on our way. Wait a minute….no instructions, or fond goodbyes? This was my first hint that these animals may not be the pets I was expecting. When we got home, we put them in their coop and watched. Let’s just say chickens can be very entertaining! Each morning I would go out in anticipation of my first egg and would go back inside disappointed. No one told me they wouldn’t lay for 3-4 weeks. Finally the big day came! A fresh, warm, brown egg waiting in the laying box! I quickly took it in and cooked it, happier than I ever thought I would be while eating a fried egg! As the summer progressed, I became very fond of my three “girls”. I brought them into the fenced in garden with me while I worked and enjoyed watching them happily pecking and scratching the earth all around me. My sister in law warned me a few times that they were farm animals, not pets, but I didn’t heed her warning. They were my gardening buddies and I named them Lucky, Big Girl, and Little Girl. I was smitten.
Chickens are indeed farm animals and they must be thought of in that way.
Flash forward one year. It’s a beautiful summer morning. I wake up and hear what sounds like chickens squawking in the front yard. I’m thinking it can’t be them as they are in the back yard in the coop! I looked out the front window and there was Lucky looking at the front door squawking her little heart out! I came outside and she ran/flew back to the coop where I saw the carnage. Mother Nature had come to my backyard in the guise of a big fat raccoon that broke into the coop and ate two of my girls! I was devastated, to say the least. We quickly found a home for Lucky on a chicken farm, and I decided to rethink this whole chicken thing. I was reminded that chickens are indeed farm animals and that they must be thought of in that way. I ate my first store bought eggs within a couple of weeks.
We went about nine months without chickens when we decided to try again. My husband reinforced the coop in such a way that it is now called Fort Knox. We picked up three new poults that are clucking around me, scratching for worms as I write this. Although we’ve taken special measures to ensure we won’t lose them to a nighttime critter, I have held off on naming them. We continue to get three beautiful brown eggs every morning which enable us to give eggs to friends and family. Our chickens live in luxury and are happy and safe in their secure coop. And it still amazes me each time I pick up an egg, still warm from one of my girls, take it into the kitchen, and cook it before it cools.