“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Taking a look at chickens
We will have the new chicken house ready by spring. I can't wait to have chickens again. We have had 2 flocks now and unfortunately predators got both flocks. So we decide to forgo getting anymore until we could build a new chicken house completely predator proof. Our old chicken house was not and we thought that the fence around the chicken yeard would protect them. It didn't. So now we are building a chicken house that is predator proof and can be completely closed up at night. This will keep our chickens safe and secure from all predtors in the area. It is even snake proof and if you had seen the size of the snake that was living under the floor of the old chicken house you would understand why that is a good thing. It took the death of 3 chickens by that snake for us to discover it under the floor and kill it. I don't like killing snakes, they are beneficial critters on a farm, but sometimes they are not in beneficial places. And killing my chicken was not a beneficial thing to do. I had beautiful little bantams and they layed like crazy. The eggs were small but oh so good. That snake certainly thought so and killed 3 chickens within a couple of weeks to get those eggs. I had one hen setting on a dozen eggs and overnight all eggs were gone and my little hen was dead. I was mad. Those were my only three hens and I was left with my rooster. A month or so later we got some more hens to start our little flock. We had gotten rid of the snake, so once again we thought that our little flock was safe. Another three hens to get us started and hopefully some biddies to come in the future. We had those hens a few months and thought we were in the clear and doing good. Then the neighbors pit bull, ripped the fencing apart (it was just chicken wire although a double layer) and ripped up my chicken. All but one little hen. She never would go back in the chicken pen or chicken house. During the day she followed the dogs and went everywhere they went. At night she roosted close to the house, but got braver as time went on. Then she decided it was nice to spend time with the horses. Then one day she didn't come up from the pasture and we never saw her again. So we have had a time with chickens and our fair share of woes. Now we are getting ready to start again and hopefully have a better more successful time of it. We have decided on Rhode Island Reds. My grandparents had these when I was growing up and they are a great dual purpose bird. They produce beautiful large brown eggs and a lot of them. They are also great to put in the freezer. So in a couple of months we should have the chicken house finished and be in the business of chickens again. Chickens are one of the easiest and cheapest farm animals to keep. If let to free range during the day, they can greatly supplement their feed with foraging for bugs. The will also eat garden scraps. Shoot there isn't much a chicken won't eat for that matter. They are clean if kept properly and their pen or house is kept clean. And despite popular belief, clean healthy chickens really don't smell. The smell comes from a dirty chicken house and pen. I highly recommend a small flock of chickens for anyone starting out in homesteading. You don't have to have much room for them either. Some folks have them in the city, check your zoning laws if you are thinking about this. That is how we got our first flock of chickens. The city near us won't let folks have chickens and these chickens lived in town and had to go. We got them for free. So it is definitely worth it before you build a nice little chicken house, get feed and buy your chickens. It would be a shame to have the city give you a notice to get rid of them. However, if you find that you can have them and only want a few for eggs then about 3 hens will supply a good amount of eggs for a family of 4 or 5. Another thing about chickens that many people don't realize is that a rooster is not needed to have eggs. You only need a rooster if you want babies. If you just want eggs then you can do without the noise of the rooster and just enjoy your few hens. So that is our chicken story. We will soon be ready for our Rhode Island Reds.