It's been a goal of mine for the last couple years to start keeping chickens. Why? Eggs are the obvious answer. We love our eggs in this family; during pregnancy and breastfeeding I can easily go through a dozen per week by myself. Add in Penny, who shares a love of scrambled eggs or omelletes with me, and then Adam typically gets an egg in his lunch most days and joins in on the egg fun on the weekends too. Not to mention that all that extra protein wouldn't hurt to help Penny grow some hair... I'll have to put together an awesome collage of her hair over the last 2 years.
But I was pleasantly surprised with Penny's reaction to the chickens. I was expecting her to either be ambivalent or scared of them. Imagine my surprise when I see her run up to the coop with excitement and just gazing in awe of these truly weird and funny creatures. I expected ornery, crabby birds who took a while to warm up and begrudgingly gave me eggs. I was going to be ok with it, because really what I wanted was eggs. Of course we always planned on being responsible chicken owners and care for them, but I didn't anticipate enjoying them on a personal level.
|Buff Orpington (yellow) // 2 Black Stars (black) // 2 Rhode Island Reds (brown)|
On average we get 4-5 eggs per day, which has been awesome! I can go through them almost as fast as the girls can lay. I've also started an "egg-stra" notice list for when I have more eggs than I can handle to either give away or sell.
|Some curious chickens checking out Penny's finger painting|
I'm surprised at how easy keeping chickens can be but it's also not always smooth sailing. Within the first month one of the girls was cracking the eggs and eating them (a sign of calcium deficiency, which I fixed quickly!), then a couple "rubber eggs" (which were just plain weird!) and finally Baby went through a 4 day bought of broodiness. A broody hen is only good when you are trying to hatch babies, which I am not. Broodiness means that a hen is in the mode where she sits on her eggs and waits for them to hatch (which is about 21 days). Because I don't have a rooster, none of those eggs were fertilized and never going to hatch. A broody hen doesn't lay eggs when she's trying to hatch and they also eat and drink less. So it was a little bit of a process to "break" her of her broody spell and get her back out with her sisters.
Overall it's been a fun little project to expose Penny to and I daresay I'm 'egg-cited' to introduce the care of the chickens as age appropriate chores as she and Ruby grow up. For now she just gets to run around in the yard and play with them, or feed them from her hand. The next step would be collecting the eggs.
Do you keep backyard chickens? What breed are your ladies? How have your children reacted to them?