I’m uncertain at what point I sat my husband down to ‘discuss‘ (ok- to tell him) that we should have laying hens but I remember it going better than I had predicted. I grew up in a poultry influenced family to say the least, so was no stranger to picking eggs, plucking feathers and cleaning out the coop- but if you asked me even 2 years ago if I’d have chickens of my own I would have laughed you out the door.
Fast forward and we currently own 5 bodacious babes! Getting them here was a bit of a scramble though. I didn’t feel up for the challenge of dealing with chicks in my entry year, so the search was on to find some pullets without waiting for the year to be over. We did find a farm fairly close to us that were raising chicks to sell and was blindsided when we were told they’d be ready to pick up in a week! This vision just went into high gear and we didn’t even have a coop!
With the time constraint I found a cute little pre-fabricated coop that the boys and I assembled in an afternoon. It came complete with nesting boxes and a wee little outdoor space, which we will certainly expand- but for now it will do. Free range is most definitely not an option here as surely Duke (our Great Dane/St Bernard) would mistaken one for a chew toy.
Then came chicken day…
While the boys knew we were getting chickens I never told them the day I went to pick them up. When they came home and saw these hens for the first time it made everything worth it as their reactions were one of those memories that you lock up forever and never forget. The boys, especially Cooper, have been so involved with them- we pick eggs every morning before leaving (and as I’ve learnt, one cannot use the excuse of running late to skip egg picking in the am or I hear about it alllllllllll the way to town). We’ve also began sorting our compost- to chicken friendly and just plain compost. (Because we don’t have enough going on??!!)
The most amazing experience with these hens has been watching the relationship unfold between our very Alpha male dog and his protective mothering over the chickens. Duke spends his days lying next to their coop and we often see him blitzing across the front yard to chase something off. One day somehow a latch was left open and we came home to 4 hens grazing the front lawn and shockingly Duke was strolling behind them. So will the day come that we will be open to free range? Probably not- but I feel better knowing that he doesn’t salivate over eating one all day long.
Next time- I’ll share my glorious experience of being pecked in the eyeball!