Chickens the gateway farm animal…

Let me tell you the story about my first batch of chickens that was ordered. It was disastrous, and I am not sure how I ever thought about getting more. It was the spring of 2009. I had only been in my little farmstead house for six months or so. I had been dutifully doing chicken research, and my then live-in boyfriend and I decided to order 30 chicks. While waiting for delivery, we built a coop from pieces of plywood, and we built a “chicken tractor” that was to be moved around the yard; protecting the chickens inside the caged area. Of course we didn’t have any plans for said chicken tractor, or the coop for that matter, but we made plans and started building. The coop was easy; still standing today, and used for new chickies getting acclimated to the bigger girls, but protecting them too as the pecking order can sometimes be cruel. We had overbuilt it by about 500 pounds. It was ginormous and heavy. So we used it as wall coop at one end of the chicken yard. Oh, and it was painted bright PINK — an Lowes “oops” paint! The tractor has thankfully since deteriorated.

We finally got the call from the post office that they had arrived, and I had taken the day off. The peep-peep-peep from the box was adorable. 30 little day-old babies tucked into a 8×10 cardboard box with holes in it. Adorable. Just so adorable. I had no idea that they were so tiny. The brooding cage that we had made, had too big of chicken wire cloth; and they were just able to walk out of it. I hastily put some cardboard around the sides, and all was good. For an hour or so. They took water, but they didn’t look good. And one by one they started dying. I was crying. Then there was just one chick left. He survived whatever it was. And I called him Jesus. A few days later, I got some baby bantam chicks from a lady in another nearby town, as I didn’t want Jesus to be lonely. And I called the six little white bantams Jesus’s disciples. Then Jesus died. All I had was disciples.

So I called the hatchery. They sent me out 30 new chicks. A chicken’s average life span is around 8-10 years. My hen’s average life span is less due to chupacabras, hunting dogs, foxes, hawks and possums.

One would think that with the lack of success, I might consider stopping. But they are so cute, and they do so much good in the garden. And what would I talk about if I wasn’t talking about chickens?