Greetings and happy Monday to all. Every spring I’m startled and somewhat annoyed by the time change, and having it come this early does nothing for kids who stay up late already. What a difference an hour makes, I guess. We took an impromptu trip to the Big City on Friday to see my brother and his wife, as well as to meet up with my parents. A fun time was had by all, but by the time the day came to a close, David and I fled back to our rural domain in the sticks with joy. Yes, we’re turning into Those People. And, by the way, we’re getting chickens. So our hickdom is manifesting itself by leaps and bounds each passing day. (But have you ever tasted a farm-fresh egg? They’re delicious.)
So, after deciding on purchasing some day-old baby chicks, David and I have been online trying to figure out how to take care of the things. With minimal work, of course. Having a variety of vacant outbuildings available, we’ve got the shelter for them. Yesterday David built some nesting boxes–this is where they’ll lay their eggs–complete with a flip-top lid that is located on the outside of the coop. This is handy because chickens move their bowels frequently and profusely, I’m told, and I’m not keen on having to step in it if I don’t absolutely have to. There will also be an outside pen for them, and no, they won’t be free range chickens. I like my poop-free lawn and flowers too much for that.
We’re discovering that, like everything, there’s a lot about raising chickens that we didn’t know. For instance, will these hens automatically know where to lay their egg? The no-nonsense lady from Bomgaars (the place from which the chicks will come in a week) and apparent chicken connoisseur, informed David to put a golf ball in the nest if they’re not getting the idea at first. Chickens aren’t smart, but even they can take a hint.
There’s just all sorts of things we had no clue about. For instance, what’s a “straight run”? Answer–a batch of 100 day-old chicks, both male and female. What’s a “pullet”? Why, it’s a female chicken under one year of age–sort of like a heifer. (Pullets, by the way, are what we’re after. We’re not doing broilers–which are chicks you buy in the spring, feed, and then butcher at the end of the summer for meat.)
And then David and I ventured into the realm of egg production and the role of the rooster. Chicken sex-ed, if you will. Those of you who know about chickens will laugh at our ignorance, here. We weren’t initially sure if the chickens would even lay eggs without a rooster around. What happens if you want baby chicks? Obviously, the rooster is necessary at some point. Well, we’ve discovered that hens will lay eggs no matter what. If there’s not a rooster around, they’ll just lay an unfertilized egg–the eating kind. If a rooster is around, and has shown, er–amorous advances–toward the hen, she will lay a fertilized egg. This is stuff that makes perfect sense, but I had never stopped to think about it.
I won’t go into brooding or roosting. All very interesting, though. No doubt I’ll post more as we obtain the chicks and begin our fowl-raising adventure. The kids are excited to see the chicks, though, and it will be fun for that reason alone.