For awhile there, my younger daughter was obsessed with getting ducks. We discouraged that idea, though, since we don’t have any water on the property. So then she switched her focus to chickens. She wanted a variety of breeds because her goal, she said, was to have multi-colored cartons of eggs. That plan, we said, was a little more doable.
Over the last number of months, she’s been buying assorted kinds of baby chicks and then raising them — first in a cage in the barn and then, once they’re big enough, she transitions them out to the coop.
She’d fixed up the coop, shoveling out the poop, putting down a bed of shavings, making a new ramp, rigging up a little drop-down door on a pulley. Each morning when my husband goes down to milk, he opens the door, and each evening she closes it.
Aside from my husband letting them out in the morning, all the chicken care is my daughter’s responsibility. She buys the feed and collects the eggs, and she’s religious about tending them. She has 18 hens right now, and just a couple weeks ago, she came home with five more chicks, Rhode Island Reds this time. They’re supposed to lay large brown eggs.
I don’t much like chickens, and I can’t say I understand her fascination with them, but I gotta admit: some of these birds are downright lovely. The colors and patterns are picture-book worthy.
The eggs, when they started rolling in, were eensy small, but now they’re more closer to more regular sized. (Just this morning my husband found one in the sink in the milking shed, plugging up the drain.) Currently, she gets about 13 a day, but the number is rising steadily. The deal is that we pay full price for the eggs but we also get dibs on them, since we’re providing her with the hen house, fencing, and land. As long as she makes sure we’re stocked, she’s free to sell them to whoever. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
For both of us.
P.S. Did you know that my mother wrote a children’s book about chickens? It’s about my brother and his flock of chickens back when we were living in West Virginia. The illustrations are so playful, and in the story, I’m “the girl” — check it out!