Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How It All Began

Although I’ve never been a fan of dirt or bugs, I didn’t grow up in a big city with a concrete front yard. My parents have always had a garden, and I can always remember things needing to be watered, picked, de-bugged, and best of all, eaten fresh. The big lush garden they have now is more than plentiful for their empty nest, and their friends all benefit from their very green thumbs. I personally always dreaded weeding, the removal of tomato worms (those things are NASTY), and yard work in general. Actually, none of that has changed about me.  Yet here I am, the mother of 2 humans and 50+ chickens (not to mention co-owner of our own large garden, but I’ll save that for another post). 

It happened when I was 7 months pregnant with our second child. My husband (M) brought home a couple dozen fresh eggs from a friend at work. We discovered that our then 2-year old daughter could seriously put away some scrambled eggs. And M made the comment that it would be nice to have our own eggs as our family grew. Sure, that all makes good sense. The next thing I knew, one of the outbuildings on our property turned into a chicken house over Halloween weekend. He went to the egg-friend’s house and came home with 5 hens and 2 roosters. Our daughter (E) thought it was SO fun to go see the chickens, and I was grateful for the easy entertainment, as my belly and energy were both maxed out.
E visiting the chickens, October 2009

And then… nothing. The chickens ate, and drank, and required us to do things for them, but they were yet to do anything for us. I looked on the internet for guidance, something neither of us had actually done before beginning the chicken adventure. Apparently chickens need time to adjust to new surroundings. After a few weeks, I was thrilled when I looked in a nest and saw a teeny tiny white egg. (Warning: what I’m about to tell you maybe disturbing to some readers). So I reached in and grabbed… a big soft pile of white poop. I screamed. That was not an egg. I told you I knew nothing going into this whole farming thing, right?

Luckily, shortly after the false-egg incident, the chickens did start laying gorgeous brown and green eggs with real shells and yolks. And even with a newborn and a toddler to take care of, it was very cool to go outside and get a couple of eggs every day. If you know M, you know that if a little bit of something is good, then a whole lot of something is quite obviously better. So it wasn’t long before our first batch of 25 chicks was ordered from a company online. Our excitement was dampened when most of them were dead on arrival. Note to new chicken farmers: do not bring the chirping box into the house to show your daughter before you have looked inside yourself! She was so excited to tell everyone about her new chicks, but always followed up with “a lot of them were sick though.” It was heart breaking. We assume that the box went through a cold part of the country, as it was just March at the time. A few of them survived with us feeding them sugar water through a syringe, and some of them are part of our current flock. The company promptly sent replacements, and they (of course!) arrived when M was out of town. That’s where the Chicken Lady story comes in.

The first shipment of chicks, March 2010

Since then, we’ve had three or four more shipments of chicks, I’ve stopped counting, and we’ve expanded to Cornish Hens so that we can feed our family hormone-free / drug-free chicken. Now I just have to get the kids to eat it…

P.S. After reading my first post, one of my readers took issue with me calling myself a "former engineer." So I'll change that: I am currently not practicing engineering, but I'll always have my degree, and it's a degree that I am very proud of earning.

1 comment:

  1. Love your posts, Chicken Lady. Keep 'em coming!! I can't believe you've been doing this chicken thing all this time, and I only vaguely knew about it. I am enjoying discovering this whole new side of you. xx