I've always had a fondness for fowl, of the rooster and hen variety that is. Over the last many many years I've collected and have received as gifts all sorts of roosters and hens of the still life, ceramic and artsy variety that is.
Since moving to the country 18 months ago I've contemplated, several times, the idea of raising chickens for their fresh eggs. Every time I cracked a store bought egg I would daydream and sigh about my possible future chickens and the fresh eggs I would receive.
This past Spring, a week before Easter, I wandered (accidentally of course) into a Tractor Supply store and came out with a box filled with 10 chirping baby chicks and promptly began my backyard chicken adventure.
I'm the type of person who, before jumping into a new hobby or venture, wants to read every book, pamphlet, article and internet post that's related to my, literally in these case, new pet project. My daughter, knowing this, bought me all sorts of chicken raising books for Christmas; therefore, I was "read up" and prepared on the do's and don'ts and possibles and maybe's of rearing backyard chickens. In the meantime my daughter acquired three mature Leghorns of her own and was receiving fresh eggs almost immediately. *sigh*
On that beautiful Spring day, a week before Easter, I stepped out of the Tractor Supply store. I was filled with anticipation, excitement, wonder and worry, carrying my box of 10 chirping chicks, knowing that half could possibly die due to some horrific baby chick disease I'd read about but certainly not die by anything that I would do, the confident novice that I was. Along with my chicks tucked safely in their box I loaded the car with a heat lamp, heat bulbs (two kinds, because I was unsure if one would be warm enough and the other too hot), pine shavings, chick starter feed, probiotics, a small feeder, a small waterer and a smaller checking account balance. Good thing I already had a large plastic storage container that was to be their first home.
That sunny Spring day turned cold and windy by night fall and I worried like a mother hen about my chicks in their blue plastic storage container in the garage. I worried about the clip on the heat lamp not holding.... falling into the storage container and igniting a fire in the pine shavings...killing my baby chicks and burning down my house. I worried if the chicks were too warm or not warm enough. I worried about them getting trapped behind the waterer or feeder and getting cold. I worried about all the poop they created that might harbor that dreaded horrific intestinal disease that is so common in baby chicks. I worried about cleaning out all the poop they created in a timely manner while hoping they would build an immunity to that dreaded horrific intestinal disease. That first night I believe I checked on them every few hours and each time the chicks were snuggled cozily together under the perfect temperature from the safely clipped heat lamp. They were getting more sleep than I.
After the first few nights...maybe 7 or so...my mind settled down (possibly due to weariness) and my worrying became less as my chicks and I settled into a nice routine. They...eating, pooping and sleeping and me...refilling feed and probiotic water and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning all the poop these tiny creatures produced!
Every day I picked each one up...cuddling it in my hands...trying to build trust. At the end of a full week of being a chick mom I still had 10 healthy chicks...eating, pooping and sleeping, yet still afraid of and scurrying from "the hand" that reach in from above.
At this point...and I mean at the end of this first week...my expenses added to $84. Or to look at it another way, the first egg laid would be an $84 egg. But of course, as always, there is more to come!
Thanks for visiting and I hope you return to read more about what I've learned in the past 6 months and my adventures in raising Happy Hens and receiving Fresh Eggs.
What stories do you have? I would love to read about them.