We loved having our chickens when we were at the farm. In the season of life we are in now with our young people closer to leaving and having their own families, no dog to guard them, and having moved recently, we are not there. But I would be surprised if our young people didn’t keep their own chickens someday. They are just so good for you!
I have had this on my mind for a while, so I want to show you how we did it! This is the chicken tractor my husband and sons built. It had to be pulled along by an old Kubota lawn-mower.
While this photo was taken many years ago, I still remember the pleasant feeling I would get seeing (and sometimes hearing) Charles and the girls pecking ( squawking) around. It required some work to get started, having chickens wasn’t as clean as I would have liked (OK, I’m OCD with being clean), and you have to learn a few principles of animal husbandry, but it was wonderful to have our own healthy food source right outside the door. It also taught our young brood a lot about life!
Instead of trying to re-write why I think having chickens is wonderful, my friend Cindy over at Apron Strings and Apple Trees has already done it for me. I love her reasons and couldn’t have said it better 🙂
While you don’t have to have a chicken tractor to keep chickens, if very easily moved, a bit away from the house where you have grass you are not using, and already have a dog to keep predators at bay, it makes a lot of sense. We used a solar-generated electric-fence to contain them.
The kids had to learn good hygiene and really wash up before they could get into the kitchen, but we should be teaching these basic skills anyway after being in a variety of public places.
Here are a few of my favorites (some portable and some not):
Chicken-mobile? Just the illusion of being portable…
Better move it before watering the planter on top…
Love the bumped-out egg box on the side. Every coop should have a feature like this so you don’t have to enter to get eggs.
Notice how these two have wire over the top of the ‘yard’ to keep out predators. A dog always helps with raccoon, weasel, fox, or possum.
They are really using this coop (at the home below)…you can tell because of the feathers in the grass. You won’t have perfect grass, but you will have golden-yoked eggs and chicken for the freezer this fall. You must decide whether to over-winter your birds like we did (in a sheltered area) or butcher them every fall. Butchering is a practical, and in our world today, a wise skill for you and your children to have.
My favorite of all…for Mr. Rooster and his wife:
This reminds me of something you might find in rural France. They would be cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. ‘Heavy-bodied birds’ (a category of chicken) can withstand moderate winter temps if in a sheltered place. Know your breed’s needs.
Assess with you husband what you are realistically able to do.
All chickens will go to roost in the evening. If you don’t have a faithful dog, you will need to close the door after they are in and let them out in the morning. We had a guardian Great Pyrenees, so we didn’t have to close them in. They are a great working dog for small flocks, but must be trained from a puppy. I tell you this so you will do your homework before rushing to order chicks.
Part 2 will be about where to find chicks and some thoughts on keeping chickens.
You can quote me as I speak
Chickens smile despite their beaks
Look how she walks and talks and stares
See how she jumps and shows she cares
Listen to her serenade
Think of how they’ve danced and played
Their little toes don’t skip a beat
Happiness permeates their feet.
Up into your lap they hop
Snuggling right into your top.
I feel their combs warm near my skin
I really feel like chicken kin
Watching my hens all the while
I swear to you that they can smile
Thanks for reading!