We’re chicken farmers!

So, I’ve been wanting to get chickens for a few years now.  I’ve been buying local fresh, free-range eggs for a while and thought it would be super cool to be able to have our own.  The Hubs wasn’t convinced, but kept an open mind.  Recently, after visiting with a client who he claims is “just like us!” {suburban young family} and keeps chickens, he decided he was ready.  All in.  So I got to checking out Craigslist {really the best resource for getting started}.  I found a cute little A-frame coop about a mile or so away from our home, and Hubs and the Monkeys drove over to pick it up.

{Coop sweet coop}

We had to wait a bit on the chickens since we were leaving for Spring Break, but once we got back it was go-time!  I made almost daily research visits to the Tractor Supply store where “Tim” {the chicken “expert” at the store} started to comment that I was there as much as he was!  Then I finally connected with a few chicken farmers who were selling their chickens and set up times to come get them.  This was really happening!  I couldn’t help but have these provincial Martha Stewart visions of sweetly clucking chickens, gathering heaps of colorful eggs in the perfect wire basket, and a sundrenched field of wildflowers in the background.  My chicken livin’ was going to be perfect!

While the Hubs was working late one evening, our friends came over and helped me set up the temporary fencing around the coop.  {I love having formerly Amish friends!}

{ready to rock and roll}

After preschool, M and I drove to pick up the first 2 – a black and a white “turken”.  Turkens are not an attractive breed.  They look like a cross between a turkey and a chicken and are also called “naked neck” chickens.  On the way home, M named the black one Max {short for Maxine because she’s a girl, of course} and the white one is Ruby.  Can you tell he watches a little Nick Jr.?   I hadn’t had time to pick up any feed yet, so I thought we’d drop the chickens off at home real quick then run to Family Farm & Home for the feed.  No big thing, right?  Wrong.

{this picture does them way more justice than they deserve}

I–very nervously–brought the tote into the chicken yard and gingerly tipped it on it’s side to let the girls out.  They took one step into their new living quarters…two steps and BAM!  Max flew the coop – literally!  Who knew they could fly over fences that high?!  Certainly not this girl.  I freaked out, of course.  I tried chasing her.  She’s fast.  I tried sneaking up on her.  She has great hearing and eyes in the back of her head {ok, actually on the side, but they may as well have been in the back}. I followed her into and through the woods.  She’s much smaller than I am and doesn’t have to duck under branches.  M suggested I lure her with string cheese, which he just happened to be eating at the moment.  It actually worked – sort of.  She ate it, but as soon as we got her close to the pen, I had to open the door and she’d run away again.  I was sweating and thinking of bad words.  I chased after and lured that dumb chicken for over an hour with no luck.  And if I’m being totally honest, I’m not exactly sure what I would’ve done if I’d actually caught up with her.  Pounce on her?  Grab her?  No idea.  Eventually she found something interesting right at the edge of the woods and stayed there for a while.   I was about to go into the woods to try to gently “guide” her out of the woods toward the pen when Monkey A and our neighbor friend, E, got off the school bus.  They were both SO excited to see the chickens that they were literally screaming down the driveway!  Oy!  I quickly ran to them and apprised them of the situation.  I tried to get them to help me trap Max so I could catch her, but somewhere between the yard and the woods {where I was crawling through prickly raspberry bushes and under low-hanging branches}, the girls lost track of Max.  I did too.  I searched and searched and finally gave up.  She was lost.  Some animal was going to have a nice chicken dinner.  In all the excitement, Ruby got flustered and flew out, too.  But at least she was sitting calmly in the corner of the garden.  I called the Hubs and left a tearful message on his voicemail about how I was a total and immediate failure.  Then I called my friend, the formerly Amish one – CY, sat down on the ground and cried while I told her what happened.  Off in the distance, mid-cry, I heard my neighbor calling my name.  Huh.  I headed across the yard and heard my neighbor call my name again, asking if I wanted him to grab my chicken.  Nearly hanging up on CY, I yelled YES!  With a net, he caught Max, brought her back, picked up Ruby and put her in the pen.  Then he helped me zip-tie the heck out of some bird netting over the top of the pen so they wouldn’t fly out anymore.   Thank GOD for great neighbors with nets!

That evening, after the kids and I–very quickly–went out to get feed and some pizza {no way was I cooking after that debacle!}, A & M wanted to eat out by the chickens, so we had a CHICK-NIC :)

{a chick-nic dinner}

All I could say after that was, these chickens had better give me an egg after that “welcome home” party.  Guess they agreed.

{our first beautiful egg!}

{so proud}

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One Comment to “We’re chicken farmers!”

  1. Oh man, How FUN for the kids, and so great for you all!! I’ve never had fresh eggs!!

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