When I was small my grandfather had chickens. To tell you the truth, I remember fighting cousins over checking the coop for eggs than I remember the actual chickens.
When my kids started school and had fieldtrips to farms and pumpkin patches I was always mesmerized by the chickens. Something about their behavior just relaxed me, I could have parked a chair and watched for hours. I never seriously considered having my own though. Fast forward 10 plus years and I had a new career and a new job, one of my friends had chickens and I found myself jealous.
I did home visiting and a few of my clients had chickens. At one house I climbed a long stairway to a deck that led into the house. One early evening I arrived, climbed the stairs and found myself face to face with a chicken in a tree. I walked in and said "There is a chicken in your tree!" She just said yes. I had no idea about chicken behavior and roosting and to me it was the most absurd thing I had ever seen. More and more people seemed to be getting chickens, another nurse I worked with, neighbors down the road. Still I didn't think of it as something I could do.
A couple of years ago I, like many people, I came across the subject of chicken tractors either in a magazine or online. The idea intrigued me. My husband said no. The next year when my coworker was getting more chickens, my husband said no. Last year my husband said no. In the past year one of my cats got very ill, a beautiful calico, and I had to have her put down. About 6 months later our "senior" dog could barely stand anymore and had to be put down, I stayed with both of them. In the past year I became unable to work and I have more time and two less pets to care for. This year he pointed out that if I got chickens we would have to find someone to take care of them while we went on vacation in June. I quietly plotted to get chickens after vacation. The next month our Boxer developed a cancerous tumor. I didn't think I could handle losing another pet so soon. We spent our vacation "fund" on surgery and thankfully they were able to remove it all and it hadn't spread. My logical brain reasoned, no vacation, no reason to not get chickens. I knew exactly what I wanted a small coop with an attached run - chicken tractor. I wanted to Rhode Island Red hens and one Barred rock hen. He still wasn't on board with the idea. At the beginning of the month we made a stop in Tractor Supply while waiting for take out pizza. DH picked up the dog supplies we needed and I was drawn to the center of the store where there were hundreds of chicks in tubs. It was "chick days." I stood watching the chicks until he came and led me out of the store. By the time we were out the door I had tears running down my face. I went to the car and he went to get the pizza. When he got back to the car he asked if we were going back to Tractor Supply, but I told him no because I couldn't just get chicks and not have things ready.
I went back to Tractor Supply one or two days left and there wasn't even a feather in the bins. I bought a brooder lamp and bulb and food and was told their last shipment was coming in the following Monday. When I came home I set up a cardboard box and plugged in the brooder light and it tripped my circut. In the meantime I found out a local feed store had chicks, I called and they said they had barred rocks so I drove out on Monday morning planning to buy two and then get the others at TSC. When I got there all they had were Cornish rock. I got a feeder and waterer and was told they would have both breeds I wanted on Thursday. I drove to Tractor Supply to see what they got in. They had Cornish Rock and Buff Orpingtons, both straight run. I asked to buy 2 Buff Orpington only knowing that they were a dual purpose breed. I figured if I ended up with 1 of them being a rooster that would be ok. They told me I had to buy 6. I said no thank you and resigned myself to waiting until Thursday to get any chicks. A "helpful" man piped up that 6 was just as easy as two and I told him that I was getting 4 more on Thursday and asked what I would do if I ended up with all roosters. He asked if I ate chicken and said he could process them for me. It all sounded very reasonable at the time and he gave me a business card. So my 2 RIR and 1 Barred rock hen became 6 Buff Orpington chicks. Thursday came and I went to the feedstore. I planned to get 2 each of RIR and BR unless they told me I needed to get 6, then I would get 3 each. They hadn't gotten any barred rock in so I bought 3 RIR and brought them home. The next morning I decided I was done buying chickens. Now I needed a bigger coop and a plan for whatever roosters I ended up with. It's been 3 weeks and I'm fairly certain I ended up with 4 roosters. So I have 2 Buff Orpington pullets, 3 Rhode Island (maybe) Red pullets and 4 Buff Orpington cockerels. I just learned this week is the result of a common affliction called chicken math.
We started the coop this past weekend. My chicks are in the spare bedroom and I am loving them. I found someone who will take the extra boys, but not sure how to choose who will stay.
I'm excited that I can share the whole experience with my 3 year old granddaughter and my 2 new grandsons. I can't wait until they start laying and my 10 year old son and my granddaughter can collect the eggs (if I don't get them first!)