When I first found out me & my family would have a chance to help out with raising chickens for the farm, I was a little nervous. After all, I grew up in an urban area and knew NOTHING about raising livestock! I didn’t get my first animal until I was 26 (a rescue dog…now we are on our 4th as 2 have passed on at the ripe old ages of 14 and 15…)

It all started with my darn neighbors asking for a favor. They would be away for the weekend, could I take care of their chickens? They left detailed instructions, with when to open & shut their coop door, to how to feed them and clean their watering tank. Pretty easy. The first sitting experience was a success! They stayed in their predator-proof run all day so I only went over in the morning & evening. A few months later I was asked to chicken sit again. Of course I said yes. Again this was only a few days. This time I stayed and observed their 4 girls, & began to feel bad as you could tell they wanted to come out and play. I followed instructions to a T, & even brought over a watermelon rind (a treat approved by the owners!) They ferociously tore into it, and looked like they were thoroughly enjoying every bite. That’s when I noticed how cute they were. A few weeks later I began chicken tending for another family. Same deal, a day or two. All the eggs we could eat as my payment.

Fast forward a year. My neighbors would be gone for a week. Would I mind tending the chickens? This time I asked about free ranging them for a little while each day, as I had grown quite fond of the ladies. I went over to practice rounding them up a few times by shaking the bag of meal worms, & sure enough they ran into the coop to receive treats! We decided that letting them out about an hour before dusk would be best, as they readily go into the coop on their own at that time anyway.

Finally the big day came…I was on my own! I was so nervous something would happen. They stood in their run staring at me, begging me to let them roam free for just a little while…I began second-guessing myself. What about the fox that slinks around the woods? What if I see a hawk? I took a deep breath. I decided to let them out. I began following the four feathered ladies around my neighbors yard like a mama hen, watching them duck under the deck, scratch in the compost pile, scatter through the flower beds…and I fell in love! They were no problem at all and actually headed to the coop on their own about 45 minutes later. I repeated this nightly until my neighbors came back.

Fast forward to the farm situation. I volunteered to be the “raiser of the chicks”. Mind you, the only chicken experience I had was tending my neighbors ladies. We ordered 15, yes 15, cute little chickadees. I began my research. I read about 10 books, scoured the internet, found BYC. Took detailed notes. Convinced everyone that a heat plate would be best, so we ordered one. Made my own recycled brooder. Gathered all supplies. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep!

Finally the little ones were ready to pick up! We drove the hour to the hatchery, and I couldn’t stand the cuteness! The entire ride home I stared in their box and put my hand in there to give them a place of warmth to hide under. So glad I got to be the passenger as there was no way I could concentrate on driving!

When we got home, they went right into their newly prepared brooder. Once I showed them where to find food, water, & heat, they all nestled under the plate. I must have taken 100 pictures. I sat with them all day, just watching them and letting them climb on my hands.

The first test came when I noticed two of the babes had pasty butt. I was so scared to get the paste off, worried I would hurt them. After two days of coconut oil and warm water rubs, they were clean and clear.

I grew even more confidence when one of my littles suffered a bout of Coccidosis. With help from BYC members and lots of reading, I was able to keep everyone safe and healthy! My older family members began telling me what a good job I was going with the littles, as no one remembered how to raise chicks.

This was the beginning of my love of all things chicken. A city girl, who dreamed of a manicured stylish apartment, now out in the country, immensely in love with her flock.

I even convinced DH to get a small backyard flock next year. Although we live down the road from the family farm, we have shared responsibility & I don’t get to see them every single day. So I’m quite pleased I will have a few girls frolicking out my own windows next summer.

The journey never ends. Incubating is in my future plans, and we may even keep arooster or two at the farm! Unless we find a sturdy, good sized, affordable coop, I will be trying my hands at pallet coop building.

I am writing this article to let others out there know, you don’t have to be an expert, or have any experience at all, to keep and enjoy chickens. With enough research, you can find out exactly what to do! My chickens have brought new purpose to my life, helped me to slow down, appreciate nature, and laugh..a lot. You will get pooped on, scratched, and get shavings dust in your eyes, but in the end, every part of the hard work is worth it. My chickens look to me for food, water & shelter, but I look to them for my new life…they gave me confidence and purpose, and much more than I will ever be able to give them. ❤️

Pic is my lovely Basil…then & now! 17BFC2A7-B8E4-428A-8141-2C5F63CC4C9E.jpeg 1F7FC760-6700-4DC7-B9C3-7B483A114D3D.jpeg

A few more of the girls:

EB8FADBB-7DD5-4078-B257-1408E4B9D817.jpeg B1DE62A8-0584-43F0-83D3-67CC928ECBEE.jpeg 9AD744E2-13B6-4A56-AC6A-6EE82FA2FB51.jpeg

The first egg!
(It was on the floor…they have since learned to use the boxes…except for one lady who lays in the human door daily.) We’ve only lost one egg from her…now we know to look for it when we open the door! 😳 lol