My chicken story started last May 2013 when I brought home the chicks that had just hatched from the science classroom across the hall from where I teach math. Five little chicks chirped the entire drive home to our farm. They lived in the garage in a cattle tank until I thought they were big enough to move to a grain room in our barn. It was secure enough to offer protection from the many predators we have out in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Once they had most of their adult feathers I came to the conclusion that they had to be New Hampshire Reds. It is a breed guessing game when you get your eggs in the mail from an extension office. I opened the door in the morning and shut them in at night. I was a bit nervous about them free ranging, but not worried enough to build an enclosed run. I ended up with three hens and 2 roosters. My loving husband (who had always sworn I would never have chickens) built two nesting boxes. The ladies started laying around 20 weeks and I was thrilled! Once in awhile I would get a GIANT egg from one of my girls. I loved to just sit and watch them scratch around. Sadly, one rooster went missing one night, and then the other disappeared a few weeks later. I must not have locked them up early enough. Then, one unusually warm night in early spring my girls wouldn't come in when I went to lock them up. They had been cooped up all winter and were no where in sight. I gave up and assumed I would find them in the morning but I never did. I learned my lesson that night. I found piles of feathers in the barn but no chickens. My friends were gone.
I looked forward to April and May when I knew I would have the opportunity to try again. Eight chicks came home with me in the middle of April. They are a colorful bunch and I need help identifying breeds. Then a month later the other science teacher hatched five chicks out of her batch of eggs so I ended up with two groups of chicks! The little ones came home with me but did not join the much larger, older flock. They are still in a separate room in the barn. I am now attempting to integrate two of the largest in with the older chickens. I have them in a large metal dog cage in the coop so the other chickens can see and hear them but can't touch. I think I have a lot of roosters in the older flock so I don't want to have any casualties. Tomorrow I am going to let them loose in the morning alongside the older flock and hope for the best. Then when the other 3 youngest chickens have all of their adult feathers I will repeat this process all over again! The plan is that once the hens start laying I will butcher the biggest roosters (with the help of my husband's mother and grandmother who are very experienced albeit out of practice). I am used to killing and eating our cattle, so I hope this process will not be too painful for me or them!!!
So that is the story of how I (a former city girl by the way) became the keeper of chickens. I now need to go get some decent pictures of my fluffy friends. This will be a challenge because they love to run and there is plenty of room for activities out here on the prairie! Next I need to convince my husband I need goats. Is there a backyardgoats.com?
My original group of Reds
My first egg!
A perfect chicken print in a cow pie. Fitting for our farm.
The GIANT egg!
My new group of chicks! So colorful!
All grown up. No clue on any breeds. Some have cool cheek feathers.
The two white spotted ones are the crowing roosters. Haven't heard any others crow yet, but I suspect a few more are roosters.