In the Brooder
Nov 27, 2018
Hi from West Texas!
(1) Are you new to chickens / when did you first get chickens? We first came into the care of a dozen chicks, 5 ducklings, a gosling, and a puppy in about 2000, not by choice. My husband and I had become den leaders for our son's rural Cub pack, and it was a tradition that the cubs provide a petting zoo to a local annual festival. The petting zoo always had a number of adult animals that could be petted or just looked at in a pen, and a large amount of baby poultry that could be bought at a dollar above cost; that year someone also brought puppies to give away. We ordered the usual amount of poultry, but I wasn't as good a seller as previous Cub Scout leaders. In fact, I had qualms about the welfare of any chicks/ducklings/goslings sold under such circumstances. I did not not sell to children without parental permission, nor did I sell to anyone who treated them roughly while at the petting zoo. Near the end of the last day, someone bought all but the above-mentioned animals. We were stuck with ALL the rest! We had never had poultry before, so I did a lot of reading at the library, consulted neighbors, and kept them in a couple of leftover aquariums and plastic boxes with our living room lamps over them or heating pads under them while small. Meanwhile, I converted an old wellhouse into a chicken coop and added a chicken wire fence around it for a run, and a baby pool for the ducks. I had to learn quickly how to keep them all out of trouble, and how to keep trouble from getting into the hen house, especially our greyhound. They were all varieties, and I learned to love them all. I had some on and off over 20 years in country settings, and for three years I've had urban chickens.

(2) How many chickens do you have right now? 5

(3) What breeds do you have? Two Black Stars, a Leghorn, an Easter Egger, and an unknown type of black one. We bought the Black Stars at Tractor Supply a few years ago, and I bought the other three off the estate of a farmer I had done a funeral for (I am a pastor). They were the ones that couldn't be caught when another person bought all the rest. After a week or two they'd been caught and I offered to buy them.

(4) What are your favorite aspects of raising backyard chickens? I love watching their behaviors, especially interactions among them. They are still two flocks after a year, sleeping in separate covered dog runs, but they free range the back yard together during the day. They are becoming indifferent to one another rather than
belligerent. The new ones took four months to settle down enough for me to dare to let them out. Lately they've been avoiding the roost in their pen and roosting on top of the pen and on the nearby palisade fence. I think they got spooked when a storm ripped the tarp off the end of the kennel where the roost was. I have to go pluck them off the heights by their feet and put them on their roost, so I may just put them all together one night soon. Wish me luck! I love yard eggs, though we got overwhelmed with them last spring! We are nearing retirement age and are trying to become more self-sufficient with food.

(5) What are some of your other hobbies? I am a reader and an artist (mixed media and junk journals). I also enjoy flower and herb gardening. I've been preparing a vegetable garden plot for over a year, having started a compost pile to handle the chicken manure and a huge pile of leftover moving boxes.

(6) Tell us about your family, your other pets, your occupation, or anything else you'd like to share. My husband is a college professor of English Literature, and I am an ordained minister serving both a Lutheran and an Episcopalian congregation. We have two grown kids, a man and a woman. My extended family is spread out from Texas to Washington State. Our pets include two dogs and three very friendly cats. All are rescues. I found out it was ok to free range the chickens by accident! One day I went out to feed the hens, and I discovered the gate to their pen open. The hens were in the yard happily pulling up blades of grass, surrounded by all three cats and the outdoor dog, who were all lying down watching them as if watching TV. I had been concerned about how the dog would act, but he's been just fine with them.

(7) Bonus: How did you find BYC, how long have you known about BYC, and what made you finally join our awesome community? :D I think I found this site while searching for what to do about a flooded henhouse. I became a member after seeing all that this site has to offer. I've been a member two years, and I have read many articles and forums. I figured it was high time to introduce myself!

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