Thursday, September 27, 2007

Guys, I did not really send Jen chickens. But it's a nice thought...

So I just get home from a HELLUVA day at work, and I sit down innocently at my computer for a little blog perusal and relaxation, only to find that Jen has received chickens from on high. I thought to myself, now there's something you don't see every day, spontaneous chickens. This can't be a bad thing! So, having a reputation to uphold, I immediately set about taking credit for the happy event, which then got me thinking; wouldn't the world be a better place if I really could have some godlike power to send chickens to my friends?

Don't all run screaming from the room now, you won't all be finding chickens in your backyards, (or, if you do, it will have had nothing to do with me. Really.) There won't be magical boxes from Murray Mc Murray appearing in your mail making soft clucking noises. Not from me, at least.

But let me take this opportunity to tell you how cool chickens are. First, let me clarify, I'm talking about hens. Not roosters, which you can do quite well without, thankyouverymuch. Hens can be very sweet and will lay eggs just fine without ever coming into contact with a rooster. They don't make much noise, will interact with you if you interact with them enough to be familiar to them, and can be kept in a number of ways. If you live in the country and can let them loose, great, although you may have to hunt for eggs if you don't put them up at night and give them somewhere to lay, like a nest box. If you are an urban type, like myself, with a limited amount of land, you can build or buy a small coop and house, or you can go really compact with a chicken tractor. This is a cool little setup which protects your chickens from predators (there are lots of them about, even in the city) and can be moved around your yard to provide your girls with fresh grass. They range from the do it yourself on the cheap to the elaborate. Googleing chicken tractor will provide you with a good idea of the building plans available, or you can visit Omlet and ogle the prefab wonder that is the Eglu. I have an Eglu, and for me it has been well worth the investment. The dang thing is not only foxproof, it is packs-of-wild-dogs-proof as well, to which I can personally attest. There's nothing better than starting the morning with a fresh from the chickens' bum breakfast. Believe me, if you have never owned a hen, you have never known a truly fresh egg.

Here's a pic of my setup.

With Johannes and James of Omlet!! This summer we got a visit from the designers of the Eglu when they visited America. They surveyed first hand the damage the dog pack attacks did to my Eglu, and were amazed at how well it held up. Lest I sound too much like an advertisement for their product (which I really do think the world of) I'll get back to general chicken ownership information.

Chickens fly. So you (or someone you trust) has to clip a few wing feathers to keep them put. If you live in the country and you don't clip their wings, your chickens may roost up in the trees - they can fly that well. Wing clipping can be dangerous to the birds, so make sure you know what you're doing before you try it. Again with the googleing, or with advice from a vet who specialized in birds or even from the helpful folks at your local feed and seed, who probably sell chickens too (I bet you didn't even know you had one that close to you!) and can help outfit you with all the basics.

So, clean water, good food (chickens happily eat clean fruit and veggie scraps, too) clean straw, fresh grass, clean chicken, happy chicken owner. Fresh eggs nearly every day. Sometimes two a day. And chickens are funny. LOL funny, OMG funny, and sometimes WTF funny.

Chicken poop stinks, yes. They tear up the grass, yes. Grass grows back, the poop gives good stuff back to the soil. You get fresh eggs, and if you raise them sweet, you get sweet chicken pets. When they age and laying slacks off, you can retire them to the pet only status, or to the pot. Just depends on how up close and personal you want to get to that whole circle of life thing.

So, while I can't wish all my friends magical lucky chickens like Jen got, maybe I can make you want them. I think they're cool. They are certainly easy to keep, and they give you lots in return.

Next issue: Beekeeping!
(you only think I'm joking)


evilsciencechick said...

don't be so modest, magical chicken fairy, we all know you sent those chickens.

haven't cast on the hat yet - waiting for 4 skeins from schoolhouse. I am anal and demand everything I need before I start a project :)

Mouse said...

You're more than welcome to send magic chickens from heaven to my house as well.. I think that may be the only way my husband and neighbors will have a sense of humor about it. I'm sure there's something in the HOA rules about livestock though.. boo-hiss.
Covered in bees you say? I'm staying tuned.

Janice in GA said...

I would totally LOVE to have some chickens. But I think they might be classified as livestock up here, and banned. :(

Jen said...

I think I may be in love you you. chickens AND bees?! You are my hero. Now explain to my husband how it makes perfect sense to have a back yard farm.

jenifleur said...

My new lucky chickens were all nestled cozy in a pile of hay on the floor as close as possible to the sheep without actually being in the sheep area this morning. I gave them more food, but they hadn't finished the food I gave them yesterday. Apparently two tiny hens don't really eat buckets of feed every day. Tomorrow I'm going to give them corn and raisins and they'll love me forever. I'm not going to clip their wings because we have foxes and coyotes and barn cats. If they lay eggs in the trees, then so be it. Who am I to control free magic mystery chickens, anyway? Encourage maybe, but capture and bend to my will, no.

When I bought this farm I was firmly anti-poultry. When I got my guineas they were for insect control and not pets. Sure, they're all named "Dave", but if you can love a guinea you can love anything. Which is why I find myself wondering if the chickens will want nice hot gruel on a frosty morning. What has happened to me? Next thing you know I'll be trying to snuggle the wild turkeys and then what is to become of Thanksgiving, I ask you?

Knit Witch said...

Hubby loves chickens and bees too! You two would have alot to talk about! His ex still has some hives in Cumming that she states she is giving to us when they sell their house whether we like it or not!

Great to meet you at Knitch the other day if only briefly!! Sorry we were in and out so quickly, we just had time to say hey and look for a book - which of course we didn't find. Hope to see you again soon!

Debbie said...

You are welcome to send some magical hens to my house. Very good post. And here I thought with the Hawks, Owls and Coyotes there couldn't be chickens living for very long.

It's quite wild over in these here parts of City of Decatur!