To be honest, I don’t even remember how getting chickens came about. We had recently purchased our first home, we had a big backyard, a garden, and chickens just seemed like a perfect addition. Following encouragement of Sonja, one of my co-workers who is a fellow chicken farmer, we made a trip to a local feed store in search for the new Bond family members. The first time we tried, we were unsuccessful. Some guy bought the last three hens right in front of our eyes! All that was left was little baby chicks, which we did not consider. We were unsure about our ability to keep the little buggers alive and raise adult hens, we had never done this! I was very disappointed. It seemed that hens were difficult to get, as opposed to little chicks which seemed available everywhere.
Sonja’s account of her and her husband’s experience raising baby chicks made it sound simple and easy. All you need is keep them warm and comfortable, feed them baby food and make sure they know where the water is. We reconsidered and did it! And really, it was, easy.
We got our three little yellow princesses at the feed store the following weekend. We already had a coop that we used as their house, placed it in the garage, attached a red heat lamp to one of the walls (outside the coop, through the wires), bought a feeder and a water dispenser, some baby chicken feed and we were all set.
According to the store keeper’s instructions, when we first placed them in their new home, we dipped each chick’s beak into the water in the water dispenser so that they would remember where to go for a drink. Finding the food was not difficult for them. It seemed that they ate all day, every day! Those little cute things were at the feeder constantly, pushing each other, eagerly cleaning up the dish, everyday. We watched them with joy. And how they grew! They seemed bigger every day. Soon they started showing brown feathers, their legs became sturdier, and they were changing. In a few weeks, we had handsome young hens.
It was time to introduce them to the outside. We started taking them out into the backyard, keeping them under a chicken wire. They enjoyed running around, spreading their wings and eating grass. We would take them back into the garage at night.
Eventually, we bought a larger coop and moved the chickens outside permanently. The first night was not easy. There were lots of noises coming from the coop! I am not sure if it was surprise, fear or discomfort. I tried to calm them down, talking to them through the little wired window at the top of the coop. Of course, the girls got used to the new routine very quickly.
Now, we are about five months from the day we brought the girls (three weeks old), and things couldn’t be better. Zsa Zsa, Brigitte and Josephine seem happy, healthy, and are used to us (walk around my feet, hoping for food when I enter their run, let us stroke their shiny brown feathers). They each lay an egg every day, which they announce with a loud chicken signing. The eggs taste amazing, the freshest you can get, the yolks the brightest yellow and we have enough to share with our friends, neighbors and co-workers.
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