Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hogs, Beef...now Chickens!

I grew up on a farrow-to-finish hog farm in north central Ohio. As part of my 4-H projects as a youngster, I also had the opportunity to experience raising beef steers. And today, my family raises beef cattle. But who would have ever thought I'd get into chickens?!

First let me point out, I am by no means a big poultry grower.  I only have six chickens as a test trial to see how it works out. With this said, I still think my small flock is...well...cool!

Ever year around Easter time, the local farm stores supply dozens of egg-laying biddies for people to purchase. For the past two years I'd just watch them in fascination every time I'd go to the store to pick up farm supplies. Finally, this year I broke down and bought six of them.

Back in March I purchased six Ameraucana hens (at least that is what we think they are -- they weren't marked at the store). These are the kind that lay blue eggs. They are just about 10 weeks old and later this summer -- say September -- they will start laying eggs. 

My chicks at two weeks and five weeks old.

Every night when I get home from work, the first thing I do is water the flowers in the backyard and tend to the "ladies of the roost."  I call them my "diva chicks."  I make sure they have enough feed and clean water, and then I kneel down beside their coop and just watch them. They are such fascinating little critters!

I took one Poultry Science class at Ohio State as an elective just so I could learn more about a part of the agriculture industry I never knew before. I don't remember a whole lot from the class since that was 25 years ago, but what I do remember is the variety of breeds that are out there.

My "diva chicks" at almost 10 weeks of age. They are getting pretty feathers!
If my six birds do well, and I stay interested in this endeavor, I'd like to invest in a bigger coop and then get about 15 birds. Have you seen the creative coops that are out there? Maybe that is why I am so taken by the chickens; they can live in some really creative housing!  I am a creative person who likes to draw, sew and build things, so maybe this is part of the attraction. Whatever the reason, it sure has been enjoyable having the divas. I can't wait until they start squawking when one of them has the first egg. I might even squawk, too! The anticipation is killing me!