I got interested in raising chickens back in 2009. I was already interested in beekeeping and self-sufficient farming. I was in England with my family. Of all things, happened to have the TV on in our hotel room and they had a feature story on Omlet’s then new Beehaus beehive. Looking it up later, I saw their chicken coops look cool, and from there and my farming books, got into raising chickens. I did actually end up getting an Omlet Go, now, many years later, for the chickens as a starting coop.
My parents had promised me – many years ago when it was safely far away – that they would get chickens when they retired to the farm. Yet when the time came, I found they kept coming up with more excuses. So for Christmas in 2018 I bought them the Eglu Go. Then in Spring 2019, Kelly – who had promised to buy me chickens as a Christmas present, ordered for me 4 Appenzeller Spitzhauben female chicks from Meyer Hatchery. She committed suicide soon after, and my parents delayed the chick order until August. They meant to delay the chick order again – probably indefinitely, but forgot, and they showed up rather unexpectedly shortly after their hatch day of August 27.
I raised the newly arrived chicks in a hastily arranged plastic box with feeder and waterer, next to me in the study while I worked remotely. Chicks love to scratch, and routinely filled their water with wood shavings. At one point, they got pasty butt which I made mom clean for me. And they ate a ton. I mean, they once at a quart of feed in a day(!?!). No wonder, they also tripled in size within a week or two.
Mom and dad have both been rather besotted with the little chicks. It’s quite understandable, they look cute, make lots of cute noises, and are generally entertaining to see wandering around pulling up worms. We’ve been letting them outside, controlled, rather early, since we know they need to prepared for the soon coming winter.
Now you might be wondering, why an exotic variety like “Appenzeller Spitzhauben.” As a friend of my dad’s said when I told him, “figures, most people would just go for a Rhode Island Red.” It’s a variety from Switzerland, chosen because of cold-hardiness, usefulness in egg laying, intelligence and friendliness, and generally high ability to survive and forage while free ranging. Our main use for chickens, is, actually, eating bugs. We’ve yet to see if they have an appetite for Japanese Beetles, but here’s hoping. Also egg laying, and general garden entertainment.
Sadly there are only three in the picture above, where once there were four. We’ve got the chickens penned into quite the fortress, using a fence and outer raised bed as a curtain wall, and a heavy shielded run as the inner keep. The inner keep is a new part, covered as it is from an unexpected threat: air attack. I knew hawks would be a potential threat and warned my parents. I did not, think, however, that hawks would be so brazen, and swoop down upon the chickens while humans were outside nearby.
Many challenges await still await.
Namely that… winter is coming.