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Entering the Land O’The Chicken

Inspired by Novella Carpenter’s most excellent book Farm City, and her blog about her farm (Ghost Town Farm), the wife and I decided to raise chickens — for the eggs and the manure (we spend a lot of money each spring on good compost for the raised beds).

In the beginning of 2010, I went to a class at Bio Fuel Oasis taught by Novella, and learned the practical realities of raising chickens, and it sobered me up enough to contemplate scrapping the idea. They require daily care, those chickens, and they inspire visits by rats, skunks and opossums, all of which I have a healthy (all right, abnormal and ridiculous) fear of. Novella actually said flies are the bigger issue, and gave really great advice about how to work with all these potential “visitors”.

I signed us up for 5 chicks, to be delivered sometime in March. And then I stuck my fingers in my ears and said “I can’t hear you” to any nagging voice in my head that dared remind me that I had to prepare for these new lives coming our way.

But then the phone call came, and we rushed to get the chicks. We brought them home and put them in their box.

Chicks using water for first time.

They definitely won in the cuteness factor category. Feeding them was a breeze. Cleaning up wasn’t too annoying.

And then, they grew.

They are constantly hungry. And the poop! Sometimes I can’t get the paper down fast enough, and have to change the paper two or three times before I can get a clean box for them.

We feed them greens from the garden as well as mash — and now, at six weeks, I’m also sprouting wheat, barley and alfalfa for them. My son loves to dig up worms for them.

All this results in — you guessed it — more poop.

So we made the coop and run. “We,” of course, means “my wife and brother-in-law”. I’m the researcher and feeder. The wife builds everything. It’s a great combination.

Now we are almost set. The coop and run are built, the chickens are ready to go outside. As soon as we get the flooring for the coop and the run, and we get past this rainy weekend, they are going into their new home.

And I am going to have a basement once more.

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