Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Big Brown and Mr. Bojangles

When I was a young girl, my dad and I raised some chickens.  We got them from a friend who had to cull some of his new chicks from his chicken houses.  We live in the chicken capital of the US.  You can't travel any where in our county without see, or smelling, long chicken houses.  I remember the great pride I had in raising my small brood of chickens.  I loved collecting the fresh eggs and learned what it meant to "run around like a chicken with its head cut off" when it was time to cull the brood.  When my husband and I first got married, his mother had a brood of chickens and kept his in fresh eggs.  She also raised geese and on rare occations, I was able to get geese eggs.  These made the best cakes!  So rich and smooth!

Well, as my oldest son, Knox, got older, he kept after his daddy to get some chickens to raise.  So last March, my son came home with a box full of chickens!  We were in the chicken raising business!  I was at first afraid that we may not get to keep them because the neighbors across the road have four chicken houses; but all is well with the neighbors! (You have to understand that because of very contaigous diseases, chicken farmers have to be extermely careful.  Yard chickens can't mix with farm raised chickens.  So as long as our chickens stay on our side of the road, all is well in the neighborhood!)

My husband and his buddy John, built me and the chickens a small (and might I say very cute) chicken coop for my birthday!  Of the orginal 6 chickens my son brought home, only 2 survived.  These 2 were both roosters.  So we went to the local feed store and ordered 6 hens.  By the time the hens arrived and the roosters got big enough we moved them into the coop.  This fall the hens started laying.  We are averaging 5 eggs a day when the temperature is low and more when the temperature goes up.  I have been shocked at how well our hens have been laying this winter. I am predicting that when it really warms up, we're going to be averaging around 10 eggs a day. 

Not having to buy eggs is great!  Feed for the chickens runs us about $20.00 a month.  This is less than buying cereal and milk for daily breakfast each month.  It takes me just about the same amount of time to fix two eggs in the morning as it did to fix a bowl of cereal.  But the beauty and having fresh eggs is I can use them everytime I cook and not just for breakfast.  I also know that I am feeding my family food that I feel good about.   

We also let the chickens free range in the yard 2 to 3 times a week.  An added benifit is that the chickens have helped keep down the fireants that have invaded our property.  We were spending $20 to $30 a month trying to kill the fireants in the yard.  I'm hoping that we don't have to spend hardly anything on poison this summer, but only time will tell.  I'll keep you informed on the fireant problem. 

Let me encourage you to start raising chickens.  If you have thought about it and have the space to house them, do some research and get started.  You'll start seeing little chicks in the stores in a few months (Easter you know!) and your kids will want to take the cute little fuzzy babies home.  So indulge your kids and help your family be more frugal and eat healthier!

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