The Evolution of Chicken Farming

10 Dec

Chicks, you know the yellow balls of fluffy goodness they sell at the tractor supply each Spring, the ones you can’t possibly resist and must bring home to live with you immediately. Those ones.

Well, 7 of those came to live with me last year, five yellow ones and two browns.  Hey, it wasn’t my idea, tractor supply makes you purchase 6 and the 7th was just an impulse buy.

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Awwww!!!

I brought them home, put them in a tub of shavings with some water and food and a warmer light. I carefully monitored the temperature every 10 minutes and could not sleep for fear that they might need me in the middle of the night.

Before long, they started plumping up, one chicken in particular was growing much larger than his siblings.  “Ah, what a Big Boy you are”, I would say, even though they were supposed to be all girl chicks. I have a weird tendency to call girls, boys.

I cleaned out the shavings religiously, but soon their home was way too smelly for my laundry room and that’s when they decided to live in my garage until they grew all their feathers.

I need an outdoor coop, stat!  I ordered some plans off ebay, took a trip to Lowe’s and before we knew it, we had ourselves a coop.

It was getting warmer now and the chicks had almost all their permanent feathers. Time to live outdoors!

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In the beginning, I pretty much changed out the straw bedding every time a chick laid a turd. The new coop looked so pretty and clean and I wanted to keep it all Martha Stewart. However, I was not aware that chickens poop every 2.5 seconds multiply that by 7=a shitload of nasty, {pardon my language}, but that does accurately describe the situation.

On cold nights, I would go out in the middle of the night and tack blankets to the outside of the coop, so they would stay warm. I couldn’t sleep for fear that something would happen to them. Goodness, being a chicken mother was hard.

So, back to the one chick that was growing much faster than all the others, “big boy”, this chick got so fat, that she could hardly walk by 6 months . After a consult with Google, I realized that my impulse buy was a meat chicken, which are normally slaughtered by 8 weeks, they are bred to get fat on the fly.

Poor, big boy, he never had a chance. He was at the bottom of the pecking order, due to his disabilities. I finally had to separate him, so he didn’t get pecked to death, but eventually he succumbed to his obesity and I found him lying feet up one day. I still cry every time I say his name. I have a thing for underdogs and I really liked that chicken.

RIP “Big Boy”

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I then decided that the chicken coop was on the small side for six chickens and that I would just let them roam free during the day. This made them very happy! I loved seeing them running around the yard, doing their thang. However, their freedom was cut short by the fact that they started to terrorize my shrubs, tear my plant beds to a shreddle and poop everywhere.

Back to coop, fellers.

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After I got tired of replacing the straw bedding everyday, I tried the cat litter approach. I put play sand down and scooped the poop balls out daily with my handy dandy scooper. “Hey, this is working pretty good”. Eventually, the poop mixed in with the sand and became concrete. Now, I’m back to just a dirt floor. I rake it… sometimes.

On a side note, did I mention that its very hard to give a chicken a bath. They don’t like it, not one bit. I eventually accepted the fact that outdoor animals just have to stay dirty.

Lets’s talk about chicken eggs, shall we?

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First Chicken Eggs

When they first laid their eggs, it was very exciting! It is amazing to me that these things just POP right out of their butts. Nature is cool.

At first we ate them and then we didn’t eat them, then we gave them away and then we ate them, then we fed them the eggs to the chickens and now I throw them in my compost pile. This may sound silly, but turns out that I can’t stomach an egg that I have to clean poop off of.

Then, there is the pecking. Chickens are freakin’ mean to one another. The strong will peck the weak until they bleed and pull all the feathers out of each others butts. I tried this stuff called “no peck” which didn’t work, I fed them extra protein, which also didn’t work. I made a homemade concoction of Vicks vapor rub and grape Koolaid and rubbed it on the chickens who were getting pecked, which worked for a couple of seconds.

Koolaid stained chickens are quite unattractive, however, they do look splendid in Christmas hats.

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Now we are just about caught up to the present time of my chicken journey.  I have 4 nappy white chickens with raw butts and 2 mean brown chickens. My once beautiful coop looks like something from the Beverly Hillbillies from all the trial and error updates I have done over the year and I am getting pretty tired of disposing of dookie eggs that I don’t won’t to eat or give away, because I feel like they are unsanitary and I don’t want to kill my neighbors.

Lets face it, I’ve lost my passion for chicken farming and it only took a little over a year to do it.

It was a very cool experience and I learned a lot along the way, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Is there such thing as an indoor chicken that doesn’t poop?? Maybe I should invent that.

There is always the boiling pot, I guess.

xoxo

-stylishpiggy

6 Responses to “The Evolution of Chicken Farming”

  1. Tim December 10, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Great reflection Steph. One of life’s lessons but with an everlasting memory.

    • stylishpiggy December 10, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks Tim! Yep, great experience, I will check that one off the list:)

      • Randi December 10, 2013 at 11:51 am #

        Just yesterday Ken and I were getting excited about our upcoming move to Nepal. He looked at me with a gleam in his eye and said, “We could get a cow when we get to Nepal.” I smiled and said, “We could have goats!” We both agreed that chickens were definitely going to be part of the mix…. now I’m questioning all of it! haha Thanks for the story of a chicken coop. Very funny!

      • stylishpiggy December 10, 2013 at 11:56 am #

        Thanks Randi~

        Congrats on your move, going to be exciting! Don’t know much about cows, we have two goats, which are the most awesome pets ever and easy. They are smart and have great personalities! Chickens, as you read, are cute, messy and require some work:) Animals add joy to your life though for sure!

        Happy Holidays:)

  2. ocalagigi December 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Steph.. I think you’ve found your new calling as a southern humorist. LOVED it!

    • stylishpiggy December 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Thanks Gigi, I kinda like that idea! Never a dull moment in the South:)

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