Monday, April 3, 2017

The backyard chicken experiment

2017-03-30 16.11.56

For some reason, my wife and I have decided to keep a few hens so that we can have fresh eggs. Yes, fresh eggs are awesome, but we’ll see how much we like dealing with the critters that lay them.

I’ll go ahead and post details when we, like, actually get some hens and a chicken coop to keep them safe from predators and our dogs (the coop we’ve ordered is the one that the lovely Brenda SueCarol Nobles (a.k.a. my daughter) is modeling in the above photo).

Meanwhile, I have learned a few things about raising hens and I’ll mention those for now.

1. We are allowed to have up to five hens in the Benton city limits, but roosters are prohibited. Because we worry about room for the hens to run, we have ordered a coop built for 18 birds. That ought to keep the three we’re getting fairly happy, we figure.

92422129ee616dfda390d2863fcdb2ba2. We are getting cinnamon queen hens free from some friends of ours who are actual farmers and know about such things. I’m told cinnamon queens are easy to take care of, thrive in this weird, hot climate we are blessed with here in Arkansas and produce about 300 large, brown eggs per year. The hens we are getting are adults and they are ready to go. I’m told they stop laying eggs after they reach the age of five-years-old or so.

3. Once a hen stops laying eggs, the proper thing to do is to eat the hen. Frankly, I’m not sure how I’ll do with that. My wife who spent a lot of time on a farm might be fine with it, but I would find it difficult to eat something I’ve named. We’ll just have to see how that goes, but I can’t imagine dining on Hey-Hey, Lil’ Peep, etc. At some point, it would seem the hens will become pets.

4. You don’t need a rooster to get eggs. In spite of the fact I was born and raised in the South, I was stupid enough to think that rooster + hen = eggs. My wife tells me that hens lay “blank” eggs and you only need a rooster around if you want those eggs fertilized. Since I don’t want to deal with a bunch of baby chicks, I am glad not to have a rooster. Besides, roosters are noisy and tend to make a lot of noise early in the morning – not a good combination, seeing how much I like sleeping in on Saturdays and how heavily armed I am. Besides, there is an ordinance prohibiting roosters inside the city limits.

5. The quality of the eggs depends on nutrition. In other words, we need to feed our chickens well if we want to eat well. I’m told chickens love to forage, too, hence the importance of a large coop with plenty of room to run. Throwing in some crickets is a good idea, too, as chickens eat the heck out of those things and they are quite good for birds.

6. Chickens are surprisingly soft. Raising backyard chickens has become a big deal around here, so I visited a friend who has a cinnamon queen hen before deciding to take the dive myself. I was allowed to pet the chicken and discovered that it is soft as can be and the hen rather enjoyed it. Again, I worry what will happen when we have our own hens, they stop laying eggs and the time comes to eat them. I’d rather not think about that.

So, that’s what I’ve learned so far. Expect some updates in the future.

No comments: