It started out innoecently enough. A friend was
moving and coudln't take his three hens with him. So I took them
The RoseWood Chicken FAQ:
Here are some of the questions I've been asked, before people wise up to the fact that you should NEVER get me started talking about chickens, unless you want to hear a whole lot!
I keep them for several reasons aside from the fact that I just plain got addicted to their personalities and the cool little chicken noises they make (and by the way, I have had many people tell me that the sounds chickens make as they are going about their daily business has a very calming effect on them!)
Mainly I keep them because of the eggs. Not only are they healthier for you (you can be sure that eggs you raise yourself are not full of chemicals, hormones, pesticides, and God only knows what else if they come from some country that thumbs its nose at things like food safety etc.) but they taste a whole lot better! It's like tomatoes: once you've tasted the ones you've grown yourself, you have a hard time going back to those sorry excuses for food you get at the grocery store.
Another benefit of keeping chickens is the greatly reduced insect population (they eat up Japaneese beetles like they're popcorn!)
But one thing that feels really good to me is knowing that my chickens live such a happy life. If you ever saw the utterly deplorable and inhumane conditions under which commercial egg-laying chickens live, you would lose your appetite for eggs for months! My chickens are not kept crammed three or four in a tiny cage in a massive dark metal building all their lives. They are free to roam around, peck in the grass, roll in the dust, bully each other around, and just generally be chickens! I can't help feeling that eggs from happy creatures have better energy than eggs (or any product) from miserable creatures.
See above. My chickens roam in a spacious grassy field, and aren't crammed into unsanitary conditions like the commercaial chicken farms that give chickens their smelly reputations. It's people who are ignorant, stinky and unsanitary when they force chickens to live that way!
Chickens are very territorial, and once they have slept - safely - in a spot, they want to return to that spot every night to roost. For this reason, they never go more than a couple hundred feet from the roost. The only reason to keep them in a fence at all is to protect them from roaming predators and neighbors' dogs.
My cats are more work. I fill the chicken feeder about once a week, and have an automatic waterer for them. As for cleaning up after them, there's nothing to clean up, except when they come up on the porch, but they don't do that very often.
I mail-order day-old chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery, whose customer service is excellent. You have to order a minimum of 25 chicks (but you can mix varieties) so that they can keep each other warm and not get hurt by "rattling around" in the box during the trip. Mine have always arrived in excellent condition. You have to pick them up at the post office - they definitely don't go into the postman's bag!) and put them under a warming lamp and feed them right away. Because 25 chickens is 'way more than I can keep here, I always split the order with others.
Chickens will eat anything, including other chickens should the occasion arise. The certainly eat any insects they can catch, weeds and weed seeds, and whatever else isn't nailed down. The only thing I've never seen them eat is shrimp shells - they turn their beaks up at those. Otherwise, they get most of my kitchen scraps (the dog is very jealous, but the chickens won't get fat and gassy if they eat too many table scraps!) The funniest sight in the world is watching chickens eat spagetti! But kitchen scraps are just a treat - I always keep a hopper full of Purina Laying Hen food in front of them for balanced nutrition and hard-shelled eggs.
Does a woman need a man in order to ovulate? 'Nuff said. Hens are actually happier and lay eggs better without a rooster around hassling them. That said, though, I do usually have a rooster around - they are kinda pretty and they have saved my butt a number of times when the power went out and the alarm didn't go off. But they can become too aggressive and start "defending" the hens from you. If that happens, there are plenty of good recipes to turn tough old birds into tender, tasty dishes.
All deer are deer, all horses are horses, pigs are pigs, chickens are chickens, see? Gender-specific words would be buck, doe; stallion, mare; boar, sow; rooster, hen. Get it? So roosters are chickens and hens are chickens. Oh, and peeps are chickens, too! :)
Well, there's smart and there's smart. If we judge them by our standards, they certainly don't seem to be Rhode Island Red Scholars. But if they can see your garden from where they are penned up, they WILL find a way to get your lettuces and tomatoes. It's amazing how smart they can be when they want to!
The Chicken Pictures
Here are some links that prove that there are many folks as happily obsessed as I am!