A few months ago, we welcomed chickens into our household. Literally - they were so small at first that we kept them in a cage in our kitchen with a heat lamp on. It has become quite trendy to raise your own chickens and we decided to jump on that bandwagon. A friend of mine who lives in New Hampshire raises chickens as well and raved about how much better the eggs taste. With the cost of free range eggs in the stores these days and the way so-called "conventional" eggs are produced, it seemed like a good idea.
It's been an exciting and sometimes heartbreaking adventure. Yes, I said heartbreaking. We started out with eight chickens and lost three to predators along the way - one to a chicken hawk (we think) and two to foxes. Who knew that Mansfield, Massachusetts was akin to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom? We have coyotes, deer, moths as big as my hand. When we moved here three years ago, I thought we were moving to a suburb, not the country! My sisters have dubbed our home "Green Acres," and while I laughed at that at first, now I think it is an apt description!
I digress. The kids love the chickens and I have to admit, they are quite entertaining. They've had a penchant for escape (perhaps why we have lost three of them) and we have spent many an evening or afternoon chasing them around the yard trying to capture them. So when I say entertaining, I actually mean that it is incredibly funny to watch my husband, red-faced and ticked off, just about to get his hands on a chicken and then she darts out of the way. I have to remind him that they are animals with very small brains and that they are not intentionally trying to mess with him.
I read in a book that chickens are a "gateway" farm animal - leading to the addition of others such as ducks or goats. Now, I am not sure if I want to go that far although my husband did suggest we get a cow. I told him we could if he wanted to milk it every day. He grew up in Vermont surrounded by farms - he likens the smell of manure to "home." Yes, people. This girl who grew up in a suburb of Boston and does not know the first thing about nature married a country boy. I like to think I am better off for it! He showed me how to herd the chickens and it is a skill that I have incorporated into my everyday parenting repetoire. Valuable life skills! Who knew??
They haven't started laying eggs yet (we're thinking perhaps at the end of the summer) but we are highly anticipating our very own "farm fresh eggs." Omelets, quiches, scrambled eggs, oh my!
Some pictures through the months: