|Our first chicken coop April 2009|
|Our first hens, so tamed, could eat from our hands.|
Years later when my family moved back to Maine, my parents kept some meat chickens. I remember vividly even now coming home from school on the bus to my uncle and mother slaughtering the birds one afternoon. It was awful! Then, came the messy business of plucking and cleaning them. I don't remember my parents doing it more than once. Either they didn't keep chickens after that, or I have blocked out the more carnal side to farming. For the record, I have no problem with people raising their own food. I respect that for many reasons; often these animals are more humanely treated. I am not vegetarian. I like meat and eat it fairly regularly. I simply cannot kill and eat my animals or take them to someone else to do so. I just can't.
Back to the reason for this page, chickens and how we came to raise them... Sean and I found a notice at the Belfast CoOp looking for a home for 5 Rhode Island Reds. We answered it. The hens were over a year old, healthy, and very friendly and tame. They had a chicken coop I would have lived in; clean, spacious, airy. We loved it. They were just what we were looking for. We brought all 5 home that night to our happy girls who excitedly named them for every shade of red they could think of.
|Pecked raw, but seeing "outside" for the first time.|
|Chillin' with the peeps.|
A year passed. We discussed buying some chicks to supplement our flock. Our old girls would not be laying eggs forever and probably not for much longer, statistically. At least, not very regularly. So, we stopped into the local Aubuchon and picked out 6 feather footed Cochens. At another farm, we selected 6 Wyandottes to add to them.
Over the years our flock has grown, depleted (through old age or more commonly, disappearance), and regrown. Last year, my mother bought us 12 more chicks to raise and a friend gifted us her flock of 5 year old hens. Sean answered another Uncle Henry's ad and purchased a few Ameraucana hens, which lay blue shelled eggs. And, in September, we broke down and bought our first rooster (or so we thought) at the Common Ground Fair.
Currently, our flock consists of 21 Hens; 3 Lacy Wyandottes, 3 Buff Cochens, 2 Americaunas, 2 Barred Rocks, 3 Black Rocks, 4 Rhode Island Reds, 4 Buff Orpingtons and 4 Roosters; 2 Americaunas, 1 Rhode Island Red, & One funny fellow- part Rhode Island Red, part Black Rock, and part Cochen. He's my favorite guy, I think but, don't tell the others that!
What started with us getting 4 eggs on a good day 3 years ago, has grown to today gathering 17 eggs from the nesting boxes! We sell the eggs we don't use personally. Pullet eggs are smaller in size and are priced at $2.50/dozen. Regular/Large eggs are sold for $3.00/dozen. And, duck eggs (which are HUGE and excellent for omelets or baking) sell for $4.00/dozen. I love eating farm fresh eggs. I love being able to share their delicious goodness with others. I love watching the chickens play. And, since they are the only animals on our farm on which we actually break even on the cost, I imagine we'll continue with keeping them for a long time to come.
Now that we have raised chicks from one day old, our next plan is to hatch some of our own chicks to sell and to replenish our flock. These will be "Barnyard Beauties" and not pure bred breeds, since they are all housed together. But, it will be a new adventure for us. We'll let you know how it all goes!