Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy Chickens ~ Happy Farmer

Our Rosie Chica, in her own nest~ from our Rancho days, 2003

Would you like a chance to win a free copy of "Chickens in Five Minutes A Day?" McMurray Hatchery is offering their new book to one lucky Chickenblog reader! Leave a comment here, at Chickenblog, and your name will be tossed into The Fez! Link to us on your Facebook page, and we'll give you two chances to win this book. Do it, for yourself, or a friend, or your school library. Chickens are hip, and cool, and this is your chance to get the scoop on some of the fun! We will draw a name on the first day of May.

It's spring and many bloggers are posting about their new chicks! They all look so dear, and seeing them makes me eager to bring some little ones into our small flock. We're waiting for our new chicken run and coop to be complete, so we can enjoy our hens, and new chicks, while they are safe and comfortable. It pays to be patient, I've learned!

As long as I was quiet, Rosie would let me stand by while she was laying.

I was asked about how much time I spend devoted to the chickens, each week. That's a good question! I think having a proper set up is what makes taking care of a small flock of chickens easy, and minimally time consuming. Things like automatic waterers, and a coop that opens into an enclosed run can add a great deal of convenience and safety for your hens. Clean water, secure living space, fresh food, an interesting space to scratch and dust bathe, and a clean coop make a flock happy and healthy. And a happy, healthy flock can take less time to tend. However! If you are thinking only of eggs, or if you are looking for a pet to mind it's own business... well, you'll be missing out. Chickens are fun, and engaging, and time in their company rarely feels like a chore.

That is a fresh egg!

Observing hens, sitting with them, following them around the garden... not only are these pleasant and rewarding ways to pass the time, but they can alert you to health issues, and other concerns. Some days are full, and it's enough to feed them, check their water, and toss in some fresh straw, but when time permits, I am very happy to be in their company. Actually, they follow me when I am in the garden. They know if I am pulling weeds there will be good finds in the loosened soil. And they always appreciate the bugs stirred up when I putter around, or the bits of veggie scraps I share with them.

Gracie Chica, my dear Ameraucana.
She liked to sit in my lap, and have her neck scratched. She would nod off contentedly in my arms.

My Grandmother Eunice with Gracie Chica

All three of our first hens were mild and tame, completely at ease roaming our two acre farm. They always came running when we called them. At the time, with our grandparents living with us, we were a family of seven, and our three hens gave us plenty of eggs through the week. You really can enjoy fresh eggs with a small flock, and it makes it easier to feel connected and familiar with your hens, when there isn't a mob of them!

And last, but not least ~ our lovely Luna Chica. What a dear lady hen she was.

Chickens really are a pleasure to keep. With thoughtful planning, and a few dedicated minutes a day, with some extra time for maintenance, they can be safe and happy hens. Though, no doubt you won't be counting the minutes when you are enjoying their company!


Line said...

It always amazes me when people ask how long something takes. I routinely commute by bicycle and that's one of the questions people consistently ask me. If you have to ask, you just don't understand (in my humble opinion). A better question would be: would the care and feeding of the chickens be difficult? or How much space do they need? or What do they eat? Many people are concerned with the time something takes without taking into consideration what one gets from that time spent. You obviously get great joy from your chickens as I do with riding my bicycle. Once again, these pictures are great and thank you for sharing!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

When I am a total novice about something...
I cannot know where to begin! I can appreciate
the question about the time involved... it gets the
conversation rolling, and introduces a little perspective.
And I guess we are pretty firmly locked into our *busy* lives...
there are many things I have to consider first in terms of "time."
It's such a pleasure to be in a frame of mind where the joy
outweighs the ticking of the clock.
Thank you for visiting Chickenblog, Line!

Mahshid said...

Oh Dear! It seems I stirred up some emotions with my question... You're right Natalie, I am a total novice and it is hard to know where to begin. I have a little Havanese puppy (Sofie) and I love her so much that I never have even considered the question of "how much time" I spend with her. Fom that prespective the question does seem a bit rediculous.
I guess I just wanted to know if I could spend efficient time with them, enjoy them, play with them, care for them etc.
And you ahave answered my question eloquantly; it wouldn't be any different from any other pet we would welcome into our family. I thank you for your response and for your blog. I'm really enjoying it!! :)

Anonymous said...

Natalie, clearly you are the niece of your Tia Elvira! She loved her hens and nothing brought her more comfort than to spend time with her chicas! I think while roaming around the backyard and gardening, pulling weeds, or pruning,Mom would transfix herself back in time when she was young and pretend she was back at her beloved Ojo de Agua. The chicas provided the background hum of treasured sounds from her childhood. She would be amused for hours watching thier playfull shananigans and loved how excited they would get when they saw her with a can of fresh crickets!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Hey, if I have to ask it's always because I do not understand... and that's the great thing about asking questions, and looking for answers, you get a better understanding. I am delighted to help when I can. And the issue of time is an important one to take into consideration where the lives of animals are concerned. Some pets definitely require more of our time, apart from the pleasure we have playing with them. Sofie is adorable, a part of your family, and I can see that caring for her is probably just a part of your daily routine. Chickens take little time, maybe less than a dog, but it's time spent in different ways.

Lately, I've been asking (in my head) 'how much time will I need each day, if we decide to let Tasha and Ada breed, because once the babies arrive, the mama goats will have to be milked once or twice a day!?' It's an important question. If I want to responsibly and reasonably meet their needs, and still manage the rest of my life, I will need some idea of what it's going to take. I will definitely be taking my question to several sources, before we decide to do anything!

Mashid, thank you. A favorite part of blogging is the interaction I get to share with readers!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you. Sinceramente, gracias.
Having a connection to family, and family stories,
is one of my most treasured feelings. Tia, you honor me
with your memories.

warren said...

People ask me about the time it takes to keep bees too and I always ponder how to answer. I never think much about how long it takes to do something I enjoy, first of all. And then, I never really work with the bees in an efficient manner...I do a little this and a little that. If it were a business, I would run it one way but I wouldn't get to really enjoy the bees either. Chickens are much the same way I expect...

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Oh! I would totally ask about the time it takes to keep bees!!
Okay... so. How many hives do you have? And do you tend them on a daily basis, and for how long?
I mean, are we talking 10 minutes a day, or an hour a week? I'm sure there are plenty of factors involved. But you're right, a hobby vs a business, a dear pet vs. livestock... there's a difference in how we account for and how we manage the time it takes to manage things.

Kim said...

Natalie, your grandmother is beautiful! It's no wonder, as you take after her.

My brother just sent me a picture of his new chicks yesterday. 2 Rhode Islands, 2 Black Autrolorps and 2 Barred rock. Even though we're on Hawaii, where spring is mild, I guess people have chicks on the brain!

Anna Banana said...

It makes me happy that OTHER people want backyard chickens. I am not one of those people! Carry on, chicken husbanders.

Miriam said...

Chickens are entirely fascinating. I didn't expect this when we decided to get them, but they are endlessly entertaining. Kim does most of the work and she doesn't seem to begrudge a minute of it, and both of us have been known to while away an entire afternoon watching Chicken TV.

That first photo is a real winner! Your whole family is photogenic - people and animals alike!