I am a Chicken Newbie. This is my first flock of chickens, but I’ve always wanted chickens – ever since I discovered one of my neighbors in Los Angeles owned them. They also had a dyslexic rooster who would crow like wild at 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. The 3 p.m. unleashing was funny but at 3 a.m.? Not so much.
I wondered how they were kept and how many were in the flock, but I could never discover which house kept them and no one would cop to the chickens. I now think they were illegal (the chickens, not the neighbors) and the owners didn’t want to get busted.
When my parents moved to a more rural area, my mom decided to get chickens, so I’ve had a little exposure to them – most of it being me running from them and getting pecked about the ankles and calves for not giving up the sunflower seeds quickly enough.
But the eggs. Those were the first really, truly free-range eggs I had ever had and I was hooked. I remember looking at the color of the yolk in the pan and thinking what a great color for a room! I have since not been able to bring myself to buy cheap, mass-farmed eggs, but even the “free-range” or “cage-free” ones often don’t compare to the eggs from my mom’s chickens.
My husband and I have moved a good deal, and each time I threatened to get chickens – but I knew we wouldn’t really put roots down. How do you move cross-country with three big dogs, two cats, a water dragon (who has since passed) plus a half-dozen chickens?
With this last move we’ve made a commitment to the area for at least five years, so I felt I was owed poultry. We were in escrow on a house and discovered that to have any chickens, we would need a minimum of five acres, even though it was zoned “rural.” I couldn’t believe it. The town also limited the number of pets per household and we already exceeded it by one. The house was on 1.25 acres, so I couldn’t understand the logic of not letting people have chickens. Thankfully, that house fell through for a multitude of other reasons, but I learned a valuable lesson: Check the zoning restrictions before buying!
The house we did buy had a sadly dilapidated chicken coop in the back, so I was pretty sure chickens were allowed. In the spring, I was at the local farm store and they had a sign for chicks. Yes! I ordered six Aracauna, three Barred Rock and five Sal-link. Our property is zoned for 12 fowl, so I hedged my bets and committed to 14. Then my mom wanted in. She’s only allowed to purchase chicks in groups of 6 where she lives but she wanted some different kinds, not exceeding 12.