After the coop was complete, the only thing missing was the occupants! When I started researching chickens, I couldn’t believe the amount of options that were available! Did I want a colorful, fancy variety, a good egg layer, big or small, roosters or not … I read a lot of info and talked to our local hatchery, Estes Farm Hatchery, to see what was available to me. I narrowed my requirements down to a chicken with: a good temperament, a reliable egg layer and winter hardy. No roosters –- my oldest daughter has been a vegetarian for 3 years and fertilized eggs wouldn’t go over very well with her. I even “googled” what the most family-friendly chicken was! I came up with Buff Orpingtons – though I’m sure other breeds would meet the same standards.
|2 weeks old–exploring the coop!|
Then my daughter noticed that one chick had diarrhea … I’m a nurse by profession and I think that most nurses are similar to me when a new symptom arises. You can take two different approaches to the ailment. Either you take a “wait and see” attitude or you assume this is the beginning stages of a rare or fatal disease. After some research, I decided that they might be developingCoccidiosis. This is a chicken disease that can be caused by damp bedding, which pretty much described my newspaper method. I realized that I needed a thicker layer of a litter that was more absorbent, and I made a rapid drive to the store to purchase a bag of pine shavings. Besides being a cleaner bedding option, it was nice to see the chicks get to “scratch” for the first time!
|Yes, they’ve become pets …|
One thing to consider, which I hadn’t given much thought to earlier, is that chickens don’t lay much after 2 or 3 years of age. If their life expectancy is 8 years that means I have 5 years of birds without a purpose. At that point, are they pets or food? If they’re pets, then the enjoyment they provide is enough to justify their existence. I’m not against those who can move on to another flock – I’m all for anyone who wants to live a more self-sustaining lifestyle, but I have a feeling that these birds will live a long, safe, happy and worry-free life …
Oh well, I have a few years before I have to face that dilemma and I’ll enjoy the eggs in the mean time!