A blog post from new blogger Sandra Cryder
Why am I obsessed with poultry? I’ve been thinking about this lately as I watch my flock gamble across the yard. My grandparents were farmers, but they raised hogs. My parents and I lived in town and our pets were dogs. The only time I encountered a live chicken was one Easter morning when I discovered a tiny pink-dyed chick in my Easter basket. I was devastated when my parents would not let me keep it more than one day. Maybe that significant childhood loss planted the seed that grew into the desire for my own backyard flock. Or it might have been the story of Chicken Little in the Nursery Tale book my mom read aloud to me – I loved that story!
Flirting with Poultry
I flirted with poultry by collecting china figurines of chickens with attitudes, strutting roosters, cute ducks, geese, swans and even a few rabbits in costumes. This satisfied my interest in farm animals until we looked at a house we thought we might like to buy. There, in the backyard, was a chicken coop and the next-door neighbors had chickens. This was very exciting to me! The house was (still is) beautiful, with plenty of room for my art studio, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the chicken coop. To share the news that the realtor had called to say our contract had been accepted my husband told me I was now a chicken farmer. I was delighted.
The First Flock
My transformation from chicken enthusiastic to keeper of a flock took some time. After we were settled in our new home, I started researching what it takes to keep a flock. Luckily for me, my neighbors are veteran chicken keepers and gave me guidance and encouragement. After much reading and consideration, I decided to look for Buff Orpington pullets. Buffs are docile, friendly, pretty good layers, cold hardy and heat tolerant. This breed sounded perfect. When I saw a Craigslist ad for Buff Orpington pullets I got in touch right away and soon after took a drive up to Lancaster, PA to meet the young man who raises Black, White and Buff Orpingtons. The pullets were healthy looking and active, and he had four to sell. I took them home.
Confirmed Urban Chicken Keeper
My new flock was a delight. I spent hours in the backyard admiring them. By sitting quietly in a chair and holding out a grape, I trained them to eat from my hand. This process sealed my status as their ‘rooster’, provider of food and protection, and forever after they would run to greet me when I came out the back door. They started laying large, brown eggs when they were around 24 weeks old. They followed my husband and I around the yard, always curious to see what we were doing, did an excellent job shredding and breaking down leaves and grass clippings for our compost pile, and delighted us with their antics. My first flock is no longer with us 3 years later (that is a story for another blog post), but after this experience I knew I was a confirmed urban chicken keeper.
Sandy Cryder is a Central Ohio transplant, happily living in Lauraville, a neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore, MD. A descendant of generations of farmers (including her paternal grandparents), Sandy takes great delight in keeping a flock of chickens in the backyard. When not tending to her chickens, she is busy shape note singing, learning Spanish, reading, writing, drawing and knitting. You can follow her through her website or Instagram.