The last I posted about the chickens, we had just built the chicken run. That was back at the end of May. It lasted them for a while, until we got back from our vacation and then Jason set to work on finishing their coop.
It took about a month to get to this point. Jason worked weekends, piece by piece. When we first put them in the coop they weren’t yet laying, so he put up a piece of wood to keep them from the nesting boxes. We didn’t want them getting too comfy in there taking it for a bed at night rather than the place to lay eggs. We put linoleum down to help keep it clean in there and so far it has been really easy to manage. It is still chicken poop, but not as horrible to maintain as I had imagined. We were so excited to get the chickens into the coop because it gave them more room and was much easier to feed and water them. Surprisingly, it only took a couple of nights of shooing them into the coop at dusk to get them to do it on their own.
Next step was painting it and finishing up the nesting boxes since they had begun to lay eggs. Jason had some helpers that day as we began to let the chickens out to roam more often. They love to scratch and find bugs in the yard. A few days later we rolled some logs around and found a few centipedes and crickets. The chickens went crazy! Noah gave them a worm or a centipede and one would grab it and run while the others tried to snatch it from her and tore it to shreds! Too funny (and gross)!
The chickens began to lay when they were just shy of four months. We got one a day at first, and they were lighter in color and then we got two and now we are up to three a day! They are still small eggs for the most part, but we’ve gotten a few very large and some with double yolks. The egg shells are also extremely hard. I’ve read that once they are laying they should be given grit or oyster shells or something to help keep up with their calcium, but they don’t seem to need it. I guess our clay is worth something after all.
I didn’t buy eggs this week. I’ve had to buy 3 dozen eggs to last us two weeks for years, but not anymore. I usually buy the humane certified, but now I can certify for myself that they are treated humanely! Well, they do get scooped by the kids and played with by the cats, but I’m thinking that’s healthy. Every four days we have a dozen eggs and that’s plenty for us. I’m so very glad I gave three chickens away! Six eggs a day?? A dozen eggs every two days?? That would have been craziness. At this point we’ll probably still have to give our extended family a dozen or so once in a while, but we might be able to keep up with production.
The reality of having chickens is much different than what I imagined. It took quite some time for Jason to build the coop (it seemed so easy in my mind) and for the chickens to become more than just an annoyance. They still aren’t full grown, but now they are more fun. It’s enjoyable to watch them hunt for bugs and getting eggs is super cool. It was a little freaky at first because sometimes the eggs are still warm when we get them out of the nesting boxes and they aren’t always perfectly egg shaped. They are pretty close, but a couple have been more round or with a bump at the top. The kids enjoy going to say hi to the chickens and getting the eggs. I know it’s something they’ll remember from their childhood. The chickens are good with them because we’ve held (bothered) them from day one. They are pets with the benefit of providing us eggs. It’s more than the cats do around here.