Keeping Chickens Can Change Your Life by Alan Herbert
by Alan Herbert
(Potters Bar, Herts)
iChicken App for iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch
I have been reading some of the stories here and I always love to hear about how people ended up keeping chickens. I often wonder if they have any idea how the little feathered creatures will change their lives!
We are certainly no exception. As a child, our family had pets. We had the usual Dog, Gold Fish, Tortoise - because you could back then - and my sister had a Budgie called Bluey, whose trick was to cling to the wallpaper and some Gerbils. When you have these 'traditional' pets, you kind of know what you are getting into and what to expect, don't you?
Anyway that was some years ago now, and all grown up I have a family of my own. My wife and I have a son, Toby, who has always wanted a pet. Unfortunately he suffers with Asthma, Eczema and has a high intolerance to pet hair which has limited our options. We have had some horrifying experiences in the past especially getting anywhere near to horses. They are a real no no.
A couple of years ago, my sister who live close by bought some chickens. Her family constructed a large enclosure and we all went off to select the Chickens from a local breeder. We were naturally cautious taking our son on to a farm, but fortunately they only reared Chickens and Turkeys and he was fine. As a regular visitor to his Aunties, Toby had plenty of opportunity to handle the hens and never had a problem being around them, so we decided to join in the fun. We bought a coop of our own, set it up and bought three Point of Lay Hens, Betty, Babs and Blodwyn.
The early weeks were a huge learning curve and change of life. Anyone who thinks back garden hens are all about free eggs really needs to think again. I am not saying don't do it, quite the opposite in fact, as they are about so much more than that. Betty, bless her, was struck down with suspected Egg Peritonitis. We were very fortunate to find a vet with a great knowledge of chickens - reassuring that he had hens of his own - though he was unsure of exactly what the problem was. He told us that it is not unusual to see premature deaths in young Chickens, but he would do all he could. He gave an initial treatment, but that did not work. We returned 48 hours later and he took another look. He suggested it could be a mycoplasma and gave her a final treatment. He told us the next 24 hours would be the deciding factor. We nursed that chicken with all the love you could possibly give. Her eye had bulged out to 3 or 4 times it's size and she was very limp. We hand fed her on the rare moments she would eat, and bathed her eye to remove the nasty discharge that was sticking everything together.
Against all odds, Betty pulled though. The front of her eye actually popped out and a new piece has grown in it's place. She is blind in that eye but it doesn't seem to affect her. It adds to her character. It's probably to do with the fact that we have all handled the chickens from a very early age that they are so tame, friendly and inquisitive. We let them roam freely in the garden when we are around, and they just love to be with you, especially if you are digging in the garden. They lend a helping hand - or foot at least - eager to spot an unsuspecting worm, though you have to be careful where you are digging as they know the real meaning of playing Chicken and often dart under the head of the shovel.
Toby is definitely their favourite. When he comes into the garden they run to him and follow him everywhere. They sit on his lap for a cuddle and often fall asleep in his arms, though he is never happy when they poo on him. He loves them so much and has read so many books on Keeping Chickens, that he decided to combine all that he was learning about Chickens with growing IT skills. He has recently completed a course on Objective-C programming and was the youngest person to complete the iPhone Developers Workshop run bun an Apple Approved training company in London.
He set about writing the content and developing the code for iChicken. It took him well over 6 months to do, bearing in mind he has all his GCSE schoolwork to do at the same time, and iChicken is now available to Chicken Keepers everywhere.
So our chickens have really changed our lives. Sure the eggs are beautiful and fresh with bright yellow yolks, but would we get rid of them if they didn't lay? No. Getting up when the sun comes up is something that you just get used to, and when you do, your day actually becomes longer and you have time to write stuff like this. You don't have to take them for walks, though you do still need to check to see where they have pooped. They provide hours of entertainment and can be so funny. Blodwyn has even learned to Bark - I don't think they know they're chickens.Click here to Visit www.ichicken.syn-apps.co.uk