by Samantha Goodal
(Hot Springs, NC, USA)
We hadn't planned on getting chickens, our hearts were set on ducks. But one day, a chicken came to us...
I'd heard some distress sounds across the road and went to check it out. There was my neighbor's dog with a baby bird between his jaws! I hopped the fence and rescued the bird from the dog. At first, we thought it was a baby turkey that had wandered out of the woods. But with the help of online friends we figured out what was going on. We had a Barred Rock chicken on our hands.
People didn't think the little bird would make it, but we fed her and kept her warm. I would take her outside for brief periods of time where she had a ball foraging for insects. She would follow me around and ride on my shoulder. She lived, and so we got her some friends. First were 2 Aracauna chicks that to my horror had been de-beaked, and 2 Black Astralorps a couple of weeks later.
As they grew, we realized housing was needed, so my husband built an A-frame chicken tractor that is completely fenced in. It keeps them safe at night, but I hope our next coop has proper nesting boxes that I can access from the outside. We can't move the tractor too far due the way our land is, so the chickens get to free-range on days when I'm home and soon will have a huge fenced pasture area to forage on daily. In the meantime we supplement their diets with greens thrown out by the supermarket.
The first egg discoveries were very exciting. My husband opened the coop one day to discover the first 4 eggs ever, and then we waited in anticipation of the first pretty pastel Aracauna eggs. I love those because every day is a surprise. You never know what color their eggs will be, but green is the most common.
We have only been "chicken people" for 8 months, but it has been a lot of fun so far. We plan to get a rooster in the spring, as well as some ducks and more hens.