“You can’t have the family farm without the family.” Gilbert K. Charleston
We have a little farm with a vacation rental on our property. We came down to San Luis Obispo to allow our children live a cleaner life in the country. Once we found the farm land that we were dreaming about we decided to work on building it the way we wanted. The children had ideas of what they wanted to accomplish and what they were willing to do, and of course what kind of animals would end up being a part of the farm. We all agreed that we would not have any pigs. As much as all of us love the taste of bacon and prosciutto, I just don’t like their evil wailing. EEK! Not a fan! I don’t mind some great pork shoulder wrapped in herbs and bacon though, or the taste of prosciutto and some cantaloupe on the side. Yum, I love the salty and sweet after taste of the cantaloupe. The two are really a great pairing…Oh crap, I really got a little sidetracked.
Anyway, I have a real fear of birds. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sound of a beautiful songbird, or the screech of red tail hawks, but the seagulls…NO! Maybe that is precisely where I obtained this fear. It really is not as bad these days in contrast to the early days of collecting our chickens.
So, being the ever concerned husband that he is, my husband asked me “How the hell are we going to have chickens when you’re afraid of birds.” I reassured him that I had a plan. What is the plan, Kimberly? He asked of me. Well, I believe that if I am exposed to them at an early age I won’t be as frightened of them. I told him, and he replied with “Seems plausible.”
We purchased all the materials that the books told us to buy. We got stainless steel feeding troughs, warming lamps, and small feeding tubes and water tubes. We also purchased the wood shavings that don’t contain any pesticides or chemicals. We ordered chicken houses from Amish builders, so when the chicks got older they would have a little home. We were all set for purchasing our chickens.
Have you seen how damn cute chicks are? Well, we were super weak! Every time we would visit a hatchery we would buy more chicks. I would come home with 6, and then my husband would come home with 10. This went on until we ended up with 100 chickens. All the chickens grew up to be healthy and happy. They would run around all 42 acres of the farm. I wasn’t crazy about having poo on the front porch or the back porch, but I really did love seeing them run. It’s pretty funny that they look like tyrannosaurs rex in tiny size. Then, the dances that the roosters perform. The Bantam roosters were the best little dancers. They would hold one wing stretched out, and go around in a circle. Then, they would outstretch the other wing and move in the other direction. They would even do a step forward, and two steps back dance, it was really elegant. As I would watch them I would image our ancestors may have learned some of the dances from the chickens. It’s not too far fetched…more than likely we learned from observation…termites had great structures underground that kept themselves cool, even in hot places. The pulse and heart beat of our mother was there precursor for percussion instruments. The song birds were inspirational in learning to whistle, and make calls. I could just watch them all day. They’re so clever and hysterical.
Each one of our chickens had a name. Some of my fondest ones were “Vanilla Ice”. He was an all black rooster with white crown feathers. We had another rooster that was a really slow walker, and so many of the hens seems to love him. His feathers were an iridescent black. The plumage on his chest were all white feathers. We named him “Godfather”. We had another rooster that was all black and super shiny, he had an almost creepy vibe to him, so his name was “Slick”. We had a hen that was very popular and she had such a pretty “coo”, that we named her “Beyonce”. “Goldie” was our only golden colored silky. “Pierre” was another rooster that was a little “mad”. He seemed to have an attitude about anyone that crossed the sidewalk in the front yard in a manner that disturbed him.
Once we were going to football games every Friday the coyotes and foxes seem to know that it was their turn to observe the chickens. We would often get home late, and just walk over to each one of the many chicken homes and shut the door. We would get up in the morning and unlock the door and notice to our surprise and bewilderment that there seemed to be fewer chickens. Each week that went by, more and more chickens were missing. The coyotes were getting a little bolder, maybe they had the mentality of “hey, they got a lot chickens, we can help take a few off their hands.” Well, they did just that. I wasn’t Super Pissed until we had to go back to buying our own eggs. I mean really, what kind of country people are we if we can’t even supply ourselves with our own eggs?
We got down to one little hen. “Dovie”, she was super small, and always hung out pretty close to the house. We didn’t collect her eggs because they were so tiny. We usually just gave them to the cats. She also would eat breakfast and dinner with the cats from the same bowl, and the cats never minded about eating with her, instead of eating her. I accidentally shut her in the stall with the goats, and it didn’t end well for “Dovie”.
After learning that the coyotes and foxes can do their own reconnaissance, we decided to wait to have more chickens when we had fencing around the chicken houses. At the present time we have a few chickens. We don’t have a full 100 again, that will have to wait a while, but we do have fresh eggs and that makes me happy. The dogs are even treated with an omelet every morning, so it’s in their best interest to make sure we don’t have any coyotes doing any probes on the farm.