Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring & Chickens

The first day of Spring here in Vermont is usually still much like winter. We usually have at least a foot of snow and it's extremely cold. April is usually still pretty cold with a lot of snow still scattered here and there, with a possible blizzard in the forecast.

This year, however, it's actually feeling a lot like spring! The sun is out, most of the snow is gone, and we can go out with jackets and sweaters on instead of coats and hats. It's muddy, but that's what mud boots are for, right?

There's just one thing missing......

Our chickens.

We have had chickens since 2004. This is the first year we've been without them. We decided to take a break from them. We kinda got tired of all the chicken poop all over everything....
On the porch, on the deck, between our toes, on our shoes, in the kid's hair (they love to roll down the hill in the grass) and on their clothes.....Yuck! Plus, they like to taste test our vegetables in the garden. Having chickens means we need to fence up the garden.

Oh, and keep the doors closed.

They're great fun to watch and listen to, though. And the eggs!!!

There's nothing better!
But my very favorite was having a rooster! We've only had one aggressive rooster. All the others were very nice and never attacked any of the kids. They're just so majestic looking and....I know this sounds weird, but I love to hear the rooster crowing. I love to hear it in the morning and all day long. Makes me feel like I should be wearing a prairie skirt and a bonnet, and that I should be scrubbing our laundry out on a scrub board or something.

We even hatched our own one year! Not in an incubator, mind you. A broody hen sat on them in her own private quarters and they hatch under the mama!!

Every once in awhile one or two needed some help when the mama wasn't interested in keep them warm while they were hatching, so we used a brooding pen and a heat lamp till they were warm and fluffy, and could be in with their mama again.

That was a lot of fun, and a great homeschool treat. We researched how to choose the eggs, how to candle them and how often to candle them. And when they should hatch. It was an amazing process. We must have hatched 3-4 clutches of eggs.

This was a much better process than buying the day old chicks and raising them in a brooding pen. The mama takes card of them and you never have to do a thing. BUT, the only problem is you end up with a lot of roosters that way. If you're looking to get more layers, this may not be the way to go. If you're looking to just put them in the freezer, it's great.

Now, if summer would just hurry and get here! I'll miss the chickens, but I think I'll survive the summer without them this time. Next year may be a different story.


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