I just wanted to share some exciting news- today we found our first eggs from our chickens!!! Oh yeah, I think I may have forgotten to mention that we bought 6 fuzzy little chicks this spring, along with 4 ducklings, and 2 gray geese. I think we brought the chicks home a week or two before I found out I was pregnant, which may be why I never got around to posting pictures and updates as I had planned. Well, I will post pictures now with a little summary of life with our birds so far. It all started with a visit to a little farm store with my kids. The store happened to have some cute day old chicks hanging out in a big tub in the middle of the store, and my kids started begging me to get some chicks to bring home. Well, I’m a sucker for trying to teach my kids responsibility through raising animals, so we brought home 6 pullets (female chicks) that day. We also bought a heat lamp, a feeder, a waterer, some chicken feed and pine shavings for bedding. I found an old plastic storage bin when we got home and set up the little darlings in our bathtub which has high enough sides that my 2 year old can’t reach in and strangle the poor chicks at will. My 5 year old embraced her new responsibility to care for the chicks, and eagerly watched over them and “took them on walks” each time we needed to clean out their box. She even remembered to check to make sure they had food and water every day. Another lovely benefit to having cute little animals was that while before my 5 year old wanted to be inside the house as much as possible, now she couldn’t get enough time outside babysitting the chicks.
About a month after bringing home the chicks, we picked up 4 Mallard ducklings and 2 Gray geese (we had pre-ordered these though). Although these were much messier than the chicks and required much more cleaning out of their box, they were also very fun to observe as they grew. The big, awkward geese seemed to take on the role of parents to the little ducklings right away, and they have been inseparable ever since. We now have (as far as I can tell) 1 male goose who is not very friendly, 1 female goose who is very friendly and likes to follow us around (this could be due to the fact that we saved her from being eaten by our dog at one point), 3 drakes, or male ducks (1 died early on- probably from some rough handling by my 2 year old), 5 hens, or female chickens of various breeds, 1 possibly male chicken, and 1 Rhode Island Red rooster that our neighbor gave us who takes very good care of the chickens. We made a “chicken tractor” out of PVC pipe and other materials, but the design didn’t really work out the way it should have, so we now have a mobile chicken coop which the chickens use at night, and a movable chicken run which we used for the chickens while they were smaller. Now we just let all the birds free range as they like with a little soy free chicken scratch to keep them coming back, and they are very happy and friendly animals. Well, except for that one goose that likes to hiss and chase the kids if I’m not looking. The only real downside I’ve noticed so far is that they all enjoy hanging out in front of our doors and pooping on our steps. But hey, it’s a small price to pay for easy, happy eggs, right?
Later this week I’m planning to pick up some Moscovy ducks (supposedly some of the easiest animals to raise, and very good at raising their own babies) and Guinea keets (babies) from a lady down the road from us. I found these on Craig’s list- a great place to look for local animals for sale and other farm things that may be hard to find elsewhere.