A couple years ago, when my husband and I were dating, we decided we wanted to get chickens. We both cared about the quality of our food, and it seemed like a fun project, so we decided to go to a local country feed store to buy some laying hens, and some chicken stuff. (Whatever that was!)
For our date one night, we went to the feed store to buy everything we needed. Things cost more than we thought they would–it looked like a new chicken coop was going to cost $400, and the store didn’t even sell laying hens. They only had chicks.
My husband wasn’t too sure we wanted chicks, because the whole point was for us to be getting fresh eggs, and day old chicks were not going to be giving us eggs for a long time. Besides, did we really want to spend so much on a chicken coop?
“Please, please?” The chicks were adorable, and I was so excited about our project together. Chicks were too small to be outside anyway so we could keep them in a cardboard box, inside the house, and watch for a used chicken coop on our local classified ads.
Unable to resist my charm, my husband agreed that chicks would still be a fun project. We bought four, plus a feeder and a watering device, and some chick feed, and we brought them home to my husband’s house. At the time, he was living in a duplex, with a teeny-tiny backyard.
We put the chicks in a bigger box, with some newspaper or shavings at the bottom, and we set up their food and water. The chicken box went in the kitchen, because the kitchen had a hard floor and we didn’t want them on carpet. Then, we attached a desk lamp to the oven handle to shine light on them from above.
We named those birds, of course. We had two brown and tan birds, named Maude and Gertrude, and two yellow chicks named Evelyn and Gladys. We loved those chicks. I took them out regularly, to peck around in my husband’s grassy backyard, so that they could get some sunlight. I tried to hold them a lot so they would be friendly.
When my husband and I decided it was important to become prepared, the chickens became our first food storage. If you think about it, this is really a very good idea; if you have chickens, they will produce eggs for you, which are very nutrient dense. Plus, what sounds better: old wheat, or fried eggs? We would choose fresh eggs any day, so instead of buying traditional food storage, we started out buy purchasing many months’ food storage for our chickens.
I felt like this food storage was incomplete, and after some time I convinced my husband of this fact. Now we have our complete food storage plus our animals. This is a balanced approach, because our stored wheat and other items will be greatly enhanced by fresh eggs and milk, but if something happens to the animals, we will still be able to rely on our more traditional food storage.
Have you considered keeping chickens? Chickens require MUCH less work than any of our other animals (including the cat and dog). They also give more back to us. Keeping chickens is inexpensive, and interesting. In my next articles, I will discuss how you can raise chickens in your backyard to complement the food storage you already have.