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Friday, April 16, 2010

The first step is admitting...

About a month ago, we joined the world of chickens.

We'd mentioned casually over the years how being able to have fresh eggs from our own chickens would be great, however we live on a small horse farm, not a farm farm, the kind with fields of tobacco and big tractors and cows and, well, chickens. Horse farms don't have chickens.

Yeah, doesn't make sense to me now either. For some reason I liked the idea of having chickens, and I had raised several years' worth of ducks growing up, but when it came to here and now I didn't think we could have chickens. They'd get stepped on by a horse, or hit by a car, or... well, the reasons were numerous and quite silly.

Until recently when my search for local eggs (that didn't involve regular long trips in the car) proved to be unfruitful. The people down the road who used to sell fresh eggs were now retired and out of the backyard chicken business, and that was the only source I knew of. So somehow the subject of owning chickens popped up again between my husband and I.

"We can build a chicken tractor," he laughed. He wanted to build a chicken tractor. I had no idea what a chicken tractor was. I was pretty sure it didn't plant chickens in a field, and I didn't want to know if it harvested chickens. Luckily my husband was able to quickly hush my worries since he had been assigned to do several articles about them when he worked as a freelance writer on the side a couple years ago.

Within days, literally, we had six baby chicks hanging out in our living room.

Those chicks are now four weeks old and watching them grow like weeds has been nothing short of amazing. In the last month I have learned more about chickens than I thought possible... I haunt forums online, hoard poultry books and magazines from the library, and my chickens come up in pretty much every conversation I have these days. Some might call me chicken obsessed. I say I'm just... well, chicken obsessed.

I take them out into the gardens with me nearly every day, the exceptions only being bad weather or I'm working a 13 hour shift -- poor excuses for chicken obsession neglect I know -- and after dinner if my husband grabs the latest Netflix movie we received, I grab a couple chicks out of the brooder and snuggle up on the couch. (One for me and one for him, ya know.)

I listen to chicken podcasts and have a chicken background on my laptop and I'm sure I can find a chicken ringtone for my cell phone if I'd only take a few minutes and look for one.

My Facebook friends think I have gone off the deep end since I post more photos of my chicks growing every day then most of them do of their kids. Except for one, who has her own chickens. She started with a few and now has more than a couple dozen. And now she has goats too.

Goats? Goats would be great for doing away with the poison ivy that is taking over our woods. The horse farm I managed before we moved here had 20-30 goats at any one time, and I was regularly in charge of them (especially when they got out... rounding up goats in fields on horseback became quite the sport there for a while until the owner decided to build better fences). His goats were used for land clearing and maintenance and were sold for meat, but since we don't eat meat, maybe milk goats would be a better fit.

But no need to worry about that. Because we live on a small horse farm with a few chickens. Not a farm farm...

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