By Mason Larimore
7:15am… I technically could be asleep for another 25 minutes
before I have to get dressed to come to work, but at this point I
am in my pajamas with my hair tied in something that resembles a
bun and I am pulling on my tattered cowboy boots to walk to the
edge of the woods. Now why in the world would I be walking to the
edge of the woods in the morning when I could be asleep? The answer
to that would be 15 2-legged little runts with wings that need to
be fed and watered… That's right, I'm a mom to a bunch of baby
chickens! Well, technically to I am only mom to some of them, the
rest I am chick-sitting!
In high school for one of my supervised agriculture experiences
(SAE), I had 4-10 (depending on if the raccoons and opossums had
stopped by lately) laying hens living in the backyard. I had my own
little egg factory and sold the little gems by the dozen to have
money to put back into feed for my laying ladies. For almost two
and a half years my main flock (Rhonda, Helen, Rose, Miranda, and
Travis) were a functional part of the family and kept the fridge
stocked with eggs!
Now my old girls were not just any chickens, they had some
distinct personalities. Rhonda and Helen were Rhode Island Reds and
had been together since they were born so they were inseparable and
pretty much had their own little gang. Rose was my beautiful Barred
Rock who just was so pretty to look at and was very laid back.
Miranda… oh Miranda, this Golden Comet was head honcho and liked
everyone to know it. She was the one who would peck you and attack
your boots. Normally chickens like this have their lives cut short
but she laid super eggs. These eggs wouldn't allow you to close the
lid on an extra-large carton…so she stayed. Finally, my favorite
lady was Travis. I understand Travis is a "boy" name but Mason is a
"boy" name too so her name was Travis. This little Leghorn would
follow me around like a puppy and let me cradle her, lay her on her
back and rub her belly. Not normal chicken behavior from what I
have seen. Being a chicken mom is fun. They like to go on walks
through the woods with me, chase each other around the yard, follow
my dad around while he works in the yard, and they come running
when they see me walking towards them.
Back to the babies, they are cute and little. Cute and little
means perfect prey for local predators - raccoons, opossums, hawks,
my sister's dog, etc. So the fact that they like to test my
patience and ESCAPE is not my idea of fun, nor is it safe for them!
Also being attacked by a bunch of baby beaks when I go to feed them
is not how I want to start my morning. I can't wait until they
start pulling their own weight and start laying some eggs!
Having laying chickens in your backyard is an adventure. It's a
great way to avoid buying eggs from the grocery store and,
depending on which breed you have, you could still have eggs for
most of the year! They are also nice to have around as pets that
actually pull some of their own weight by paying you back with eggs
for the money you put into keeping them. Chickens also help cut
back on food waste, they are great for getting rid of fruits and
veggies that may have over-ripened for your taste buds… the
chickens will LOVE them! If you have ever considered your own
backyard chickens, you should do it. I highly recommend getting a
few chickens for your backyard!