Backyard Chickens

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!

Masonchickens2

Rhonda

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!

Helen

Helen

Travis

Travis

Masonchickens

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!

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