After years of dreaming about it, we finally got our first flock of chickens! To say I am excited is an understatement. It is also a little nerve-wracking being first-time chicken owners- it will be a learning experience for sure!
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I hope to document everything we are doing with our 250-year-old farmhouse on an acre, so that means you get blog posts about our progress (or lack of it), so keep a lookout for posts with “fruitful homestead” in the title to follow along.
For 2020, I had ZERO plans for gardening or adding chickens because we have a lot of projects going on INSIDE the house.
Superman (aka- the husband) and I agreed that we wanted to finish up some of those projects and maybe get our apple trees and other perennial plants around the property before adding anything else to our plate.
I have spots that I want to plant asparagus, rhubarb and various berries and knowing they wouldn’t produce a harvest for a couple of years, I figured the maximum work I would need to do is just get them established and prune if necessary. This would give me time to paint inside the house, maybe do some furniture makeovers, etc… I should have known better, lol.
We had a lot of field trips for our homeschool planned for the summer, which was another reason why I didn’t want any more responsibility on our plates because I wanted the freedom to come and go as we pleased. Then the virus hit, and our state locked down, understandably.
As I started looking at the time frame that was being predicted for. basically, the next YEAR, I realized we would be homebound much more than we originally intended. No beach days, no museums, no art shows, no theatre, no classes… “what now, Lord?”, I pondered.
For as long as I can remember, the plan has always been to homestead. Due to moves and circumstances beyond my control, it hasn’t been possible, until now. God reminded me that this was my heart along and now is as good a time as any to take the leap and go for it.
I signed us up for 4-H the next day and began ordering chick supplies online. Then, I gathered the seeds I had been saving all these years and began formulating a plan for the garden.
It’s funny to me that this whole virus thing is what pushed us to go forward with our gardening and chicken plans now. While I am not doing it out of panic, I can definitely see the wisdom in having a large garden and chickens for eggs and, honestly, I am just happy that the family will have things to keep us busy for the summer!
Kids and chickens- the perfect match
The kids LOVE the chicks. They are oh so cute, and quite funny. We still don’t know how many hens vs. cockerels we have. While we, and the nice girl at the tractor supply store, tried to make our best-educated guesses, we still have to play the waiting game to see if we were right.
The breed we chose: Barred Rock Chickens (Or Plymouth Rocks)
Originally, I wanted to get Buff Orpingtons. I imagine that I will at some point, but for now, we went with what was readily available, the Plymouth Rock.
With Barred Rock chickens, it is said that you can identify the sex of the chick by certain visual features such as the size of the spot on their head, the color of their feet, the width of the “bar” of white feathers on the wing and the growth rate of the back feathers. Of course, there is no guarantee, but by observing these “characteristics” they estimate about a 90% accuracy. In about 4 weeks or so, we should be certain how much of each gender we have and then we will have some decisions to make.
We want hens for the purpose of eggs and a learning experience for our kids. Our county does not allow for roosters, so we will need to find someone to take our roosters for us. At that point, if we don’t have the amount of hens we want, we will consider purchasing more chicks or pullets to add to our flock of egg-layers.
So our flock-of-chickens adventure begins!
I feel really blessed to be able to share this with our children and to learn alongside them. I think the chickens will be a fun distraction from all the cares of the world happening lately, and hopefully, by the end of the year, we will see some eggs for our little homestead.