Well, I've told you lots about the chickens, but very little about why we decided to raise them...and that's important.
First, the MYTH:
I'm raising laying hens to save money.
This is ridiculous. I'll never save money on this project, and I've known it all along. For example, I spent $575 on their house, which is cuter than my own house. I'm buying them special organic laying feed that costs twice as much as what most chickens get. Obviously, I'll never save money this way :)
The REAL reasons:
1) I'm appalled at how factory farms treat their chickens. It's so bad that Californians had to pass a Proposition in support of farmed animals. Now, hens will have a little bit more room in their cages, at least in CA. I don't want to go into the details here, because it just bums me out. (Suffice it to say, that their lives are still very sad and not appropriate for one of God's creatures. I'm not providing links here because you can just google it.)
2) They are really pretty and funny and make great pets.
3) They create eggs.
4) They create high quality organic fertilizer for my vegetable garden.
The hens are easy to take care of; requiring very little time. But I will say this: They poop. A lot. And not in a box. So, if you are one of those people who is really bothered by poop, then you are most likely not reading this blog. But if you are, beware.
In reality, the poop really isn't that big of a deal for me. It only smells for a few minutes. Once it dries, in an hour or so, it doesn't smell. At my house, the poop is a good thing. It will make the flowers and vegetables grow.
Some thoughts for potential chicken owners:
Stefaneer, at Silician Sisters Grow Some Food, recently posted about an irresponsible chicken owner, who wants someone else to take care of her hens (but do not kill them) once they stop laying eggs. This is terrible. Chicken owners need to be responsible. If you buy an animal, you are committed to it.
If you are considering buying some chickens, I encourage you to:
1) Stop, put down the Organic Gardening magazine (or whatever has cute chicken pictures in it).
Yes, I know those unusual breeds of chickens are really pretty. I want one of each of them, too!
2) Read a book or attend a chicken workshop. Or thoroughly scour the interwebs (backyardchicken.org is a good site).
3) I suggest a waiting period before purchasing them. Yes, I'm serious. You really don't want to buy chickens on an "impulse". I waited at least 3 years, but that's unusually long :)
4) Visit some chickens. And ask questions of their owners.
5) Then if you still really want chickens, go for it! They are great.