Care about your health? Maybe my chickens can help you out. 

 For most of the population, eggs are just another staple item on the grocery list. After owning chickens for a year, I’ve learned they are so much more. 

Let’s talk about those grocery eggs for a second. Did you know? Most grocery store eggs are around a month old. Uhhhh… yuck. A lot of the labels are misleading and not always true. “Cage free” doesn’t mean they are happy hens running in grass meadows- they are usually confined to a poultry house floor, never seeing a blade of grass in their lifetime. Be wary of the labeling. Do your research. 

Egg color and size doesn’t determine the quality. This was a silly misconception I had prior to owning my own chickens. I always thought the brown eggs were the “farm fresh” ones. Truth is, I was very wrong. Egg color and size is determined by the breed of chicken. Many small flock owners pride themselves with an assortment of colors and sizes- ranging from white to deep chocolate brown (even blue, pink, and green!). With over 15 breeds of chickens, I love my variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Commercial chicken farms (for grocery eggs) typically purchase one breed, giving you uniform white or brown eggs. 

The health benefits between commercial eggs and farm eggs are significant. I’m no scientist, but you can google the difference in the two. Any person that’s concerned about healthy eating should look into finding truly farm fresh eggs. 

Buying farm fresh isn’t hard. If you are a local friend of mine (Kalyn Burns), I look forward to selling a higher volume soon. I sell a dozen or so here & there for now.  If a non-local friend has shared this blog with you, I bet they can lead you in the right direction for farm fresh eggs. It’s a great feeling knowing you are getting a quality product from happy and healthy hens! 

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Giving Our Pets a Chance at Life 

When you’re an animal lover, like any normal human should be, you get attached to your pets fairly quickly. Your (human) family may seem to revolve around “when will we be home to let the dog out” or “who’s going to be home at dusk to lock up the coop”. That’s the love and commitment  we show our animals. They become part of our routine and we love them- that’s why most of us consider them family. No matter if they’re feathered, furry, slimy, or scaled, we love them unconditionally. 

What truly stinks is that we outlive our pets- “stinks” being a true understatement. 

The loss of a pet is difficult, the circumstance doesn’t matter. Most of us feel regret “why didn’t I spend more time with Fido?”, and some feelings of guilt “I knew I should have taken Henrietta to the vet”. The truth is, this is just how the circle of life works. And it’s hard. It’s reeeeeally hard. 

We lost our first feathered pet yesterday. Actually, the little chick wasn’t even feathered yet- just a little ball of fluff- 5 days old. It was heartbreaking for my husband and I to bury such a tiny creature. I sobbed, uncontrollably, as we laid her to rest behind the chicken coop. (I’ll plead the 5th on whether or not tears were shed by my husband.) We dreaded telling our daughter when she got home from dance class. 

This is the worst part about losing a pet- telling your children one of their beloved “family members” has passed. 

Julia’s response shocked me and proved (yet again) that she is wise beyond her 12 years. She said “Well, at least we gave it a chance at life.” See, we hatched these babies ourselves. Well, not literally. We tracked down fertile eggs, gave them to our 2 silkie hens, watched them grow inside the eggs and our hens sat on them diligently for 21 days until we watched them peck their way into the world. Julia’s response was accurate. Had we never given our Momma hens those eggs, the baby would have never had a chance at life. The chick may have only been on earth for a few days, but the short life it had was wonderful. It wasn’t born in an incubator in a chick factory somewhere, it was born with its (surrogate) Mom and siblings!  

“We gave it a chance at life” is a statement that keeps repeating in my head. This is so true with all animals. Whether you adopt, find them at a swap meet, buy pure blooded from a breeder, or take in a stray… we are giving them all a chance at life. We never know how long we have with them, so we try to cherish every moment. 

Love on your pets just a little more tonight. Give them some treats. Spoil those babies rotten!  You won’t regret it! 

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This blog is dedicated in loving memory of Pickles, our sweet little angel chick. 

The Best Chicken Breeds for Kids

I want to start by saying: CHICKS ARE NOT FOR EASTER BASKETS. Unless you plan on taking care ofthem for the next ten years, please don’t do this.

Chickens make great pets. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t been around “pet” chickens. Since I’m still relatively new to chicken keeping, I’ll only be speaking about the breeds that I own personally. All of my chickens have wonderful qualities… and a few have some  not-so-great qualities.

All of our grown hens are friendly because we were very hands-on when raising them. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t been around them, held them, or petted them all. Food is a great way to earn their friendship as well. All 9 will take food from my hand. Six of them will even jump for treats!

Here’s my flock:

Barred Rock- Roxie: My sweetheart and my favorite hen. She is a medium-sized chicken that doesn’t mind being handled. She will jump on my lap and beg for treats. I love that she will sprint across the yard when she sees me coming. She is a good layer of light brown eggs- probably 6 per week. Roxie is a great car rider- see her pics on Instagram #roxiethetravelingchicken

My Silkies- Smokey, Bandit, and BoBo:  I really only wanted Smokey, but they came as a straight run (non-sexed) trio. All 3 turned out to be hens. They are little cuties, only weighing about 2 pounds each. All 3 give me tiny off-white eggs almost daily. Great for kids because they are fluffy, little, and like to cuddle. They can’t fly, so they don’t try to flap and get away. My silkies are suuuuuper quick and hard to catch when they are free ranging, but calm and docile when being held. They are pretty stinkin’ cute too.

Production Red- Honey: This girl is pretty and sweet, but isn’t too fond of being held. She lays HUGE light brown eggs every day. From what I understand, these characteristics are true about most “red” breeds.

Brown Leghorn- Coco: She is nearly as small as my silkies, but I believe most are bigger than mine. She is my little road runner. She is really pretty, but is skittish around humans. She will still eat from my hand, but that’s about it. I caught her recently to treat her for a minor injury and she was really calm and sweet while I played vet. She’s my only white egg layer and produces daily.

Black Australorp- Raven: My loud mouth. She is gorgeous- her black feathers have a beautiful green sheen when the sun hits just right. She will allow me to pet her, and pick her up briefly, but she isn’t a huge fan of cuddles. She lays a medium colored brown egg.

Dixie Rainbows- Dotsie & CeCe: Also known as Pioneers. These girls are huge. The breed is a “mutt” breed, so each one looks a little different. One of mine is mainly yellow and the other is a red color- both have unique patterns on their feathers. They enjoy some petting, but are hard to hold because of their size. They are good layers and give me light brown eggs nearly every day.

The rest of the breeds I have are young and their personalities have yet to be determined. All of my older gals were pretty “snobby” right before they started laying. They immediately got more docile after that first egg. I guess they were just adjusting to adult hormones and acting like typical teens. Hahaha

 Chicken Math

Chicken math. It’s a common term most of us chicken addicts use to justify our addiction. To even say that it falls into the  “mathematics” category is a little ludicrous.

Let me give you a few examples:

#1:  You go to the feed store for 4 chicks, but the minimum purchase is six. You buy 6. You later see a breed you like, but they are sold only as a trio. You buy all three. Technically, you have 9 chickens, even though you only intended to have five. When you apply chicken math, you have 5 chickens.

#2: You go to the feed store for chicken food… but it’s chick days.  MUST LOOK AT THE CHICKS… but just look. You see that they have a breed on your wishlist and a few others that you’re interested in. You gotta meet that minimum though. You buy 6 more chicks. Chicken math impulse buys count as “zero” chickens.

#3: God forbid, something happens to one of your chicks/chickens. You are heartbroken. This is when chicken math gets really crazy… you buy the amount of chickens that make your heart smile again. Maybe it’s keeping the deceased hen’s last egg and incubating her offspring. Maybe it’s an order of 25 chicks from one of the big hatcheries. Either way, this counts as only 1 chicken.. because you are only replacing one.

Basically, chicken lovers are crazy and this math makes no sense. There’s no real rules- just whatever way you can justify your need for more chickens. My husband once asked, “When does chicken math end?”. I replied that it’s kinda like the repeating sign in a decimal point that goes on forever. I also told him that I’ll stop buying chickens when he stops buying hunting equipment. 😉 I think I’m safe for a while.

And if you’re wondering, my chicken math looks like this:

6+3+2+6= 7 chickens 😂

(My chicken math reductions: 6 impulse buys, 2 to meet a minimum, and 2 were “free” when I bought one lol)

Picture shows the 6 newest members of our flock- the impulse buy. 

Clucky In Kentucky

Growing up in the city (even in Kentucky) is tough when you were born to be a country girl. I remember begging for chickens at a young age, but my mother (and city laws) kept that from becoming a reality. I swore I would grow up and move to a farm so I could  have my chickens.
Fast forward a couple of decades…

I run into an old friend, a crop farmer, and we were married two years later. As a bonus, Ben became an instant step-dad to my daughter, Julia (now 12). I was blessed with a step-dog, Curby, who is 10 years old now. We adopted a stray cat during a flood, who we found out was already pregnant. She had 4 babies that we couldn’t part with.

With 6 indoor pets, our home already felt like a zoo. Why not add a couple of outdoor pets?  Last April, we figured 3 or 4 chickens should suffice. We brought home a tiny box of 6 chicks (because of the chick minimum), a ton of supplies, and a book on chicken keeping. I was clueless, but my lifelong dream of chicken ownership was finally coming true!

I thought they’d just be pretty little things that weren’t very smart and didn’t connect with humans. I was wrong. I was SO wrong. Those little fluff butts melted my heart. Who knew that CHICKENS could have such unique personalities?!

Every week seemed to be a learning experience. I researched coop designs, predator proofing, safe treats to feed, and what to do if an illness arises. I found websites, smart phone apps, and social media groups to feed my addiction. Everything was so fascinating!

As my chicks grew, I started to research their individual breeds. This is when my hobby became more of an obsession. I wanted to know everything about every breed- color patterns, egg colors, friendliness, size-  breeds that would best suit us. The more I learned, the more breeds I added to my wishlist. We accumulated 3 silkies in September, and now we have 2 more chicks in the brooder, bringing our total to 11.

Educating new chicken keepers, as well as non-owners is my goal for this blog. Insanely varied topics will be covered: breeds (and their unique characteristics), illnesses/treatments, predators, egg recipes, funny stories about my own flock, and anything else that comes up in my sporadic brain. I’m excited to use this blog to talk about all things CHICKENS!

Disclaimer: I am no expert, and I’m not afraid to say that I have made some mistakes with my chickens. Chicken keeping is a lot of trial and error, so if you’re still learning (like me) don’t be too hard on yourself!