I live in the middle of nowhere. This middle of nowhere is about 1 hour from Dartmouth College, 2.5 hours from Boston, Massachusetts and literally smack dab in the woods. We’re rural here. The closest grocery store is 15-20 minutes away, and there’s no traffic. The location of my house is explainable to people familiar with the area by telling them who our across-the-street neighbors are. You know, the crazy ones with a house covered in various fishing paraphernalia.
Anyway, the point of me telling you this is that it was no surprise that our house came with a massive chicken coop. Last year, we went to Tractor Supply and bought a dozen red and white chickens. After about six months, we were down to four due to various predators. We do allow our chickens to free range (middle of nowhere, remember?), but generally our dogs keep away anything too nasty. After losing eight chickens, we purchased six more year-old hens from a local farmer and imagine my surprise when a rooster came home with those six hens.. Remember when I said my man-friend is great at gift giving? Yeah, I was not so excited about that gift. I named the (giant) rooster Hank, and went back to stuffing my face full of eggs.
Now that we had fertile eggs, the man-friend built an incubator out of a mini fridge (doesn’t everyone do that?!) and we hatched some babies. Coupled with a few more birds that looked interesting from Tractor Supply, we had a house-full of chicks this spring.
Of course, the downside to hatching your own chicks and buying straight run birds (not sexed) is that you could end up with a lot of roosters. We started our spring adventure with about 32 chicks and 12 of them ended up being roosters. One died unexpectedly (common with chickens) and we have slaughtered 4. We have six more to slaughter and then our final laying hen count will be at 26 hens. We will keep Hank and one of the young roosters to protect the hens and the rest of the roosters will be dinner!
Chickens are not a “pet” I’d have ever imagined I would have, but I kind of like them. Yes, they’re not the smartest animal around and they smell, but they’re harmless, low-maintenance and I get lots of eggs!