Guest Blogger: Kelly Gengler from Knit & Cluck
Chickens are everywhere these days. You see them on coffee mugs and witty t-shirts. As you drive through urban neighborhoods you may even see them presiding over backyards. I am sure many are wondering about who are these people who are descending into chicken madness. Are they crazy? Every decent into madness has a journey. I am going to share mine with all of you wanna-be backyard chicken keepers out there.
In 2009 my children talked me into chickens. They didn’t have to do very much to convince me. I had been thinking and musing aloud about getting baby chicks for awhile. (Musing aloud in-front of a 3 year old is a bad idea. They never forget. Anything.) I placed my order online and McMurry Hatchery mailed-yes mailed me a box of 25 baby chicks. A couple of weeks later I received a 5 AM call from the post office that my chicks had arrived.
The 1st 25 chicks at Backyard Farms
I did not know much about chickens. Sure my parents had raised chickens when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My brother and I used to find the nests that the old hens had hid, and we would take the eggs and chuck them against a tree then gag at the horrible stench of rotten eggs. (Sorry mom and dad) I also remember being completely terrified of them. We had a big, ugly white rooster that would chase my brother an I across the deep ravine and back to the house. I also remember butchering day with oddly vivid clarity and I suspect that my brother will never have chickens of his own. Ever. So, my experience with chickens was not one I looked back on with fondness. There were several moments where I wondered about my parenting skills because chickens obviously were not a positive childhood memory. But, they were here, and I had to put all my childhood fears aside. I had to be the fearless mama.
It was amazing! It was joyous! Had I known how awesome it was to keep a small number of chickens “for fun” it would have happened much sooner. The kids were in love. I was in love. Those 25 little, fuzzy, peeping balls of speed were so entertaining. I think we spent the better part of the month of July in the barn. That is devotion people. July in Iowa is HOT and the barn was even hotter with the heat lamp going to keep the little peeps warm.
Kiele and Quinn our children in 2009
That is how the Gengler family started keeping a backyard flock. Today we have a smaller flock. We usually keep 7-10 chickens. Currently we have mixed flock, meaning we have 1 or 2 of several different chicken varieties. We even have one that lays green eggs. The kids like to choose different baby chicks every couple of years. They do chores willingly and they still like to hold them and carry them around the yard. Chickens make us laugh and we enjoy sitting in the backyard and watching their antics. Everyone should keep a couple of chickens just so they can laugh a little each day.
PS- Fresh Eggs out of the backyard taste so good that you will have a hard time going back to commercial eggs. It is some cheaper to buy eggs even organic eggs but you will miss out on the fun of having chickens of your own.