Monday, April 15, 2013

chicken shit and other probing questions...

Last week I posted a bit about our new feathered friends and I tried my best to answer as many anticipated questions as possible.  Turns out there are quite a handful of you that have considered having a few backyard hens of your own, or are simply curious about what the process might be like.

So today, as I sat outside eating my chicken sandwich while watching my own chickens (disturbing, I know) I thought I would do a follow-up post, hoping to answer some of your probing chicken questions.  I figured who wouldn't be thrilled to start their Monday off with a post about chicken shit.

No really... that's one of the questions... chicken shit...

1) "I'm kinda wondering about the poop... weird question?  Seems like 8 chickens would get a little messy..."

And yes.  You're right.  Having eight chickens definitely is a little messy.  Initially, we kept the girls in their run (fenced in area), so the poop really wasn't an issue.  But now we open their run during the day so they can have free-range over the entire backyard... so, to be blunt, there is basically crap everywhere.  But I will say this, chicken poop dries up very quickly, so while there is a lot of poop... it's not necessarily "messy" if that makes sense.  Also, as soon as the yard is mowed, it will be good as new... poop free, but extremely fertilized:)

2) "Do they eat the grass?"

Yes.  They eat pretty much anything growing in the ground.  They eat grass, but love our patches of clover and dandelions.  And as I found out yesterday, they will also eat Cheddar Sun Chips.

3) "You guys could start making some money off the eggs (free-range!) if you wanted to..."

For sure.  We definitely plan to sell some of the eggs... especially if we have as many as we think we will.  I mean, a girl can only eat so many omelets.  We will be sharing eggs (free) with several of our neighbors, and we also plan to do some trading as well.  I'm hoping we can find someone to trade a dozen eggs for homemade bread.

4) "How much did it cost to buy the birds and get the coop and cage set up?"

This is a great question.  Surprisingly, chickens are pretty cheap.  We paid just $12.50/each for ours.  It's the coop that can end up getting expensive.  If you decide to purchase a pre-made coop, it will likely cost anywhere from $300-$500... and that was a little (okay, a lot) out of our price range.  So, Lance, being the handy man that he is, set out to purchase all of the materials and build our own coop... all for just over $60.  Then he probably spent another $15 on the run (cage) portion.  If you can build your own, or know someone that can help you, that is definitely the most affordable route to go.

5) "Is it (the cost) going to be worth it in the end for all the 'free' eggs?"

I'm going to say yes here.  Although technically we haven't experienced any of the "free" eggs yet (the girls will start producing in about 7-8 more weeks).  But here's the thing.... for us, this endeavor is more than just the free eggs.  Sure, that's part of it... and I'll be sure to let you know if free-range eggs that come out of your backyard are really that much better than the eggs you buy at the grocery store.  But a bigger part of this for us is building relationships within our community.  We are having conversations (about eggs) with neighbors that we have never spoken to since we've lived here.  We are talking to local farmers and restaurant owners about trading goods.  We have neighborhood kids stop by the house to see and feed "the chickens."  And that is awesome.

6) "I've been wanting a small brood of chickens myself, but we're renting the house we're in now and all of our neighbors have dogs."

Some backyards and neighborhoods are totally not chicken-friendly... but you would be surprised.  We are also renters, but we have an awesome landlord that has pretty much given us free reign to do as we please in the backyard.  We don't have any restrictions on backyard chickens in our neighborhood (no roosters though)... but we did make sure to check with both of our next-door neighbors before bringing any feathered friends home.  Both of our neighbors have been extremely supportive and excited about the chickens.  One of our adjoining neighbors has a large black lab, who on occasion likes to bark at the chickens, but other than that, she's been harmless.  Our backyard is obviously well-fenced in, which helps.

If you are truly considering some backyard hens yourself, I strongly recommend the book City Chicks, by Patricia Foreman.  It has been extremely helpful in answering a slew of questions that we have had.

If any of you decide to take the plunge and become "city chicks" yourself, I would love to hear about it... In the meantime, I'll be sure to keep you posted with our own stories of chicken adventures:) 


Jaimie said...

Thank you so much for the answers to all these questions (a whole bunch of which were mine, lol...). Now you've got me thinking. This sounds amazingly easy, like it would be really fun, and not expensive to start. Oh, as soon as we have a house and a yard...!

mleslie43 said...

Wonderful question/answer blog day! Learned a lot, thank you!

Claire's Momma said...

As I sit here waiting to get a ROOT CANAL, I opened up your blog and the title of your post alone gave me relief from my nerves...oh, as well as the FABULOUS new scarf I am wearing from a dear, dear friend! ;) I love you!!

Angie said...

You definitely win the award for catchiest title! I never thought I'd read an entire post about "chickens" but I did LOL!

isaac and jenny said...

I will trade you eggs for bread!!!!