When we first acquired our chickens, they were scrawny things, the last of a large flock that the feed store had been trying to sell off for weeks. They were obviously not at the top of that flock, since most of them were pretty thoroughly pecked and runty. But they were chickens, and they were relatively
cheep cheap. And they were ours.
One or two had full tails and almost all of them had the barest hint of a comb. They were truly pullets, between three and five months old, and thoroughly terrified of us.
Over the course of the following weeks, Lady visited them every day, bringing them scraps and treats. We both set out buckets at our respective works, asking for food scraps for the chickens. After a little coaxing, coworkers began leaving us apple cores, watermelon rinds, mushy bananas and old grapes, all of which (except the bananas for some reason), the chickens love. These snacks coupled with their regular food (called chick growing crumble) had them filling out and looking sleek in no time.
They even began congregating near the door whenever someone came over, ready for their treats. Although they still immediately fled in terror when that door was opened, they usually drifted back after a few hesitating moments.
Above: Three weeks after acquiring our chickens. Combs are starting to come in, tails are filling out.
Above: Just last weekend, the official start of autumn, and the day we found our first egg. Two chickens have full combs and most of them have full tails. I suspect our egg layer is either this one or the one out of focus.
Below: Our full flock. It’s been about six weeks since we got our chickens and they’re doing well.
It doesn’t seem to take much to grow your own chickens. I was afraid we’d have to show them how to use the coop, but at nightfall they ambled inside on their own. We change their water every few days and fill their food a lot more often than I would have expected, strew sunflower seeds so they’ll scratch up the straw and give them whole watermelons which they devour down to the rind. They don’t smell (well, unless it rains, but that’s mostly wet straw smell) and they’re not noisy unless you bother them. Even then, you can’t hear them on the other side of the house.
Basically, everything random strangers (seriously, random people in Home Depot and elsewhere) warned us about – smell, noise, viciousness, predators – has yet to come to pass. Not that it won’t ever, but none of those seem like they’re going to be a problem any time soon.