March 26, 2012
The syndrome developed gradually after browsing home and garden magazines. I'm calling it C.R.S. or Chicken-Raising Syndrome. How could one not be smitten after seeing beautifully designed spaces for fowl? The romantic dream of resplendent hens contentedly leaving warm, brown, earthy eggs each summer morn, bit me.
Then, ever so subtly, I broached the subject to my bored-with-winter, unsuspecting husband."Sooo... I read it's becoming quite the thing to raise laying-hens in town." I had conveniently checked out the book Keep Chickens!: Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs and Other Small Spaces by Barbara Kilarski. I thought we'd mull it over, discuss the pros and cons...just daydream a bit. The next thing I knew, his itchy, sketching fingers were designing a chicken coop. Just a few days later, we were on our way to chicken farming! Left behind were doubts arising from experiences with my Grandma's roosters and an over-all dread of the chickens' possible demise.
In the past two weeks, ten lovely, New Hampshire Red chicks have brooded under a warm light in our garage. We "chook, chook, chooked" to them, counted their sprouting feathers, and of course, kept them filled with chick feed and water. With the change to warm weather, they've moved to the outdoor coop. Though only about eight inches tall, they peck, chase, and test their wings doing general "chickenish" behavior. We slept nervously the first couple of nights hoping the coop was secure from predators; it was! Will our chicken husbandry be adequate? Will the "girls" all turn out to be hens? Will it be hens that lay warm, brown eggs? Will our Jack Russell Terrier render them eggless with his terrifying behaviors? Are we crazy? I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile I have placed a hold for The Complete Guide to Raising Chickens by Tara Williams and The Joy of Keeping Chickens by Jennifer Megyesi. If you've been bitten by C.R.S., you might need to order one of MCPL's many books on raising chickens or on building a chicken coop. Happy chicken farming!