If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know that our family has recently jumped into the world of chicken raising. I've been a city girl most of my life, so this is definitely a new experience for us, and one I never would have expected to love so much.
Right now, our flock is sitting pretty with twenty hens and one rooster. I'm certainly no expert, but I've learned a few things about chickens since we went rural over the summer. For example, did you know:
1) Chickens make great composters. I can throw almost all of our scraps into the pile in their run, and by spring I'm told we'll have fabulous compost. The best news is the girls do almost all the work.
2) Chickens love meat. They're insectivores, which means they keep the mosquito levels low around our place. They also go crazy for liver. Go figure.
3) Chickens have lots of predators. My first butchering experience came from having to put down a little chicken who was attacked by a hawk or some other critter. Not an experience I hope to repeat.
4) Chickens are more entertaining than the television. I can't even guess how many hours I've spent in the coop just watching them do their thing.
5) Broody chickens are hilarious. When a chicken goes broody, that means her hormones have kicked in and she only wants to sit on her eggs. Well, if she can't find eggs to sit on, sometimes a smaller chicken will do the trick.
6) Chickens are loud sleepers. When I go into our coop right as the girls are getting ready for bed, the sound reminds me of when I was a summer camp counselor with lots of giggle, whispering, and bickering for space.
7) Chickens can sneeze. Cutest thing I've heard in a long time.
8) They can also hiccup. Now that's funny.
9) Chickens look creepy when they molt. See what I mean?
10) Chickens need gravel. Weird, isn't it? Our flock goes through about half a cup of gravel a week. They swallow the stones and keep them in their gizzard to act as teeth equivalent.
11) Egg shells are another healthy treat. Yes, it did seem a little strange at first, but we sprinkle broken eggshells for them every few days. It's supposed to help keep their calcium levels high so their own eggs are nice and firm.
12) It's ok to eat your pets. I wasn't sure how I'd do with this particular aspect. So far, so good.
13) Chickens aren't necessarily warm and welcoming to newcomers, as our new addition Hawk learned after joining the flock.
14) There's truth behind the colloquialism "running like a chicken with its head cut off." Enough said.
15) Chickens are the gateway drug of farm animals. This woman does a great job explaining the phenomenon.