Daily Archives: February 1, 2015

ADVENTURES IN RAISING HENS

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Hens 5

 

Okay, so I admit that I am not all country, but not all city.  You see I was mainly raised in “town” or in the “city” until I was 13 … then my parents decided they wanted to get back to their country roots and move to the country.  I and my three older siblings thought our parents had finally lost it!  So begrudgingly the house was packed up, and my parents moved onto a little hobby farm in the country.

They were in love, living out their childhood days, having both grown up on a farm.  Us kids, not so much in love with it!  My parents got a few chickens, ducks, pigs, and a Jersey cow they named Buffy.  Shortly after getting her she had her baby, and we got our first taste of fresh cow milk, cream, and butter.  Okay this “country” thing was maybe not so bad.

One of my jobs was to help look after the chickens.  I gathered the eggs, but Mom and Dad really did the hard part.  I remember the “wowzer” smell of opening the chicken coop and getting a whiff of that oh so wonderful ammonia smell of chicken poo!  I vowed I would never have chickens, and would never live in the country.

Well fast forward 25 plus years … and here I am!  Having bought an acreage this summer in rural Prince Edward Island, I am now living (or trying to live) the country life.  If I could speak to the 13 year old version of myself, I am sure we would have quite the colorful conversation!  Ironically, my two kids have always lived in the city, and so at 13 and 9 this is their first taste of country life.

 

Hens 6

 

Wanting to live a more self-sustaining life style, we thought we would start with some hens.  Fall arrived, and the first bit of snow hit us in November … still no chickens.  So we figured we would just leave it until spring.  Then my parents came to the Island for Christmas, they were super determined to get us some chickens before they left, and the night before they left, we picked up 10 cute little hens!

 

Hens 1

 

Okay, really not knowing what we were doing my parents went with me to the feed store and we got some Laying Ration and some Grit/Oyster Shell.  We made some make-shift feeder and water container out of 4L milk jugs (which work surprisingly well).  We decided to go with wood shavings instead of the straw for the bottom of the coop and to fill the nests.

Our Chicken Coop though clean and functional, is less than what I have “dreamed” about … but alas this is what we have, so we are working with it.  We added a light (as hens need 16 hours of daylight in order to lay), and a heat light to keep them cozy.

 

** This summer we plan on either renovating this chicken coop or building a new one, will give updates on this as it progresses!

 

Chicken Coop in the Fall

Chicken Coop in the Fall

 

Chicken Coop in the Winter

 

Day one, the hens are settling in, they have bedding, food, water … okay now what?  Well I think the first 3-4 days I was out there every couple of hours checking on my “girls” to make sure they were okay.  Maybe a little overkill?!  I felt like I had had a bunch of babies, and they were 100% dependent on me, it was a good and scary feeling.  As the days went on I was a little less protective.

My parents had said we might not get our first egg for up to three weeks, as though they were already laying (they are 2 years old), when they get disrupted, they will usually stop.  We actually got our first egg 24 hours after they arrived!  We were so proud!

 

One dozen beautiful eggs, in a bowl that I carved!

One dozen beautiful eggs, in a bowl that I carved!

 

It took about 3 days to get enough eggs for each of us to have our first “farm egg”, it was the best tasting egg I had ever had!  I felt a sense of accomplishment that I was actually starting to live the life I had decided I wanted!

Two and a half weeks later we are averaging 5-6 eggs a day, and we are enjoying the experience of raising our little flock of hens!

 

Hens 3

 

As time goes on, and I learn more, I will post updates on my hens and more of our adventures!

 

Eggs 2