Our little flock of young hens have begun to lay – and although still a little on the smaller side – we are once again enjoying our own fresh eggs.
It started with one every day or two, and has progressed the last two weeks to about 7 or 8 per day. They are actually laying a bit early – usually for our golden comets, they start producing around 18 to 20 weeks – but at just 17 weeks – we are more than happy to have them start a little early!
We often are asked about our chickens and how hard it is to raise them. Simply put – I would be shocked if there is ever a time in our life that we would not raise at least a few. Chickens require very little work to raise – and are actually the ultimate all-purpose addition to any home, farm, backyard garden or homestead.
Beyond the popular belief – chickens are not “dirty animals”. Whether you are raising 3 or 30 – a coop of any size can not only be neat and tidy, but a beautiful addition to the landscape.
The list of benefits go on and on:
*The chicken manure and straw that we clean from their coop is a main ingredient in our compost. The high nitrogen level of their manure help to heat up our piles quickly and provide tons of nutrients to our plants in the garden and landscape.
*We also use the manure and compost to make our compost tea – an all natural and organic fertilizer that helps our plants grow strong and increase production.
*They are fantastic controllers of insects and pests – keeping our bug problems to a minimum. In fact – each fall – we turn them loose in the garden to scratch and claw around to help keep pest populations at bay.
*And of course – there are the fresh eggs they provide us with! For anyone that has never had the pleasure of a farm fresh egg vs. a “grocery store” egg – you have no idea what you are missing. The eggs have so much more flavor – and with one simple crack into a frying pan – its easy to see the difference in yolk and color.
A good laying breed hen (we have raised both Golden Comets and Leghorns) will lay an average of an egg per day for about 5 to 6 days each week. Our girls provide more than enough for our family – and we sell the remainder to pay for their food and straw.
So if you have been thinking about getting a few – our advice is to get started! It really doesn’t take a lot of space or time to raise a few in your backyard – and the rewards are more than worth it!
Like life – it is not without its ups and downs. Our original nine hens (See Meet The Original Chickens) had a wonderful two and a half years at the farm until early this spring, when a mink found a way into the coop and killed the entire flock over a period of a few weeks.
It was tough for Mary and I. As crazy as it sounds – those original nine were incredible, each with their own personality. But like life – you carry on. We had already been raising 18 chicks that would be joining the flock – and with the building of the new and very secure coop – they have picked up where our original nine have left off.
Happy Gardening! – Mary and Jim