The Hen House

by: Jennifer email

Here Chicky Chicky Chicky

You probably have never thought about having a few chickens but if you have thought about it  you have probably wondered … how does one get chickens,  and more importantly,  what kind of chickens should one get ?   Are they all the same ?   Do you need a rooster if you just want eggs ?   You will have so many questions once you decide to get started.   I can share my limited knowledge and perspective on the topic but  I am by no means a chicken expert.  (As a long time subscriber to that  amazing magazine,  Mother Earth News,  ( )   we have put into practice many of their tips on sustainable living and going green.  (I’ve been reading some of their suggestions  on raising  chickens at home for years.)   At any rate,  we  now have a few chickens  and we  enjoy having chickens,  that’s the long and the short of it.  

For us,  everything  “chicken”  started with some friends giving me a dozen eggs from their little farm, “Shoestring Farm”,  located on Church Neck.   (On Virginia’s Eastern Shore,  a  “Neck”  is a protrusion of land surrounded on two sides by broad saltwater inlets from the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean.   A  “Neck”  is  named for one of  its  bordering inlets,  in this case for the Church Creek inlet from the Chesapeake Bay.)   My husband cooked these colorful brown eggs  the next morning for Sunday breakfast.   WOW,  I remember thinking,  I didn’t know that eggs had actual FLAVOR.   That was it for me,  I was sold on having fresh, flavorful eggs which did necessitate getting some chickens to lay them !   My husband ,  who also reads Mother Earth News ,  had wanted to get some chickens for years and I had always said  NO.  I’m a light sleeper and the thought of a chicken waking me up at 4:45 am was not in my plan.  (My mother had chickens and her rooster would crow at the full moon, at the rising sun, at just about everything and anything.  Ummm,  NO THANK YOU,  not for me.)  Also, I didn’t  think  noisy chickens  would help us stay in the good graces of our neighbors either.  We live in a lovely home,  with a huge back yard situated on nearly  two acres,  in  beautiful waterfront neighborhood.  Absolutely none of our neighbors have chickens,  maybe never saw a  live chicken either !  However, research revealed  that if I wanted laying hens that I didn’t need to have to a crowing rooster,  which solved the “waking me at dawn”  and the  “annoying our neighbors”  problems.  I figured if  I addressed it with enough finesse,  my husband would give up the rooster idea and settle on a compromise acceptable to me  (and the neighbors)  —  laying hens or nothing,  so…. laying hens it is.

With my compromise  agreed  to,  we were ready to select our chickens.   That was the next  big question.  What chickens do I get and where  on earth does one get chickens ?   Surprisingly, it turns out that  there  are literally hundreds of chicken breeds for a home chicken enthusiast  to choose from,  different breeds for different purposes.  My  interest was in eggs so I wanted Pullets (all female chickens) and they need to be sexed.  Yes, that is an actual occupation.  Someone looks at the little parts and says boy or girl,  unfortunately,  not always with 100% accuracy.   (Most large online hatcheries have a full time “sexer” and I ordered my pullets  online   And how do they arrive ?   Believe it or not,  through the US Postal Service…yep, they call you and say “your chicks are here,  PLEASE COME GET THEM ! ”  And so we picked up our   fluffy little baby chicks  who cheep- cheep-cheeped so cutely all the way home.  The next step in your egg husbandry adventure  is what to do once you actually get these  cute, fluffy little baby chicks  home … but that’s next for the next post,  so  bye for now.

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