In the beginning of 2020, my local area had not really seen many outbreaks of the virus. So as things were beginning to close down, I decided it would be a great time to begin raising chickens! As you get to know me, you’ll come to understand I undertake many new hobbies (like soap making, candle making, paint pouring, vegetable growing, keyboard playing – to name just a few) but seem to rely heavily on Google search and a friend named ‘Barb”. Actually wait, let me tell you about “Barb”! She is this wonderful, kind lady, that I met through “South Charlotte Dog Rescue” (Shout out to those guys! Who do an awesome job! Remember that name because they will be very important as I.A.H.M.L grows!). So getting back to the one and only “Barb”, she rehabilitates baby wildlife in her home! She also owns chickens and ducks and seems to know everything about animals in general! I thought I was a whizz when it came to animals, but I am not a touch on this lady!
So let me tell you about raising chickens. In essence, it is a very rewarding experience, once you get through the two months of stench because unless you have a barn you are stuck with them living inside, to escape the freezing cold! Young chicks cannot go out into the elements until they have their plumage!
Choosing your size and breed is essential! Each chicken is like a different Pokemon card. Some lay lots of eggs, some lay very few, some are aggressive and some lay colorful eggs! You can choose from large breeds like Rhode island reds and Brahmas to the smaller, bantam weight chicken breeds. Now, me being the dog groomer that I am, I had my heart set on Silkie bantams. One of the smallest and probably most “unchicken-chicken” you could go for. So after scrolling through Facebook and joining every Chicken group in the area, I found a girl selling them in Monroe, the next town over and arranged to go pick them up the day they hatched.
What I didn’t realize, is that it is impossible to identify the gender of Silkies as chicks. Unlike their “Real chicken” cousins! So I researched ratio of males to females and Google search informed me that usually it’s about a 60:40 ratio. So I purchased 21 chicks from this sweet country girl in the hope i’d get about 12 pullets (females). I brought the little fluff nuggets home and got to work immediately with setting up their indoor enclosure!
Well the first week was a breeze. I changed their water twice a day, gave them supplements and refilled their food every few days. After day 7, it was like something out of the Gremlins. These things started to grow, squawk, scream and poop on literally everything! All of a sudden I had 21 mini dinosaurs in desperate need of a large enclosure!
I had already set up a budget of $100.00 to build my outdoor coop. I had a friend donate an old deck that he ripped out on a job. Friends gave me chicken wire and random pieces of wood that they had laying around. This was community up-cycling at it’s best! However, it was not enough. In the freezing cold month of February I set to work on that coop but everyday I needed something else. More screws or another piece of 2×4. Before I knew it, my $100 coop budget had hit four figures and by this time, the chicks were busting at the seams to get out!
After days of painstakingly attaching cage wire and predator proofing the enclosure, the chicks finally moved in! They couldn’t believe it! An even bigger space to poop all over! *face palm* I even planted nice herbs and plants in there for them, as recommended by of course, Google search. Well within a day those plants looked like the aftermath of a forest fire. GONE! But, they were out and ready to be chickens and start laying me some breakfast! Or so I thought!
Weeks go by, feeding has become a daily chore. They are drinking about 6 times their body weight in water a day! Everyday, I observed them for signs of “Roosterhood”. The young roosters develop a tuft on their head, where as the pullets kind of keep that Jackson 5 style Afro. They were all developing at different times so I couldn’t really tell them apart to be sure. I enjoyed spending time with them, I’d sit in the coop after work and hang with my flock.
One chicken in particular, had become very sweet and needy. Every day she would greet me and want to be held. I thought to myself “This is awesome!”. At that point she was the only one that I was certain was a female. I named her “Daisy Mae” and you can see her perched on my shoulder below!
During my extensive research, I found out that at around 4-5 months old I should definitely know who’s a Roo and who’s not. As I stared at my flock of 21 fluffy dinosaurs I couldn’t help but think something was wrong. Every day I walked out to feed them, another chicken would start screaming at the top of its lungs and then all of a sudden the ball dropped. Just like a pubescent boy in mid sentence and his voice breaks, everyday i’d walk out and another one started crowing. At one point six or seven were screaming together trying to out sing one another. I couldn’t pin point who was making the noise. It was like the worst night out at a karaoke party you’ve ever experienced! Imagine 15 drunk guys screaming down the mic to Back street boys at 2am, that doesn’t come close to how bad it sounded!!!
At this point I was beginning to stress. My chicken permit would not allow me to keep roosters because I live inside city limits and at the rate I was going, I was about to had an entire Boy Scouts group of them!
Weeks went by and after a head count, out of 21 cute little fluffy chicks, I ended up with 6 hens. I don’t know about you but that’s not a 60:40 Pullet ratio! Lesson learned, don’t always believe what you read on the internet!!
Regardless of how many horny teenage Roosters I had screaming outside in my back yard. None of them could stay! So the sad task of re-homing began. Have you ever tried rehoming a rooster? Well let me tell you: no matter how egg-sperienced you are, it’s difficult. In fact, almost impossible. No body wants them! My chicken journey was far from over.
Please join me on Tuesday to find out what is in store in part 2 of the “Jeff Goldplume Saga”!