Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Attack of the Chickens

I have officially hen-pecked (haha) my husband into submission. We're getting chickens!

I had thought this would be a battle of the wills, that I would have to whine and complain and use my best feminine wiles to convince Steven that chickens were the best thing since sliced bread and he should get over his dislike of birds. I had thought that it would be a lot tougher and take a lot longer than 4 days. Huzzah being wrong (for once)!

You see, this weekend we drove out to Shenandoah Valley with my fam to go to the Shenandoah Caverns and just spend some pre-Easter time together. We were actually supposed to go camping, but the forecast and work complications shut that down, so this was a nice compromise. We had lunch in Luray, VA and while talking my parents mentioned they wanted a goat. Their back yard has been overrun by poison ivy, and given that all of us except for Steven (who is abnormally immune) are extremely allergic, they wanted to find the easiest way to clear it out. Goats, it turns out, are perfect for clearing out poison ivy, so after lunch we took a quick detour to Tractor Supply Co. for my parents (my mom) to look at goat things and being the day before Easter they had chicks! Lots and lots of chicks.

With a minimum order of 6. Boo.

Baltimore only lets you have 4. Double boo.

This was probably a good thing anyways, because I had no idea what I was doing. So, while there I bought "Chick Days", a fairly excellent beginner's guide to raising chickens. Before we even got to the two hour mark on the way back I had finished it and had a huge frame of reference for raising chickens, what's involved and the chick to hen process.

Then I bought celery. Not really related but celery plants smells like heaven should smell. Seriously. I go outside and sniff them. Is that weird?

Anyways, so I read "Chick Days", then bought "City Chicks", which is basically a book explaining all of the benefits of chicken raising and I guess there's a how-to on raising them but I haven't gotten that far. Thus far it's been all about the benefits of having a chicken when you have a garden and composting. Interesting, but I want more chickens.

I guess all my excited jabbering has finally gotten Steven to the point where he's OK with it. It helps that the fence that we will need to put in is only about $400, as opposed to the $2000 we were thinking and Steven loves the idea of being self-sustaining and a couple of chickens is exactly what we'll need to get there. And after I explained how easy they were to take care of, he was a lot more on board.

Some cute facts about Chickens that you probably didn't know:

1. You can train them just like a dog. They can do tricks and will come if you call them.
2. Some chickens will fall asleep when you sing to them.

Some gardening facts about Chickens that's probably more helpful:

1. Their poop is the best manure soil can get, though it has to be done in doses otherwise the excess of nitrogen will burn the nutrients out. If you buy humus/manure mixes from Lowes/Home Depot, it is most likely that they've been mixed with poultry manure. When their waste is thrown into a compost pile, you get the best top soil imaginable.
2. They eat bad bugs and leave good bugs, so your crops aren't destroyed.
3. They'll eat weeds and leave crops behind. Although, I've read they'll nom on some tomatoes if given the opportunity.

To dispel some myths:

1. They only smell bad if you don't clean out their coop. Keeping your license in Baltimore is contingent on good coop hygiene, so we'll be pretty fastidious about cleaning.
2. They're not loud.

There's plenty more, but I felt those were the most important things. I've really gone chicken mad.

Oh, and we'll be making our own coop. That sweet-ass Nogg is 1700 dollars. SEVENTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. No wonder I had to email them for pricing.

More to come later!

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