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A New Farming Adventure – Chickens!

 by Allison Preiss, The Life of a Novice

This spring, we’ve taken on a new ‘adventure’ on our hobby farm – Backyard Chickens! Now, let me preface by saying that keeping chickens were always a dream of my husbands. Me? Not so much. I am ‘slightly’ afraid of them! Yes, you are correct if you are thinking ‘She can handle 1200# horses but she is afraid of a 5# chicken?’ But, I think it is totally cool to have chickens free-ranging on your farm and obviously, fresh pastured eggs can’t be beat, so I took a deep gulp and we brought home six chicks in the spring. It was high time I worked on this fear of mine!









This has been such a learning experience from the moment we picked them up. That is what I love about it though! And it is wonderful to see my son try to interact with them! We kept the chicks in our spare bathroom for their first 4-5 weeks with a heat lamp. Now, after cleaning up the bathroom upon their move out to the coop, I know why people looked at me like I was nuts when I mentioned where the chicks were staying! Moving forward, any new chicks that enter our homestead will be housed in a soon-to-be-made brooder box that hubby will construct out in the barn with the coop!

I never really understood when people said how fascinating it was to sit back and watch chickens peck around in the yard – I completely get it now. I can’t say I think they are as smart as a horse, but some of the things they do amaze me! And boy if they don’t know right where all my precious plants are in the gardens. I think my broccoli plants have succumbed to them!

Having the ‘girls’ in the back yard also allows for me to take the evenings scraps out to them and they enjoy them like the feast they are. They will even eat leftover noodles or meats – things one wouldn’t normally throw in a composter. It is great – it is like nothing goes to waste! Well, I guess I shouldn’t say nothing. Our girls seem to be developing quite the diverse palates and have turned their beaks up at a thing or two! It is common misconception that chickens should be vegetarians! Chickens are carnivores. They thrive on bugs for protein and if you give them a small piece of leftover meat from your dinner plate, they will gobble it right up.

They are also proving to be great bug control; we introduced them to the horse stalls last week while the horses were out in the pasture. Who would have thought scrounging around in horse stall before I picked it would be such a delicacy – but for these ladies, it is!

Next on the list, which I am beyond excited for, is when our ladies actually start laying their eggs! They are 10 weeks as I write this blog post and for their breed, Golden Buffs, it is estimated they can begin laying anywhere from 15 to 20 weeks of age!

We go through a lot of eggs at our house. I have a wonderful local farmer I currently purchase pastured eggs from – they are gorgeous eggs! And truth be told, I might be a little sad when I am no longer purchasing her eggs!  However, I imagine that the excitement and satisfaction of having eggs from our own hens will be an experience all its own!

Allison Preiss is a working mom, wife, apple picker & horse lover. Outside of her day job, Allison and her husband run a small orchard on their farm, Apolloson Acres. Allison has a true passion for horses; 4 rescued horses currently reside on the farm. She is also an advocate of local, real food, cooking from scratch, sustainability and being green. She blogs about all the antics that come with her everyday life over at The Life of a Novice.

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