Monday, October 26th, 2009...9:01 am

TheGardenLady’s Childhood Experience with Chickens

garden by theshutdoor

garden by theshutdoor

When I was a child, as I told early readers of this blog, my parents had a small farm. They had bought it just before the depression. My father, a romanticist, always dreamed of being a farmer. It was a small farm and the primary reason for its being was to raise produce. But we had two horses to plow the fields and pull the wagon. We had goats. We had two cows so that with all the milk my mother decided to make a small dairy business out of it. Besides the milk, she sold heavy and light cream, sour cream and her delicious homemade cottage cheese. We had pet ducks and of course, we had chickens.

We raised the chickens for ourselves; either Rhode Island Reds or White Leghorn chickens. We ate eggs almost daily and, I am sorry to tell you, we ate the chickens when they were too old to lay eggs or we needed food. After all, the depression hit and everyone needed to eat. But we did not raise chickens as a business.

Baby chickens hatched out:-) by ♥ Lala ♥

Baby chickens hatched out:-) by ♥ Lala ♥

Every spring my mother would get a huge carton of darling, cuddly yellow chicks. I loved it when they brought the chicks into the house for warmth. I would play with them. Today I guess you would say I bonded with the chicks. But when they grew real feathers, they went out to the chicken coop and the friendship ended. Still I have never enjoyed eating chicken, I guess because of my bonding.

My father hated chickens. They are one of the smelliest animals with all the chicken manure they produce. (This manure is great for garden plants.) Chickens can have diseases and/or mites. However, my neighbors all had chicken farms as their main businesses. When it rained and the chicken manure smell wafted into our yard, the smell was disgusting. As a child I would help the chicken farmers chase the chickens into a clean area so that the coops could be sterilized.

However, I enjoyed seeing chickens pecking in the grass and hearing the noise they made. But I hated the roosters. One of our roosters was particularly aggressive and chased everyone who came near him- except my mother who fed him.

eggs of many colors by woodleywonderworks

eggs of many colors by woodleywonderworks

Many years later, a cousin’s family moved to Maine and bought a farm. They also bought chickens for their farm. Their youngest daughter who loves every animal really bonded with the chickens. She named each one and every day she walks around the farm with one or the other chicken snuggled in her arms. And as a reward they lay lovely Easter egg colored light blue or light green eggs. These chickens never go into the baking dish.

But they do get killed. When I was a child, my neighbor’s chicken coops had rats – lots of rats. And my cousin’s family has to be careful because of the predators that will eat their chickens if they are not safely locked into their coop each night.

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