Verbatim: You can learn a lot from raising chickens

Posted: Monday, February 14, 2011

We had been wanting to get chickens for a really long time, but were worried about bears, so we never got any. Finally, at the beginning of this year as my mom was saying how eggs were getting to be so expensive (we have seven people in our family, so we go through a LOT of eggs), my dad said that we needed to get some chickens.

After quite a bit of research, we decided that the best breed would be a variety called Aaucana. Our reasons for choosing the breed were: they are one of the only breeds left that still set on their eggs; they don't grow very big combs that can freeze in the wintertime; and, they are very friendly. They also fly pretty well, which I found out later.

After the research was done, my mom said I could have the chickens and sell the eggs to her if I bought the chickens and paid for their feed. So, we went to Cad-Re Feeds and I bought 12 two-day-old pullets and a 50-pound bag of feed. When we got home, I put the chicks in our garage where they grew a little bigger -- until someone unfortunately left the garage door open, and our Alaskan husky named Happy went int he garage and "played" with them. We discovered this when my little brother went out to the garage one day before I did, and came back inside telling us that the chickens were laying all over the floor! Only two survived. One managed to escape underneath the lawnmower, and the other behind some lumber.

After making Happy not so happy, and taking care of the deceased, we got 10 more of what we thought were pullets and one rooster. As they matured, I found out that two of the supposed pullets are really roosters. So far they haven't been fighting each other, so I don't think that will be a problem.

We built a coop, and I covered the chickens' run with bird netting to keep the hawks out. I didn't cover it right up next to the door or else it wouldn't open. A few weeks later, I was putting my chickens away for the night when I noticed all of them weren't there -- one was missing. I looked all over for it, and finally found it in a tree. After I figured out how to fix the netting so they couldn't fly out, I didn't have that problem any more.

Chickens are a lot of fun, and I would definitely reccommend them. So far I have spent well over $100. So now, if they will just start laying eggs so I can get some of my money back ...

This column is the opinion of John Boatright, a ninth-grader at Happy Trails Home School in Nikiski.

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