It started off like any normal family Sunday for the Crawford family. We were out the door in the family wagon by 7:30am sharp, en-route to our favorite local ski hill ( via Sisters Bakery of course ), and wearing our Sunday’s best to celebrate the closing day of ski season.
Side note: ski season, wow - that sounds so foreign right now amidst the smoke and temps set to return to the 90s next week. But I will be writing more about the radness that was the 20/21 season.
The turns were great and slushy, our outfits were 🔥 and we got compliments at the tops and bottoms of lifts all day long. But that was about the end of normal for that Sunday, because as we were driving back home, Becky said we really had to go to Wilco right away because they did not have many more chicks left!
You see we had been toying with the idea of having backyard chickens for some time now. A few years ago, we secured our first batch of must-have chicken gear from a colleague of Becky’s who was getting out of the “game” ( like our ski outfits, my dad puns can also be 🔥 ).
We, like many others apparently, had been very close to taking the plunge into chickens in 2020, but we missed the chicks! So that is why, with sudden urgency, we simply had to make it to Wilco that Sunday back in April.
The Magic Number
And when we arrived at Wilco, all of the feed bins turned into brooding boxes were dark up front. We looked around the back-side of the display and saw one box still lit up, and filled with the little peeepepppppeeeepppeeeep of the baby chicks.
The breed was called Brown Leghorn, and that was our only option. A quick web search said this particular breed was not super fond of people. But apparently they are quite productive at kicking out eggs, so seemed legit to me. Perhaps the reason they had been picked last is they lay white eggs, and that just isn’t very cool in the backyard chicken world it seems.
We took 3 home that day, assuming that being noob chicken farmers, that we would likely lose one along the way.
The girls of course promised that they would help out with the chickens, and at first the cute little balls of fluff were the apple of all our eyes. We kept the chicks inside a Rubbermaid storage bin in our bathroom. The heat lamp would glow through the night, and within a few weeks, it got a bit too stinky and noisy to have the chickens sharing the master suite, so they relocated to the garage.
We realized though that we would need to do some sort of enclosure for our chicks outside. With three dogs in the backyard, we knew those two user groups wouldn’t mix, so we constructed a chicken run out of upcycled materials. The only thing we purchased for the construction was the chicken wire.
Our materials list for the project included the first chicken coop that was acquired from a friend, pallets, wood leftover from our fence, an old trampoline, fence posts – two of which I pulled out of the river during the winter, tiki torches, and cinder blocks from around the yard.
And yes, Tiki Torches – with cute little LED solar powered candles that light up at night. Our ladies like to party 🐔!
As the chickens grew, and relocated from the garage to the shed ( the garage was starting to get stanky too ), it became increasingly clear that the aforementioned help from children with the chickens was short lived. But I was oddly really enjoying my new role as Chicken Dad.
Most every day I would go out to the chicken run, sit on a rock, and just hang out and watch ChickenTV 📺. It amazed me how quickly they would change, and it was a nice escape from the burn out I was feeling at work back then too.
I also would tinker with the chicken run or coop on a daily basis. I’d add in new roosting bars, or one time I built a new door for their coop. It was simply a joy to tinker, and to learn about caring for chickens.
And finally just this past week, the little hens just started to lay. We had our first drama with the dogs and the chickens too. Fortunately all that was lost were some feathers… and the one hen that flew over the fence ( the smart one ), well Becky eventually lured her back with some watermelon rinds.
But what that drama made abundantly clear to me, I really have grown to like these birds. Even though they are messy, stinky, and they shit everywhere, they are fun, and I love the fact that we waste even less food by having our own hens to eat veggie and fruit scraps.
And dang, those eggs tasted amazing this morning!