Notes from a hardened chicken farmer – Top 10 lessons learned

It’s been over a year since my last confession. I mean, chicken blog entry.

Two years ago, ten one week old débutantes were presented to my brand new followers of this blog, loyal friends who agreed to read my stories. I dedicated myself to sharing my adventures as a middle-aged budding chicken farmer. From cardboard box to newly constructed coop, I chronicled the magical and frequently devastating events in the lives of these young birds.

Since then, the number of chickens in our flock has divided from ten to five. Just last night, we lost our second Nugget. To those readers who haven’t read about the comical naming exercise we went through with the chicks’ arrival, the word “Nugget” refers to the name of all five of the California Whites provided by my husband when I insisted that the chicks needed names. After all, they were pets, right?

With only three Nuggets, Piggy the Buff Orpington and Springsteen the Ameraucana remaining, we decided to push our chips into the middle of the table with both hands tonight and rebuild the flock.

The new chicks arrived today

The 4 week-old chicks arrived today


Here’s what I’ve learned about chicken husbandry in the last two years:

  • We will lose at least one of the adorable chicks shown above. Maybe even in the next week if the first time around is any indication
  • Many common human expressions are completely founded. Like “pecking order” or “flying the coop”
  • Suspending food and water in the coop is the way to go. Less poop, fewer varmints
  • Electrolytes are miraculous when used to perk up chickens who are stressed or too warm
  • Moulting is totally bizarre and unpredictable. There is no “season”
  • Chickens will deprive another of food and water or peck it to death because of true or perceived illness. They are truly Mean Girls
  • Despite what people say when you gift them your fresh eggs, they DO get freaked out if there is any trace of poop on them. Warning:  They might be destroying them and not telling you
  • You will get attached to one hen in particular
  • You may despise one hen in particular

And the most important thing of all that this self-appointed chicken farmer has learned is to not name them until they show signs of survival around sixteen weeks. Perhaps not even then until they have integrated successfully with the flock. I’ll hold off for now.

Until tomorrow morning.