About ten years ago, Sean and I had a mini-farm and were pretty self -sufficient. We had a two-acre garden and a lot of chickens. I milked a goat and we heated our house with a large wood boiler that Sean designed.
The boiler heat ended when I singed my eyelashes off putting wood into it (TRUE STORY. Thankfully they grew back); the animals and garden lasted a little longer.
Eventually, however, life got too busy and we gave up the farm life completely.
With things changing in the world, we want to revive our little homestead and ensure that we can come up with our own food if necessary. Plus, I want my boys to know how to grow their own food (even if they never have to do it!)
I believe everyone needs to KNOW how to “live off the land.” I was blessed that my dad grew up farming. Ten years ago, he shared his knowledge with us. Now, I want to share what we know (and our journey back) with you!
So here’s our first step towards our farm…. CHICKENS!
Chickens are a fairly easy way to ensure your family always has food. Eggs provide an excellent source of protein and are used in many dishes. Plus, it does not take a great deal of effort or space to care for the birds.
Stores usually begin to sell baby chicks shortly before Easter. We got ten of our new babies in a Tractor Supply store and twenty of them through the mail from the Tractor Supply website.
If you want eggs, you need to try to get hens (females). If you want to raise babies, you need to also purchase a rooster (male).
I personally do not like roosters for two reasons. First, hens are usually sweet, but roosters are often mean. (I guess they need to be mean to protect their women?) Second, roosters crow very early in the morning which irritates me when I am trying to sleep! (Although we once had a really nice rooster who liked to sleep late!) If you want eggs, but no babies, you should get only female chicks.
When you set up for chickens at home, you need a waterer,
a food dispenser, a container to hold the chicks, a light that produces heat, chicken starter, water, and shavings. Later, you will need a cage or coop and chicken food.
Make sure the large container, which will serve as your chicken brooder, is clean. Place the shavings on the bottom so the birds will have a comfortable floor. Fill up the food dispenser with chicken starter and fill up the waterer with water. Place the light on the side of the cage and turn it on. Make sure the lamp you choose contains lightbulbs that generate heat (fluorescent or LED lights will not). Ensure that only one side of the cage gets heat from the light. The biddies have the other side of the container to use as a cool-down area should they need it.
Baby chicks need a temperature of 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit the first week. The temperature should be decreased by 5 degrees each week until they are fully feathered.
Until they have their feathers, make sure your new babies have food and water. Also, check the temperature of the brooder several times per day, adjusting it as needed. If you see them all bunched together, they are probably cold. If you see them panting, the brooder is too hot.
When they become adult chickens, you can supplement their food with table scraps so that you don’t have to buy so much expensive feed. Chickens love to free range and to eat all of the bugs out of your yard, but you always need to put them up at nght so they don’t get eaten.
Hens start laying at about 6 months old. Some breeds, however, like Rhode Island Reds might start a little earlier.
Follow these steps and hopefully you will have your own little chicken farm. My son (Website) says to remember that the chickens will destroy your grass if your pen is on the ground.
At this difficult time in our nation, remember that we are blessed if we have our faith, our family, our friends… and fresh air!
Thanks for reading!
I love ya! :)!