The Trials and Tribulations of a Suburban Chicken Farmer

This is a picture of one of my hens from a year or two ago. Look how happy we both look!

“It’s a hot day to be a chicken and a hard day to be a chicken farmer.”

This was my post on Twitter on Friday night.

Thanks to the oppressive heat, I lost six of my eight chickens on Friday.  The other two are holding on for dear life.  As of this morning, it looks like they just might make it.

I’ve been raising chickens for the past two and a half years.  It’s been quite an undertaking.  For those of you who know my brothers and me, I would be the least likely to ever have chickens.  For some reason, the thought of having my own chickens and the fresh eggs that they produced every morning seemed so utopian three years ago.  After two and a half years, I’ve learned a lot:

–  Did you know that chickens poop once every eight minutes?  Can you imagine how much bathroom reading you could accomplish at this rate?  Obviously, this means quite a bit of clean up.

–  I read somewhere that you can power a 100 Watt light bulb for 5 hours with the energy produced by converting one chicken’s poop.  Yes, I’ve thought about how to put this to use at home.

–  Chicken manure is great for your garden – especially, tomatoes I’ve been told.  I don’t even like tomatoes!

–  Egg production is best in the summer when the days are longer.  In the winter, I’ve tried putting heat lambs and light timers in their coop to spur on further productivity.

–  Eggs from home raised chickens are clearly better than store-bought eggs.

–  It cost money to raise chickens.  While the eggs are “free”, the chicken feed and pine shavings (for bedding) add up quickly.

–  Chickens are messy animals.  Besides the poop mentioned above, they like to dig in your flower beds and garden.  I had to fence in an area for them to get them to stop destroying my yard.

–  Chickens are savage animals.  They will eat their own eggs.  Talk about driving down my production!  If we don’t get out there soon enough, they get the eggs before we do.

–  Chickens are loyal and love to be home.  When we let them roam around the yard, they always came back to their coop before night-time.

I’m sure that I’ve learned a lot more, but these are some of the key points.  Will I keep raising chickens?  Probably – but I won’t add to my flock for a little bit.  I need to do some coop modifications.  Yes, I also double as a chicken coop architect and engineer.  Perhaps, I should figure out how to get air conditioning into these hens before the next heat wave.

Do you raise chickens?  Do you have any other crazy home “projects”?  What advice or funny stories do you have to share?