It has been really great to see the positive response this series is getting. I love getting the chance to share my passion for raising Chickens and ducks in my Modern Micro Homestead. They are a big part of my life, as they are the first task I complete every single day. I have to let them out in the AM when I bring them their bowl of fermented food for the day. And then I check on them every couple of ours. When we have chicks for ducklings I check on them more frequently, as the little ones tend to find trouble so much more easily, like dumping out their food or water, getting stuck on a ledge, hopping out of the bin but not being able to get back in… or the more scary stuff like knocking over a heat lamp or having a squirrel invader.
Since we have to put up our birds every night – as in lock them in their home and coops – this means someone has to get up and let them out every single morning too. We have to put them up for a variety of reasons, but most importantly to prevent predators from getting them. Racoons are the biggest problem, but the occasional extra large opossum could take one out too. Rats are not as big a problem with hurting the birds but they are the reason we bring in their food each night. We have tried a few different predator deterrents – like the ultrasonic motion sensors and lights, which do actually help to keep away critters. Our dogs are probably the best deterrents we have, though.
Our birds have a large portion of our yard – about a third of the space on our plot that is not the house. We have a 6 foot fence on all sides of them with a couple of man gates to allow access. When we have chicks or ducklings, or meat chickens, we have close off a fence between the two spaces to keep them safe and separate from each other. You have probably heard of “the pecking order” and it is a very real thing. So we with the young birds, we want to make sure they have grown enough to defend themselves before putting them in with the older girls. It’s not that they are inherently mean, it’s just that when it comes to food – they are not going to let just anyone eat before them. We have to keep the meat chickens separate for the duration of their growth cycle, because they are not sexed chickens. This means their are roosters in with the hens. And while we process them before they can really procreate, it doesn’t mean they don’t try.
One of the most fun parts of having backyard chickens and ducks in getting to see them come running whenever you head out back with the scrap pail. The scrap pail is something we keep on our counter every day and it gets all of the organic food waste from meals being prepared every day. We give them our cucumber peels and ends, the but of a head of lettuce or cabbage, the end of the tomato, the jalapeno seeds, – really any of the parts of veggies and fruits that we don’t use. With the exception of any sort of pit or cob. They cannot break these up to eat so they just leave them. There are a few things you have to keep away from the birds though. There is a toxin (comes from the nightshade family) found in raw potato peels, so skip those. Also the leaves of tomatoes or peppers, for the same reason. You also cannot give them raw or dried beans. Another biggie – that is not likely to end up in your scrap pail anyway – is chocolate. They definitely cannot have chocolate, so just have another piece to yourself knowing you are saving the lives of you chickens.
Meet the Girls:
Almost all of them have names (and they all start with ‘S’, which is a silly story), with the exception of the barred rocks and the speckled sussex. This is because we have 2 sets of 2 barred rocks (one we call the old twins and one we call the young twins) and a set of 2 speckled sussex that we just call both speckled, because honestly you cannot tell them apart. The rest are in groups. We have the ‘Singers’ – Shania, Shakira and Sally. We have the Firestarters (again a story for another day) – Smokey, Sparky and Sizzle. We then have Savvy – which we saved from a round of meat chickens, when we realized that she might not have been meant to be a meat chicken. And at the moment only one of our ducks is named – Sandy. The 3 ducklings we have are not yet old enough to know for sure if they are girls (egg layers) or boys (meat producers), so we won’t name them till we know for sure. But at the moment the names on the table are Spaghetti, Strawberry, Sage, Sasha and Sammy.
Do you or have your raised your own chickens? Do you have any questions you want answers or topics you would like to see me cover in this series?
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