Hens - The Girls Come Home
By 2008, my children knew that asking for a puppy was a long shot. Just when I thought I had convinced them that pets and five busy children were an oxymoron, they began begging for baby chicks: after all, they live outside, are inexpensive, and are so darn cute. Following some Internet research, a trip to town hall to check town ordinances regarding farm animals, and a serious discussion with my five children about the life cycle and maintenance of a flock of hens, we ordered an incubator and twelve eggs. Curiosity got the best of me.
For a week before placing the order, hours were spent debating the different breeds of chickens and which should be raised. We each picked to and on the 21st day following the eggs entrance into the incubator, we had two Rhode Island Reds, two silver laced Wyandotte’s, two Black Australop’s, one White Leghorn, one New Hampshire Red, and four Aurancana chicks. It wasn’t until twenty-four weeks later that we were surprised by the 4 a.m. crow of a rooster in our flock. While we carefully indicated female eggs only, one male slipped through the system. He eventually moved to Sherborn, Massachusetts where he was fattened up and turned into a delicious coq au vin by a Boston restaurant chef.
While the fluffy chicks spent their first several weeks in a huge cardboard box in our garage with a heat lamp dangling to keep them warm, we scrambled to make their permanent outdoor home ready. We converted an old potting shed into a comfortable coop with six nesting boxes, two levels of perches, and a tiny side door with a ramp that lead into a wire pen for when we needed to keep them inside instead of roaming around our backyard.
Life went along happily through New England’s wet spring and early perfect summer…and then we met the fox, the hawk, the fisher cat, and the raccoon.