Done with chickens!

Yep, you read that right.  I think I’m done!  We build them their fabulous new predator  proof coop, fenced in a fabulous run, and spend many many hours feeding them, cleaning their space, keeping them disease and pest free, and worrying about them.  Well, two weeks ago the bear was back and tried to break in.  Suki (the ‘farm’ dog), in her old age, has decided to chase and attack the chickens instead of guard them.  So, they can no longer free range.  And last night, a raccoon pushed it’s way past the wood block guarding the gate, moved another wooded block in front of the chicken coop door, and was able to open the door just enough (about 2 1/2 inches) to squeeze through and kill 3 of my pullets, including my absolute favorite little white sizzle.

We got chickens to be able to produce some of our own food, but that production is minimal in the scheme of things.  We got them for companionship, but now that they have to stay in the fenced area, we don’t really ‘hang out’ much.  We got them to teach the kids a little about homesteading with farm animals, but Kaia could care less about them and Leif is really to young to understand.  So now we buy food, scratch, and pine shavings.  We spend time (far too much) worrying about their safety and health.  We go out every morning and every night to feed and care for them.  We spend money each winter heating their water.  We feed the local wild life with them.  And we get maybe a couple of dozen eggs a week.

There is a tremendous amount of pride that I take in showing off the beautiful eggs they lay.  I love to hear their bocking and crowing throughout the day.  And I do love to cook up a ‘home grown’ omelet for visiting friends.  And, yes, I know it’s the ‘in’ thing to have your own chickens right now.  But, I ask you, why should I keep them???

6 thoughts on “Done with chickens!

  1. I hear ya, Maria. I really do. We, too, live in a forested area, as you well know. We, too, have raccoons (who killed 2 pullets this past winter) and a bear on our property. We, too, have to keep them in a fenced-in run, otherwise our German Shepherd would rip them to shreds. And, yes, we too, worry about their safety and well-being all of the time, especially after coyotes took away our favorite (and only useful!) cat a few weeks ago in the middle of the night (we heard the “yipping”, signaling that they’d caught her). We recently fretted and puzzled for weeks over a new Australorp (a pullet when we got her) that was repeatedly hopping on the back of our Buff (not a roo, though!) and pecking at her comb, until it was bloodied. In short, we spend an awful lot of time worrying about and caring for our flock, as well.
    So, what brings me back to it, day after day (other than writing a book about it? ;^) ). Well, my cats don’t give me anything other than furry affection in return and I still, day after day, feed them, change their litter box, take them to the vet as needed, and spend a good deal of money on them. For my chickens, I do all of that, but I get something in return. I really, truly love the eggs our chickens give us. I’ve even compared them to local eggs purchased from “free-range” farms and the color of the yolks doesn’t even compare. As we’re a heavy egg-consuming household, it’s really worth the worry to have those eggs. Plus, Huxley loves his “chickies” (we even include them in our “good night” listing that I rattle off every night before he goes to bed).

    That said, if the day ever came for me that the reward of keeping chickens was surpassed by the time, money and grief that doing so requires, I’d have no trouble re-homing my flock to others who’d like to keep them. In fact, we ended up doing that very thing this past week with the aggressive Australorp. We have an incredible local food community here. If keeping chickens is no longer enjoyable for you, then by all means, don’t keep them. You don’t have to be fully self-sufficient in this community. You can find someone else keeping fantastic local eggs and let them do the worrying and work instead. Under no circumstances should you feel any sort of “shoulds” or “musts” about keeping chickens. If your intended reasons for keeping them no longer hold true, then you shouldn’t do it. If, though, you really do like having those eggs, then I say, it’s worth the hassle, at least for me. If I wasn’t worrying about my chickens (and my bees, and my dogs, and my cats, and my son, and my husband!) as much as I currently am, I’m sure I’d just find something else to worry about and occupy my time with!

  2. Thank you for the comment, Ashley. I think that the hassle is outweighing the enjoyment right now. I have so many other things that I want to take priority of my time and brain power. I was so excited to see the eggs these little pullets would produce, and they are so close to laying. But then comes winter, when I mush myself out through the cold and snow, to care for the chickens that lay no eggs for months until the warm returns. I know I will miss them if they are gone, but I think I will appreciate the freedom from them even more…..

  3. I totally hear you. We have bears, raccoons, possum, foxes, coyotes, and new neighbors just moved in with four dogs. Sigh. My barn is far away from the house, close to the woods, and the anxiety I go through with the chickens is just too much. Only one girl is laying right now, so it makes it even more useless. My husband and I were just complaining about how the return is not cutting it right now. But I have to say, I really love having my own eggs. But you have my total sympathy. I am looking for things to cut out of my life—you know, what’s most important right now? —and this made me think.

  4. I can understand the ups and downs. It definitely makes me reconsider getting them and where would I find the extra time and money to keep them?????? Just one more thing on my plate, especially during the winter. I am sorry you lost some.

  5. I too am just about done with chickens in my suburban neighborhood. I got 12 chicks and a hen from a friend of a friend. All of them were killed by dogs, raccoons, hawks and opposums. I have tried everything and spent a lot of money. Sure they are cute and fun and I like the eggs too. But I just lost another hen last night due to opossum attack. All I had left was feathers he took the entire chicken with him.
    I have two good hens left and one crazy bantam hen who is just loony. It was a great experience but I cannot take one more time of being woke up in the middle of the night with a chickens screaming. Horrible.

  6. Jon, I’m so sorry to hear about your losses. It really is so horrible! Are they all getting taken at night? Is there anything you can do for the last three to make their night coop more secure? We had to make ours like fort knox to keep the raccoons out!

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