So with my new-found love of all things earthy, I had the idea last week of getting me 2 or 3 hens and a coop. I’ve never really been the type that loves to be dirty…or the smell of a farm, but the satisfaction of growing my own food has surfaced the desire in me to have my own eggs in the backyard! Not only would it be phenomenal to have fresh eggs, but it would be an in-house fertilizer, too! I’d love the pleasure of tossing those nasty little hornworms preying on my tomatoes and bells into the path of a chicken.
I talked to my husband about it a few days ago and let’s just say he didn’t warm up to the idea at first. Lo and behold, my oboe student (I teach oboe on the side) told me yesterday that they have hens of all breeds in their backyard! They love their new chicken-owner status and told me of a particular chicken called a Silkie. It’s a Bantam, which means a small chicken version (I’ve been feverishly researching all things chicken over the past day) and is one of the cutest, friendliest chickens around. They lay 2 or 3 small eggs a week.
Today I took the family to a nearby country feed store that also sells live animals. We checked out a few baby Silkies, Ameraucana, Welsummer and Rhode Island Reds, to name a few. The sticking point with Silkies is that they are “straight run”, which means you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting your preferred sex, since it’s nearly impossible to differentiate until you’ve seen an egg or heard a “cockadoodledoo”. I love the idea of raising hens from chicks, especially with my daughter, but would rather not breed or worry about a rooster bothering me and the neighbors! I called a nearby woman who raises her own chickens/roosters and she said that the Cochins are also very mild mannered, being medium producers of light brown eggs.
One more issue: coyotes. Although I reside in the suburbs, there is quite a bit of open land close by, with neighborhood coyote sightings somewhat regularly. We lost a cat last year to one (we found him hovering over our sweet kitty) and hear accounts of other animals being attacked. I just don’t want to be concerned about their safety every day. Will a sturdy, well-constructed coop do the trick with locked-up hens at night? I suppose I’m attempting to get out all of my thoughts to sort through them, weigh the pro’s and con’s, and hopefully receive some insightful advice from readers. What should I do?