A friend of mine has chickens. Lots and lots of chickens – and a pig too, but I’ll save him for another blog. Last July she offered to let one of her hens go broody* so that I could have my very own backyard chickens. Of course I said yes! Out of the five eggs momma hen faithfully dedicated 21 days to sitting on, all but one hatched. Unfortunately, two of them did not survive. My backyard farm was going to start off small…. And I was OK with that.
I brought two sweet chicks home when they were about 5 – 7 days old. Landon named them Tina and Louise (from Bob’s Burgers) and they lived in a green tote in his room. We were in love!
Two weeks later, Hurricane Florence hit. After the hurricane, when life started to get back to normal, another friend gave me a coop she had that wasn’t being used. It only lasted one day at my house before my mom and dad purchased a brand-new coop from Tractor Supply for me. Tina and Louise were now officially backyard chickens.
Another month went by and my girls were getting bigger. I introduced two more hens and a rooster to my backyard chicken farm. After a couple of weeks, they all started to get along just fine. I was now up to a flock of five. But, I began to notice….. Tina started to look (and sound) like a Terry or Tim.
There was no doubt about it, Tina was a Rooster. It was then that Landon and I decided, it being 2018 and all, that Tina could identify however he wanted. We kept the name Tina. He knew his name. It suited him well.
As Tina and Louise kept growing, I knew we needed more space. The coop didn’t offer enough grazing space for three hens and two roosters. The only time they got to ‘free-range’ was when I was home and able to keep an eye on the dogs and the chickens together. See, my dogs are a little rough when they play. They mean well. But, I wasn’t ready to see a dead chicken or two.
The week before Christmas, my dad and I put up a fence to provide the chickens with their own area. It took less than two days and with my dad’s expertise and supervision – he made me do all the manual work. Now the dogs and chickens could be in the backyard, together in harmony…. well, sorta.
As Tina grew into a full-fledged rooster, his testosterone was on full charge 24/7. He was cock-a-doodle-doo-ing all day and somehow, he found time to have his way with all the hens in the backyard…. roughly 30 times a day. I am NOT exaggerating. And it is not pleasant to witness.
I added two more girls to the flock. I call them both ‘Fatty Patty’ because they are perfectly round and fluffy. Also, I cannot tell them apart. Tina took immediate interest in them. They became his favorite girls. I now had 7 in the flock. And this provided some relief for the three hens I had. They were happy to share Tina.
Tina’s testosterone also brought out his hatred towards the other rooster. We had an all-out war in my backyard. I received a phone call from a very upset Landon one day. “The white rooster is covered in blood! MOM! Come home! Tina is trying to kill him!” My workout was cut short, I went home, found a blood-soaked rooster in the backyard, carried him indoors and cleaned him up in my kitchen sink. My heart sank. I didn’t have the heart to get rid of either one of my roosters. I loved them. For the next couple of days…. maybe even a week, I played rooster referee in a robe and my rain boots with a broom in hand. I would take my coffee outside and wait for the cock fight. When I would see Tina getting close, I would raise my broom and start yelling. I even hit him with the broom once or twice.
Winter came and went, and the roosters learned their place: Tina was king rooster and Whitey – I ended up naming the other rooster after the blood bath – stayed away from Tina. There hasn’t been blood shed in a while. Thank goodness.
Spring welcomed three new girls to the flock. I was now up to 10. Wow… that happened fast. Then, all it took was one trip to Tractor Supply to get some chicken feed when I heard the “cheep cheeps” from a silver barrel and couldn’t resist. Five more chicks came home.
Now I have 15 chickens (the babies are living in a dog kennel in the garage until they are big enough to be with everyone else). And to top it all off, three of my hens went broody. That’s right, they are sitting on 8 eggs (due to hatch later this week).
I went from zero to 15 in 7 months. You know that saying about single women and cats??? Well, I have chickens. But they have brought so much joy to my life. I love having my morning coffee with them, listening to them talk to one another in their chicken language and watch them fight over the ears of corn I give them. I’ve learned more about chickens than I ever thought I would.
So, feel free to call me the crazy chicken lady. I’ve accepted it. I own it. And I make it look good.
Moral of the story: Chickens are like potato chips. You can’t have just one.
*broody is a term used for hens who plant themselves on their eggs for 21 days to hatch and raise chicks