It was in February 2014 that I first began my research. It was a pipe dream, with a 1% chance of actually coming true, but that didn’t stop me from staying up until the early hours of the morning, scanning the computer screen for information. Information that I organized, and reorganized; checked, and rechecked; and ultimately formed into an elaborate Prezi presentation.
I introduced the idea to my parents the moment I thought of it. They humored me for a little while, but grew impatient with my relentless talk of chickens. In April, I sat down with them, and asked if they would consider listening to my plan. They reluctantly agreed, but consistently pushed it off, until one Friday night I slid in between them and brought out my computer.
It must have been an hour long- To their surprise I was able to answer every single question and qualm with a thoughtful answer. When finished, I thanked them for listening, and asked them to let me know their decision at the end of the week. I then scurried up the stairs to let them discuss, glowing with hope and excitement.
A week later, I still hadn’t heard anything. I was about to go to sleep for the night when my mother quietly said, “Dad ordered your heat lamp”
I spun around and asked her to repeat herself. And she said what I’d desperately hoped to hear, but knew in all likelihood I never would.
“You’re getting chickens”
I know, I know, it seems dramatic- but it was the most important, and happiest, moment in my life. The moment that changed everything for me. The next day we ordered five chicks: three ‘brown egg layers’ and two bantam easter eggers. They were shipped on the first Monday of May, and arrived that Wednesday in the local post office. I was so excited, I could have fainted.
I fell in love with everything about them. Their delicate legs, their warm downy feathers, the way they took quick power naps underneath the EcoGlow and then woke up full of peeping energy. I would sit by their cardboard box and gaze inside, from the moment I returned home from school to the moment they retired underneath their heater.
After a week of love, both Ava and Elvia suddenly grew very weak, and died on Saturday. Edith, Mary, and Sybil continued to grow and thrive. Long days in the pine shavings turned into long days in the sunshine running around on the grass. Down was replaced by real feathers, and they appeared to grow with lightning speed.
Edith, Mary, Sybil enjoying a day in the sun
Over the summer I came to the depressing realization that Edith and Sybil were roosters. Two, out of my three remaining chicks, were male. It broke my heart, but in August of 2014 I gave Sybil away to a local chicken keeper. He was getting increasingly loud and aggressive, something my parents would not put up with. I managed to keep Edith until July of 2015, when he too grew more aggressive, though he still would cuddle on my lap if the mood struck him.
Mary, Edith, and Sybil growing up
In October 2014 I welcomed two more hens onto my humble mini-farm to keep a lonely Mary company. Cora, a Rhode Island Red, and Mabel, an Easter Egger, grew up free range and away from humans. They were a little weary of me at first, but eventually I coaxed them into trusting me. They’ll never be as cuddly as Mary, but I love them all the same! When they first arrived, Mabel managed to escape. Terrified by such strange and new surroundings, she sprinted through my neighbor’s yard and disappeared into the brush. It was quite comical- or it would’ve been if I hadn’t been so upset with myself for allowing it to happen. Miraculously, she returned after a weekend vacation, and I managed to coral her back in with Mary, Edith and Cora.
And now, three hens remain. Edith is living it up at a farm in New Hampshire, in charge of a flock of twenty free range hens. I’m learning more every day, and while we’re certainly not perfect, I am proud of my flock!