Saturday, March 14, 2015
The Small-Hold and Chickens
I had a reader send me an email last weekend asking if we kept chickens here on the Small-Hold. I told him no with a brief explanation but kinda thought a follow up post on the subject was warranted.
Believe me I have wrestled with the whole chicken question over and over for years now. Eventually I will more than likely add some into the mix. As a matter of fact about three or four years ago we actually had a chicken running around here although I have no idea where she came from. We also had a hen Pheasant that acted like a chicken for a while too.
When I was a kid and into my teen years we always had chickens. It isn't that I have anything against keeping them, to the contrary I think everyone should keep some chickens but for the time being I have a few reasons I don't which of course I am all too happy to list off here.
1. The predators around here are seriously bad. Eagles, Red tailed hawks, fox, coyotes, coons and the worst of all the neighbor's dogs. I am just not sure I am ready to start the feud up that I know will happen when/if we start keeping chickens. My neighbor is about a mile off but he leaves often and let's his dogs run. They show up here about a day or two after he leaves and stay here until he gets back. The big old one isn't much of a problem anymore but he has a smaller mutt that would kill a chicken fast if it sees one. Once I make the decision to keep chickens I know I have made the decision to do something about the visiting dogs and I am just not sure it is worth it right now.
2. Chickens are everywhere around me however. The Small-Hold is in a pretty exposed location but down in the trees just about every little house around here has some chickens. Almost all of my honey customers have chickens and trading honey for chickens is pretty easy for me. In fact right now I consider it the best option since bees are much easier to keep than chickens under my current circumstances.
3. If I want to start even after a collapse it wouldn't be very hard. As I said they are everywhere around here and bartering for a couple hens and rooster would never be that hard . As a matter of fact I turn down offers of free chickens each year right now. Someone is always moving and offering me their chickens. Offering me dogs too but I turn them down as well.
4. To many other priorities before a new animal type is brought in. Right now I am more focused on getting the sheep operation set with rotating graze areas and the like. Most all of my liquid resources are currently going to those projects. I am however nearing the end of the major expenditures and when that happens it will be time to address the chicken situation as well as a couple of feeder hogs. Just a matter of figuring out how and where they will fit in and I am not quite ready to make those calculations yet until I see some more numbers in other areas.
That's really about it. I plan on adding them in but I am just not to that point yet. Being able to let them free range is almost completely out of the question right now or I more than likely would have already taken a few and tossed em in the barn just to see what happens. I don't think the cats would bother them any as I have seen chickens deal with cats when I was younger but I am sure the chicks would be in danger.
Bottom line I think adding chickens to my operation is going to require a bit more expense than typical, planning and some extra pen and equipment building like a moveable chicken tractor type thing and I just haven't had the time or resources to devote to it yet.
Yet being the operative word there. If anyone has some ideas though I am all ears :)
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!