Early September of 2014 was when we surprised our children with some chicks and ducklings. So far, it has proven to be a wonderful experience for them participating in the process of raising our own food. Only there really wasn’t much food out of these chickens, just a lot of food going into them. Until 3 weeks into January of 2015 when they finally started laying eggs. That puts our chickens now at about 5 and a half months old based on what we were told when we bought the chicks.
I think most kids in the United States today are so far removed from what it takes to create the food we serve on our tables. That’s just true of Americans in general I guess who often take food for granted. I often wonder what percentage of the population would starve to death if restaurants and grocery stores just disappeared. Hopefully I gift my children with something more than how to work to buy food, but also how they can grow/raise/harvest/gather/hunt their own. That takes me learning a whole lot more though as well but I am up for the challenge.
At this point, the kids hadn’t been looking for eggs because everyone told us that they wouldn’t start laying until they had about 14 hours of daylight each day. Well that doesn’t hit for about 2 more months here in Wisconsin but ours definitely started laying. At the first egg sighting there was an egg in the nesting box, a few eggs under the roosts (not all cracked even!) and others just scattered on the coop floor. The kids were bursting they were so excited to tell me but waited until I got home from work.
We had no idea of how long some of the eggs were sitting out there, so we didn’t use them. Although with our Wisconsin winters they likely stayed colder than they would in our fridge. We cracked a few of the first batch to see what they looked like and found they looked just like eggs! Wow. A family of city-folk raised chickens through winter and got some eggs out of them. (and meat too if you missed that experience about Jelly Bean and Meanie). It has been great fun, great stories for the kids to share and new responsibilities for them to be given. Since the first egg find, they have wanted to check quite often for new gifts left by then hens. Our hens have fairly consistently been laying an egg each per day now as we are a week in. With three hens that isn’t much but it works for how much we eat. We do have a rooster and believe that if we wanted to incubate the eggs we would likely get some more chicks out of it. We are saving that until it gets just a little warmer outside though.
I’ve found that chickens seem to be extremely difficult to pay for themselves with their contributions to our table. I know people usually raise animals so they know where their meat comes from more so than because it’s cheaper. I think chickens could get to the point where they give us more back than they cost us but only once we have a permanent and well thought out coop and have maintained for a few years with out any major investments. Our chickens are not any sought after variety as far as I know. When we bought them they were just referred to as barnyard variety. I think that means they are mutts.
I’d love to hear about your first egg experience for those with chickens.