Lessons Learned From Our Flock


| 6/20/2013 3:19:00 PM


Tags: backyard chickens, simple living, Wendy E.N. Thomas,

Never intending to have kids who sat all day in front of the TV set, I made sure my 6 children wereSurprised About Chicken Eggs constantly exposed to as many life experiences as a large family could allow. I threw challenge after challenge at my charges as they were growing up. For example, we tried to see how long we could go feeding our entire family on a weekly budget of $100 (surprisingly long in the summer when farm stands offer squash for 50 cents), weighed all the edible food we threw away in one month (a little over 20 pounds) and decorated one son’s college dorm room using only things found at local garage sales. The kids learned how to value food dollars and that yard sales were a pretty inexpensive way to enhance one’s living space and update a wardrobe.

I started documenting what our family was learning in a few articles that then became a weekly newspaper column on living a frugal life. Even though my husband, Marc and I had good jobs, let’s face it, there was never enough money when you have half-a-dozen offspring, especially when you have kids who break legs on the soccer field by taking a kick from another player, who smash their noses during a gymnastics move gone wrong, or who develop debilitating arthritis from a chronic Lyme infection. We never really knew what was going to come down the road and so we never spent much more than we had to. Having children costs money and saving money whether it is by cutting back on the food budget or buying a winter coat for $3 at a yard sale was just a way of life for us.

As a result of my writing about our continued life experiments in my column, it was no surprise to anyone, (especially my husband, who was getting rather used to these constant challenges) when one of my readers offered me 8 newborn chicks as a way to both get thrifty eggs and put our kitchen food waste to good use. “We don’t throw any kitchen scraps out,” she told me, “we feed it all to our chickens.” 

It didn’t take long for me to say yes to her offer. I mean, why not, right? It was going to be summer, the kids could keep themselves busy taking care of the chicks, and we would get farm fresh eggs on a regular basis. As far as I could tell this was nothing a win-win offer.

On a bright and sunny June afternoon, I, and a few of my kids, drove to my reader’s farm to get ourselves an instant flock. At the time we knew nothing about chicks other than that they were, in my daughter’s words “drop-dead adorable.” Once we got the babies, I did my research, asked questions and kept writing about everything that happened with our birds. In a short matter of time, we became chicken farmers.

Over the years, we’ve learned how to take care of our chickens, how to feed them, and we’ve even (painfully) discovered that if you want to remain on good terms with your physically-close neighbors, then roosters do not belong in your flock.




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