Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chicks in Paradise

It has been only 3 months since our chicks, Millie and Quinie, hatched into this world and came into our hale and ohana. Boy do they grow fast and keep the chicken and life lessons coming! They are now enjoying their teenage weeks, and all their growing stages have literally been in days and weeks since they grow into adulthood in only 4 to 6 months and have a lifespan range of 4-12 years. Chickens start laying as early as 4 months. So the countdown begins to 2 fresh eggs a day that I will be sure to share when we they arrive.

It has been an interesting experience raising chickens and even more sharing the story with others. I have gotten so many different reactions from people when I tell them my husband and I are raising chickens not just for pets (because mine are also my pets) but for the healthy fresh eggs and the goal of creating a more self-sustaining life. Many people have questioned us eating the eggs because they think we will be eating their babies. Our chicken's eggs will all be unfertilized (meaning no embryo and no baby chick inside) since we do not have a rooster around. So no worry, we will not be eating their babies. However, it is important to be aware that many peoples and cultures do eat fertilized chicken eggs. Also, many chickens that do not receive a balanced diet will actually start eating their own eggs to get the essential nutrients they are lacking. You will want to avoid that from happening because once they start doing that it is very hard to get them to stop. Always allow them to feed as much as they want, they self-regulate and should not be given limitations on food and water. Provide them with a diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, bugs, and worms so they get enough protein and calcium to maintain their health. I have been feeding our chickens our own food scraps - quinoa, millet, buckwheat, corn, papaya, pineapple, banana, and plenty fresh veggies - I supplement with chicken feed and they also free range in our yard for a large part of the day so they can eat all the free bugs, grass, and greens they need.

They also happened to eat the remaining plants from my spring garden including 8 kale plants, hah! At least they are healthy eaters! Check out my bell peppers and cilantro next to one of my last skeleton kale plants. 
The hubby and I restrategized how to maintain a garden while also raising chickens and together we built a chicken run attached to the coup so our chicks can free range without obliterating our next garden. Again, we were able to find used (and free) wood and chicken wire so we could save our earth (recycle and reuse) and our pockets.  This time we will be putting in a raised garden bed for our summer planting so when we allow the chickens out of their run they will not eat an entire kale plant in less than 30 seconds, and seriously they will! 

It has been an amazing 3 months watching our chickens grow and develop and be able to care for their well-being. We want our chickens to live a happy healthy life not only so we can enjoy the benefit of healthy eggs they produce but also because they are living beings that deserve that. All living things deserve that in life.

It is incredible to watch them because in one moment they look like dinosaurs when you see them devour a lizard or beetle and another they are lovable creatures that jump on your lap and ask you to pet them with their sweet chirps and softened eyes. It is funny to see these two sisters chest bump each other, pick on each other, play keep away with beetles, spook each other and then turn around and cuddle, nap together, dirt bathe together, cry when they get separated, snuggle in their favorite beach chair, and give each other kisses. They are adorable and inseparable and I feel blessed to raise these two beautiful Rhode Island Red hens.

Recently, I have heard some negative commentary on raising chickens and those of you who are still thinking of taking on this quest, don't worry, it all depends on how you look at it. All the poop that comes along with raising chickens, goes into my compost pile and makes rich soil that goes into my garden bed and eventually into healthy fruits and veggies. All the time spent caring for the chickens: building a chicken coup and run, watching them free range, keeping them well fed with scraps and garden produce has enriched my life because I worked alongside my husband to create a more healthy, loving, sustainable life for both them and us. So yes I step in poop a lot and get dirty working in the yard but I enjoy every moment of it!

Thank you to my multi-talented husband for building this chicken coup and run. Now we are off to begin a summer garden project! Viva Aloha!