Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

As scarce as hen’s teeth

May 18, 2006

When I was a kid, almost everyone in town had chickens. It was necessary to have chickens as they provided fresh eggs and good fried chicken, and when they got older we had wonderful chicken and noodles.

In the spring for many years we ordered at least 100 baby chicks, sometimes Rhode Island Reds and sometimes Leghorns. They took a lot of care. We had to keep them warm and clean by putting fresh newspapers in daily.

I remember a special watering jar that we kept in the middle and the first week or so added a little sugar for added energy. We gave them chick starter feed until they were over 6 weeks old. They required a lot of care until their feathers were developed, then they were no longer cute little baby chicks. At that time they were moved to the chicken house in the back yard.

We had a chicken house with horizontal poles for the chickens to roost up off the floor. The poles were a natural way for them to sleep and they were happier that way. We had nesting boxes for the older chickens to lay their eggs. Sometimes we added artificial eggs to help remind the chickens what these boxes were for. They were about three feet off the floor. We gathered eggs on a daily basis.

The chickens had a free range in the yard during the day, but at night they always went back into their house to be closed up and protected from predators. Then in the morning we would open the doors so they could come back out.

Growing up with chores like that kept us busy.

I named some of our chickens that looked special and had personality, but that made it real difficult for me to let mom cook "Sweetie Pie."

You have probably heard the saying "scarce as hen's teeth." This comes from the fact that chickens do not have teeth. Older chickens that are fed grain need to have access to grit to grind up their food.

They are so cute and fun to watch when they are little.


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