Come wind, rain, hail, snow or shine, Flossie, Buttercup, Donkey, Matilda, Monsey & our 2 new additions (it’s amazing what you come home with when you’ve just been for a walk in the park!) Stuffin’ & Strudel all need feeding, watering & their eggs collecting.
We discussed all this with our Kids before we decided on getting chickens & ducks. We pointed out the up-sides & down-sides of having different animals.
1. No to a dog as they need walking at least 3 times a day whatever the weather, they need lots of human company & food & vet fees are very expensive. Plus the thought of pooper-scooping with a little thin plastic bag & nowhere to wash your hands just really does not float my boat (although my mind may be changed when doggie-nappies are invented).
2. No to a rabbit because as well as feeding & watering it every day it would also have to be cleaned out most days. Plus we know people who get their kids a rabbit & after a few weeks the ‘novelty’ wears off because to be honest, a rabbit doesn’t really do much…..apart from settle down in your veg patch & eat the fruits of your labours.
3. No to a hamster/other small rodents because of the ‘novelty’ factor again & largely being nocturnal it’s not a good match for kids who go to sleep at night. Also when we’re up with the first sparrow-pump everyday I don’t want to be laid in bed listening to a hamster going for a 40k run on its wheel at 3am.
So the decision was made for chickens & ducks because:
2. Feed is relatively cheap.
3. They will help keep the slug & snail population down in the garden.
4. They will be interesting to watch when they’re let out of their run to roam & peck around the garden.
5. No vet fees! (If one gets poorly we’ll ‘Do the Deed’ of dispatching in a calm & relaxed manner).
6. Eggs galore!
7. When they’ve gone past their laying best we will ‘Do the Deed’ & use the chicken or duck to its full potential with no waste.
Yes! to those of you who are shocked. We would kill & eat our chickens & ducks. They will have had a fantastic life, lots of space, a wide varied diet & top quality care from our Kids. We even sat MissT down & showed her a video on YouTube of a lady dispatching of one of her chickens in a calm & humane way to give MissT an idea of what would happen & she was totally fine with it. I think she even asked ‘Could it be used in a curry?’.
So every morning the care of our chickens & ducks is carried out by our Kids. Our Kids aren’t perfect. Every now & then one of them will come out with the protest ‘Do I Have To!?!’. We tell them firmly ‘Yes you do, otherwise when we next have eggs for tea you will not get anything’. This soon gets them in gear, getting their wellies on & trotting off down the garden.
I have to admit it is easier with 4 kids. One does the food, one does the water, one releases the animals & they all check for eggs. Yup we’ve had a couple of dropped eggs but over-all it goes smoothly.
The chucks & ducks love seeing the Kids & will happily follow them around or be handled or stroked by them. In return our Kids have great respect for them & have learnt so much, such as, they love warm porridge when the weather is freezing, they’re a bit partial to left-over pasta, how to introduce new additions & ducks eat frogs (yup that was a bit traumatic)!
After over a year of keeping chucks & ducks the excitement of discovering a newly laid egg or actually seeing one laid has never lost its novelty…& I don’t think it ever will.
They all have their own personalities too. Matilda, Monsey & Strudel keep themselves to themselves & love it when it rains. Donkey & Buttercup are easy going & friendly. Stuffin’ is very loyal & will follow the kids all over & loves being fussed. Flossie….mmm…yes Flossie. She is a law unto herself. I’ve never known an animal kick up such a fuss just because a sparrow has landed on a branch near the coop. Or because one of the others is perched where she now wants to perch.
Put it this way, if chickens had PMT then Flossie would really need to stock up on the evening primrose oil!