Chickens and Cowboys

This week, our family had the privilege of taking care of our friends’ chickens while they were out of town. Let me clarify. Our friends were out of town, not the chickens. The chickens stayed home and our friends went out of town and we were in charge of the chickens. We got to do “chicken chores”, which, by the way, is a really fun phrase to say.

This was a great arrangement for us as we are actually considering getting ourselves some chickens next spring. We thought this would be great practice for our boys. We were right – it was great for them. We fed, watered, set them “free” each morning, closed them up to roost each night and the most fun part of all – we gathered eggs.

Our younger boys were even delighted to get up early to go do the morning chicken chores. I think they felt manly and “farmish”. In fact, Malachi, our six year old, insisted on putting on his full cowboy gear before we headed over to care for the chickens twice each day. Even early in the morning, he stumbled into his bandanna and boots.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that cowboys mostly take care of cows.  Nor did I tell him that he’d really not have use for his rope. Nor did I tell him that he wouldn’t really need his holster and pistol.

I also decided not to tell him that I wouldn’t need a cowboy hat.

He insisted that I wear the thing. It mattered not that my head was too big. It mattered not that I got strange looks as I drove all the way to the chickens and back home again. The plastic pistol I carried in my own pocket got a little bit uncomfortable, but no matter.

Thankfully, the chickens were not unruly and we did not have to lasso a one of them.

But it never hurts to be prepared.

Comments

  1. Teresa says

    Bless you…. Kids are so very fascinated by taking care of the hens….. Such an awesome introduction to farm life….and fun too!

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  2. Amy C says

    do get chickens for your boys next spring. some of my fondest memories are of our chickens. I loved them. We also had ducks and turkeys, all laid eggs off different sizes and colors! Do it as a project for their schooling if you can, use an incubator so they can go from egg to chicken and back… no need to get roosters though… they can be mean but tasty.

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  3. Linda L. says

    This is hilarious! I loved reading it. But just think…wouldn’t it have added just a TOUCH of excitement if you would’ve had to lasso at least ONE of those critters?? But alas, *sigh* no fowl play.

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    Laura Reply:

    Hahahaha!!!! Fowl play. :)

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    melanie Reply:

    hahahahahahaha ~ You both are a riot!

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  4. Cheryl R says

    Okay, where are the chick pics??? :D

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    Laura Reply:

    It would appear that I had my hat and pistol, but I forgot the camera. :)

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    Cheryl R Reply:

    Prepared for the wrong kind of ‘shooting’, you were! ;)

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    Cheryl R Reply:

    We also had chickens growing up – and a parakeet – and mice, and cats, and
    dogs, and pigs, and cows, and – you get the picture. Just don’t get too many
    animals all at once. They won’t think it is so fun when they have to care for
    and clean up after too many all the time. But a few chickens should be fun –
    at least for a while. Lassoing chickens sounds like something my brothers
    would have tried, given the idea. Now I do remember them holding on to the
    tails of calves and ‘skiing’ in a muddy corral . . .

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  5. Tiffani says

    This is great! I’ve often heard that children need
    1-something to do
    2-something to love
    3-something to care for

    Prime example!!

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  6. says

    After a couple of years of “chicken chores” the fun has worn off. The chickens are still thriving but our girls have gone through a whole range of emotions over the years. Some say they will never have them (never say never) and some want a whole farm!

    They have been wonderful for us here in the burbs and our neighbors have never been bothered. Stay away from leghorns, to thin and flighty (even with flight feathers cut way back).

    Our favorites are:bardrocks, plymoth bards,americna, cinnamon queens and little silkies which give little eggs with big yolks. (The silkies look like little marshmallows bounding through the yard.) These breeds all do well in the Fl heat.

    Have fun. It’s a great addition to home keeping and healthy fresh eggs.

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  7. darialauren says

    I hated having chickens growing up! The morning feedings, the egg collecting, yhe cleaning of the coop! But now I want them for my children…guess they weren’t so bad after all :)

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  8. says

    This little story made me laugh! I love the fact that he had to “look like a cowboy” in order to do the chores—too funny! I guess whatever works to get them motivated into doing mundane chores can be worth it. I am glad he had such a good attitude about the chores!

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  9. Amber Rogers says

    You will love getting chickens. Our children have loved this experience. However, if you really want to know all the pros AND cons I know of, reply and ask. If your set on having your own eggs no matter what, I won’t mention the few cons again!

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  10. says

    My first thought when seeing your picture was “Camo. A cowboy in camo.” That would be my son as well. Too cute! We’ve had hens for five years now since moving to the country and LOVE it. It is work, and you’ll have to find someone to chicken sit for you when you go on vacation, but the work is good and the eggs are delicious! We’ve even raised meat birds (last year), and I will say that raising a flock of hens is easy in comparison. :) Blessings to you and your family! ~Lisa

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  11. Jennifer S. says

    I love Malachi’s expression – he is ready to do business. Your boys sound so much like my boys. I love to read the stories about them.

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  12. Laura says

    so cute!! we had chickens for a while (then moved and had to give them to a friend) i’ve always wanted to get more! they are so fun! (except the cleaning of the coop part) we had rhode island reds wich i think are realy pretty and are a great dule purpose breed. [carful of the roosters though…they can be mean!]

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  13. Jenny says

    I have had chickens for about 10 years now. The grandkids really loved them when they were little and would “help” me gather the eggs – usually breaking a couple. (smile) But they really enjoyed it until they were about 6 or 7 and now they just like to eat the eggs. It is a good lesson for them though.

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  14. Faith says

    Aw, I always love seeing moms meet their littles wherever their blooming imagination takes them :-).

    But I’m curious as to your thoughts towards chickens now that you’ve cared for some. My husband and I been toting with the idea ourselves.

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    Laura Reply:

    Well, we really just had the easy part, and they weren’t in our own yard. So, we probably didn’t get a true feel for what it would be like. But after this week, we still want chickens, so I guess that’s a good sign!

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  15. Melinda says

    I highly recommend checking out the free chicken care e-book at http://www.mypetchicken.com . I also ordered my chickens from them before I realized I could have requested specific breeds from Orschelns be ordered for me (which would have been sooooo much cheaper). Definitely get cold-hardy breeds for this area–then they can free-range all winter. The more they can free range, the less food you have to buy, the less poop you have to clean, and the more eggs you get. Ours are outside all day probably 350 days a year (we live just outside York). The best investment we made, though, was an automatic coop door with a timer. That way, they could get outside even if we couldn’t make it out there early in the morning, and we no longer had to race home in the evenings from events to get the coop shut before a racoon or skunk made its way inside (yup, that happened :). Good luck!

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  16. Julia says

    We got chickens this year too and our 3 boys LOVE them. I highly recommend a moveable coop aka chicken tractor. This keeps them secure from predators, but allows them access to grass and bugs. However this in only an option if you want just a few (maybe up to 10 or so).

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  17. Courtney says

    Taking care of the chickens was one of my farm chores growing up. These days, I love being able to buy farm-fresh eggs from our neighbors without having to do any of the work involved :)

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  18. says

    We did this a few summers ago – spent several weeks at my sister-in-law’s house while she was away and watched not only chickens, but rabbits, ducks and goats! It was a great experience (except for the time they found a hidden egg that literally exploded b/c it was so old – very stinky!). If you figure out a way to keep the flies away from the house, I’d say go for it!

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  19. says

    From one farmer who raises chickens, HATS OFF to those who let us have time off:)! Yipee for friends who let us have a vacation!!! We have just returned from our first vacation in 6 years and I can’t begin to tell you how much we needed the time off! We had an incredible time and everytime my oldest son’s watch alarm would go off (yes, he has it set to go off when afternoon chores need to start) we’d say, “It’s chore time!”

    For those reading who know farmers, if you can, offer to “farm sit” for them when need be. We did that as well before buying our farm…it is an incredible way to learn if you want to do it and it blesses the farmer & family as well.

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  20. Susan F says

    I think you will be glad to have chickens. You’ll have a great addition for a compost pile too. My mother has had chickens for many years. It was good for a feeding and egg picking chore for us as kids. There is no egg like a true fresh egg from chickens with good pure feed that you control. They can be quite the characters too.

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  21. says

    What a great mom you are for wearing the hat and letting him dress up! You are building wonderful memories for him!

    We have chickens and they really are great to start out with for young kids. You will love having them.

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  22. Melisa says

    Oh, my! Thanks for making me cry with laughter this morning! :-) Btw, have you read, Along Came a Dog?

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  23. Christina says

    My youngest DD has been chicken obsessed for over a yr. Anytime the incubator is empty she gas eggs to fill it up. Around here hatching eggs more than pays for the feed.
    Your older boys can build an incubator & turn chicken raising into a real Homeschool experience If you are wanting chicks that lay in the spring, hatch them oct, nov timeframe. (hopefully your friend has a rooster & could get you fertile eggs).
    Housing is the biggest expense in chicken raising. We have built small coops for $500 or so. We have also built coops out of scrap or recycled lumber that only cost screws & a latch for the door.

    One last warning. Be careful! We started with the goal of 4 chickens (one for each of us). Now have about 75. Plus a few dozen guineas & peafowl. It is addicting!

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  24. angie says

    Love your blog. :) I’m all in support of getting chickens, but would your town (you appear to live within your city limits) allow them as part of the muncipal code? Just something to check out before you’d incur the expense.

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