we considered trying to domesticate the hen and rooster we saved during
that snowy winter, my first foray into chicken keeping came almost a
decade later. I was living on the farm owned by Mark’s aunt and
uncle. The old log barn halfway down the driveway had a chicken
coop attached, and when I showed an interest in livestock, I was
quickly given a dozen or so hens and a rooster to put in the coop — a
mixture of Buff Orpingtons and Australorps.
The coop was large and
airy, and had a large run attached, but before we knew it the ground
was scratched down to bare earth. This is the way the majority of
Americans raise their chickens, and at the time I didn’t know any
better. The eggs were still better than storebought, but the hens
didn’t lay much in the winter and the yolks were nowhere near as yellow
as those we get from our hens today.
I am emptying out their poopy chicken waterer. Mark hadn’t
arrived on the scene yet, so I spent a lot of time pounding frozen
waterers against the ground to knock the ice out and lugging buckets of
water down the hill. Now, of course, we’d install one of our automatic chicken waterers and at least clean up that
portion of the coop.
Mark’s aunt grew up with
chickens, raised in the traditional farm style. She told me that
her family always cut a fresh red cedar to put in the coop each
year. They believed that the cedar kept lice and other bugs away.
|This post is part of our Chicken Pasturing Systems series.
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