Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
Posted Jul 18, 2014
My brother brought home ten chickens one day. He built them a little coop and a fenced-in yard. But he works so much, that it became more or less my job to look after them. I didn't mind—walking next door to my brother's house in the morning to feed the chickens and let them out of their coop turned into a peaceful, pleasant ritual. They were beautiful to look at, and the eggs they produced can't be compared to store-bought. (They were large and heavy, with a great flavor, and with big orange yokes that filled most of the shell and stood up tall on the frying pan.) The chickens were not skittish but not totally tame, either—they didn't like to be picked up, but didn't mind being touched, and didn't make any fuss about being pushed gently out of their nesting-boxes when I collected their eggs.
They ate constantly. We got into the habit of giving them a huge portion of our table-scraps—vegetables and greens, grains and cereals, occasionally meat or fish. They even liked french-fries. (Much to the dismay of my Puggle puppy, who was used to having first dips on all scraps after dinner.)
If you think a small group of chickens and a daily batch of fresh-eggs would be nice, you won't be disappointed. But there are a few things to keep in mind before committing: for one, chickens are messy. Be prepared to spend some time every so often thoroughly cleaning their coop. Another thing is, they are hard to contain. If there is even a tiny break in the fence around their yard, or if there is a rock or a tree branch anywhere they can use to jump the fence, they will find it and they will escape. It's only a matter of time—and then they'll be tearing up your yard looking for bugs, and clawing at your neighbors' flowerbeds. Be prepared to work hard on their enclosure, because they will never stop trying to break for freedom.
Our chickens were very tolerant of heat and cold—and, living in New England, we have our share of extremes in each. Winter was not an issue for them, except after heavy snow. They were nervous about stepping into deep snow, so it was always necessary to shovel paths for them. (Obviously it was important to keep a close eye on their water all winter and replace it often, because it would freeze.)
Eventually a fox found its way past the fence and into the coop. Sadly that was the end of the chickens, but I'm happy to have had the experience of living with them for two years.