Not-Quite-City-Chickens 1: Birds Flourishing In New Homesteader’s Care

Blackie and Rampage push the cat litter box around like a toy.

Blackie and Rampage push the cat litter box around like a toy.

Lehman’s fan Brianne and her partner Eric are in their second year of not-so-urban homesteading at their place 20 minutes from downtown Fayetteville, NC.

The young couple is proud of the progress they’ve made raising chickens.

“Last year was our first year with the chickens,” said Bri. “They needed a new home, and we had the space. Eric and I rebuilt a hand-me-down large chicken tractor for them, and we took apart old computer monitors, using the casings for roosting boxes, and tossed in a huge pet crate that the girls just love.”

This year, the tractor’s seen some work. “I’ve grommeted the tarp, and fastened it to the base poles with shower curtain rings I had here at the house. (The tarp’s repurposed too!)

“Most of the tractor construction is stuff that was once other stuff, but now has a second or third life keeping our girls corralled,” said Bri. “We know it won’t last forever, but if we maintain it, we should get another year or so out of it.”

Starting out with three hens, “a Mottled Java,Cinnmon; Blackie, a Black Sumatra, and an Ameraucana we named Rampage,” Bri noted that Eric became the daily caretaker, as she left the house very early for her former job. “We split up the responsibilities, and it’s been fine. They know when he comes out, it’s time to eat.”

Learn to process and preserve livestock with Mettler's detailed work. Available at Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

Learn to process and preserve livestock with Mettler’s detailed work. Available at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio or Lehmans.com.

“He doesn’t really want to do the whole butchering thing, and I don’t mind that, so it worked out well.” 

Cinnamon, the bird they think was the eldest, died suddenly. “Although I knew we couldn’t eat her, it did give me an opportunity to practice some processes,” Bri says, matter of factly.

In homesteading families, this is a reality. The birds may have names, and you may know all their personalities. But in the end, they’re a food source: eggs as long as they can lay, and eventually, they’ll end up on the table or in the freezer.

“They’re not pets, they give us breakfast and dinner,” Eric says. “I know that, just as I know what my limits are.”

The Silver Dorkings, Bri and Eric's new chickens. They're great backyard birds.

The Silver Dorkings, Bri and Eric’s new chickens. They’re great backyard birds.

This fall, Rampage and Blackie got three new roomies, and now that spring is giving way to a sultry southern summer, things are looking up.

“At first, when the new birds came in, the senior birds and the newbies just did not get along! But now they’re getting used to each other, and it’s getting easier,” said Bri.

Their three new birds, Silver Dorkings, called Fricassee, Marsala, and Confit, are from the same folks who gave them Rampage, Cinnamon, and Blackie. “I’m in a group that does historical recreation, focusing on the period of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and I just love that these birds date back to those times,” said Bri. “There’s documentation for this breed dating back to when the Romans invaded Britian.” 

Snake deterrent

A natural deterrent! Follow product directions exactly! At Lehman’s in Kidron or from Lehmans.com.

The biggest issue in the coop these days is a snake that’s set up housekeeping in the nearby wooded area. “I bought some fake eggs at Michael’s to discourage that thing. They won’t smell good to the snake, and eventually, he’ll get lost. We don’t need him stealing from our girls now that they’re really laying well!”

Eric’s making some improvements to the bottom area of the chicken yard to keep the slithery coop-crasher out too, and they’re employing a natural snake deterrent around the outside of the chicken yard.

“You’d be amazed at the number of egg recipes I’ve used in the last two years,” Bri says, laughing. “With just the two of us, we’re outnumbered by the chickens!”

 Stay tuned for Not-Quite-City-Chickens 2: Ultimate Chicken Condo on Wednesday, May 21.