When I raised the question of keeping chickens in the backyard, everybody in the family agreed with enthusiasms. It took my husband and I two hours to complete the fence enclosure of 3m x 3.5m, built using wooden posts and chicken netting. We were so proud that we made the fence door all by ourselves using the same wooden posts, chicken netting and some wooden panels. The completed fence door was more than ok in its appearance; more importantly, it’s served its purpose perfectly.
We immediately went to a Sunday market and bought 3 medium-sized young chickens. The stand-owner told us that the chickens were about to lay eggs in a week or two. And they did. Only by the next morning right after they came to our backyard, one of the chicken laid an egg!!!!! What a wonderful feeling it was to collect the eggs of your own chicken. The eggs were small in the beginning, but got bigger when days went by. From an average of 1 egg per day in the beginning, we collected at least 2 per day later on. These were fresh, healthy and nutritious eggs!
My initial idea of having chickens in the backyard was only for the simple reason of recycling garden and kitchen wastes, and for fresh eggs. But once the 3 chickens arrived, they did not only what I expect them to: recycled wastes and laid eggs; they became our source of daily joy. We went to watch them scratching around; listen to their clucking. They are just enjoyable animal to have around. They are very social animals who love company. When they first came to our backyard, they were very cautious whenever we approached them. When time passed by, they became acquainted with us; they came running to us even if we had no food with us. We just adore them.
Like other animals, we need to make a commitment to care for them everyday: give them food, fresh water, keep their litter clean. We do that with pleasure. But it is easily said than done! There are practical problems. In spring and summer, it was no problem; we could atten to them in the morning, and again in the afternoon when we were back from work. We had more green leaves from the vegetable garden for them. But when late autumn set in, days got shorter, by the time we were home, it was already dark. We could give them food, fresh water only in the morning.
I used to buy straw and scattered it in the coop and the nesting box. The chickens just kicked the straws around to where they need, but their poop was left on the wooden floor in their nest. I now use shredded newspapers mixed with straw and put a thick layer in the nesting box. The mixture is not easy to be kicked away. It works beautifully: the mixture doesn’t cost me much, it is easy to clean and they are great materials for the compost heap.
Now that the autumn gets to its end and the winter is approaching, we know that the chicken’s egg laying process will come to a halt. We hope that our chickens will get through their first winter safely.