I grew up on a farm.  I really didn't have experience with farm animals on a daily basis until my parents decided it would be a good lesson for my brother and I to raise chickens and sell the eggs. (Farms are land used to grow crops, ranches are land used to grow livestock.)

There was a period of about 2 years where my brother and I were in the egg business.  I hardly know where to start.

First, chickens are something that need to be tended DAILY.  Not once a week, not when you remember, it's every day. That includes feeding, watering, cleaning the coop and gathering the eggs.

Lucky for me

I'm allergic to hay, so my brother had to clean the coop.  If I'm remembering correctly, that was a twice a week job.  Chickens are just like any other bird, they poop anywhere and everywhere and they poop a lot.  To keep them healthy, you have to be mindful of cleaning the coop.

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Not So Lucky For Me

That meant I had to do all the other chicken chores most days.  Sometimes the brother had to feed them, but usually it was me as he was in the field or whatever with my dad.

You'd think chickens would be happy to get food.

Most days that was the case and they'd just pluck around my feet happily eating their chicken feed.  Some days they were just angry, and they'd attack me. Ever been attacked by a chicken? It's NOT COOL. They are BIRDS and they attack like a BIRD and they're BIG BIRDS with BIG BEAKS and BIG TALONS.

The attacking doesn't stop there.

Sometimes our hens would go completely berserk and attack me when I was gathering eggs so I'd drop the eggs and they could eat them.  That always freaked me out.

Ever seen an egg fresh from the chicken coop?

They naturally have quite a bit of poop on them.  They're not completely COVERED in poop, but job number one in the house was to wash the eggs then weigh the eggs. It's not vomit inducing, but you need to be aware.  You don't have to candle them unless there's a rooster.

Antique egg scale
Tammie Toren

Egg Scale

This is the actual scale we used on the farm to weigh eggs. I'm sure it needs tuning, but I bet it would work great. It's a decoration in my kitchen now, and one of my last remnants of the farm.

If chickens are stressed or overly excited, they produce eggs with blood spots in the yolk.

That was how my dad knew my brother or the dogs were scaring the chickens.

Speaking of dogs

Do NOT get attached to your laying hens.  The production life for a laying hen is max about 10 years.  They are much skinnier than chickens we're used to eating.  It's not unusual for a coyote or neighboring dog to get into the chicken coop.  We didn't name them or play with them or treat them like a pet.  If you do that, you'll just be let down eventually.  Chickens have quite a few natural predators from smaller animals like weasels allllll the way up to bears.  Don't get attached.

If you want to try your hand at raising chickens, more power to ya.  I just don't want you to go into it like it's some kind of a fun and cute little hobby with fun and cute little chickens pecking at your feet.

To find out how you can start raising your own, check out this article.  I've got a basic start up price for you and basics for what you'd need.

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