For as long as I can remember I have nursed a dream of keeping chickens. I can't really say why this is so, but I suspect that as a kid I read too many children books where breakfast consisted of freshly laid eggs and the sun was always shining and everyone was always happy. For some funny reason it has taken me until near middle age to fulfil this dream, and so this year I decided it was time to do it. "Now or never!" I thought, although it felt like a big responsibility as I had no idea what it would actually be like.
I had read up on keeping chickens and learned that a great way to keep the chicken house clean is to put plastic over the floor, and cover it with sawdust. This makes it easy to clean out the poop daily with a cat-litter spade, and thereby reducing the workload to cleaning out all of the material to once every three weeks. After the chicks came home, I covered the window with a curtain. Chickens are sensitive to heat, and I realised the sun was shining in which made the hen house too warm. Also, we put in a went on the back wall to create a fresh flow of air.
All my chicken have names: Klara-Kotkot, Bertha, Agda-Alma, Hulda and Gwendolyne. Klara-Kotkot was named by my friend Klara, and Agda got her second name Alma after my nephews lovely new girlfriend. At first the plan was to keep the chicks for a summer and eat them in the autumn, but just as my friends all figured it didn't take many weeks for me to fall madly in love with them! Even Boomer became friends with them, and so we had a few weeks when we desperately worried about their further destiny... Luckily our neighbouring farmer Johanna took pity on us, and offered them asylum over winter on her farm!
In the beginning I kept the chicks strictly in the net-covered coop we had made, as I was so worried they would be taken by our resident hawks or eagles. However after a few weeks when they had become so tame that they come running as soon as one calls for them, I decided to let them run free in the orchard. The fruit orchard is surrounded by chicken netting in order to keep rabbits and deer away from the trees during winter, and so it turned out perfect for my hens. The grass is quite tall, which I hope gives them cover should a game bird fly by. And anyhow, I feel they have such a lovely life with 400 m2 to run around in that it is worth the risk!
So in the end, keeping chickens has been super easy. Just remember to fill up the feeding dispenser daily and always make sure they have clean water, and there it is.