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August 4, 2015

Chicks Gone Wild- A Summer of Chickens

Have you enjoyed the experience of getting your food right from your backyard? Most Americans haven’t and get the majority of their food from a grocery store. But what if for a summer you could have fresh eggs everyday just by walking outside?Crane/W&K employee Katy is having that summer. Through a farming program, she and her family rented 2 chickens for the summer. Her family calls them Nellie and Larribird and the lay an egg a day. Such a unique summer experience, I asked her how she heard about it and this is what she said.

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Katy and her daughter pose in front of their chicken coop in their backyard. These ‘chicken chicks’ found out you have to move the coop daily so the chickens have fresh ground to walk on.

Have you enjoyed the experience of getting your food right from your backyard? Most Americans haven’t and get the majority of their food from a grocery store. But what if for a summer you could have fresh eggs everyday just by walking outside?Crane/W&K employee Katy is having that summer. Through a farming program, she and her family rented 2 chickens for the summer. Her family calls them Nellie and Larribird and the lay an egg a day. Such a unique summer experience, I asked her how she heard about it and this is what she said.

A farmer in Joliet now works with the Michigan farmer to support the interest in our area. George shows up with a handmade coop which has a screen grazing area, enclosed “family room” and two nesting areas. Our hens, Nellie and LarriBird, each make one egg a day. We started a chart in the kitchen to keep track of the time the eggs are laid. It’s a little difficult to be exact but we are trying to be like the Rangers at Yellowstone that can predict the geyser eruptions. Nellie lays an egg approximately every 21 hours and LarriBird lays every 28 hours. We move the coop and turn the soil every Saturday to give the “girls” fresh ground to walk on. Our neighbor made a fenced off area for hens to graze. Everyday we change the water, check on their food and fluff the nests. LarriBird likes to lay her eggs on Nellie’s nest so it is fun to report where the eggs were found each day.

We invite friends over on Sundays to cook up scrambled eggs and do taste testing. We make a brown egg batch, white egg batch and a combo. We deliver one type of egg in a brown paper bags to neighbors and love to hear the reports that LarriBird’s egg are a tad more delicious! We have learned to float eggs to see how fresh they are and compare them to the store bought ones. It is exciting every time we crack an egg to see it is more bright and perfectly round than the next.

My kids are now ready for a pig or cow to show up in the backyard for the milk and meat but they will have to be very patient for that to happen!  We are earning the ranks of a Ranger for the summer, joined the 4H club, and will have a new found thought of where our food comes from which was very apparent to me when walking the dairy isle when my 9 year old says “WE DON’T HAVE TO BUY EGGS!