img_0151I interrupt the buying land series momentarily to plop in a post about our chickens. My wife and I love our chickens. I’m not sure why. But, they just seem lovable. They are peculiar in their behaviors, which gives us no end of entertainment. We harvest about a dozen eggs a day, so they give us a lovely bounty that we get to share with our church family. They often follow us about, which can make them both endearing and frustrating. But, in the end, we love our girls and they have become part of our agrarian family at Hebron Acres.

img_3172On March 1, 2016, day-old chicks arrived at the post office in town. We received a 6 A.M. call from the post office with a celebratory voice on the other side telling us, “Your chicks are here.” I quickly dressed and hopped into the truck and sped off for the post office and had the cab pre-heated so it was a warm environment for them. I couldn’t wait to get back home.
We had the brooder already set up in anticipation of their arrival from the hatchery. We ordered buff Orpingtons and barred Plymouth Rocks. The hatchery gave us one extra of each which was, I’m sure, a hedge bet against loss during transport in the mail. I did plan on some attrition thinking that if I ordered a couple more than I wanted we would end up with what we wanted. As anticipated, we did lose a few to predation and we had one surprise rooster in the mix, for which we found a new home.

img_3177As I took out each chick, I dipped its beak into the waterer. The next weeks were spent watching them grow and changing water and feeding. They grew quickly and I put some netting over the top of the brooder to keep them from hopping out as they grew large enough to do so. Eventually the day came when the temperatures were warm enough and they were big enough to turn them out into the yard of the homestead. I had designed and built a large chicken pen that had both inside and outside areas. This is where the nesting boxes are and the roosting areas. However, they free-range the homestead from sun up to sundown.

img_0014Today, our girls are a part of everyday life and I’m thankful to God for Him creating such an amazing bird. Most of them aren’t too crazy about me trying to pick them up, but when I am able to hold one, they calm down and I enjoy petting their plumage and cackling with them. Their feathers are like silk to the touch. I also add all the coop bedding to our compost pile enhancing its fertility and soil-building ability. Their scratching and foraging also helps keep the insect population down and converting that to usable protein in the form of eggs. Actually, with very little care, our girls more than pull their weight on the homestead.

Since there is only just the two of us living at Hebron Acres, finding a good place for a dozen eggs a day is not a problem. We have several families in our church who happily and appreciatively take a dozen or so here and there. We feel strongly about sharing in God’s provision with those around us. It’s a kind of first-fruits giving that I hope pleases the Lord and helps edify our little church. I could write pages about having chickens on our homestead, but I better stop here. I hope to add to our flock in the future, but for now, our girls are a source of fun and happiness for our homestead and an important part of our agrarian lifestyle.

Here is a short video of me letting them out of their pen in the morning to free range all day.

Dan Grubbs

Dan Grubbs, editor of Stewardculture, lives in northwest Missouri where he is implementing and managing a permaculture-style design on his 15-acre homestead. A weekly teacher of the Bible, Dan believes that an agrarian lifestyle is one in which he can answer God's calling to steward creation through regenerative techniques that attempt to mimic God's design.

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