This I Believe

Sue Ellen - Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 5, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I believe…

I believe in raising chickens. I know, it might sound crazy. But this past year, in starting a small backyard flock of my own, I have grown to admire these beautiful and special creatures. I am now an advocate of sorts; I speak to any one who will listen about the power of these compelling birds. The looks I get range from odd fascination to kindred spirit. Everyone, it seems, has a chicken story.

The start was rocky; while we had a coop design that would comfortably house the six birds we wanted, we didn’t have permission from our township. At first the friendly, but wary supervisor, explained that under current zoning codes, I’d need 10 acres for my birds. I tried to convince him; I reminded him that I only wanted 6 birds and that it was an educational project for my kids. “Oh, and I should say that we will only have hens, no roosters.” I said. While the “educational project” thing might have been a bit of a stretch, this was the truth. Many people believe that a rooster is necessary to have hens lay eggs. In fact, no roosters are needed. The hens will ovulate on average one egg every 25 hours. If you want baby chickens, you’ll need a rooster. Otherwise, you’ve just got a lot of omelets.

It’s now six months since the beginning of our project and our girls have just begun to lay their first eggs. It was incredible going to the hen house one bright, cold, and sunny Saturday morning in February and finding that first brown orb buried in the cedar shavings. My kids started yelling for my husband and we each took turns holding the egg with gentle honor and pride. We gave our girls an extra treat that day, as if to thank them for this incredible gift they provided. The next day, there was another. And another. The first three were triple-yoked. It was almost like they were saying, “you’re welcome.”