A strong argument could be made that chickens were our gateway hobby into the farming frame of mind. Sure, we always had a garden, but perhaps because we always had one, it was normal. Getting chickens, for us, was not normal. My older brother, Tyler, talked my Dad into letting him get them around five years ago. We learned as we went. I remember hastily constructing a coop with Tyler and Josh Thorpe because the chicks were getting too big for Grandpa’s garage, and Grandpa was about to lay an egg himself.
We quickly discovered two things. Chickens were pretty easy to raise, and they were fun. Once Tyler and I both moved out, we were slightly surprised that my Dad kept buying more chickens to renew the flock each year. Each time we came home he would tell us all about some crazy thing one of the birds did or show us how a certain one would roost on his arm and eat out of his hand. As the idea for the Hust Roost formed, there was never any doubt that chickens, both for meat and eggs, would be one of our major enterprises.
This Spring, we bought thirty more chicks to add to the fifteen layers we already have, and Rachel brought down a slightly deformed chicken she hatched in her Cell Biology class (we call him Gimpy, or “the Gimp”). Half we bought as hens, and the other half was straight run, meaning it wasn’t determined if they were hens or roosters. We ended up with around twenty-five hens, and come this fall, we should be getting over two dozen eggs a day!
We are planning on keeping three roosters this year so that next year we can hatch our own eggs (the rest of the roosters will join us for a barbecue in a couple weeks). From those hatchlings, we can keep some for laying eggs, sell others as chicks, and keep some to sell as meat or eat them ourselves a couple months down the road. We also plan on buying some meat chickens in the spring— the ones we have now, rhode island reds, are a hybrid bird (for meat and egg-laying), but are best known for their egg-laying abilities.
We have already expanded the chicken coop and run, but it is about to get bigger. We currently have two coops, the main one that I built with Tyler for the older birds, and a smaller one with the younger birds in it. This weekend, we plan on cleaning out the barn and expanding the smaller coop for the younger birds, who are getting a bit cramped. Long term, we plan to have a few different coops (for layers, roosters, chicks, and whatever else we would need them for) that are easily accessible and viewable for anybody who visits the Hust Roost.