Dripping Springs Backyard Chickens
So, after ten years of pining for chickens, two weeks ago, three generations piled into the van and took a drive to a Dripping Springs chicken farm to pick up four new family members, whom we have affectionately dubbed “the girlies.”
And the girlies are just awesome in every way. Not yet old enough to lay eggs, they have been busy acclimating themselves to their new coop and digs. At first, they would not come down from the sheltered area of the coop; however, over time they have begun to explore all areas of the coop and have become more frisky and social. The entire process has just been so special and endearing, especially when it comes to watching the reaction of the kiddos who have taken to farm life as a duck takes to water.
While the kids are used to our dog, getting chickens has been different because we picked them up together. We had Lulu long before we had the kids, jokingly saying she is our “fur”stborn, but there is something about naming an animal yourself and bringing new animals home that just makes it a family endeavor. It helps that whenever animals are involved, humor, chaos, and poops are usually involved, which all happen to be hilarious to my children.
For example, when we arrived at the farm to get the chickens, I was expecting a lovely farm where I could also pick up some freshly harvested produce for dinner, perhaps a spot of local honey. Instead, we pull up to a couple sittin’ on lawn chairs, surrounded by HUGE basins of chicks, pullets, and chickens – all ready for the day’s pick up. It kind of looked like chicken summer camp and there wasn’t a tomato in sight, never mind honey.
Anyway, we give our names and the farmers scoop out our four girls, asking where we wanted them. Um,… Will the empty Amazon box in the trunk work? Yep. It will. In go the chickens and out comes the farmer’s pocket knife, as he carves huge breathing holes into the box. The combination of 300 chickens, 4 of ours in a box, and a farmer carving at the box left the kids’ eyeballs the size of half-dollars, but they went with it because I am their mother and this is not the strangest thing they’ve seen. We all hop back in the van, a box full o’ chickens, and head home. After the kids’ initial concern regarding the sound of chicken feet clawing and scratching as they slip and slide around the box, the scratchy and clucky sounds of their new family members became normal to them before we arrived home.
My father had the honors of depositing the scared and probably queasy chickens into their coop, the kids merrily and excitedly following him out back, beyond curious to see how this would go down. After trying to pick them up and gently put them in, Pop quickly realized these chickens did NOT like to be handled yet, so he resorted to just tipping the box and letting the ladies slide on down into their new abode. After a little squawking and scratching, they found a safe place, and the process of being chicken owners began.
Each day, the kids head down to the coop with me, checking on the girlies, chatting with them, feeding and watering them, and just investigating and becoming in tune with the lifestyle of a chicken. It’s amazing how much they have learned about nurturing and responsibility in a few short weeks. My son wakes up and peeks out the window, checking they made it through the night; the kids have quickly learned that we need to protect them from predators. They have become more sensitive to how the weather and temperature will impact the girlies, providing them with more shade and frozen treats on hot days. They know we have to clean the cage and compost the poop, which will be good for the garden. And when the time comes that the girlies start laying eggs, the kids will be in charge of retrieving the eggs each morning. All in all, the entire experience has been wonderful, peaceful, and very rewarding to the entire family.