There are many animals we humans connect to – dogs, cats, and other pets that often become important parts of our lives from childhood. Similarly there are those of us that make that connection with poultry. And in my opinion, you are either a chicken person or you are not! And if you meet another person who is a chicken person you naturally form a bond – it’s what I call the chicken bond.
My relationship with chickens started in childhood. I was about eleven when my sister and I purchased some chickens to start a mini egg-selling enterprise. Most of the eggs were sold back to my mother for household use, but when egg production was high, we sold eggs to family friends too. Growing up on a small farm there were always plenty animals; but there was just something quirky about the chickens that I liked.
Moving to Murtagh’s Meadow allowed me for the first time since the 1980s to get my own chickens. We started off with just three, Maud, Bernadette and Meabh. After initially keeping them in a chicken arc, the three roamed freely around our then open garden. They were great company while digging in the garden and were always eager to get the biggest juiciest worm.
They were happy wandering anywhere and in the summer liked the shade by the front door. They soon learned not to come in, though occasionally would give it a try! Bernadette was always the fiesty one, Maud the bravest and Meabh the shyest.
Over the years, and with losses to mink and foxes we went through various types of housing. We finally invested in a poultry electric fence which is great. It allows the chickens free roaming within limits (which has it’s advantages too as they are not digging up your flowers or vegetables). At the same time I do miss having them under my feet. You really get to know the individual characters that way. At the same time since investing in the fence we have not suffered any losses, other than through natural causes.
Once you eat truly free range chicken eggs it is very hard to go back to the bought ones. So if you have the space I would thoroughly recommend our feathered friends.