The Beginning: My Quest into a Life with Chickens

For someone who didn’t grow up on a farm or has had very little experience even visiting a farm, the practicality of owning chickens can seem like a very daunting task.  Owning chickens to some may seem as practical as owning an elephant as municipal laws regulate ownership, a lack of knowledge brings feelings of doubt and the general upkeep may seem to be just too much work.  Thankfully, with the wealth of resources that is available, my initial fears were quickly overcome with confidence, that I too could own chickens!  This is my first entry to what will be a journal of trial and error.

My daughter loves chickens.  For the longest time, she would keep saying, “I just want chickens!”  We (my bride and I) thought this was a really cute dream.  We could easily imagine her going out to the coop and talking to the chicks, picking up the eggs, and so on.  My daughter giggles just thinking about chickens and tries to muster through her laughter to say, “They are just so cute and feathery.”  She’s seven and it’s adorable to hear her giggle.

One of the problems with her getting chickens was that she was born into a ‘know-absolutely-nothing’ family when it comes to chickens.  We don’t live on a farm (YET!), I don’t think the neighbors would want to look at a big coop, how do we keep predators away, what would the dog do, I envisioned a mess of an area, etc., etc.  All these “what if” type of concerns came rushing through my mind.  “Someday honey, you can have chickens” we promised to her.  We were willing to learn more about them, no problem.  We will do that – someday.  Have you ever noticed how kids’ dreams and wishes come true despite what our “adult” reasoning and rational might lead us to think otherwise?  Sure enough, she would get her dream before we knew it.

My passion has always been in the marketing field – not one of those telemarketers, or pushy sales people, no, a true marketer.  I love discovering the needs and wants of people through researching and talking with them and being able to create a relationship with them and the product/service they need.  One entity or product type that I have not been involved with….is the chicken.  To say the least, she was out of her mind with excitement when I told her that daddy was going to go work for a place that helps people, just like her, who love chickens.  This place of chicken heaven where poultry passion is at an all time high resides in the sleepy little town of Webster City, Iowa. It is there my journey began with being welcomed to the team at Murray McMurray Hatchery.  While Iowa may be known for the birthplace of Field of Dreams, among other things, the World’s Rare Breed Poultry Headquarters is just down highway 20 from that infamous baseball field.  Though not in the form of baseball, from amongst the corn a new dream would now be realized and a lifestyle of which we embraced is now taking flight.

One of the things that I immediately discovered in my research into chickens is that there is a whole community of chicken lovers that I never knew existed.  I would venture to say there are more of your people (chickens lovers) than you might even know!  Now, please welcome the Huseman family into your wide world of feather loving friends.  In my short time at Murray McMurray Hatchery, I have to tell you that I am getting completely giddy learning more and more about chickens.  It has been amazing and energizing reading customer posts, hearing stories and learning more and more about the wide variety of chicks (and other birds) that my company offers!

Learning something new is exciting and frustrating at the same time.  The more I read and discover the more I want to know.  To have to ask a question about every new discovery can be a bit frustrating.  My friends at Murray McMurray Hatchery are amazing individuals.  I have never met a group of people who are so self-less and ready to help a novice, like me.  I have asked the dumbest questions, I know, but each time they empathetically explain the why’s, how’s, do’s, don’ts and because’s.  There are a wealth of individuals who have worked here for well over 20 years.  They don’t just show up to work, they live and breathe chickens and the related life-style, each with unique preferences of their favorite breed.  It is a refreshing atmosphere – and I haven’t even experienced the first hatch yet!

My first resource to peruse was the Murray McMurray Hatchery 2012 catalog.  What a wealth of information!  I learned all the varieties of chicks, rare birds and products we offer.  In addition, if you know nothing about chicks, all you have to do is read the first four pages and you will start walking a lot taller in your knowledge.  These guys have obviously answered a lot of questions before and now are translating that information into the catalog.  If the catalog isn’t enough, you can see a wealth of FAQ’s, How-to-Videos, and more on the www.mcmurrayhatchery.com website.  Further, for anyone who would rather get an even more first hand experience, we have more than a dozen operators waiting to answer your phone call at 800-456-3280.  “Operators” really isn’t a good term to use for these chicken pro’s – this group of individuals consists of the most knowledgeable, friendly people I have experienced.  The cool thing is that they are “real” people – pictures of their family, friends, and chicken drawings they have received dawn their desks.  Each call is treated as an opportunity to help another chicken lover!

I have settled in well to the new environment and things are starting to become much clearer than before.  Those doubts and concerns that I initially had have been quickly pecked and scratched out of my mind.  With the wealth of books, coop plans, how-to-videos and other resources available, I am confident I, as well as you, whether you live on a farm, acreage or in town, can own chickens and be very happy with the experience!  I can’t wait for the first hatch and hear those first new chirps of life!  Now, of course, as I continue to look through the catalog with my daughter and review the mass variety of chicks that are offered, the million dollar question looms with her asking, “Daddy, what chickens are we going to start with?”  Needless to say, your suggestions are more than welcomed….

My daughter and I searching through the mass variety of rare breed poultry in the Murray McMurray Hatchery 2012 catalog (Photo by Emily Huseman)

Excited about chickens,

Chris

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2 Responses to The Beginning: My Quest into a Life with Chickens

  1. Carolyn says:

    I have 2 girls, 5 and 2 1/2 years old who love chickens. My vote is for some beautiful fat, fluffy-type bantam hens in a bunch of speckled colors. They are the best to start with as pet birds. Cute, feathery and fluffy. Get some adult hens. You can have more of them in the same amount of space and their mothering and other chicken behavior instincts are superb. Keep ‘em in a coop. Let them out for supervised play and bug hunting after school and before sunset. They’ll pen themselves back onto their perches in the coop before dinner. You can always pick a useful breed second time around, when you’re used to the chicken routine. Your banty will hatch fertile eggs of another breed for you and raise the babies which is the most painless way to raise chicks. Beware of roosters they sometimes attack kids.

  2. Dawn says:

    Our son, who is 4 is just as excited about chickens as your daughter. We ordered the Araucana for him so he can find an Easter egg every time he collects. I don’t know why but something about the green and blue eggs the kiddos love. We also ordered him a few of the Polish chickens because they make him giggle. Good Luck with your new flock.

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