Beginning Again

I see the last blog post I did was in May of 2013. That strikes me hard. That is the month my husband became seriously ill. He died in July of 2013, and for the past six years I have spent doing most of what originally took two people to do: maintaining a house and four acres, mowing, cleaning, repairing, as well as helping raise my grandson and being care-giver to my elderly mother, while doing my best to not lose myself. Chickens? I was too tired.

A few hens died and a few I gave away. I threatened to be done with chickens, yet, somehow I could not. Grandchildren loved them, and so did adult son. This summer two hens remained in the neglected chicken house and continued to give me smiles: our dear Buff Orpington Maisie from the very first flock and sprightly Lacy, a Black Lace Wyandotte, from the last.

Lacy gives an egg five days a week, and amazingly Maisie, who is seven years old now, was also laying an egg several times a week–until she went broody again back in July. She happens to be the hen I last blogged about, who went broody early on. With my son and grandchildren’s help and a kind woman, who provided fertilized eggs, the chicken house once again comes alive with five new biddies of various breeds. And I find myself once again interested and delighted.

I have had a number of messages over the years from women who want to raise their chickens gluten free because of their children having Celiac disease. A number have written of their frustration because of getting sick when trying to raise chickens and having to feed gluten containing commercial feed. My stats give evidence of people visiting this blog everyday.

If you are wondering: Can I raise chickens gluten-free? the answer is Yes! And it isn’t that hard.

Our dear Maisie proves this out. In these past years, I have also learned that feeding chickens does have to be difficult, expensive, or perfect. I want to again start sharing what I have learned about keeping chickens in a gluten-free zone so that others, especially children with gluten allergy, can enjoy doing so.

I spent about an hour sitting and watching the three-day old babies and the hens, and I videoed something interesting. There is commercial gluten-containing feed in the feeder, because the large house, acreage, and chicken house now belong to my son. What I observed is that when I brought in a simple bowl of enriched corn grits, cooked rice, and oatmeal, both the hens and the babies prefer it! They also prefer the bird seed mixture, especially millet seed. It was a surprise to see they chose the natural food over the commercial feed. Lesson learned.

Once again I am interested in raising and feeding chickens, but this time I am far more relaxed about it. I have learned that the feed doesn’t have to be perfect, and the chickens will still live and provide great pleasure.