I fell in love with chickens in the third grade, when my classroom incubated and hatched baby chicks.
For weeks leading up to the event, it was all we could think about. When the big day finally arrived, a real farmer came and hand-delivered exactly one egg to each of us. To suburban kids the farmer seemed so foreign in his
overalls and trucker hat that he might as well have been an alien. With patience he taught us all about incubating eggs and caring for the baby chicks they would become. Before leaving, he numbered the eggs and placed them
in the incubator.
Each of us got to choose a name for our baby chick, after which the teacher handed out birth certificates for us to color in. Several days later a hurricane whipped through town, knocking out power and depriving the
incubating eggs of heat for hours. We knew we were lucky when nearly half of the chicks eventually pecked their way out of their shells. (A real-life example of why you shouldn't count your chickens
before they hatch!)
I think it was because some eggs didn't make it that the ones that did survive, mine included, seemed so precious. They were a miracle of cuteness: peeping, fuzzy and warm. Best of all, they'd fall asleep in your hands if you were sneaky
enough to steal away to the brooding area for a few minutes while the teacher was distracted.
Two weeks after the chicks hatched, the dreaded day came when they were taken back to the farm. I'd fallen in love with the hatchlings and had been passionately campaigning my mother to take them home, but the world conspired against me. That was the
day I vowed that when I was a "grown up" I'd have chickens of my own.
It's now twenty-some years later, and I've kept my promise.
As soon as my husband and I had moved all the boxes into our first home, I called a hatchery and placed my order for baby chicks. I still loved them as much as I did when I was eight. When they arrived, I played with them nonstop, just as I had
done when I WAS eight. And I love the quirky, individual hens they grew into even more. (I'm not sure they appreciate all the hugs, though.)
In the months leading up to getting chickens of my own, I bought and read every chicken care book I could find. I watched chicken care videos. I searched websites with information on how to raise chickens, and talked to people who raise them. In
short, I learned everything I could as fast as I could, but it took me weeks to find all the information I needed.
But I wanted to make it easier for everyone else
While I enjoyed learning about chickens, I wanted to make it easier for other prospective chicken owners by providing all the basic "how-to" information in a single resource-- free, online, and accessible to all. The My Pet Chicken Guide to Chicken Care is that resource.
This Guide covers all the basics, referring you to other books only twice:
1) For building your own chicken coop (should you decide to do that), which requires more information than I can provide here, and
2) For comprehensive information on chicken health.
This book advocates and provides information on keeping chickens, but only as pets and only for their eggs. The specialized information you would need to know, should you want to raise chickens for their meat, is not included here.
I hope you find this helpful, and if you do, I encourage you to share it with others!