Over a decade ago, I started keeping hens for eggs, and I started writing. I had very different goals back then, and in the intervening years my worldview has shifted dramatically.
One thing has remained consistent, my love for and connection to animals is core to my being.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have at least one animal companion. I enjoyed a long and enriching career in the animal field, working in zoos and aquariums as a trainer and educator. Surrounding myself with animals has deepened my spiritual journey and helped me heal and grow on so many levels.
Empaths in particular are drawn to animals, and find solace and healing in their gentle and unconditional love. When we’re overwhelmed from the emotional tides of daily life, coming home to our animal companions solid, anchoring presence provides soothing relief. We find comfort in giving them a safe home, healthy food, and the tasks of their daily care can become a moving meditation, and way to connect more deeply emotionally and energetically with animals, and your own Higher Self.
Taking on the responsibility of caring for animals can be a big step, but it brings so many rewards. In addition, those on a spiritual path may be looking for ways to source their food locally, or shift towards greater self-sufficiency.
Keeping hens is one way to provide reliable, healthy food for you and your family and develop a unique relationship with new feathered friends.
Being compassionate and ethical animal caretakers requires both practical, physical preparation and commitment to expanding your knowledge. When it comes to caring for animals, love just isn’t enough. You need skills, supplies, and willingness to devote time to your charges.
I want to share with you a piece I wrote some years ago and have updated. Keeping chickens is surprisingly easy, and they have remarkable, and distinct personalities.
We’re moving into an era where animals are more than just pets, or food. They are our partners, and share our earthly journey. Sharing your life with them can lead you to greater connection to larger realities.
Keeping chickens is fun. They give you eggs, they’ll rid your garden of pests, and they’ll eat your weeds. With the right handling they be very affectionate, and they are quite trainable. Really! Okay, I also know not everyone wants to commit to this level of urban farming, and no worries, it’s not for everyone.
However…if you’ve ever thought you might like to try your hand at chicken ranching in the city, go for it! I’ll bet you find it’s easier and more rewarding than you thought. Here’s what you need:
See? Simple, but, of course there is also the time commitment factor. Expect to spend some time every day with your flock, feeding, watering, gathering eggs and cleaning their pen. It’s important to get to know your birds, so spend some time observing their behavior and how they interact. If you know how your girls act normally you’ll be able to quickly spot if one starts to exhibit signs of stress or illness.
Where do you get your chickens? Most feed stores will have live chicks in the spring. Try searching online through places like Craig’s List. Also, there are hatcheries that will ship chicks through the mail. McMurray Hatchery is one that I’ve used and had good success with their chicks.
It’s important to keep in mind, chickens are social. They don’t do well by themselves. Ideally you should have a minimum of three hens for their social and mental well-being. We all need good friends.
Chicks Or Older Girls?
This is entirely up to you. Chicks are fragile and require extra care. Heat lamps, special grower feed, and a safe place to grow up. They can’t live outdoors until they’ve got their adult feathers, but they will be the least expensive option. A few dollars apiece is the rule, unless you buy rare or heritage breeds. Pullets, which are hens under 1 year, will be a bigger cost ($10-$20 or more) but will either produce eggs very quickly, or already be laying when you get them.
Where Chickens Come Home to Roost
Hens need a henhouse; someplace they can sleep at night, with nest boxes for egg laying. A henhouse needs to be secure from predators; things like foxes, coyotes, cats, raccoons and even rats love to find henhouses with easy access. Chickens shut down in the dark. Their eyesight is poor at night so their instinct is to find a safe place to roost when the sun goes down and not move until morning.
Chickens also need some land they can forage around in during the day, but you still need to protect them from wandering predators. Cats, hawks, roaming dogs are all a danger to your flock.
There are plenty of online chicken supply sites. Check out places like My Pet Chicken, Omlet, or Backyard Chickens for more information on breeds, chicken coops for sale, plans to build your own coop, feed and equipment.
Take a look at my set up. My henhouse is in my garage, so my girls are doubly protected from the elements. There is a door cut into the garage wall that gives them access to their enclosed run. The run is roofed over with chicken wire, and it runs on two sides of the garage, giving the girls plenty of room to roam. I have another pen I rotate my flock to during the day to give them some variety and a change of scene.
Feeding. Remember, “you are what you eat.” You want to ensure your hens are on a healthy diet. I give my girls a locally milled, non-GMO, organic feed, but your local feed store should have a good selection or be able to answer any questions. You can also give your chickens scraps: left over greens or fruit, plain yoghurt or cottage cheese. They love to hunt for bugs; if you turn them loose in your yard to forage they will help control pests. However, if you have delicate or valuable plants, you will want to protect them from scratching chickens. In addition, laying hens need extra calcium for making shells, so be sure to provide plenty of oyster shell (again available at feed stores).
Hens drink more water than you think. Provide them with plenty of fresh water daily.
And enjoy those fresh, delicious and good-for-you eggs! There are distinct differences in the health profile of home raised versus commercial raised. Read here about why your eggs will be healthier than those produced by factory farm chickens.
No, you do not need a rooster for eggs. Hens produce them without need for a male, and their eggs, like the ones purchased in a store are unfertilized.
For those with smaller, or mobile spaces, you can have chickens too. Check out these adventurous RV’ers who keep chickens on the road.
I do hope you’ll enjoy my posts on animals as well as spirituality and paranormal. They are so much part of my life, and my journey to awakening that to leave them out of my writings just doesn’t seem in alignment with my purpose. I am working on a new book on Animal Communication. I’m excited to share with you how our animal companions are part of spiritual journey.
What did you think? Intrigued? Want to learn more?
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