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Posted on Mon, Sep 14, 2009 : 5 p.m.

The adventures of being city chicken ranchers

By Hans Masing

As many of you know from a prior story, we have been enjoying our mini chicken ranch in our back yard. Between nightly investigations by the local raccoon population, raking chicken poop, and making sure my 9-year-old son keeps up his responsibilities of making sure the hens have water and food, we've gotten little to no payback from the 'girls' - until now.

The eggs have started to arrive, and it's wonderful. We were observing one of the hens (ChirpChirp is her name, if you have been following along), and she was looking a little nervous. We'd find her wedging herself under the ramp to the coop, clucking very loudly and making 'announcements' about... something. I don't speak chicken, so it's hard to tell exactly what she was saying.

So, last week we built a nesting box to place inside the coop, filled it with nice, soft pine chips, and waited...

...for about 8 hours.

Then... it was here. AN EGG.

The egg was paraded around the yard by the kids - whooping and hollering. It was like a national holiday. They rewarded our chickens with a handful of corn scratch. They also got an extra large helping of table scraps, which they love. Ummmm, the chickens got the table scraps, not the kids.

Since egg number one arrived, we have had six total. They are small but mighty, and incredibly tasty. We expect them to get a little bigger as our little egg cannons get more experience. The kids are learning about where our food comes from, and they check the nesting box in the coop before they go to school and when they get home and then about 20 minutes after they get home and then about 40 minutes after they get home and so on.

RIght now, I think that ChirpChirp is the only one laying. We can't wait for all four of them to start laying. I presume there is a cheese souffle in our near future.

writer_Hans_Masing.jpgAfter 22 years of working in Information Technology, teaching and consulting, Hans Masing turned his focus to specialty and educational toys. He runs Tree Town Toys, Brain Station and Dragonfly Depot with his wife Patricia and their children Keller and Simone. Brain Station started in 2002 as a "crazy idea" in the family home, and has grown to be a successful Internet specialty toy retail operation and fulfillment center. He opened Tree Town Toys as a brick-and-mortar specialty store in 2006, and launched Dragonfly Depot (online fulfillment and distribution of specialty toys) in 2007. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. For fun he plays drums with North and The Witch Doctors from time to time and raises chickens in his back yard with his kids. Being a dad is a constant adventure for him, and he lives by the motto "It's never too late to have a happy childhood!" He can occasionally be seen at his Day Jobâ„¢ at JStor in downtown Ann Arbor.


Corinna Borden

Tue, Nov 10, 2009 : 12:30 p.m.

This is so great Hans! I think we have another few weeks for our chickens to start earning their keep.

Sam Nead

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 : 10:29 a.m.

He shoots! He scoooores! How cool to have fresh eggs, albeit a lot of work. "little egg cannons" - good stuff. As for the slackers, I foresee fried gizzards in their future.