- Janette Keating
Chapter 2: Settling In at the Farm
During the renovation, we began spending more time in Sonoma. It seemed right to jump right in and embrace the country life by getting some chickens for the coop. This was a family event! We all went to Brocco’s Feed store, located over near the golf course on Arnold Drive. We noticed that they have roosters and hens running wild across the parking lot. It was fun watching them and it got us excited about having some hens of our own. In the springtime, Brocco’s has young chicks for sale. We wanted egg layers so when it was time, we chose our favorite-looking chicks. Apparently, we came home with quite an assortment! We now owned an Ameraucana, a Buff Orpington, a Rhode Island Red, and a Plymouth Rock. Our coop was safe from predators and the chicks grew quickly.
They say you shouldn’t give the hens names because they aren’t really pets, but we just had to! Four chicks of different breeds were given pseudo-celebrity names like Audrey HENburn, HENiffer Anniston, DustHEN JohnsHEN, and of course there was Mary Poopins. Kira did some research to discover another breed of hens called Silkies. They are a Japanese-bred chicken that has fancy crests and long feathers over its feet. She mail-ordered for four silkies and they arrived early one morning at the post office in San Francisco. Chris set up a nursery for the tiny chicks in a large rubbermaid bin and kept it in their backyard. They nurtured the chicks until they were big enough to move into the baby hutch in Sonoma. One weekend, they moved to the country. Chris ensured they’d be warm enough and secluded them in the upper level which we called the “chick condo”. It was high and dry, safe from the bigger hens and the electric warmer kept them cozy. They were kept separate from the larger hens until they could fend for themselves. These chicks became Instagram celebrities having photoshoots all around the farm. They were so much fun. Kira secretly hoped they would reproduce. She didn’t want us to collect any of their eggs hoping one would brood to help them hatch. It could have happened because as they matured, we realized two of the chicks were roosters!
At the farm, the opportunity to have fresh eggs to eat was exciting. The hens matured at six months and began laying around that time. We loved the rich fresh taste and knew that the eggs were the best you can get. Completely organic and fresh! Watching the peculiar behavior of the hens was also entertaining for us. We had no idea how much joy a small farm could bring. The simple pleasures in life can still be enjoyable even in this fast paced world.