With Special Thanks to Shelby, Alex, the Mile High Menagerie, and Steve
One blustery January day, Shelby, Small Pet Select’s Media Scheduler and Communications Mechanic, headed out to her coop to feed “The Ladies,” her backyard chickens. Brunhilda, the black cochin, said she had a concern when Shelby went in to say, “good morning.” “Mom,” said Brunhilda, "as the Alpha chicken, the flock wanted me to ask when we could have a blog written about us at your work. It’s been well over a year since the chicken product line was launched. Mr. Gordon’s flock had a blog written about them. Soooooo, how about us?” “Wow,” said Shelby, “That’s a great idea! I’m working on the blog scheduling calendar for 2021 as we speak. And you know what else? Lucille’s and Thelma’s first Gotcha Day is coming up. That would be an egg-stra great reason to feature you Ladies. But wait. It’s winter. Jess, one of our writers, lives two hours away. Would the flock be ok with a Zoom interview in case the weather is too bad for her to drive up to Golden, Colorado?” “Of course, Mom,” said Brunhilda. You and Dad outfitted our coop with the best Wi-Fi, and we each have our own phones. It would be fun to do a Zoom just like you!" Shelby walked back to the house and messaged me on the work chat to set up the interview.
One Friday in February, I hopped on Zoom with Shelby and The Ladies. We did a screenshot so you could see what it looked like.
My husband, Steve, did most of the interviewing, which was great as it was fascinating. He couldn’t believe I was interviewing chickens.
And here’s the story of how Shelby’s backyard chickens joined the Mile High Menagerie.
An idea was hatched...
In 2014, Shelby and her husband, Alex, decided they wanted to add backyard chickens to their Menagerie. Alex is from Texas, and he raised chickens growing up. However, Shelby and Alex lived in the city, so they had to adhere to city guidelines before bringing them home. Before Alex and Shelby's dad built the coop, they had to ensure they had the required yard space. Also, the coop had to be constructed in the correct place on their lot.
Some parts of the building process took longer than expected, so the new chicks spent their first few weeks in their house. They were warm and safe but egg-cited to see what their new coop looked like.
As you can see, Shelby and Alex have a very big lawnmower. Actually, that’s Percy Pony, Shelby’s horse. He hangs out in their backyard during the day sometimes and trims their grass.
In retrospect, Shelby said it would have been better to start with two to three chicks instead of jumping in with seven. Fortunately, Alex had a lot of experience, and they did their homework before adopting, including finding a chicken-savvy vet. Here are most of the original "Ladies."
And then there were eggs
Shelby said one of the neat things about having various backyard chicken breeds is they all lay eggs in different colors. Thanks to genetics, chickens lay brown, blue, blue-green, olive green, brown, pink, light pink, and of course white eggs. If you want to know more about how that happens, go here.
Using the colors, Shelby and Alex can tell which hen is laying and also if there are any nutrition issues. For instance, if your hens aren't getting enough calcium, the eggshells are weak or rubbery. You can even have shell-less eggs!
Chickens are helpful
Shelby and Alex appreciate all the eggs The Ladies produce. However, when the weather is good, the flock roams free in the backyard. While Shelby and Alex can’t walk barefoot, thanks to The Ladies’ , they have the greenest grass in Golden. They are planning to build a deck this summer, and to keep it nice and clean, they will have to alter it so the chickens can't roost on the deck.
Additionally, while they keep their raised garden beds fenced off during the growing season, there's no need to rototill the plots in the fall. The Ladies take care of turning over all the dirt and old plant matter while fertilizing at the same time.
The Ladies also provide backyard security. Chickens are very territorial, and if any animal enters the backyard, they gang up on it and chase it away. Alex and Shelby's dogs are an exception, as they are too busy playing to be interested in their chicken siblings.
All joking aside, the chickens are never left alone outside with the dogs.
Finally, chickens will also tattle on their fellow flock members. As we just mentioned, all the garden beds are protected from the chickens. Most of what they grow is for the Menagerie, but The Ladies treat the garden as a buffet. Shelby and Alex shared a story where when all but one of the hens would sneak around to the side of the house to one of the raised gardens, Matilda would go to the back door, sit on the top step, and tattle on her flock mates.
Adding to the flock
In March 2020, Shelby and Alex adopted four more chicks into their Menagerie. Stella (Speckled Sussex), Thelma (Java), Lucille (Welsummer), and Phyllis (Araucana). Unfortunately, Stella had some medical issues and passed away. If you're a frequent reader of Small Pet Select's blogs, you know that Phyllis ended up being Phil and was rehomed to a nearby rescue as Golden doesn’t permit roosters in town.
While most people assume that roosters make a lot of noise, some chicken breeds are actually talkative. Shelby and Alex enjoy listening to The Ladies’ conversations, but it doesn’t disturb their neighbors.
Everyone loves baby photos… here are a few from when the four chicks lived in the house until they were old enough to live in the coop.
Happy Gotcha Day!
We'd like to wish Lucille and Thelma a very happy first Gotcha Day. I couldn't get The Ladies to spill what prezzies they got the two youngest flock members; however, the entire flock will make their day special.
We hope you enjoyed meeting The Ladies; we are so glad they suggested this blog. If there are other blog topics you're interested in, please let us know! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our socials.
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