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PHOTO: Ashley Miller
I currently live outside of St. Louis County in Missouri and keep Barred Plymouth Rock chickens. I grew up, though, in a small town in Missouri. We lived within the city limits, but most of my friends lived in the country.
I spent most of my weekends as a youth at my best friend’s family farm where we would play, swim, ride four-wheelers and complete her chores together.
I was always in love with the idea of farming, and I adored all the animals my friend’s family had. Our adventures with the cattle, sheep and chickens were the highlight of my childhood memories.
Twenty-four years later and I now have a home of my own on a few acres outside of St. Louis County. I have a large vegetable garden, some apple and peach trees, and my own flock of chickens.
My partner is an engineer, and he designed and built our chicken coop himself. Once that was completed, I ventured out into the vast world of chickens.
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It took me forever to find the breed I wanted because I knew that I wanted good egg-layers with a friendly personality. They also needed to be able to handle Missouri’s extreme weather changes.
I ended up going with the Barred Plymouth Rocks from a nearby hatchery. Ever since the first day I held those baby rocks, I’ve been head over heels for my chickens!
Food for Thought
I save all of my kitchen and garden scraps to be mixed in with my flock’s food.
When I’m shopping, I always find myself picking up battered vegetables and fruits from the local grocery store—at a discount price—just for the flock. Now, even our kitchen is slowly being transformed into a chicken-centered oasis!
I now have eight beautiful hens and a rooster named Blue. I am hoping to expand my flock by getting some Barred Plymouth Rock chicks this spring and possibly introducing some different heritage breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds.
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I like to be traditional and stick with the heritage breeds. In the spring, I am most excited about having some extra help in the garden from my flock. They can be great tillers!
Raising chickens has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I am looking forward to the exciting journey ahead!
Ashley Miller lives in Hazelwood, Missouri, and is a substitute teacher for the Hazelwood and Orchard Farm school districts. She enjoys hiking, running and gardening in her free time.
This article originally appeared in the May/June issue of Chickens magazine.